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Credit card options for applicants with bad credit

Learn how you can qualify for a credit card with bad credit and compare your options to find the best card for your needs.

Name Product Min. Required Deposit Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Reward
Refresh Financial Secured Card
$200
17.99%
N/A
$12.95
The Refresh Secured Card has no credit check, a low annual fee and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with anywhere from $200 - $10,000.
Take advantage of a low annual fee, with no credit check and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with some funds.
Home Trust Secured Visa
$500
14.90% - 19.99%
19.80% - 19.99%
$59
Improve your credit score and make purchases with the Home Trust Secured Visa. Choose between paying no annual fee or low interest.
Choose from three card options: No Annual Fee ($0 annual fee, 19.99% purchase rate), Low Interest Rate ($59 annual fee, 14.90% purchase rate) or a Low Monthly Fee ($5 monthly fee, 14.90% purchase rate).
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There are several different types of credit cards for bad credit in Canada if you’re struggling to qualify for an unsecured credit card. Just be aware that you may need to put some money down up front to secure your balance. Learn more about how you can get a credit card with bad credit in Canada and compare cards to find the best fit for you.

What are credit cards for bad credit?

Credit cards for bad credit are specialized cards that you can qualify for even if your credit score is below 600. There are several types of bad credit credit cards in Canada to choose from. These include secured, prepaid and authorized user credit cards. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to get a regular unsecured credit card if you have bad credit, though your eligibility could depend on your relationship with your bank and how much you have in savings.

What’s considered bad credit in Canada?

Credit scores range from 300 to 900 in Canada. Many lenders consider credit scores that fall below 600 as bad or poor credit scores. A lower credit score may lead you to have difficulty in qualifying for loans or credit cards, and you could get stuck with higher interest rates and fees on any financing you do manage to qualify for.

3 types of credit cards for bad credit in Canada

You may want to consider the following types of credit cards for bad credit in Canada:

1. Secured credit cards

Secured credit cards let you borrow money against a pre-established credit limit that you fund with your own money. You put down a deposit up front and you can borrow up to that amount to make purchases. Your provider can use your deposit to pay off your balance if you default on your payments. Most secured credit cards charge interest and an annual fee, and you’ll only get your deposit back when you pay your card off in full and close your account.

Compare secured credit cards for bad credit in the table above

2. Prepaid credit cards

Prepaid cards are available from banks, private companies and grocery stores. These work a bit like gift cards because all you need to do is load money onto the card and start spending. When that money runs out, you can load in more to make purchases as you see fit. These cards don’t charge interest or come with rewards and they won’t help you build credit.

Compare prepaid credit cards for bad credit

Name Product Monthly fee Cost per transaction Foreign transaction fee Rewards with this card
Mogo Visa Platinum Prepaid Card
$0
$0
2.5%
2% cash back
Earn unlimited 2% cashback on all purchases. For every $1 you spend, 1 pound of CO2 will be offset for free through Mogos Amazon Rainforest project.
KOHO Prepaid Visa card
$0
$0
1.5%
0.5% cash back
Use promo code FINDERCODE and receive a $20 cash bonus into your KOHO balance once you make your first purchase within 30 days of signing up.
KOHO Joint Prepaid Card
$0
$0
1.5%
0.5% cash back
Use promo code FINDERCODE and receive a $20 cash bonus into your KOHO balance once you make your first purchase within 30 days of signing up.
KOHO Premium Prepaid Card
$9/month or $84 annually
$0
0%
Up to 2% cash back
Earn 2% cash back on transportation, grocery and restaurant purchases. Plus, get a 30 day free trial. Use promo code FINDERCODE and receive a $20 cash bonus into your KOHO balance once you make your first purchase within 30 days of signing up.
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3. Authorized user credit cards

If you’d like direct access to credit, you may want to consider becoming an authorized user on a friend’s or family member’s account. This will let you spend money on their card even if you have bad credit and can’t qualify for your own. Just be aware that the benefits and rewards on the card will stay in the primary cardholder’s name so you may not be able to take full advantage of the card’s perks.

Compare credit cards that allow you to sign up as an authorized user

Name Product Welcome Offer Rewards Purchase Interest Rate Annual Fee Min. Credit Score Description
Tangerine World Mastercard
10% cash back
Up to 2% cash back
19.95%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 680
Earn an extra 10% cash back (up to $100) when you spend $1,000 on everyday purchases within the first 2 months. Until August 16, 2021. Plus, get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
American Express Cobalt Card
30,000 points
Up to 5 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 30,000 bonus Membership Rewards points in your first year as a new Cobalt Cardmember.
Brim Mastercard
Up to $200 worth of bonuses
1 point per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to $200 worth of bonus points when you shop with Brim retailers for the first time through the Brim mobile app.
SimplyCash Card from American Express
4% cash back
Up to 1.25% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 4% cash back on purchases (up to $200 cash back) for the first 6 months of Cardmembership.
BMO Rewards Mastercard
10,000 points
Up to 2 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 725
Get a bonus of 10,000 BMO Rewards points when you spend $1,000 in the first 3 months. Apply by October 31, 2021 . Plus, get a rate of 1.99% on balance transfers for 9 months. A 1% fee applies to transferred balances.
Scotiabank Value Visa Card
0.99% rate on balance transfers for 6 months
N/A
12.99%
$29
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get a 0.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by August 31, 2021.
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
10% cash back
2% cash back
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn 10% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $400 in cash back) for the first four months of Cardmembership.
American Express Business Edge Card
57,000 points
Up to 3 points per $1 spent
19.99%
$99
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn up to 57,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year.
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
2,000 Miles
Up to 1 Air Mile per $5 - $10 spent
20.99%
$120
Min. recommended credit score: 700
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES within the first three months. That’s enough to redeem for $200 towards your purchases with AIR MILES Cash.
Shell CashBack Mastercard from BMO
$50 in cash back + 1% cash back
Up to 1.5% cash back
19.99%
$0
Min. recommended credit score: 660
Get $50 in cash back bonuses once you charge your first eligible purchase to your card. Plus, earn 1% cash back for the first 6 months on all eligible purchases.
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How to compare bad credit credit cards in Canada

Compare the following features to find the best Canadian credit cards for bad credit:

  • Type of credit card. Think about which type of bad credit credit card will work best for you. Choose a prepaid card or sign up as an authorized user on someone else’s account if you simply want to shop online. Select a secured credit card if you want to build up your credit score.
  • Interest rates. Most credit cards for bad credit come with a 19.99% interest rate for purchases and 21.99% for cash advances. You may be able to find a lower interest rate credit card if you shop around but you’ll have to sacrifice rewards and/or benefits to take advantage of lower rates in most cases.
  • Annual fees. You may have to pay fees to qualify for secured credit cards for bad credit. These fees can range from $20 to $120 per year, depending on the card. Aim for a card with a low fee to make sure you’re not cutting into your savings to build up your credit.
  • Rewards. Some secured credit cards for bad credit will let you earn a small return on rewards or cash back when you make purchases. One example of this type of card would be the TD Cash Secured Credit Card, which lets you earn cash back on eligible purchases. Look for a card that gives you the best return on rewards for the lowest fee.
  • Eligibility criteria. It’s usually possible to qualify for most bad credit credit cards as long as you’re the age of majority in your province and a permanent resident of Canada. That said, you’ll need to check specific criteria with your provider before you apply to make sure you’re eligible.
  • Provider. When deciding on credit cards for bad credit in Canada, you can choose from many providers. Only apply for credit cards that have positive online reviews and come from an establishment you trust, especially if you have to send money in advance to secure your credit card balance.

Who can qualify for credit cards for people with bad credit?

You’ll usually need to meet the following criteria to qualify for credit cards for people with bad credit:

  1. Be 18 years old or the age of majority in your province or territory.
  2. Be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident with a valid Canadian address.
  3. Have a working bank account (this is sometimes not a requirement – it varies between providers).

Not a Canadian citizen? Find out what credit cards you can qualify for as a temporary resident

How to get a credit card with bad credit in Canada

You can follow these steps for how to get a credit card with bad credit in Canada:

Compare credit cards for bad credit in Canada. Compare credit cards for people with bad credit from several providers to find the one that best suits your needs.

Apply for the card of your choice. Apply for the credit card of your choice by visiting the main site of the provider you’re interested in.

Fill out application details. Provide personal information such as your full name, address, email and phone number to start your application.

Review the fine print. Review the details of your contract to make sure you understand and can abide by the terms and conditions of your card.

Click submit. Click submit on your application and send money to your provider if you need to preload funds onto your account to set your credit limit.

Tips for applying

You can employ the following tips to increase your chances of getting approved for bad credit credit cards in Canada:

  • Find out your credit score. Contact Equifax or TransUnion to see your credit score so that you know which cards you can qualify for.
  • Check eligibility criteria. Double check eligibility criteria for the card you’re interested in such as minimum income, age, credit score and residency status requirements.
  • Organize your paperwork. Find out what documents you need to have organized in advance (such as pay stubs and residency papers) and make sure you’re ready to submit your application when the time comes.

What should I do once I get my card?

For secured credit cards, you’ll want to commit to making timely payments because this is how you’ll increase your credit score. Mark your calendar, set reminders on your phone and set up automatic withdrawals from your bank account to avoid running late on payments.

You may also want to create a budget for spending and make sure you stick to it each month. Working on your financial habits in general can help you build your credit score so that you don’t fall back into debt when you’re ready to graduate to an unsecured credit card.

How to improve your credit

Bottom line

There are many credit cards for bad credit in Canada to choose from if you’re struggling to qualify for an unsecured credit card. These include secured, prepaid and authorized user credit cards. Find out how each type of credit card works, and compare credit cards for people with bad credit quickly and easily to find the best fit for your needs.

Frequently asked questions about credit cards for bad credit

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Compare credit cards

From rewards and fun perks, to low interest rates and no annual fees, compare the best credit cards in Canada to find the right card for you.

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