Choosing a card can be both confusing and time-consuming. Which card is right for you? Will your credit score drop if you apply for another card? When you are in this situation and cannot get approved for a regular credit card, your alternatives will look bleak.
A secured credit card is the best bet for people with bad scores who want something like an actual credit card in their wallet without jumping through hoops to get one.
Many credit cards processing companies require a refundable cash deposit for security, which provides backup collateral should you default on payments. In some cases, if you use your secured card responsibly over time, your issuer may increase your limit or upgrade you to an unsecured card where you do not have to pay a deposit.
Secured cards are often easier to qualify for than unsecured cards. These cards tend to have lower interest rates and fees than other beginner credit cards. Most also report activity to all three major credit bureaus to help build your credit over time.
The secured credit card option might be an alternative, but the security deposit requirement can hinder what you can purchase. The second option could be an unsecured credit card designed for thin or bad credit (a “bad credit” card).
However, these cards do come with higher interest rates and fees. With such credit cards, absolute purchasing power could be limited, and other hurdles could include annual fees and application fees for getting approved.
Thanks to the booming market for subprime loans, there is plenty of help for consumers with bad credit scores these days — provided you know where to look.
For those who are unsure how to start the search for a sound credit card for bad credit, we have outlined a few helpful tips here. First, consider which factors matter most to you when shopping around. Would you prefer a low fixed rate or a low variable APR? What about rewards like cashback? Or possibly no late fees?
Once you have answered those questions, you can head on to our complete list of the best credit cards so you can find a fit that matches your needs.
List of Top 5 Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit [Full Reviews]
We know that getting ten credit cards a year is possible, and we are not saying that this is a good idea. But if you are going to do so, you might as well choose the best credit cards for bad credit. Here is our top five list of the most valuable credit cards with no credit checks.
- OpenSky: Overall Best Credit Card for Bad Credit
- Surge Mastercard: Best for Small Business
- First Access: Easiest Approval for Credit Cards
- FIT Mastercard: Best Services for Credit Rebuilding
- Reflex Mastercard: Secured Credit Card for Beginners
#1. OpenSky: Overall Best Credit Card for Bad Credit
If you are looking to build your credit, you may be wondering if a secured card can help. Like the OpenSky Secured Visa, a credit card offers a way to build your credit while keeping the peace of mind of a refundable deposit.
OpenSky credit card is the product of Capital Bank. Since the credit card is secured, you will have to deposit a certain amount of money as collateral in case of a loan default.
Despite being reasonably easy to get, the card’s benefits are somewhat limited. For example, unlike many other secured cards from major issuers, this card charges an annual fee, and it also does not offer an unsecured account upgrade option. It means you will have to close the account and forfeit your security deposit if you want your deposit back.
No Credit Check: If your credit score is in the range of poor to average, you can qualify for this credit card. Despite a range given by the card issuer, the bank runs neither a hard credit check nor a soft credit pull. However, to guarantee your loan application approval, you must fulfill specific requirements.
The application is easy, as you will just need to provide your social security number and a healthy monthly income ratio to expenditures. Moreover, proof of U.S. citizenship and paying a refundable deposit is necessary as well.
Credit Bureaus Reporting: While you own this card, you can rest assured that your payments are being reported to all major credit bureaus. Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian then accumulate your credit-related information to develop a credit report. Thus, you can use this as a chance to rebuild your credit reputation by making timely payments. If you do so, your path toward having lower interest loans, a rewarding credit card approval, etc., is clear.
Make Your Own Credit Limit: Instead of a credit check, the bank asks you to pay an up-front fee as collateral, and the security deposit you pay becomes your credit limit. An OpenSky credit card allows you to have a secured credit limit ranging from $200 to $3,000. This way, you can craft your credit limit based on the amount you paid for the collateral. If you deposit $3,000, your credit limit will be $3,000. A security deposit of at least $200 is needed to have a credit line at all.
APR and Fees: The OpenSky card comes with a slightly higher annual fee of $35, unlike many secured cards, which are free from annual fees. You will have to pay a lower variable APR of 17.39%, which is lower than other secured cards to cover up the drawback. Thus, no matter your credit score, every cardholder will be imposed with the same annual percentage rate.
Some additional fees might include a 3% foreign transaction charge, a late payment fee of $38, returned payment fee of $25, and a 5% or $6 fee against cash advance.
- Lower APR at 17.39%
- Simple application
- Poor to average credit scores acceptable
- High credit limit of $3,000
- No bank account required
- No need for a credit check
- Annual fee is higher at $35
#2. Surge Mastercard: Best for Small Business
If you want to improve your credit history with responsible credit card use, then Surge Mastercard is made for you. The Surge Mastercard from Celtic Bank is a credit card to rebuild your credit. Despite having no prominent rewards, you can use this credit card to boost your purchasing power and credit score side by side.
Unlike most cards for poor credit, this card requires no security deposit when you open an account. That is why this card is not a secured card, proposing no threat as collateral.
Continental Finance is the servicer of Surge Mastercard that directs your payment reports to all three credit bureaus. In addition, if you sign up for e-statements, you can access your credit score for free every month. This way, you can keep a check on your credit score’s fluctuation.
$0 Fraud Liability: The Surge Mastercard comes with a $0 fraud liability, making it one of the top credit cards for identity theft protection. This means you are protected from fraudulent purchases and will not be charged for them if unauthorized.
Card Fees: You are likely to pay an APR ranging from 24.99% to 29.99%. So, Surge Mastercard is perfect for those who can afford heavy annual fees. Unfortunately, you will have to pay a yearly charge of $75 to $99 in the first year of owning this card. However, the issuer will charge you a $99 annual fee later. Other than that, there is a $0 to $10 monthly or a $120 yearly maintenance fee, and a $40 late payment fee is also charged after the first year of account opening.
Chances of Credit Limit Increment: If you applied for the Surge Mastercard, your initial credit limit is $300 to $1,000. After six months, the card’s credit limit can be increased, potentially helping your credit score. However, you will have to apply to improve your credit limit.
Pre-Qualification: Surge Mastercard is a good choice if you want to get a credit card but do not want to be declined later when you apply. Surge Mastercard pre-qualifies you for credit so you can get started on the application process without entering any payment or personal information. They even guarantee your application will not affect your score.
- Usable at any Mastercard locations
- Monthly reporting to bureaus
- No credit score limit
- Pre-qualification available
- Easy application with fast results
- $0 fraud liability
- A checking account is needed
#3. First Access: Easiest Approval for Credit Cards
The First Access Visa Credit Card is a card from the Bank of Missouri designed to help you build up or repair your credit. The bank says this will allow you to return to the mainstream of credit products with increased options and services. This is in contrast to an unsecured credit card with a line of credit (typically set at around $300).
Like other cards, your payment history is also backed up with a First Access credit card, as it reports your credit score to the credit agencies. When other banks are not approving your application for a credit card, you can have approval for this card within 60 seconds.
Card Acceptance: First Access Visa Credit Card helps you do all of your day-to-day transactions. This credit card can be used to pay for the groceries you buy, the movies you watch, and even for dining out. Simply use your First Access card at millions of ATM and brand locations both online and nationwide.
Secured Application: It is known that applying for a credit card can be a lengthy and confusing process. It requires a lot of paperwork and personal identification, and credit checks are done in some cases. However, the First Access Visa Card claims to have everything you need to apply for a credit card easily. Aside from the application compactness, their website is also secured, protecting your personal information.
Card Design: Some people prefer cards with a generic design on the front and simple colors, while others like colorful cards. Yet, some choose credit cards that show off their personality. Whatever type of card you are looking for, it is easy to find at First Access Visa. With so many designs and colors to choose from, your new card can be as unique as you are.
Charges and Limit Increase: A few fees are associated with this card, which include an expensive one-time program initiation fee. Also, an annual fee is applicable that is much higher than similar products, which is perfect for those seeking a card that is easier to qualify for. In your second year, you can apply for an increase in your credit limit. However, you will be charged a monthly servicing fee, which is on top of the annual fee. You also do not receive cash back rewards or other features like special travel perks or concierge service.
- No monthly fee for the first month
- Poor credit is not an issue
- Compact online application
- $300 credit limit
- Higher APR
- Checking account required
#4. FIT Mastercard: Best Services for Credit Rebuilding
If you are looking to establish or reestablish good credit, the FIT Mastercard Credit Card can help, as it reports your payments to all three major credit bureaus, helping you build your credit history. You will receive a $400 line of credit once approved for your card and may be eligible for an increased limit after six months.
All Mastercard cardholders are eligible for Mastercard Zero Fraud Liability Protection to protect you from unauthorized transactions. Plus, free online statement credit allows you to access your Vantage 3.0 Score each month. If you have a low credit score, this card can help you gain access to credit. However, you will have to pay big chunks of fees with no rewards in return.
Increase Credit Limit in Six Months: This card will begin with a credit limit of $400, although some fees will reduce it. An application fee and a monthly maintenance fee may apply. After six months, you may be eligible for an increase to your available credit limit, up to a maximum of $2,000.
Low Eligibility Criteria: If you have a poor credit history or no credit at all, you will not be able to apply for a regular credit card. But, there are a few credit cards designed especially for people in this situation, and one of them is the FIT Mastercard.
Card Charges: FIT Mastercard holders are subject to a $99 annual fee, an $89 one-time processing fee, a monthly maintenance fee of $6.25, and a 3% foreign transaction fee.
Interest Rates: Many competing credit cards offer an introductory 0% APR promotion, but this card’s variable 29.99% APR on purchases is not as competitive.
- Best for every type of credit score
- Starting credit limit of $400
- Credit limit extension after six months
- Free credit score access from Experian
- Hefty amount of fees
#5. Reflex Mastercard: Secured Credit Card for Beginners
The Reflex Mastercard is one of many different credit cards for bad credit, and Celtic Bank is the issuer of it. It comes with a low limit and a high-interest rate but can increase when managed responsibly. The Reflex card is a primary credit card that offers many benefits to users, including a credit protection program and a maintenance fee waiver for the first year. Read on for more about this credit card’s details.
Continental Credit Protection: If you are a Reflex Mastercard cardholder, you can pay a monthly fee to enroll in the optional credit protection program offered by the Continental Finance Company. If you sign up, $0.99 is automatically billed to your account for each $100 outstanding balance on your card. This benefit provides 12 consecutive minimum monthly payments in the event of job loss or disability. It will also pay off your entire credit if you pass away.
Unsecured Card: When it comes to credit cards, you do not have to settle for a secured card when you have an unsecured card. Reflex Mastercard is an unsecured credit card that lets you borrow as low as $100 up to $1,000.
Reputation: The Reflex Card from Continental Finance is an excellent option if you are looking to raise your credit score. Continental Finance and its products have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and millions of people use its products to take back control of their finances.
Fees: Reflex Mastercard has an annual fee between $75 and $99, which is relatively higher compared to other cards. Also, maintenance fees start after the first year of account opening, and thus, you will be paying as much as $10 after 12 months.
- Up to $1,000 credit limit
- $2,000 credit limit after six months
- Pre-qualification available
- No limit to credit score
- Reports to credit agencies
- High fees
How We Made This List Of Credit Cards For Bad Credits?
Credit cards can be a boon to our daily financial activities — that is until we get erroneous bills and are unable to pay them.
However, these cards are a financial aid that enables millions of consumers to make purchases when they need them. It is essentially one of the quickest and easiest ways to obtain instant cash, especially when you have a bad credit history.
It is rather tough to filter through the dozens of credit cards listed in the market today. There is so much information and options to process, and one could easily get lost with all of the details popping up. Knowing which credit card fits your customer and user needs is not easy.
The right cards are hard to find, and the wrong ones will only worsen your situation. This is why you must take your time and consider all of the options available. But, do not fret, as our experts have done the work and reviewed the best credit cards for bad credit.
Our list of top credit cards for bad credit has been specially crafted, keeping your needs in mind. We have reviewed each card individually and have examined their fees, interest rate, and rewards programs. We also included our recommendations in this list of the top five best credit cards for bad credit.
What We Looked For
We researched all credit cards out there, so you do not have to. We made a list of criteria to assess all of the credit cards for bad credit scores, including some factors as follows:
- Annual Fee: Some credit cards charge a yearly fee. The fee is added to the amount of your bill, and you will have to pay interest on the price and your purchases unless you pay off your balance in full each month. That is why we looked for credit cards with low annual fees.
- Security Deposits: Credit card companies, however, often require a refundable security deposit known as a security deposit. This security deposit is refundable if you make all of your payments on time. Credit card companies may increase the credit limit after a certain period if you continue to make all of your costs on time. Thus, we looked for credit cards that required no money upfront in the form of a security deposit.
- Annual Percentage Rate: A credit card’s annual percentage rate is the interest you pay for your borrowed money. Paying off your balance in full each month by the due date will avoid this interest. Hence, we preferred such credit cards to prevent these high-interest rates.
- Rewards and Benefits: While we had a long list of credit cards offered by various providers, we loved to add the ones presenting many rewards to customers.
Factors to Consider While Choosing a Credit Card
About a hundred things go through your head whenever you want to get a credit card. Most of them focus on grabbing the best deal available and not how bad any credit card is.
Some factors decide your deal to be a boon or bane. So, we have assembled them for your guidance. So, while you choose a card, do not forget to focus on these:
- Affiliation with Credit Bureaus
When you apply for a credit card, ask the issuer whether the card will help you build credit, and if so, ask what credit reporting agency or agencies the card reports to. If it does not report your payment activity to the companies that make the credit reports for credit score evaluation, go with another card.
Since prepaid cards do not involve borrowing money, they do not report to the credit bureaus.
- Free Credit Score
Most credit card issuers offer free access to your credit score. This means you can keep an eye on your score and monitor your financial health over time. It also could make it easier for you to find an issuer who offers rewards for good behavior or other programs that can improve your credit standing.
Your credit score and credit rating have a significant impact on what interest rate you will pay on your loan. When comparing your credit cards, you must determine the interest rate and how this is calculated. The reason for this is simple — the higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate you will receive.
Many unsecured credit cards boast that no deposit is necessary for their application, but you can end up paying hundreds of dollars in fees. Mainly, secured credit cards offer either no or a meager annual cost.
These cards also have no hidden fees. You pay a deposit to apply for a secured credit card, but you can get money back if you cancel the card before your first bill comes due.
- Upgrading Chances
A bad credit card can help you build your credit during the period when you are paying off debts and making on-time payments. After becoming a better credit risk, an unsecured card may be easier to get because you do not have to close your existing account and open a new one.
Therefore, opt for credit cards that present you with unlimited upgrading opportunities.
FAQs About Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit Scores
Q1. What are the causes of bad credit?
Several factors go into determining one’s credit score. Some of these factors — applying for a new credit card, for example — can temporarily affect a person’s score. More serious issues, such as bankruptcy or charge-offs, have even more lasting effects.
There are unavoidable factors included in causing bad credit, including payment history, your debt, credit report’s length, new credit lines, and types of credit.
Many people have a lot of misconceptions about what makes up their credit score. One of the most common misconceptions is that only late payments affect your credit score. It can be significantly affected by whether you pay your bills on time or not and if you pay them before they are due. A single late payment can make a big difference to your credit score.
Moreover, you could have a high overall debt load, but it does not matter much if you are using a small portion of your credit line. Scoring systems scrutinize how close someone is to maxing out their credit line. This is because the closer someone is to maxing out an entire line of credit, the more likely it is that they are in over their head financially.
If you do not have a great credit history, your score can reflect that. One common mistake is closing accounts you are not using, which could lower your score if it is an old account with some history. If you have an old credit card account with a low annual fee, keep it open so the company does not close it because of inactivity. Use the card once a year, if possible, to keep the account active and maintain any history associated with it.
Q2. When should you apply for a credit card for bad credit?
A regular credit card is a financial instrument that allows you to spend money you have not yet brought in. When you try to apply for a standard credit card, the risk of default (that is, failure to pay back your loan) is too high. It alarms the issuer to approve your application, so you must have a good credit score.
However, credit cards for people with poor credit histories offer more lenient approval procedures, which is why more applicants are approved. The application process can be easier for people with a less-than-great credit history. Think of applying for a credit card for bad credit if you have a credit score lower than 630 and minimal to no credit history.
Q3. Is balance transfer possible with bad credit?
Applying for a credit card with a low-interest rate can help reduce your financial burden. But if your credit score is poor, you probably will not be able to qualify for a credit card with a balance transfer deal or a low-interest rate.
Credit cards with balance transfer features are only available to those with excellent or good credit scores.
A balance transfer card allows a cardholder to use an available line of credit from another bank. It is a way for an issuer to grow its customer base by catering to customers who may otherwise not qualify for a brand new account.
However, issuers are taking a risk on every customer to decide to extend a credit line. If your credit score suggests you are not likely to pay back the money that has been borrowed, you probably will not be approved for a balance transfer card.
A personal loan may be an option if your credit is not good enough to qualify you for a balance transfer. Or, if you are looking for help managing high-interest credit card debt, consider talking to a credit counselor. They may be able to help you build a plan to restructure your payments and improve your credit.
Credit cards can be one of the most convenient ways to access money, but not everyone will qualify to have them issued in their name. People with less than perfect credit scores or histories may find it challenging to get a card.
If you are a part of this group, you might want to consider the credit cards mentioned above to establish positive credit.
Applying for a credit card with bad credit is possible, and in fact, it can be surprisingly easy if you know how to go about it. Our reviews hopefully will help you make your decision, and we have also included a few tips that may be useful for others trying to apply for a card for the first time.