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Credit cards for bad credit: What are your options?

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Bad credit history makes it hard to get a new credit card. Compare your options and learn how to improve your credit rating here.

It’s difficult to get approved for a credit card in the US when you have poor credit history. In fact, a bad or low credit score affects more than just your ability to get a new credit card. It can also make it harder to obtain other loans, a residential lease, utility account or even a new job.

While a bad credit score can have a negative impact on your chances of getting a credit card in the short-term, it’s possible to improve your credit rating over time. In turn, this improves your ability to get a credit card. But if you need to obtain credit urgently, this guide will help you understand your credit score and the different options available to you now.

What is my credit score?

Your credit score is based on factors in your credit history, and will determine your success when it comes to applying for credit. Currently there is no one standardized way of calculating credit scores, so the credit rating bodies, banks and credit card companies use their own rating systems in assessing client credit scores.

What financial products can I get with bad credit?

As bad credit rating credit cards aren’t available in the U.S., you might need to consider some of the following option:

  • Debit cards. A good way to avoid debt is to steer away from credit and only spend what you have. Debit cards are debt-proof and widely accepted as payment. But note that using a debit card will have zero effect on your credit report and cannot help you rebuild your credit rating.
  • Secured credit cards. This is a great way to rebuild your credit history, and you can learn all about how in our secured credit cards guide. Secured credit cards operate just like regular credit cards but require that you put down 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. Provided the issuer reports to the three major bureaus — and most secured cards do — and provided you pay off your card on time, you’ll be on your way to lifting your credit score from bad to good in no time.
  • Prepaid credit cards. Prepaid cards are similar to debit cards in the sense that you’re spending only what you have. Unlike a debit or credit card though, you load funds on the card before using it. These cards also don’t affect your credit rating and don’t charge interest, so they can be a good way to build up your budgeting skills. Most prepaid cards are either Visa or Mastercard, so you should be able to use them in the same places you’d use your credit or debit card.
  • Bad credit payday loans. A cash or payday loan is a loan of up to $2,000 that has to be repaid between 16 and 365 days after it’s issued. Bad credit payday loans can be a quick answer to your short-term money woes and some lenders even skip the credit check as long as you’re employed. Repaying this loan on time can help with rebuilding your creditworthiness but there may be high interest rates and fees for choosing this option.
  • Bad credit personal loans. Personal loans are traditionally used when borrowing larger amounts of money and typically have a stricter approval process than payday loans. But there are some bad credit personal loans on the market that cater especially for people with poor credit ratings. These loans usually come with a flat interest rate and, if you repay responsibly, can be used to rebuild your creditworthiness.

Credit card alternatives for borrowers with a bad credit rating

Ultimately, a bad credit rating can significantly impact your lifestyle, making it difficult to getting a car, a home loan, or other forms of credit. If you find yourself in such a position, don’t despair. Making the right choices from now on can lead to financial freedom down the road.

Work on improving your credit rating and managing your finances so that you can live free of debt. You may begin by requesting a free copy of your credit report and identifying the negative listings on your file. See our DIY credit repair guide next for more help.

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Compare secured credit cards

Name Product APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Welcome Bonus Interest Free Period
19.14% variable
Up to 25 days
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
9.99% fixed
Up to 25 days
Low fixed interest rates with no penalty rate.
10.24% variable
Up to 25 days
9.99% fixed
None
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
20.24% variable
Up to 25 days
17.99% fixed
Up to 25 days
Borrow up to $10,000 and get your credit score back on track.
14.99% variable
Up to 25 days
26.24% variable
Up to 25 days
13.99% fixed
Up to 25 days
Have little or poor credit? The primor® Secured Mastercard® Classic has no minimum credit score requirements and no processing or application fees to worry about.
9.99% fixed
Up to 25 days
Fast, easy application process. No processing or application fees!
13.99% fixed
Up to 25 days
Credit lines available from $200 to $5,000! You decide where you want to start and open your Personal Savings Deposit Account to secure your line.
17.99% variable
Earn 5,000 miles after your first purchase
Up to 24 days
Earn SKYPASS miles while building your credit history in the United States.
13.74% variable
Up to 21 days
Created to help you establish or rebuild credit.
36% variable
Up to 27 days
Easy Online Application! Your account history reports to the major Consumer Reporting Agencies.

Compare up to 4 providers

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Adrienne Fuller

Adrienne Fuller leads the publishing team at finder.com. She has one goal: to deliver the accurate and transparent information she wishes she had when she made some of life's important financial decisions. When she's not helping folks save money, she's hiking with her two Catahoulas around her home in San Diego.

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US Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Deserve® Classic Card
Deserve® Classic Card

APR

24.49
variable

Annual fee

0 For the first year
More info
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™
Luxury Card Mastercard® Gold Card™

APR

16.74
variable

Annual fee

995 For the first year
More info
First Access Visa Card®
First Access Visa Card®

APR

29.99
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card
Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card

APR

23.9
variable

Annual fee

75 For the first year
More info
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