When you have bad credit, it can be difficult to be approved for a new credit card, which can be exactly what you need to help rebuild your credit. Thankfully, there are credit card designed specifically for those with credit problems. Here are the best credit cards available to applicants with bad credit:
- Total Visa® Credit Card: Best Unsecured Credit Card for Bad Credit
- Discover it® Secured: Best Secured Card for Rewards
- Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for Rewards Overall
- Capital One Secured Mastercard®: Best for Those With No Credit
- Petal® 1 Visa® Credit Card: Best Card For Building Credit with a High Limit
- Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®: Best for Getting Prequalified Online
Total Visa® Credit Card: Best Unsecured Credit Card for Bad Credit
The Total Visa® Credit Card is ideal for consumers who want to build credit without putting down a cash deposit.
- Reports to all three credit bureaus
- Easy to qualify with poor credit or no credit
- No security deposit required
- Get a decision in as little as 60 seconds
- $89 program fee and $75 annual fee the first year ($48 annually after that).
- Fees are deducted from your initial line of credit.
This unsecured credit card is available to consumers with all kinds of credit profiles, and it’s possible to get approved online in a matter of minutes. The biggest benefit of this card is that all your monthly payments are reported to the three credit bureaus, meaning you can use it to improve your credit score over time with responsible use.
The upfront costs with this card are high. You’ll pay $89 just to apply for the Total Visa® Credit Card, and a $75 annual fee applies the first year (annual fee is $48 for following years). You do have the option to choose your card’s design, and have manageable monthly payments.
Discover it® Secured: Best Secured Card for Rewards
The Discover it® Secured Card is easily the most rewarding secured credit card on the market today.
- Earn 2% back on up to $1,000 in spending at gas stations and restaurants each quarter, plus 1% back on everything else
- No annual fee or application fee
- Free FICO score on your monthly statement
- Reports to all three credit bureaus
- The Discover card isn’t as widely accepted overseas as Visa or Mastercard.
This card requires a cash deposit as collateral, but you’ll earn 2% back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, plus earn 1% back on all other purchases. Discover will also double all the rewards earned in the first year.
The Discover it® Secured Card doesn’t charge an annual fee or application fee and you’ll get access to your FICO credit score on your statement each month. This card also reports to the three credit bureaus so with responsible use, you can use it to improve your credit over time.
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card: Best for Rewards Overall
The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card is the best rewards credit card for bad credit on our list, but you do need “average” or “fair” credit to qualify.
- Earn 1.5% cash back on all your spending
- $39 annual fee
- Qualify for a higher credit limit in as little as 6 months (with on-time payments)
- Get free access to your credit score as well as credit-tracking tools using Credit Wise from Capital One
- This card is for those with “fair” or “average” credit, so you likely won’t be approved with bad credit.
This card is unsecured, meaning you won’t have to put down a cash deposit if you get approved.
The rewards rate with this card is easy to understand. You’ll earn a flat 1.5% cash back for each dollar you spend without any spending caps or limits. A $39 annual fee does apply, but that’s minimal compared to the annual fee on other cards. With responsible account use, you could qualify for a higher credit limit in just six months with Automatic Credit Line Reviews.
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One: Best for No Credit
When you have a limited credit history, you need a good place to start.
- No credit history required
- Minimal deposit required
- Strong cardholder benefits
- No annual fee
- Initial credit line limited to $200
The Capital One Secured Mastercard starts you off with a $200 line of credit after you make a minimum refundable deposit of $49, $99 or $200, depending on your credit history. You can also deposit more money to receive a higher line of credit. Capital One will automatically review your account after six months to see if you’re eligible for a higher line of credit.
Capital One is a respected credit card issuer that offers additional benefits such as account alerts, Card Lock, $0 fraud liability and no foreign transaction fees. Best of all, there’s no annual fee for this card.
Petal® 1 Visa® Credit Card: Best Card for Building Credit with a High Limit
The Petal 1 Visa is a card designed for those with bad credit, a limited credit history or no credit at all.
- Credit limit of $500 to $5,000
- No annual fee
- Approval based on alternative data
- Cash back from select merchants
- Few cardholder benefits
It uses your banking history to produce an alternative measure of your creditworthiness based on factors such as income, savings and spending history.
And unlike many competitors, it offers fairly high limits between $500 and $5,000, depending on your credit history. It also offers 2% – 10% cash back at select merchants. And while it has no annual fee or foreign transaction fees, there are fees for late payments and returned payments.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®: Best for Getting Prequalified Online
- Reports to the three credit bureaus
- Get prequalified online and without a hard inquiry on your credit report
- Earn 1% back on eligible purchases
- Annual fee from $75 the first year, then $99 after
The Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® is an unsecured credit card, meaning you don’t have to put down a cash deposit to get started. This card does charge an annual fee up to $99 ($75 the first year), but you’ll earn 1% back on eligible purchases and you can qualify for automatic credit line increases based on responsible credit use.
The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa is a popular card with consumers because it offers the ability to get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. You can also qualify with just average or poor credit.
Frequently asked questions about the best credit cards for bad credit
Q. Can you use credit cards to improve your credit? A credit card designed specifically for those with bad credit can be a great option to help improve your credit and get you back on track financially. The fact is, you can be approved for a credit card designed for people with bad credit when others won’t, giving you a chance to prove you can use credit responsibly as well as pay your bills on time.
Q. Do credit cards for bad credit offer terms that are competitive with other cards? While these credit cards don’t offer the best rates and terms, keep in mind that you don’t have to use these kinds of credit cards forever. The whole point of applying for a credit card created for applicants with poor credit is to give yourself the chance to improve your credit score so you can switch to a card with better rates and rewards later on. With enough time and responsible credit use under your belt, you could even upgrade to a cash back or travel rewards credit card.
Q. What is bad credit? If your FICO credit score is in the poor range at 579 or lower, or even if your score is considered “fair” at 580 to 669, you might consider utilizing a “bad” credit credit card to turn your situation around. For the purpose of this guide, we took the time to compare all the best credit cards for bad credit to see how they stack up.
Q. What is a secured credit card? Credit cards for people with bad credit are often secured credit cards. With a secured credit card, you’ll need to put down a refundable cash deposit as collateral in order to secure a small line of credit. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll get your security deposit back when you close your account or upgrade your card in good standing.
Q. Should I expect to earn rewards from a credit card for people with bad credit? Some credit cards for people with bad credit offer rewards on your spending, but most don’t. While earning cash back is a major plus, keep in mind that rewards are only beneficial if you don’t wind up overspending and never incur interest charges by carrying a balance.
Q. What does it mean to be prequalified? Note that some credit cards for people with bad credit will prequalified you online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. Instead, prequalifying will leave you with just a “soft” inquiry on your credit report, which will not impact your credit score in the same way a hard inquiry can.
How We Found the Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of 2021
There are all kinds of credit cards for bad credit available to consumers today, but they’re not all created equal. Some cards have higher than average interest rates and many charge annual fees on top of application fees. Here are all the factors we considered when coming up with our list of top cards for bad credit this year:
Monthly Credit Reporting
The most important factor we considered for cards in this category was monthly credit reporting. To make a credit card for bad credit work in your favor, all your monthly payments and balance details need to be reported to the three credit bureaus each month. When this happens, you have the best chance at improving your score over time when used responsibly.
While rewards may not be the most important factor you look for in a credit card for bad credit, we still gave precedence to cards in this category that offer cash back. After all, earning 1% or more back on all your purchases can help you rack up rewards in a hurry. Plus, cash back can help make up for annual fees and any security deposits you had to put down. Keep in mind, however, that rewards are only useful if you pay your credit card bill in full each month and never carry a balance.
While credit cards for bad credit are more likely to charge more fees than credit cards geared towards people with good or great credit, we still looked for cards that kept their fees at a minimum. We also considered the interest rates credit cards charge on balances carried over, keeping in mind that it may not always be possible to pay your balance in full each month.
Summary: Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of July 2021
|Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of 2020||Best For|
|Total Visa Credit Card||Best Unsecured Credit Card for Bad Credit|
|Discover it Secured||Best Secured Card for Rewards|
|Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card||Best for Rewards Overall|
|Capital One Secured Mastercard||Best for Those with No Credit|
|Petal 1 Visa Credit Card||Best Credit Card with a High Limit|
|Credit One Bank Platinum Visa||Best for Getting Prequalified Online|