Credit card options for applicants with bad credit

Held back by a chequered credit history? You don't have to be. More and more card issuers are getting into the specialist lending market – so you may have more choice than you thought.

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It used to be tough to get approved for a credit card with a poor credit history, but these days competing financial institutions are increasingly looking to different sectors of the market where they can offer specialist credit cards. The reality is that these cards have higher interest rates, lower credit limits and not much in the way of extra benefits. However, they’re easier to get approved for and are designed to help you improve your credit rating over time – therefore increasing your chances of approval for other credit products in the future. Here are some popular options for applicants with bad credit plus tips for getting your credit history back into shape.

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Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first
Updated October 14th, 2019
Name Product Annual/monthly fees Min. credit limit Max credit limit Min income Rep. APR Incentive Representative example
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
24.7%
Stay in control of your account with online servicing, a mobile app, SMS and email alerts.
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 24.7% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.7% APR (variable).
£0
£500
Subject to status: £1,500
£15,000
24.9%
No fees for making purchases or withdrawing cash abroad – currencies are converted at the standard Mastercard exchange rate.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 24.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 24.9% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
29.3%
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 29.3% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.3% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
29.8%
You could get a credit limit increase after your 5th statement and further increases every 5 months, up to £4,000.
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 29.84% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.8% APR (variable).
£0
£100
Subject to status: £600
£10,000
34.9%
Earn Asda vouchers every time you shop - 1% cashback on all Asda spend, 0.2% on all other transactions. Once £2.5 is earnt a voucher can be downloaded to spend in Asda stores.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 34.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 34.9% APR (variable).
£0
£150
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
39.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,000 at a purchase rate of 39.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 39.9% APR (variable).
£0
£500
Not specified
Not specified
26.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 26.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 26.9% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,500
£5,000
27.5%
Collect 1 Tesco Clubcard point per £4 spent (£4 minimum) in Tesco and 1 Clubcard point per £8 spent (£8 minimum) outside Tesco in each purchase transaction.  Must have available credit to collect Clubcard points. Clubcard points are turned into Clubcard vouchers every 3 months or sooner using Faster Vouchers. Clubcard vouchers can be used in Tesco or with Clubcard Reward Partners to get even more value on dining out, hotel stays and travel.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 27.542% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 27.5% APR (variable).
£0
£0
Not specified
Not specified
27.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 27.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 27.9% APR (variable).
£14 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £1200: £14 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £225: £8 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £250: £3 per month
£225
Subject to status: £1,200
£8,400
28.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 0% (variable) p.a. with a fee of £14 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £1200: £14 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £225: £8 per month. Customer with a card credit limit of £250: £3 per month, your representative rate is 28.9% APR (variable).
£0
£200
Subject to status: £1,500
Not specified
29.8%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 29.84% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.8% APR (variable).
£0
£300
Not specified
Not specified
29.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 29.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 29.9% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Not specified
Not specified
34.9%
Free Credit Checker provided by TransUnion Credit View, customers receive free unlimited access to their credit score and report.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 34.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 34.9% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Not specified
Not specified
34.9%
0.5% on £1 to £20000 of yearly spend. Maximum of £100 cashback paid per year. Cashback paid Anniversary into Card Account. Maximum spend for cashback purposes is £20000
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 34.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 34.9% APR (variable).
£0
£50
Subject to status: £1,200
£3,000
34.9%
Buy tickets for up to 3500 selected live events through Barclaycard entertainment and get 5% off tickets per year and exclusive pre-sale tickets on selected festivals with 10% off ticket prices.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 34.9% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 34.9% APR (variable).
£0
£200
Subject to status: £1,500
Not specified
34.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 34.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 34.9% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,200
Not specified
35.9%
Free Credit Checker provided by TransUnion Credit View, customers receive free unlimited access to their credit score and report.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 35.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 35.9% APR (variable).
£0
£200
Subject to status: £1,500
Not specified
35.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 35.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 35.9% APR (variable).
£0
£200
Subject to status: £1,500
Not specified
35.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 35.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 35.9% APR (variable).
£0
£200
Subject to status: £1,500
Not specified
39.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 39.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 39.9% APR (variable).
£0
£200
Subject to status: £1,500
Not specified
39.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 39.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 39.9% APR (variable).
£0
£250
Subject to status: £1,200
Not specified
39.9%
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 39.95% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 39.9% APR (variable).
£0
£100
Subject to status: £300
Not specified
49.9%
Free Credit Checker provided by TransUnion Credit View, customers receive free unlimited access to their credit score and report.
Representative example: When you spend £1,200 at a purchase rate of 49.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 49.9% APR (variable).
£0
£150
Subject to status: £1,000
Not specified
59.9%
Representative example: When you spend £250 at a purchase rate of 59.94% (variable) p.a., your representative rate is 59.9% APR (variable).

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Approval for any credit card will depend on your status. The APR shown represents the interest rate offered to most successful applicants. Depending on your personal circumstances the APR you're offered may be higher, or you may not be offered credit at all. Fees and rates are subject to change without notice. It's always wise to check the terms of any deal before you borrow.

What is my credit score?

Your credit score is based on metrics in your credit history and is a major factor in determining your success when it comes to applying for credit. There is no single standardised way of calculating credit scores, with credit rating bodies, banks and credit card companies using their own rating systems in assessing client credit ratings.

  • Experian: 0–999
  • Equifax: 0–700
  • TransUnion (formerly Callcredit): 0–710

Depending on your score, you’re said to have excellent, good, fair, poor or very poor credit:

AgencyScoreRating
Experian0–560
561–720
721–880
881–960
961–999
Very poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent
Equifax0–279
280–379
380–419
420–465
466–700
Very poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent
TransUnion (formerly Callcredit)0–550
561–565
566–603
604–627
628–710
Very poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent

What financial products can I get with bad credit?

You have a number of options if you have bad credit, most of which don’t involve credit cards at all.

  • Specialist credit cards for bad credit. A number of banks offer credit card options for people with a poor credit history. These cards typically have low credit limits, higher interest rates and few extra benefits but do allow individuals to improve their credit rating over time. It’s not recommended that you apply for one of these cards if your objective is to use it to tackle existing debt, as this can simply lead to greater debt. Work on clearing existing debts before applying for a card like this. Compare now.
  • Debit cards. A good way to avoid debt is to steer away from credit and only spend what you have. Although using a debit card is unlikely to affect your credit rating, a current account with regular direct debits is a good sign to a potential lender.
  • Prepaid 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 to 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 that you’d use your credit or debit card. Compare prepaid cards
  • Bad credit personal loans. Personal loans are traditionally used when borrowing larger amounts of money for a significant purchase or to consolidate debt. There are some bad credit personal loans on the market that cater especially to people with poor credit ratings. These loans usually come with a fixed interest rate and if you repay responsibly, can be used to rebuild your creditworthiness.
  • Guarantor loans. With a guarantor loan a second person agrees to step in and make repayments if you fail to do so. Lenders will be able to consider the second individual’s credit rating as well as your own.
  • Payday loans. Payday or short term loans are a very expensive method of borrowing and should only be considered as a last resort to cover an unexpected cash shortfall. They’re not suitable for those in financial difficulties, they may not solve your money problems and they’re not a good idea for borrowing over longer periods or for sustained borrowing. Short term lenders are often willing to consider lending to those with less-than-perfect credit ratings and will normally lend a small amount for a short time initially, then may gradually increase the loan amounts and loan terms they offer. You should compare lenders before you apply.

Ultimately, a bad credit rating can significantly impact your lifestyle, making it difficult to get a car, a mortgage 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.

Make sure you compare credit cards for people with poor credit history before you make an application. You shouldn’t apply for every card and loan under the sun, because multiple applications for credit in a short space of time can ring alarm bells with potential lenders. You can also take steps to improve your credit rating and manage your finances so that you can live free of debt. You may opt to begin by requesting a copy of your credit report and identifying the negative listings on your file.

List of documents needed for credit card application

We exist to help you find better. The offers we've compared on this page are from a range of products whose details we can track; we don't cover every product on the market...yet. Unless we've indicated otherwise, products are shown in no particular order or ranking. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't product ratings, although we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it; this is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, it's wise to consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own financial circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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