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Prequalify for a credit card with bad credit

Protect your credit score from hard pulls as you rebuild.

When you’re trying to rebuild your credit score, applying and failing to qualify for a credit-building card can actually hurt your efforts. Each application results in a hard pull on your credit, which can cause your credit score to dip. Prequalification is useful because you can see your chances of credit card approval without a hard pull. While not all providers offer prequalification, you have a few options to prequalify for credit cards for bad credit. Here’s how it works.

How to prequalify for a credit card when you have bad credit

Only certain card providers offer prequalification on their cards. And for those that do offer prequalification, you might only find this feature on specific cards. Generally, to prequalify for credit cards for bad credit, you can do the following:

  1. Choose a credit card you’d like to apply for and visit the provider’s prequalification page.
  2. Fill out the prequalification form with personal information such as your name and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
  3. After filling in all of the requested information, click submit.
  4. If you prequalify for a credit card, the provider will contact you and send further information.

“Prequalify” yourself

If there’s a credit card for bad credit that doesn’t offer prequalification, you can do a basic review of your finances and credit score to run your own prequalification test. Check your desired card’s credit requirement and match it up against your credit score. If your credit score outstrips the card’s credit requirement by a decent margin — and your finances are otherwise in good shape — you have a good chance of qualifying.

You can use our comparison table on this page to kick start your research, as well as get an idea of what cards are available.

Compare credit cards for bad credit you can prequalify for

Here are a few of the credit cards for bad credit that allow you to prequalify:

Name Product Filter values Rewards Purchase APR Annual fee
Cleo Credit Builder card
The Cleo Plus service is included with the Cleo Builder service and allows you to earn cash back with select retailers offered through Button as well as click-through offers and daily cash challenges.
A card made with your credit score in mind
Destiny Mastercard®
24.9% fixed
$59 to $99
An unsecured credit card for building credit with the option to see if you prequalify before applying.
Credit One Bank® NASCAR® Credit Card
2% cash back rewards at the NASCAR Shop and 1% back on eligible gas and automotive purchases
23.99% variable
$39 to $99
Earn 2% cash back rewards at the NASCAR Shop and 1% back on eligible gas and automotive purchases.

Compare up to 4 providers

Benefits of prequalifying for a credit card for bad credit

Credit card prequalification is a useful financial tool because it allows you to:

  • See your approval odds. Knowing your approval odds means you can limit the cards you apply for to one that is most likely to approve your application.
  • Prequalify for multiple credit cards. Instead of applying for multiple credit cards and risk getting declined, you can see if you prequalify for multiple cards at the same time. If you do, apply for the card that make the most sense for your financial situation.
  • Minimize the risk of hard pulls. Because prequalification only requires a soft pull, you won’t take a hit on your credit no matter how many prequalifications you request.

Alternatives to prequalifying for credit cards for bad credit

A popular alternative to applying for a credit card for bad credit is secured credit cards. These cards often have low or no credit requirements in exchange for requiring a security deposit when you open the account. If you’re purely focused on building your credit score, these are a strong option if you can afford the deposit.

Bottom line

If you have bad credit, consider requesting credit card prequalification before you apply for a credit card. This will show you the chances of credit card approval without affecting your credit score.

However, some credit cards let you apply without doing a credit check. Whichever path you choose, make sure you compare your credit card options and apply for the right card for your needs.

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