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The best airline and travel credit cards for bad credit

Getting a secured card is probably your best bet.

Updated . What changed?

Fact checked
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

LATAM Visa® Secured Card logo
Credit recommended (300-)
Rates & fees

300
Min. credit score
$25 ongoing
Annual fee
5,000
Points welcome offer
Up to 1x
Points
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.
  • 5,000 bonus points after first card use.
  • $0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $25.
  • 1x point on eligible purchases.
  • 10% discount on your first purchase from LATAM Airlines, once a calendar year.
Annual fee $0 intro annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
Purchase APR 22.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee 3% of the transaction value
Welcome offer 5,000 bonus points after your first card use
Rewards

Best for general rewards
Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-669)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Other
Welcome offer
Up to 2%
Cash back
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.
  • No annual or foreign transaction fees.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases.
  • Discover will match all of the cash back you earn in your first card year.
  • Free FICO score.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 22.99% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer Discover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
Rewards 2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases

Best for business
Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.1 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-579)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
n/a
Welcome offer
1.5%
Cash back
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 1,000 bonus points each month you spend at least $1,000. On the downside, there's a higher minimum deposit of $500. However, the card has no foreign transaction fees.
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase. Or, earn 1.5x points and 1,000 bonus points when you spend $1,000 or more in a month.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
Annual fee $0
Purchase APR 15.15% variable
Foreign transaction fee None
Welcome offer N/A
Rewards 1.5% cash back on all purchases

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… Card Annual fee Minimum deposit
Companion certificate AeroMexico Visa® Secured Card $25 $300
Airline discount LATAM Visa® Secured Card $0 first-year intro annual fee, then $25 after that $300
Bonus airline miles SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card $50 $300
General rewards Discover it® Secured None $200
Business Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card $0 $500
Unsecured card Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit $0 to $99 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® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
1% cash back on all purchases on eligible purchases
Earn 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
Official NASCAR® Credit Card from Credit One Bank®
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
Up to 1% cash back on eligible purchases determined by Credit One and double cash back at the NASCAR Shop
Get up to 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases determined by Credit One and double cash back rewards at the NASCAR Shop.
Credit One Bank® Visa® with Free Credit Score Access
3% of the transaction value or $1, whichever is higher
N/A
1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion
Get 1% cash back on all purchases or in categories based on Credit One Bank’s discretion.
Universal Premium Mastercard®
N/A
3 cents off per gallon when you buy 30,000 or more gallons in a month plus 3 cents off at the Retail Savings Network
Earn 3 cents off per gallon when you buy 30,000 or more gallons in a month plus 3 cents off at the Retail Savings Network.
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