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The best airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Getting a secured card is probably your best bet.

While it’s easier to get an airline or travel card if you have good credit, a few airlines offer secured cards you can qualify for if your credit isn’t great.

You’ll also find bad-credit products that — while not airline or travel products specifically — can help you earn rewards on all purchases.

We looked for cards ideal for consumers with bad credit, and that offered airline or general rewards. For non-airline products, we considered whether they had rewards that could apply to travel purchases.

The best airline credit cards for bad credit

Best for airline discount

LATAM Visa® Secured Card

Terms apply, see rates & fees
With a $0 intro annual fee your first card year, then $25 each year after that, this card is the most affordable secured airline card on our list.You'll get a 10% discount on your first LATAM purchase each calendar year. This could result in big savings, especially if you buy multiple flight tickets in one transaction.

Best for general rewards

Discover it® Secured

Finder rating 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

This is one of the best secured cards you'll find. With no annual fee, solid rewards and an option to check your FICO score every month for free, it's an excellent choice for building credit. It can be a good card for your next vacation — a road trip, perhaps — as it offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%. It also has no foreign transaction fees.

Best for business

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Finder rating 4.1 / 5 ★★★★★

This product is a strong choice if you have an eligible business. You'll earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases — a solid rate that can apply to a wide array of travel spending. Or, you can earn 1.5x points and bonus points each month you spend at least . On the downside, there's a higher minimum deposit of $500. However, the card has no foreign transaction fees.

Can I get an airline or travel credit card if I have bad credit?

While not impossible, it can be very difficult to get an airline or travel card if you have bad credit. That’s because these cards often come with the best rewards and perks, which providers usually want to give to highly qualified applicants.

So while that means you have options, you could consider narrowing your choices.

Which are the easiest airline credit cards to get approved for?

If you have less-than-stellar credit, you’ll have the best odds with secured credit cards. There are currently a few secured airline cards on the market.

To get a secured card, you must first put down a security deposit — usually $200 to $300. If you don’t repay your card debt, your provider can take this deposit. With this collateral, banks are more willing to issue secured cards to those with bad credit.

If you’re willing to forego a travel card, you’ll find several secured cards that offer rewards on all purchases. This means you can earn cash back or points on travel purchases such as flights, hotels and car rentals.

The best airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Best for…CardAnnual feeMinimum deposit
Companion certificateAeroMexico Visa® Secured Card$25$300
Airline discountLATAM Visa® Secured Card$0 first-year intro annual fee, then $25 after that$300
Bonus airline milesSKYPASS Visa® Secured Card$50$300
General rewardsDiscover it® SecuredNone$200
BusinessWells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card$0$500
Unsecured cardCredit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit to N/A

Airline credit cards — such as those listed below — often come with carrier-specific benefits.

They also offer flexible rewards. LATAM, for example, is part of Oneworld Alliance, so you can redeem LATAM Pass points for flights with other carriers in the alliance. The same concept applies to Aeroméxico and Korean Air, which are part of SkyTeam.

You can also check out cards that offer general rewards. These products can be useful even when you’re not traveling.

Airline alliances mean flexible rewards

After earning rewards with certain airline credit cards, you can use your points or miles to book flights with alliance carriers. This makes these cards more flexible than they may seem.

Oneworld carriers

  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Iberia
  • Japan Airlines
  • LATAM
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas
  • Qatar Airways
  • Royal Jordanian
  • S7 Airlines
  • SriLankan Airlines
  • Royal Air Maroc

SkyTeam carriers

  • Aeroflot
  • Aerolíneas Argentinas
  • Aeromexico
  • Air Europa
  • Air France
  • Alitalia
  • China Airlines
  • China Eastern
  • China Southern
  • Czech Airlines
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Garuda Indonesia
  • Kenya Airways
  • KLM
  • Korean Air
  • Middle East Airlines — Air Liban
  • Saudia
  • Tarom
  • Vietnam Airlines
  • Xiamen Air

Pros and cons of airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Pros

  • Several cards offer general rewards on all purchases.
  • Some cards offer airline-specific benefits.

Cons

  • There aren’t many airline or travel cards for bad credit.
  • You’re usually limited to secured cards or unsecured cards with high annual fees.

How to choose the best airline or travel credit card for bad credit

The choices for airline and travel credit cards for bad credit are limited compared to similar cards for good credit or higher. Despite that, there are certain factors you can take into account before choosing the right card for your situation. Consider the following:

  • Annual fee.
    Annual fees for secured airline cards usually range from $25 to $50. This cost can eat into your rewards, so consider whether you’ll get enough value from a card to offset its price. The only no-annual-fee card on our list is the Discover it Secured card.
  • Security deposit.
    Locking down funds to get a credit card can be a drag, but that’s the price of a secured card. If this is an issue, look for a card with a lower minimum security deposit.
  • Rewards.
    When considering a card, check its reward structure and what type of rewards you get. Airline miles can be useful, as you can often redeem them with alliance partners. Or you might want cash back, which is usually simpler to redeem. Consider where you spend the most money, as a card may offer bonus rewards for certain categories.
  • Airline alliance.
    The airline card we’ve listed in this article falls under the Oneworld alliance. Check if you fly with carriers in this alliance, as your miles could prove flexible.
  • Benefits.
    While bad-credit airline cards don’t offer the best perks, you can find some surprisingly good deals. Consider what kind of flyer you are and whether you can take advantage of your card’s benefits.
  • Foreign transaction fees.
    Unfortunately, secured airline cards usually have foreign transaction fees. If this is a problem, look for a card that doesn’t charge these fees.
  • Signup bonus.
    In some cases, you can earn a small bonus soon after you open your card. Airline miles are often worth over 1 cent apiece, so they can be more valuable than they seem.

Alternatives to airline or travel credit cards for bad credit

You don’t have to limit yourself to airline or travel cards for bad credit. As an alternative, you could consider:

  • Other secured cards. Compare other secured cards and choose the one that best fits your situation. With responsible use, you can build your credit and later get an unsecured airline or travel card with better perks.
  • Unsecured cards for bad credit. For example, Credit One cards are unsecured cards, meaning you don’t have to put down a security deposit to get it. You may also earn 1% cash back on select purchases — such as gas and dining — depending on your credit.

Bottom line

While travel cards are usually aimed at those with good credit, there are a few secured airline cards you may qualify for.

If airline cards aren’t your style, compare other secured card with rewards to find something that suits your needs.

Compare airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Name Product Foreign transaction fee Welcome offer Rewards Filter values
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
1% cash back on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services
Earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, groceries, mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services
An unsecured card for building credit with 1% cash back on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services.
Credit One Bank® NASCAR® Credit Card
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
2% cash back rewards at the NASCAR Shop and 1% back on eligible gas and automotive purchases
Earn 2% cash back rewards at the NASCAR Shop and 1% back on eligible gas and automotive purchases.
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