Advertiser Disclosure
X

Advertiser Disclosure: The credit card and banking offers that appear on this site are from credit card companies and banks from which MoneyCrashers.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they appear on category pages. MoneyCrashers.com does not include all banks, credit card companies or all available credit card offers, although best efforts are made to include a comprehensive list of offers regardless of compensation. Advertiser partners include American Express, Chase, U.S. Bank, and Barclaycard, among others.

  • Date

By

Dig Deeper

27,216FansLike
27,347FollowersFollow
43,403FollowersFollow

Become a Money Crasher!
Join our community.

7 Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit – Reviews & Comparison

Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

According to Experian’s 2019 State of Credit study, the average U.S. consumer’s FICO score – a popular consumer credit score – hit a record high of 703 in 2019, measured on a scale of 300 to 850. Fewer than 100 points separate the cities with the country’s highest and lowest average FICO scores, indicating that many consumers’ scores cluster tightly around the national mean.

You shouldn’t feel discouraged or ashamed by a credit score that’s significantly below the national average due to high credit utilization or late payments in the past, nor a credit report that reflects past financial difficulties. However, even fair credit, and certainly poor credit, often has real-world consequences.

If you don’t take steps to build your credit over time and boost your credit score, you could find yourself face to face with some of the negative consequences of bad credit.


Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Fortunately, credit card issuers are willing to lend to people with less-than-perfect credit or thin credit histories. If your credit is fair or poor, you shouldn’t expect a gilt-edged credit card with an astronomical spending limit, lavish rewards, and VIP benefits. You might have to accept relatively high fees and high interest rates (albeit with a variable APR that could decrease as your credit improves).

But you certainly could qualify for a credit card designed to help you build credit and raise your credit score, even if you have a limited credit history.

The credit card offers on this list are all designed to do just that: assist in building credit history and improving credit overall. Many are secured credit cards that require an initial deposit, often equal to the card’s credit limit, before first use.

Others are unsecured cards that come with high APRs (interest rates) and low credit limits (available credit). Some boast student-friendly card perks, such as cash-back rewards for good grades.

In general, cards for people with bad credit don’t offer amazing rewards or high spending limits. What they do offer is a manageable means to improve credit over time.

In fact, most of the cards on this list report monthly payments to all three major credit bureaus, and many automatically consider customers for credit line increases after several consecutive on-time, in-full payments.

When used responsibly and paid on time, these cards serve as stepping stones to credit cards with higher spending limits, lower APRs, and better cash back, travel rewards, or hotel rewards. Other lenders are sure to take notice of your improved credit performance too.


1. Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

Unlimited 1.5% Cash Back on All Eligible Purchases

capital one quicksilver one credit card

Learn More

The Capital One QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card is the only unsecured credit card on this list. It’s intended to be a “bridge” card that may open you up to other cards with greater rewards – two very attractive features that are worth seeking out.

It’s also one of the only cash-back rewards credit cards featured here. It earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases, all the time, and allows you to redeem for statement credits or bank account deposits once you accumulate $25 in cash-back rewards.

This card is for users with average, fair, or limited credit, so applicants who’ve recently declared bankruptcy or have very low credit scores aren’t likely to qualify.

Also, if this is your first unsecured credit card, you probably won’t qualify for a high credit limit right out of the gate. Expect your limit to start at or near the card’s minimum of $300.

If you make on-time payments for five consecutive months, Capital One automatically approves you for a higher credit line. Capital One doesn’t disclose QuicksilverOne’s maximum credit limit, but it’s reasonable to expect a limit of $1,500 or more after two to three years of responsible card use and on-time payments.

  • Rewards and Redemption: All eligible purchases earn unlimited 1.5% cash back, with no caps or restrictions on how much you can earn. You can redeem for statement credits and other cash equivalents in any amount or schedule recurring redemptions starting at $25.
  • Key Fees: There’s a $39 annual fee, but no foreign transaction fees. You can’t make balance transfers with this card.
  • Intro APR: None.
  • Other Perks: Get free monthly access to your FICO score via Capital One’s Credit Tracker feature.

Read our Capital One Quicksilver One Cash Rewards Credit Card review for more information. Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.

Learn More


2. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Minimal Fees; Possibility of Credit Limit Greater Than Initial Deposit; Credit Limit Increases Without Additional Deposits

capital one secured mastercard

Learn More

Before you can start using the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, you need to make a refundable security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, depending on your credit profile.

Your initial credit limit ranges from $200 to $3,000, depending on your creditworthiness, and may be raised after several months of timely payments at Capital One’s sole discretion.

If you want to get a higher credit limit without waiting this long, you can make additional deposits in $20 increments, up to the $1,000 maximum. Regardless of whether you pay on time or not, Capital One reports all payments (or lack thereof) to the three major credit reporting bureaus.

The Capital One Secured Mastercard is attractive to borrowers with bad credit because it’s one of the few secured cards that offer credit limits greater than the initial deposits.

Also, cardholders in good standing can eventually graduate to unsecured status, recouping their security deposits in full and continuing to use the card without depositing additional funds.

This card’s fees are also lower than many other secured cards, and its nonexistent annual fee is a rarity in the space.

  • Rewards and Redemption: None.
  • Key Fees: There’s no annual fee. Balance transfers aren’t allowed.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Other Perks: Get free unlimited access to your FICO score and credit-building help via Capital One Credit Tracker.

Read our Capital One® Secured Mastercard® review for more information. Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.

Learn More


3. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Card

No Credit Check Necessary With Application; Low APR and Reasonable Fees

Opensky Secured Visa Card

Learn More

The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card requires an upfront refundable deposit of at least $200 and as much as $3,000. Your credit limit is always equal to your deposited amount. Like most other secured card issuers, OpenSky reports your payment patterns to all three major credit reporting bureaus.

Importantly, this card doesn’t require a credit check with your application, which makes it a strong choice for people with poor or nonexistent credit. However, you do need to watch out for the relatively low maximum credit limit.

Unlike some other secured cards designed for rebuilding credit, the OpenSky Secured Visa doesn’t have an unsecured version. If you want to get your security deposit back, you need to request to cancel the card and pay any outstanding balance.

  • Rewards and Redemption: None.
  • Key Fees: There’s a $35 annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount.
  • Introductory APR: Enjoy 0% APR on purchases for three months from account opening. After that, variable regular APR applies.
  • Other Perks: OpenSky has lots of credit education material for inexperienced credit users. If you need a home loan or consumer bank account, you can apply through Capital Bank, OpenSky’s parent company.

Check out our OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card review for more information.

Learn More


4. Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Reasonable APR; No Annual Fee

Citi Secured Mastercard 12 4 19

Learn More

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® requires an opening deposit of little as $200 or as much as $2,500, the card’s maximum credit limit. Your funds are held for at least 18 months, though you can make additional deposits to raise your credit limit at any time. Your credit limit is always equal to the amount on deposit.

If you make timely payments for the entire 18-month hold period, Citi may return your deposit and let you continue using your card in unsecured form.

Unlike some more lenient card issuers, Citi automatically denies applicants who’ve filed for bankruptcy within 24 months of applying. However, Citi does report your payment patterns to all three credit reporting bureaus.

  • Rewards and Redemption: None.
  • Key Fees: There is no annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3%.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Other Perks: You get zero-liability fraud protection for unauthorized purchases and complimentary identity theft protection in the event that your personal data is compromised.

Check out our Citi® Secured Mastercard® review for more information. Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.

Learn More


5. Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® With Cash Back Rewards Card

1% Cash Back on Eligible Purchases; Good for Rebuilding Credit With No Security Deposit Required

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa Unsecured Card Art

Learn More

The Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® With Cash Back Rewards Card is one of the most generous cash back cards specifically designed for applicants with impaired credit and those seeking to build credit for the first time.

Although the initial credit limit is likely to be low and Credit One Bank reserves the right to charge an annual fee, this is a very good credit card for those looking to bounce back from financial setbacks. And Credit One commits to automatically considering cardholders for credit line increases, assuming responsible use and timely payment.

  • Rewards and Redemption: Earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases, posted automatically to your account balance each month.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee ranges from $0 to $99, depending on your creditworthiness and other factors. Other fees may apply; see terms and conditions.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Other Perks: Visa underwrites perks like complimentary travel accident and auto rental collision insurance coverage.

See our Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® With Cash Back Rewards Card Review for more information. Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.

Learn More


6. Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Rapid Pre-Qualification for Applicants Looking to Rebuild Credit; No Security Deposit Required

Indigo Platinum Mastercard Card Art

Learn More

The Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® is another great credit-building card with loose underwriting standards and no security deposit required. It’s ideal for people looking to rebuild credit after financial setbacks, though applicants should be aware that Indigo may charge an annual fee for cardholders deemed less creditworthy.

  • Rewards and Redemption: There’s currently no rewards program.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee ranges from $0 to $99, depending on your creditworthiness and other factors. Other fees may apply.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Other Perks: Other card benefits include rapid pre-qualification with no hard credit pull required and a free custom card design.

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.

Learn More


7. Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard®

Great Card for People With Impaired Credit; No Security Deposit Required

Indigo Unsecured Mastercard Card Art

Learn More

The Indigo® Unsecured Mastercard® is also designed for people with impaired credit. And, like its stablemate, it doesn’t require a security deposit. That said, it does reserve the right to levy an annual fee (up to $99, depending on creditworthiness).

  • Rewards and Redemption: There’s no rewards program here.
  • Key Fees: The annual fee ranges from $0 to $99, depending on your creditworthiness and other factors. Other fees may apply.
  • Introductory APR: None.
  • Other Perks: Indigo automatically reports payment and credit utilization information to the three major consumer credit reporting bureaus.

Learn more about this card and find out how to apply here.

Learn More


Final Word

These credit cards are useful for establishing a robust payment history, building your credit profile, and improving your credit score over time, but they’re not cure-alls.

If you already have a large debt load and are struggling to pay your bills each month, adding another line of credit to your balance sheet likely isn’t a smart move. Credit counseling or debt management may be a better fit for your situation.

Likewise, if you’ve recently declared bankruptcy or have a truly abysmal credit score, you’re unlikely to be approved for any of the cards on this list. It’s better to focus on making timely payments on your current obligations, such as utility bills and monthly rent, and reducing your credit utilization ratio.

Ultimately, you want your credit report to reflect a longer period of good credit habits. Once you prove to the major credit bureaus (and future creditors) that you’re capable of responsible borrowing, these credit cards await.

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

What Do You Want To Do
With Your Money?

Make
Money

Explore

Manage
Money

Explore

Save
Money

Explore

Borrow
Money

Explore

Protect
Money

Explore

Invest
Money

Explore