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Best credit cards for bad credit

Compare six credit cards for bad credit, get approval tips and more.

Compare credit cards for bad credit

Our best cards for bad credit may not always suit your financial situation. Compare other cards for building credit until you find the right pick for your situation.

Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Recommended minimum credit score
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Starting at $200
17.39% variable
$35
300
Apply for this card with no credit check if you're new to credit or have bad credit.
Assent Platinum 0% Intro Rate Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
Starting at $200
0% intro for the first 6 months (then 12.99% variable)
$49
300
A rare secured card with a 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, followed by 12.99% variable.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®
N/A
23.99% variable
$39
Earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services.
Self Visa® Credit Card
Starting at $100
21.74% variable
$25
300
Build your credit with a low minimum security deposit of $100 and no credit score required.
Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card
Starting at $200
9.99% fixed
$48
300
No credit check is required for this secured card. Make a deposit of at least $200 to open this card and get a low 9.99% fixed APR on purchases.
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This article was reviewed by Marguerita Cheng, a member of the Finder Editorial Review Board and award-winning advocate for ethical financial planning for over 20 years.

Best credit cards for bad credit

The best credit card for bad credit is often the one you can get approval for. To help you navigate to the right card, our credit card experts spend hundreds of hours each week comparing and reviewing credit cards, including those that aren’t partnered with our site. This ensures you’re receiving an unbiased assessment of which cards for bad credit can best serve your needs. The six cards we ranked as our top 2021 picks offer the most-needed benefits for bad credit including, low credit score requirements, reporting to major credit bureaus and low fees.

Best for low APR
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-669)
Apply now
on Capital Bank N.A.'s secure site
300
Min. credit score
$35
Annual fee
n/a
Rewards
n/a
Welcome offer
If your credit score is especially weak, you might consider the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. It doesn't require a credit check for qualification — a rarity among credit-building cards — and you don't even need a bank account to use it. The $35 annual fee is a rather small tradeoff for the card's generous application requirements.
  • Build your credit. The card reports to all three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This means you could quickly build your credit if you keep your utilization low and pay your balance on time.
  • No bank account required. You have the option to use this card and pay it off with a check, money order, wire transfer or debit card.
  • Annual fee. This card charges a $35 annual fee to use.
Annual Fee $35
Purchase APR 17.39% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offerN/A
Estimated welcome offer value
RewardsN/A

Best prequalification card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (580-739)
Go to site
on Genesis FS Card Services's secure site
580
Min. credit score
$0 to $99
Annual fee
n/a
Rewards
n/a
Welcome offer
The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card is a solid unsecured card for bad credit, though recently usurped by the Petal 1 when it comes to ideal unsecured credit-building. However, the Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card does allow you to see your approval chances before you apply. This can help you determine if the card is right for you without the burden of a hard credit pull on your score.
  • Unsecured card. You don't need to make a secured deposit to start building your credit.
  • Prequalification. Request prequalification to see your chances of approval without a hard pull on your credit.
  • No cash-advance fees. For the first year, you get to save money on cash-advance fees. But after that a fee of either $5 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater, applies.
  • You may pay an annual fee. Depending on your creditworthiness, you could pay $0, $59 or $75 for the first year and $99 thereafter.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Purchases made abroad or online with foreign merchants will cost you a 1% fee of the amount.
Annual Fee $0 to $99
Purchase APR 24.9% fixed
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offerN/A
Estimated welcome offer value
RewardsN/A

Best for motorheads
Harley-Davidson® Visa® Secured Card

Harley-Davidson® Visa® Secured Card logo
Credit recommended (300-579)
Read review
Rates & fees

300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to1x
Points
n/a
Welcome offer
The Harley-Davidson® Visa® Secured Card is, curiously, a solid secured card for bad credit thanks to it's no annual fee and the ability to earn rewards on purchases. Granted, these rewards aren't as diverse as the Petal's offerings, but a majority of secured cards don't offer any sort of rewards at all — especially for no annual fee.
  • Build your credit. The card reports to all three major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. This means you could quickly build your credit if you keep your utilization low and pay your balance on time.
  • No annual fee. You won't have to pay an annual fee to use this card.
  • Rewards. Sure, you're earning Harley Davidson points, but it's more than most secured cards offer.
  • Big minimum security deposit. You'll need to put down at least $300 to get started with this card.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 22.99% variable
Welcome offerN/A
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards1x points on all purchases

Best for 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
Up to2%
Cash back
Other
Welcome offer
The Discover it® Secured is one of the most rewarding credit cards for bad credit. This secured card not only earns 2% back on dining and fuel on up to $1,000 each quarter, but Discover will match all the cash back you earned during your first year. This makes it one of the rare secured cards with a signup bonus, and a powerful one at that. To sweeten the deal, you won't pay an annual fee for the card.
  • Cash back. Earn 2% back on dining and fuel on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. After reaching the cap and on all other purchases earn 1% cash back.
  • Cashback match. At the end of your first year, Discover will match all of the cash back you've earned without limits.
  • Potential secured deposit return. After eight months of responsible card use, Discover may return your secured deposit.
  • Secured card. You still have to make a secured deposit to use the card.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 10.99% intro for the first 6 months (then 22.99% variable)
Welcome offerDiscover will match cash back earned at the end of your first card year
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards2% back on gas and dining up to $1,000 combined each activated quarter, then 1% after that and on all other purchases

Best card for Amazon purchases
Amazon Prime Store Card Credit Builder

Amazon Prime Store Card Credit Builder logo
Credit recommended (300-669)
Read review
Rates & fees

300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
Up to5%
Cash back
$10
Welcome offer
The Amazon Prime Store Card Credit Builder is a credit-building option offered to those who apply for the Amazon Prime Store Card but may not qualify based on credit. Even as a secured card, if offers some great value plays for Amazon fans, as you get to choose to either earn 5% cash back on your Amazon purchases or get between 6 and 24 months of deferred interest if paid in full. The only tradeoff is this card doesn't earn rewards elsewhere.
  • Cash back. Earn 5% cash back on your Amazon purchases.
  • Interest-free perios. Use a promo interest period on purchases made at Amazon.com for 6, 12 or 24 months, depending on the amount you spend. Keep in mind, you must pay your purchases in full before the interest-free period is up. Otherwise, you'll pay interest accrued from the moment you made your purchase.
  • Build credit. Amazon will report to all three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. With responsible use, you will build your credit and Amazon may upgrade you to an unsecured card.
  • Secured card. You must make a secured deposit to use the card.
  • Limited use. You can only use the card for Amazon.com purchases and nowhere else.
Annual Fee $0
Purchase APR 27.49% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Welcome offer$10 Amazon.com gift card upon account opening
Estimated welcome offer value
Rewards5% back at Amazon.com

How to apply for a credit card with bad credit

The application process for cards for bad credit is usually the same as with any other card:

  1. Visit the card’s website and select the card you want to apply for.
  2. Click Apply Now and fill out the application form.
  3. Review the form and submit.

Note: Some card providers let you prequalify. This shows you your chances of approval. However, there’s no guarantee that your application will be approved even if the chances of approval are high.

What if my credit card application is rejected?

In this case, try calling your card provider and ask for reconsideration. Another alternative is to apply for credit cards with no credit check. This way your credit score won’t take a hit and your card application will most likely be approved.

If your application was rejected, it also may mean you need a higher credit score to qualify. There are a variety of ways to improve your credit score without a credit card. For example, some landlords and property management companies will allow you to establish credit or improve your credit by reporting your timely rent payment to the three major credit reporting bureaus.

4 tips for getting a credit card for bad credit

There are a few ways to maximize your chances of approval for a credit card for bad credit.

  1. Pick based on your score.Knowing your credit score before you apply can prevent you from choosing cards that are out of your range. Remember, applying for a credit card often results in a credit check, which can put a small, temporary dent in your score.
  2. Search among reputable banks. If you can help it, find a credit card for bad credit from a trusted major provider, such as Capital One or Discover. “Bad credit” cards from lesser-known banks may have especially harsh or unusual fees attached to them, such as activation fees or monthly fees you won’t find on most cards.
  3. Pay off existing debts. If you have any small debts hanging overhead, try paying those off first. This can help boost your credit score, which will improve your chances of getting approved for a card.
  4. Look at secured and unsecured cards. Unsecured cards aren’t your only option for bad credit. Secured cards are a great tool for building credit when you have a poor credit history. But mind the secured and unsecured card differences.

How do I compare credit cards for bad credit?

Having a bad credit score limits your financial tool options, meaning you can only get subprime credit cards. In this case, getting the right credit card is paramount to building your credit. Here’s what to consider when comparing credit cards for bad credit:

  • Annual fee. Look for a secured card with an annual fee below the average unsecured fee range of $89 and $200. Secured cards usually have an annual fee between $29 and $49, while some have no fee at all.
  • Credit limit. Get a credit limit as high as $5,000 using a secured card as that credit line is your deposit. Unsecured cards often come with a credit limit between $200 and $300.
  • Interest rates. Keep an eye on this because some unsecured cards come with no grace period. This means you start to accrue interest from the moment you make the purchase. This can quickly spiral out of control and pull you deeper in debt.
  • Security deposits. If you’re interested in a secured credit card to help you build your credit score, you’ll want to review each card’s required security deposit. A card with a large security deposit could put too much strain on your finances to be worth it. On the other hand a small security deposit might not give you the spending power you desire from your secured card. Compare your options to find the right balance for your finances.
  • Rewards program. This is rare with credit cards for bad credit, but some secured cards let you earn rewards on your purchases, such as gas or groceries. Many kinds of store credit cards made for bad credit are also frequently available.

What are the types of credit cards for bad credit?

While a bad credit score is limiting, it doesn’t stop you from utilizing credit. Here are the two main options available to you if you have poor credit.

  • Secured credit cards. Secured credit cards for bad credit operate like regular credit cards but require a security deposit to determine the limit of your card. Say you make a $500 security deposit, then you have a $500 card limit. This tells the issuer you have enough money to pay off the card. This is a great way to rebuild your credit history provided the issuer reports to the three major bureaus — and most secured cards do — and provided you pay off your card on time.
  • Unsecured cards for building credit. These are standard credit cards specifically designed for those with poor credit. While you can build your credit with unsecured cards for bad credit, they often have low credit limits, punishing rates and fees. This could make them an expensive credit-building option.

    But if you can’t afford to make an upfront deposit for a secured card, an unsecured card for bad credit is your next option.

Credit card for bad credit red flags

Although you can build your credit with this type of card, there are some card features to keep an eye on, which may hinder your credit-building efforts. For example:

  • Doesn’t report to credit bureaus. You may find the perfect card for your current financial situation. But if it doesn’t report to the three major credit bureaus, it’s useless for building credit. Whichever card you choose, make sure it reports to the major three credit bureaus.
  • Hidden or unusual fees. Keep an eye for fees that aren’t openly advertised. This is often the case with unsecured credit cards for bad credit where you may be charged program fees of up to $25 each month for services you may likely never need. Other fees include monthly maintenance fees, additional card fees and higher-than-average late-payment fees.
  • Interest rates. Credit cards for bad credit aren’t known for their low-interest rates, although there are some cards that’ll surprise you. Either way, if you’re looking to build your credit, you should try to pay your full balance on time and avoid paying any interest altogether.

    Bottom line

    Ultimately, a bad credit rating can significantly impact your lifestyle, making it difficult to get a car, a home loan or other forms of credit. If you find yourself in such a position, don’t despair. Work on improving your credit rating and managing your finances so that you can live debt-free.
    Compare secured credit cards for one that best fits your current financial situation.

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