How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
| Advertising Disclosure
| American Express Disclosure

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appears on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

Advertising Disclosure

LendingTree is an advertising-supported comparison service. The site features products from our partners as well as institutions which are not advertising partners. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.

American Express Disclosure

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of May 2022

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated April 28, 2022 . Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

🥇 Our top pick for the best credit card for bad credit:
Discover it® Secured Credit Card

The card account and payment activity is reported to all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion), which is important for improving your credit score. Plus, it offers a chance to get your security deposit back after demonstrating responsible behavior, charges a $0 annual fee and earns cash back.

LendingTree’s Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of May 2022

If you have bad credit, which is a credit score that’s less than 580, there are credit cards designed specifically to help rebuild your credit.

However, most of the best cards for bad credit are secured cards, which require you to put down a security deposit as collateral for your card’s credit line. That deposit is refundable when you pay the card off in full and close it or are upgraded to an unsecured card.

Based on our research of cards available through LendingTree, as well as top cards offered by major issuers, we selected some of the best secured cards and one unsecured card for bad credit, and categorized them according to different requirements.

Best For Overall credit card for bad credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Apply Now
on Discover's secure site
Intro Purchase APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 23.24% Variable APR

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is designed for applicants with limited/bad/poor credit. It requires at least a $200 minimum deposit (and up to $2,500) and charges a $0 annual fee.

One of the things that makes this card stand above the rest is that cardholders can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Plus, for new cardmembers, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Do be aware of the high 23.24% Variable APR.

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a great card in that you can transition from a secured card to an unsecured card after demonstrating good behavior.

Discover starts monthly reviews of your account after seven months of having the card to see whether you’re eligible to make the switch. If you’re eligible, you’ll get your deposit refunded and graduate to a Discover it® chrome. Note that you’re not guaranteed an upgrade, and Discover considers your history across all your credit products.

Finally, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card has no late fee for the first late payment and no penalty APR. However, you should always pay on time as late payments are reported to the credit bureaus and negatively impact your credit score.

  • No overlimit fees
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Free FICO Score
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion)

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is designed for applicants with limited/bad/poor credit. It requires at least a $200 minimum deposit (and up to $2,500) and charges a $0 annual fee.

One of the things that makes this card stand above the rest is that cardholders can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically.

Plus, for new cardmembers, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Do be aware of the high 23.24% Variable APR.

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a great card in that you can transition from a secured card to an unsecured card after demonstrating good behavior.

Discover starts monthly reviews of your account after seven months of having the card to see whether you’re eligible to make the switch. If you’re eligible, you’ll get your deposit refunded and graduate to a Discover it® chrome. Note that you’re not guaranteed an upgrade, and Discover considers your history across all your credit products.

Finally, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card has no late fee for the first late payment and no penalty APR. However, you should always pay on time as late payments are reported to the credit bureaus and negatively impact your credit score.

  • No overlimit fees
  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Free FICO Score
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion)

Best For No credit check if you have bad credit

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Apply Now
on OpenSky's secure site
Intro Purchase APR N/A
Annual Fee $35
Regular Purchase APR 17.64% (variable)

If you’re worried about your credit score taking a hit when applying for a new credit card when you already have bad credit — or if you think your credit score might cause you to be denied for other secured cards — the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card could give you a way around that. It doesn’t require a credit check when you apply, though you do have to submit some financial information.

This card charges a $35 annual fee. While reasonable, know that there are cards available to help with rebuilding credit that charge no annual fee. However, if you want a card with no credit check, the annual fee may be worth it.

The APR is 17.64% (variable).

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is aimed at applicants with limited/bad/poor credit and doesn’t require a credit check, though you will have to provide financial information, such as income and monthly housing payment. Your deposit can range from $200 to $3,000.

You don’t get an opportunity to graduate to an unsecured card like some of the other cards on this list — but after using the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card to improve your credit score through low utilization and on-time payments, you might have a better chance at getting approved for an unsecured card down the road.

Be aware the card charges a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each Transaction in U.S. dollars.

  • Reports to all three credit bureaus every month
  • If you don’t have a checking account, pay your deposit with money order or Western Union

If you’re worried about your credit score taking a hit when applying for a new credit card when you already have bad credit — or if you think your credit score might cause you to be denied for other secured cards — the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card could give you a way around that. It doesn’t require a credit check when you apply, though you do have to submit some financial information.

This card charges a $35 annual fee. While reasonable, know that there are cards available to help with rebuilding credit that charge no annual fee. However, if you want a card with no credit check, the annual fee may be worth it.

The APR is 17.64% (variable).

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is aimed at applicants with limited/bad/poor credit and doesn’t require a credit check, though you will have to provide financial information, such as income and monthly housing payment. Your deposit can range from $200 to $3,000.

You don’t get an opportunity to graduate to an unsecured card like some of the other cards on this list — but after using the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card to improve your credit score through low utilization and on-time payments, you might have a better chance at getting approved for an unsecured card down the road.

Be aware the card charges a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each Transaction in U.S. dollars.

  • Reports to all three credit bureaus every month
  • If you don’t have a checking account, pay your deposit with money order or Western Union

Best For A low deposit if you have bad credit

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Apply Now
on Capital One's secure site
Intro Purchase APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is unique in that the issuer might allow you to submit a lower deposit than your starting credit limit. If you’re approved, Capital One will set your minimum deposit at $49, $99 or $200, and you’ll get a $200 starting credit limit in any case. Note that the lower deposit is not guaranteed.

This card has no major pitfalls other than a high APR of 26.99% (variable), but that is in line with other cards for limited/bad credit. You can avoid paying interest charges if you stick to a budget and make sure to pay off the card in full every month. Plus, you’ll get considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

If you’d like the opportunity to submit a lower deposit, you can take your chances with the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card. Once you apply, Capital One will set your minimum deposit at either $49, $99 or $200, although you won’t know which deposit you’ll qualify for until after you are approved for the card. Regardless of the deposit you’ll be required to make, you’ll be issued a starting credit limit of $200.

Capital One also offers the chance to get your deposit refunded and upgrade to an unsecured Capital One Platinum Credit Card after you demonstrate responsible use of your secured card. However, note that this isn’t guaranteed, and there’s no timeline specified for when it might happen. If your account is determined to be eligible, you’ll receive your deposit back as a statement credit, and all other card terms and features will remain the same.

  • Virtual card numbers from Eno
  • Card lock if card is lost, stolen or misplaced
  • Monitor your credit score through CreditWise
  • Reports to the credit bureaus

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is unique in that the issuer might allow you to submit a lower deposit than your starting credit limit. If you’re approved, Capital One will set your minimum deposit at $49, $99 or $200, and you’ll get a $200 starting credit limit in any case. Note that the lower deposit is not guaranteed.

This card has no major pitfalls other than a high APR of 26.99% (variable), but that is in line with other cards for limited/bad credit. You can avoid paying interest charges if you stick to a budget and make sure to pay off the card in full every month. Plus, you’ll get considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

If you’d like the opportunity to submit a lower deposit, you can take your chances with the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card. Once you apply, Capital One will set your minimum deposit at either $49, $99 or $200, although you won’t know which deposit you’ll qualify for until after you are approved for the card. Regardless of the deposit you’ll be required to make, you’ll be issued a starting credit limit of $200.

Capital One also offers the chance to get your deposit refunded and upgrade to an unsecured Capital One Platinum Credit Card after you demonstrate responsible use of your secured card. However, note that this isn’t guaranteed, and there’s no timeline specified for when it might happen. If your account is determined to be eligible, you’ll receive your deposit back as a statement credit, and all other card terms and features will remain the same.

  • Virtual card numbers from Eno
  • Card lock if card is lost, stolen or misplaced
  • Monitor your credit score through CreditWise
  • Reports to the credit bureaus

Best For No deposit if you have bad credit

AvantCard Credit Card

AvantCard Credit Card

Apply Now
on Avant's secure site
Intro Purchase APR N/A
Annual Fee $59
Regular Purchase APR 25.24* Variable APR

Many unsecured credit cards for bad credit are subprime cards, laden with numerous fees that can take cardholders by surprise. But the AvantCard Credit Card is a straightforward card aimed at applicants with fair/limited/bad/poor credit.

It charges an annual fee of $59 and doesn’t require a deposit. Plus, you can check to see if you’re eligible to apply without impacting your credit score. Your credit limit will range from $300 to $1,000, depending on your application review.

While the AvantCard Credit Card charges a low annual fee, in return, you don’t have to submit a deposit. The only big drawback is that the card is not available to residents of Colorado, Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia or Wisconsin. You should also beware of the high 25.24* Variable APR and avoid carrying a balance.

  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Reports card account activity to the credit bureaus

Many unsecured credit cards for bad credit are subprime cards, laden with numerous fees that can take cardholders by surprise. But the AvantCard Credit Card is a straightforward card aimed at applicants with fair/limited/bad/poor credit.

It charges an annual fee of $59 and doesn’t require a deposit. Plus, you can check to see if you’re eligible to apply without impacting your credit score. Your credit limit will range from $300 to $1,000, depending on your application review.

While the AvantCard Credit Card charges a low annual fee, in return, you don’t have to submit a deposit. The only big drawback is that the card is not available to residents of Colorado, Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia or Wisconsin. You should also beware of the high 25.24* Variable APR and avoid carrying a balance.

  • Foreign transaction fee: None
  • Reports card account activity to the credit bureaus

Best For A low interest rate if you have bad credit

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Highlights
  • APR as low as 11.75%
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No cash advance fee
  • No foreign transaction fee

Many secured credit cards have high interest rates, but not the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card. Its regular purchase APR is 11.75% variable, which is one of the lowest we’ve found for a secured card. However, the minimum security deposit of $500 for this card is rather high compared to the $200 security deposit many other secured cards require. The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card comes with an annual fee of $0.

Though we recommend paying your card off in full every month to avoid interest charges, sometimes that might not be possible. For times when you have to carry a balance, a card with a low interest rate can help you save money. You’ll have to join Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) to get this card, and you must have a savings account with DCU, too — which requires at least $5 to open.

Ways to qualify for DCU membership include where you live, work or worship, through a participating employer, if you have a relative who’s already a DCU member or if you join a partner organization.

  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
  • Works with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
  • Foreign transaction fee: $0

Many secured credit cards have high interest rates, but not the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card. Its regular purchase APR is 11.75% variable, which is one of the lowest we’ve found for a secured card. However, the minimum security deposit of $500 for this card is rather high compared to the $200 security deposit many other secured cards require. The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card comes with an annual fee of $0.

Though we recommend paying your card off in full every month to avoid interest charges, sometimes that might not be possible. For times when you have to carry a balance, a card with a low interest rate can help you save money. You’ll have to join Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) to get this card, and you must have a savings account with DCU, too — which requires at least $5 to open.

Ways to qualify for DCU membership include where you live, work or worship, through a participating employer, if you have a relative who’s already a DCU member or if you join a partner organization.

  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
  • Works with Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay
  • Foreign transaction fee: $0
The information related to the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Best For Flat-rate cash back if you have bad credit

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Apply Now
on Capital One's secure site
Intro Purchase APR N/A
Annual Fee $0
Regular Purchase APR 26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through capital one travel (terms apply) and charges a $0 annual fee.

You’ll have to submit a security deposit of at least $200, and the maximum security deposit could be set between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on your creditworthiness.

If you travel abroad, don’t worry about a foreign transaction fee; the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card charges none.

The APR is 26.99% (variable).

If you have limited/bad credit and want a card that builds credit history while earning flat-rate cash back on every purchase, the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card offers that option. Plus, if you decide you want a higher credit limit than the minimum, you can deposit additional funds before activating your card. Finally, Capital One offers the chance to graduate to an unsecured card and get your deposit refunded after demonstrating responsible behavior (though there’s no timeline specified for when this might happen).

  • Virtual card numbers from Eno
  • Free access to your VantageScore with CreditWise
  • Lock your card in the Capital One mobile app
  • Reports to the credit bureaus

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day; 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through capital one travel (terms apply) and charges a $0 annual fee.

You’ll have to submit a security deposit of at least $200, and the maximum security deposit could be set between $1,000 and $3,000, depending on your creditworthiness.

If you travel abroad, don’t worry about a foreign transaction fee; the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card charges none.

The APR is 26.99% (variable).

If you have limited/bad credit and want a card that builds credit history while earning flat-rate cash back on every purchase, the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card offers that option. Plus, if you decide you want a higher credit limit than the minimum, you can deposit additional funds before activating your card. Finally, Capital One offers the chance to graduate to an unsecured card and get your deposit refunded after demonstrating responsible behavior (though there’s no timeline specified for when this might happen).

  • Virtual card numbers from Eno
  • Free access to your VantageScore with CreditWise
  • Lock your card in the Capital One mobile app
  • Reports to the credit bureaus

Best For Dining rewards if you have bad credit

U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured Card

Highlights
  • 4X points on dining and takeout.
  • 2X points at grocery stores, gas stations and on streaming services.
  • 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases.
  • No annual fee.

The U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured Card offers a stellar rewards rate on dining: 4X points on dining and takeout, 2X at grocery stores, gas stations and on streaming services, 1X on all other purchases

For a $0 annual fee secured card, that’s a generous rewards program.

The foreign transaction fee is $0, so if you travel abroad, you can use the card without worrying about an additional charge being tacked on every time.

Note that the minimum deposit is $300, while the maximum is $5,000.

The card’s APR is 26.24% variable.

If you’re a foodie who would like to earn rewards whenever you dine at a restaurant — whether you dine in, get takeout or order delivery — while building credit at the same time, the U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured Card is worth consideration. Plus, there’s an opportunity to earn a $15 streaming credit after 11 consecutive months of eligible streaming purchases for services such as Netflix and Spotify.

  • Choose your payment due date
  • Zero fraud liability

The U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured Card offers a stellar rewards rate on dining: 4X points on dining and takeout, 2X at grocery stores, gas stations and on streaming services, 1X on all other purchases

For a $0 annual fee secured card, that’s a generous rewards program.

The foreign transaction fee is $0, so if you travel abroad, you can use the card without worrying about an additional charge being tacked on every time.

Note that the minimum deposit is $300, while the maximum is $5,000.

The card’s APR is 26.24% variable.

If you’re a foodie who would like to earn rewards whenever you dine at a restaurant — whether you dine in, get takeout or order delivery — while building credit at the same time, the U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured Card is worth consideration. Plus, there’s an opportunity to earn a $15 streaming credit after 11 consecutive months of eligible streaming purchases for services such as Netflix and Spotify.

  • Choose your payment due date
  • Zero fraud liability
The information related to the U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Best For Online shopping if you have bad credit

Amazon Secured Card

Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • Minimum $100 security deposit up to $1,000
  • Join Prime to get 2% back on Amazon.com

At $100, the minimum deposit for the Amazon Secured Card is relatively low. Plus, there’s a $0 annual fee, and you can earn 2% back at Amazon.com, Amazon Fresh and more, with an eligible Prime membership.

And, at 10% non-variable, the APR is very low. We recommend always paying your card off in full to avoid incurring interest, but if you are forced to roll over a balance once in a while, this card’s low interest rate means you’ll save money on interest charges compared with a higher interest card.

The maximum deposit with the Amazon Secured Card is $1,000.

After demonstrating responsible usage for 12 months with the Amazon Secured Card, you may be eligible to get your deposit back (minus any amount needed to pay off what you owe on the card) and graduate to an unsecured Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, which earns cash back at a higher rate.

But know that without an Amazon Prime membership, neither of these cards earns cash back.

If you frequently turn to Amazon Prime for your online shopping, and you’re looking to build credit, the Amazon Secured Card is a fine choice.

However, note that while the annual fee is $0, you do need an Amazon Prime membership to earn cash back. The annual membership plan costs $139, or $69 if you’re a college student. And, with a 2% cash back rate, you won’t recoup that amount until you’ve spent $6,950 on purchases earning cash back (or $3,450 to recoup the amount of the student plan).

  • Free credit tracking tools
  • Zero fraud liability

At $100, the minimum deposit for the Amazon Secured Card is relatively low. Plus, there’s a $0 annual fee, and you can earn 2% back at Amazon.com, Amazon Fresh and more, with an eligible Prime membership.

And, at 10% non-variable, the APR is very low. We recommend always paying your card off in full to avoid incurring interest, but if you are forced to roll over a balance once in a while, this card’s low interest rate means you’ll save money on interest charges compared with a higher interest card.

The maximum deposit with the Amazon Secured Card is $1,000.

After demonstrating responsible usage for 12 months with the Amazon Secured Card, you may be eligible to get your deposit back (minus any amount needed to pay off what you owe on the card) and graduate to an unsecured Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature Card, which earns cash back at a higher rate.

But know that without an Amazon Prime membership, neither of these cards earns cash back.

If you frequently turn to Amazon Prime for your online shopping, and you’re looking to build credit, the Amazon Secured Card is a fine choice.

However, note that while the annual fee is $0, you do need an Amazon Prime membership to earn cash back. The annual membership plan costs $139, or $69 if you’re a college student. And, with a 2% cash back rate, you won’t recoup that amount until you’ve spent $6,950 on purchases earning cash back (or $3,450 to recoup the amount of the student plan).

  • Free credit tracking tools
  • Zero fraud liability
The information related to the Amazon Secured Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Best For Bad credit if you have a military connection

Navy Federal nRewards® Secured Credit Card

Highlights
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards and merchandise
  • No cash advance fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No annual fees
  • Rewards expire four years from the month earned

The Navy Federal nRewards® Secured Credit Card earns 1X points per dollar spent and charges a $0 annual fee. There’s no limit on how much you can earn, but rewards do expire after four years.

You’ll have to put at least $200 in your Navy Federal savings account before applying for this card. If approved, Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) will hold that as your security deposit.

The foreign transaction fee is $0, so you can have peace of mind if traveling abroad with this card. And, at 18% variable, the APR is lower than some other cards meant for people with bad credit.

After three months with this card, you might be eligible for a higher credit limit without having to deposit additional money. And, after six months with the card, NFCU will begin conducting monthly reviews to see if you qualify to graduate to an unsecured card and have the hold removed on your savings account funds.

If you qualify for NFCU membership, the Navy Federal nRewards® Secured Credit Card is an excellent card with which to build credit. The fact that you know when and how often the issuer will review your account and consider unsecuring your card is a great feature. The only other card on this list that offers such transparency is the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.

Membership in the credit union is open to United States military members and veterans, family members and civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense.

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Freeze and unfreeze your card
  • Zero fraud liability

The Navy Federal nRewards® Secured Credit Card earns 1X points per dollar spent and charges a $0 annual fee. There’s no limit on how much you can earn, but rewards do expire after four years.

You’ll have to put at least $200 in your Navy Federal savings account before applying for this card. If approved, Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) will hold that as your security deposit.

The foreign transaction fee is $0, so you can have peace of mind if traveling abroad with this card. And, at 18% variable, the APR is lower than some other cards meant for people with bad credit.

After three months with this card, you might be eligible for a higher credit limit without having to deposit additional money. And, after six months with the card, NFCU will begin conducting monthly reviews to see if you qualify to graduate to an unsecured card and have the hold removed on your savings account funds.

If you qualify for NFCU membership, the Navy Federal nRewards® Secured Credit Card is an excellent card with which to build credit. The fact that you know when and how often the issuer will review your account and consider unsecuring your card is a great feature. The only other card on this list that offers such transparency is the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.

Membership in the credit union is open to United States military members and veterans, family members and civilian employees of the U.S. Department of Defense.

  • Free access to your FICO® Score
  • Freeze and unfreeze your card
  • Zero fraud liability
The information related to the Navy Federal nRewards® Secured Credit Card has been collected by LendingTree and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply.

Side-by-side comparison of best credit cards for bad credit

Credit cardBest forMinimum deposit
Discover it® Secured Credit CardOverall$0$200
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit CardNo credit check$35$200
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit CardChance for a low deposit$0$49, $99 or $200 (determined upon approval)
AvantCard Credit CardNo deposit$59None
DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit CardLow APR$0$500
Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit CardFlat-rate cash back$0$200
U.S. Bank Altitude Go Visa Secured CardDining rewards$0$300
Amazon Secured CardOnline shopping$0$100
Navy Federal nRewards® Secured Credit CardMilitary connection$0$200

FAQs for people with bad credit

The most commonly used scoring method for credit scores is the FICO Score, which ranges from 300 to 850. A score that’s less than 580 is considered poor.

When you have a bad credit score, using a credit card responsibly is one way to help rebuild your credit. And since your credit is not in the best shape, getting a credit card to rebuild your credit is one of the few affordable options you have since lenders will likely not consider you for a loan until your credit score rebounds. Lenders want to see that if they extend you credit, you’ll pay back what you borrow, and payment history is the most important factor affecting your credit score. To build a solid payment history, put a small recurring charge on your credit card (a Netflix or Spotify subscription, for example) and pay it off in full as soon as it posts to your account each month.

A good credit card for bad credit is one that will help you build credit without charging you expensive fees. That’s why it’s important to research a card thoroughly before you apply so you understand how the card works. Most card issuers have a rates and fees link that lists all the fees associated with the card. Some fees you’ll want to try to avoid are annual fees, withdrawal fees, etc. Know that your initial credit limit will tend to be just a few hundred dollars to start, so don’t max out the card every month. To build a credit history, the card should report your payment history and utilization to the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.

You’ll need to provide the same information you would provide on any credit card application — your name, address, Social Security number, income, etc. Some issuers may allow you to check if you’re prequalified before you apply. Prequalification doesn’t guarantee approval, but it does mean you have a better chance at approval. And it’s a soft pull, which doesn’t ding your credit score. (Be aware that once you actually apply, there will generally be a hard pull on your credit history.)

No credit card has a guaranteed approval. However, the recommended cards in this guide can help people with bad credit rebuild their credit. Most are secured cards, which require a deposit, and one is an unsecured card with an annual fee. Other cards that may be easier to qualify for are store cards, which often come with high APRs and low credit limits, but if used responsibly, can help build your credit score.

Credit cards are a useful tool that can help you rebuild from bad credit. However, if you don’t want a credit card — or can’t get a credit card — another option to consider is a credit builder loan. You may be able to apply for a credit builder loan from credit unions, smaller banks and online lenders. Though it’s called a “loan,” you don’t get money upfront. You’ll make payments of a set amount over a certain period of time, and when you’ve paid in full you’ll get your money back (minus any fees the financial institution charges). Your payment history gets reported to the credit bureaus, which helps you build credit.

How to repair your credit

Check your credit score and your credit reports

You have numerous options for checking your credit score for free. And checking your credit score doesn’t hurt it. Ways to get your credit score include LendingTree, through your bank or credit card issuer, or by signing up directly with the credit bureau Experian. When it comes to your credit report, you’re entitled to a copy of your report every year at no cost from each of the three bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can get it from AnnualCreditReport.com.

Get a credit card and use it responsibly

Used wisely, a credit card is a tool that can help you rebuild your credit. Here are some practices you should follow to build a good credit score and avoid piling up debt:

  • Pay your credit card bill on time and in full. Paying on time is the most important thing you can do for a good credit score, and paying in full helps you avoid interest charges and prevent racking up debt by allowing your balance to creep up.
  • Keep your credit utilization low. A good rule is not to use more than 30% of your available credit. For example, with a $500 credit limit, don’t use more than $150 of it.
  • Don’t apply for too much new credit. Hard inquiries temporarily hurt your credit score, and multiple inquiries in a short timespan can cause issuers to reject your application.

Avoid predatory credit products and scams

You’ve likely come across subprime credit credit cards in your search for credit cards for bad credit. That’s especially true if you’re looking for a credit card for bad credit with no deposit. Examples include cards from Credit One, First Premier, Horizon Card Services and Total Visa. The credit cards offered by these companies have numerous fees, which may include:

  • A monthly service fee
  • An account validation fee
  • An authorized user fee
  • An express payment fee

Plus, it may not be clear upfront what you’ll have to pay. For example, Credit One’s website lists multiple cards on its website as meant for applicants who are rebuilding credit. The annual fee for these cards can range from $0 to $99 — and you won’t know what fee to expect until after you submit a prequalification request.

Even though it may be tempting to apply for an unsecured card aimed at borrowers with subprime credit because they don’t require a security deposit, we recommend against it. If you need an unsecured card and you’re willing to pay an annual fee, consider the AvantCard Credit Card. And if you can put together $200 for a deposit, consider a secured card like the Discover it® Secured Credit Card.

Finally, don’t believe anyone who says they can fix your credit quickly. Rebuilding credit takes time. Anyone who promises a quick fix is likely trying to take advantage of you.

Methodology

In selecting the best credit cards for bad credit, we opted for cards accessible to people with poor credit histories, but avoided any cards that hit cardholders with opaque terms and expensive fees.

Many of the cards on this list charge no annual fee; those that do come with an annual fee offer enough value to make the fee worth it in certain situations.

Finally, all of the cards on this list report activity to the credit bureaus, meaning using them responsibly can help improve your credit score.

Glen Luke Flanagan

  • Expertise: Personal finance, credit scoring, credit cards
  • Education: Radford University, East Carolina University

 


 

Glen Luke Flanagan is a senior credit card writer for LendingTree. He joined the team in June 2019, and covers topics including new credit cards, how your credit score works and what you need to know about credit card interest.
 
Before joining LendingTree, Glen worked in journalism and government communications. As a journalist at newspapers in North Carolina and South Carolina, his reporting won awards from the North Carolina Press Association and the South Carolina Press Association, respectively.
 
Glen earned his bachelor’s degree in media studies with a concentration in journalism from Radford University, graduating summa cum laude in May 2014. He also earned a master’s degree in English with a concentration in technical and professional communication, as well as a graduate certificate in marketing, from East Carolina University in May 2022.

Read More

The above offers and/or promotions may have since changed, expired, or is no longer available. Check the Issuers’ website for more details.