September 1, 2023
The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is our top pick because it’s geared toward those with poor/limited credit. It offers great rewards and charges a $0 annual fee. Plus, Discover will conduct monthly account reviews after seven months to see if you qualify to get your deposit refunded.
Cash back on all purchases
The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is our pick for the easiest credit card to get because it is designed for people with low credit scores. It comes with a $0 annual fee, great cash back rewards and a sign-up bonus for new cardmembers. Plus, you can find out if you’re preapproved without affecting your credit score. It’s consistently one of our top credit card choices for building credit.
Secured cards like the Discover it® Secured Credit Card require a security deposit equal to the amount of your credit line (what you can charge to the card at one time). If you don’t pay off what you charge, Discover will use the deposit to recoup that loss.
But if you consistently make on-time payments, Discover may upgrade you to an unsecured card. They’ll also start conducting regular reviews of your account after seven months to see if you’re eligible to upgrade and get your deposit back.
See if you’re eligible without affecting your credit score
The AvantCard Credit Card is one of the easiest unsecured credit cards to get with bad credit because you can quickly prequalify online with no impact to your credit score.
It’s also easy to get because you won’t have to put up a lot of cash upfront. As an unsecured card, the AvantCard Credit Card doesn’t require a security deposit in order to open an account. Instead, you’ll pay an annual fee of up to $59, which is on the low end for unsecured credit cards for people with low credit scores. You’ll also pay a fee for late payments.
Look elsewhere if you won’t be able to pay off your card in full every month. The AvantCard Credit Card has a high APR, so while it may be relatively easy to get, it’ll be hard to pay off if you have to carry a balance.
No hard inquiry on credit report
Consider the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card if you’re worried about taking points off your credit score with a hard credit check. Since Capital Bank doesn’t run a credit check as part of the application process, it’s easier for people with bad credit to get approved for the card. Plus, while many unsecured credit cards for people with bad credit charge sky-high fees, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card has a reasonable $35 annual fee.
If you’re approved, you’ll have to submit a $200 to $3,000 security deposit that will serve as your credit limit. Capital Bank will refund your deposit if you pay off and close the card. You may even be eligible to upgrade to a “regular” (unsecured) card after you make consistent, on-time payments for six months.
Security deposit aside, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card works the same as an unsecured credit card. Capital Bank reports your account activity to all three major credit bureaus, helping you improve your credit score over time with responsible use.
Cash back on all purchases
The Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card is a good $0-annual-fee rewards card for a business owner with a low credit score. You will need at least $1,000 to put down as a deposit. But, with regular use and on-time payments, Bank of America could upgrade you to an unsecured card. At this point they would also return your deposit.
If you need to carry a balance from month to month, we recommend looking for a card with a lower APR. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying more in interest than you’ll earn in cash back rewards with the Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card.
No security deposit required
If you have fair/limited credit and don’t want to submit a security deposit, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card might be the right card for you. It’s a solid pick for cash back rewards on all purchases, and we love that there’s no foreign transaction fee. You’ll pay a $39 annual fee to carry the card, but you’ll earn that amount in cash back if you spend $2,600 on purchases every year.
The APR on this card is high at 30.74% (variable). If you’re planning to pay off a big purchase over time or if you need to carry a balance month to month, consider a card with a lower APR that will make repayment less costly.
Cash back on employee purchases
While some business credit cards require good or excellent credit, the Capital One Spark Classic for Business is designed for business owners with fair credit. It’s a $0-annual-fee cash back card that’s worth considering if you think you’ll struggle to qualify for other business credit cards. There’s no foreign transaction fee and no charge for extra cards to issue to your employees.
As a card designed for business owners with fair credit, it has limited rewards. Use the card responsibly and as your credit score rises, you can apply for a business card with better rewards. You should also note the card’s high APR — currently 30.49% (variable) — so make sure you pay off your balance in full every month.
No security deposit required
If you’re looking for a no-annual-fee credit card for consumers with fair/limited credit that doesn’t require a security deposit, we recommend the Capital One Platinum Credit Card. It doesn’t offer rewards, but you might be able to upgrade to another Capital One card offering cash back or miles after you’ve created a record of making on-time payments.
Capital One automatically reviews your credit line after six months to see if you qualify for a higher credit limit. Your initial credit limit may be low, which is typical for cards marketed to people looking to build their credit profiles.
If you carry a balance from month to month on your Capital One Platinum Credit Card, you will be subject to a high purchase APR of 30.74% (variable). That said, high interest rates are common for credit cards designed to help you build or establish credit.
Elevated dining and entertainment rewards
If you’re a college student with fair/limited credit and you spend frequently on groceries, dining or entertainment, check out the Capital One SavorOne Student Cash Rewards Credit Card. It’s an excellent cash back card designed for students, so the approval requirements are lower than those on a typical card.
You can check to see if you’re preapproved for the card without risking any damage to your credit score. And Capital One will report your spending and payment activity to the credit bureaus, so you’ll build credit history while earning cash back at a competitive rate.
There’s a $0 annual fee, and if you travel outside the United States to study abroad, you can rest easy knowing that you won’t have to pay a foreign transaction fee, either. Cardholders with low credit scores will likely be subject to high interest rates, though, which will make carrying a balance on this card very expensive.
Discount on all Target purchases
The Target REDcard™ Credit Card is our pick for the easiest store card to get. It has no annual fee and several perks, including free shipping and 5% off at Target in-store and online. It’s easy to get the ongoing discount because it’s instantly applied at checkout. The Target REDcard™ Credit Card is best for Target shoppers, since you can’t use it outside of Target and Target.com.
Store cards are generally much easier to qualify for than other credit cards, as they tend to have lower credit limits and higher APRs. These high interest rates make this card a poor choice for anyone who needs to carry a balance.
Access to exclusive offers
If you do the bulk of your online shopping at Amazon and are already a Prime member, getting the Amazon Prime Store Card makes good sense. Prime cardholders can earn 5% back at Amazon.com. This is a generous rate, especially for a store card. There’s no annual fee, but you’ll need to pay for an Amazon Prime membership in order to earn cash back.
To justify the Prime membership cost based on what you earn with the card, you’d need to spend at least $2,780 per year (or $1,380 for the annual student membership) on purchases earning 5% cash back.
Expertise: Credit cards
Education: New York University
Lauren Nicholson is a staff writer at LendingTree, where she focuses on credit cards.
Before joining LendingTree, she worked in the education sector as a college counselor and marketing associate. Lauren is passionate about using clear, concise language to empower readers in times of transition, whether they’re making decisions about their finances or their education.
Lauren has a master’s degree in English from New York University.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.