30% of all Americans have poor or no credit.
You can work to rebuild your credit with a secured credit card.
Apply for one of these cards and get prequalified in 60 seconds.
- Good for credit. Applying for these cards will not affect your credit score.
- Cash back. Some cards offer a percentage cash back for purchases.
- No application fee. It’s free to apply for these cards.
Other cards you can apply for with low credit
Don’t like our #1 choice? Here are other cards that made our top list of credit cards for those with low credit. These cards are easy to apply for and accept applicants with low credit scores.
How does a secured credit card help you rebuild credit?
A secured card does not automatically improve your credit score. To raise your credit score using a secured credit card, follow these guidelines:
- Pay off your balances every month. Secured credit cards report to credit bureaus just like unsecured cards, which means you’ll have a better chance at improving your credit score if you pay off your balance in full each month.
- Stay within a budget. Credit cards are not free money, and you should only spend what you can afford.
- Use your card regularly. Credit rating agencies look for activity on a card every month, so if you charge a small amount and pay it off each month, you’re likely to improve your credit score.
- If you can’t avoid carrying a balance, keep it small. Sometimes you need to put more on your card than you can afford to pay off at once. Credit rating agencies look at your debt-to-income ratio, and it’s recommended that you keep this ratio below 30%. This means if you have a card with a $500 limit, try to keep your balance below $150.
Debit cards vs. secured credit cards
Debit cards and secured credit cards both require you to deposit cash in a bank account in order to spend money. However, secured cards do two things that debit cards don’t:
- Debit cards don’t report to credit rating agencies, and therefore don’t help build your credit.
- Debit cards only let you use money from your bank account. Secured cards allow you to “graduate” to either partially unsecured credit cards — cards that allow you to spend a bit more than you’ve deposited — or fully unsecured credit cards that don’t require a deposit.
Secured cards vs. subprime cards
Subprime cards differ from secured cards because they don’t require a security deposit. You’ll also get your security deposit back after paying off your secured card and closing your account. Both options are available to someone who has no credit or is trying to rebuild their credit, but subprime cards often come with high fees and interest rates.
Subprime cards have a bad reputation for being predators or “fee harvesters”. Linda Sherry, the director of national priorities at Consumer Action, puts it simply: “Consumers are better off using a secured credit card than a subprime one even though it requires depositing money with a card company.”
No security deposit card
The 2009 CARD Act reined in the practices of subprime cards, requiring that fees be no more than 25% of the initial line of credit. If you have a subprime card with an initial credit of $300, the fees cannot be more than $75 (25%) the first year. This doesn’t stop some subprime issuers from skirting the law, and the CFPB continues to crack down on cards breaking the 25% rule.
Which credit card is best for me?
Couldn’t make a decision on which credit card is right for you? Answer these three quick questions to see what we pick for you!
Question 1 of 3
Do you have low or poor credit?
Question 2 of 3
Are you currently employed?
Question 3 of 3
Do you currently have a checking or savings account?
Based on your answers, we think these providers are right for you
Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic Secured Credit Card
Open a personal savings deposit account to secure a credit line from $200 to $5,000.
- $39 annual fee
- 13.99% fixed APR
- Minimum income requirement of at least $100 higher than your monthly expenses
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