Credit Cards for Bad Credit

A credit card designed to help build your credit history and improve your credit score can be an effective tool to improve your bad credit. We can help! We’ve compiled the best credit cards for bad credit from our partners. Find the card that fits your needs and start your journey to a better financial future.

Bankrate's Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit in 2018:

Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. The offers that appear on this site are from companies from which Bankrate.com receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within listing categories. Other factors, such as our own proprietary website rules and the likelihood of applicants' credit approval also impact how and where products appear on this site. Bankrate.com does not include the entire universe of available financial or credit offers.

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.

Best for building credit

capital-one-platinum-credit-card-121217.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Capital One's secure website

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Recommended Credit Score:
300 - 670

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
24.99% (Variable) Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

84 out of 100

Card Details

  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for cash back

discover-it-secured-card-012518.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Discover's secure website

Discover it® Secured

Recommended Credit Score:
See Terms

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
10.99% for 6 months Balance Transfers intro APR
24.99% Variable Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

95 out of 100

Card Details

  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Intro Offer: Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There's no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • Receive Free Social Security number alerts— Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card

eca2b7e0-967f-11e8-b3b7-dd1fc1cf23ad.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Credit One Bank's secure website
Recommended Credit Score:
300 - 670

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
19.74% - 25.74% Variable Regular APR
$0 - $99 Annual Fee

Card Details

  • Find the card that's right for you without affecting your credit score.
  • Show off your personality by selecting from a variety of card designs, a fee may apply.
  • Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
  • Set up custom email or text alerts so you'll always be aware of your payment due date, when your payment posts, or if your available credit runs low.
  • Don't get stuck with a payment date that doesn't work with your schedule. Credit One Bank allows you to choose your monthly payment due date. Terms apply.
  • Take advantage of free online access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary so you can track the key factors impacting your credit health. Terms apply.
  • Credit One Bank evaluates every account for credit line increase opportunities. We'll let you know as soon as you're eligible for a higher credit line.
  • Know you're protected from unauthorized charges with Zero Fraud Liability—included with every Credit One Bank account.
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best unsecured credit card for bad credit

total-visa-unsecured-credit-card-032618.png Card Image
Apply Now ON The Bank of Missouri's secure website

Total VISA® Unsecured Credit Card

Recommended Credit Score:
300 - 670

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
See Terms* Regular APR
See Terms* Annual Fee

Bankrate Score

55 out of 100

Card Details

  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine VISA card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a Processing Fee to open your account and access your available credit
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
  • Select your favorite card design from our gallery, for free!
  • No-Fee credit line increase opportunities!
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Surge Mastercard Credit Card

surge-mastercard-credit-card-013118.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Celtic Bank's secure website
Recommended Credit Score:
300 - 670

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
See Terms* Regular APR
See Terms* Annual Fee

Card Details

  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Initial Credit Limit of $500.00!* (subject to available credit)
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere that Mastercard® is accepted
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking Account Required
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Milestone® Gold Mastercard®

milestone-gold-mastercard-110117.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Genesis FS Card Services's secure website
Recommended Credit Score:
300 - 670

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
23.90% Regular APR
$35-$99 (varies by credit level) Annual Fee

Card Details

  • Quick pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Choose your custom card design - Free
  • Free online account access
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!
  • Previous bankruptcy OK
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Free Credit Score Tracking

99116f00-9665-11e8-8835-390989bf37d0.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Credit One Bank's secure website
Recommended Credit Score:
300 - 670

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
19.74% - 25.74% Variable Regular APR
$0 - $99 Annual Fee

Card Details

  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • This unsecured card requires no deposit and can help build your credit
  • Track your progress with free online access to your Experian credit score, terms apply
  • Build your credit history—we report to the credit bureaus monthly
  • Accounts are automatically reviewed for credit line increase opportunities
  • Enjoy the flexibility to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Receive 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases, terms apply
  • No need to fret—you're covered by $0 Fraud Liability
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®

ee00fa40-967d-11e8-b3b7-dd1fc1cf23ad.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Credit One Bank's secure website
Recommended Credit Score:
300 - 670

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
19.74% - 25.74% Variable Regular APR
$0 - $99 Annual Fee

Card Details

  • Find out if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Eligible purchases earn 1% cash back rewards automatically, terms apply
  • Get a credit line between $300 and $3,000 based on your credit history
  • Accounts are automatically reviewed for credit line increase opportunities
  • Choose your monthly payment due date for added convenience, terms apply
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Manage your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Looking to rebuild credit? We report to the major credit bureaus monthly
  • View your Experian credit score online for free, terms apply
Terms and Restrictions Apply

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

opensky-secured-visa-credit-card-032917.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Capital Bank's secure website
Recommended Credit Score:
See Terms

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
19.14% (variable) Regular APR
$35 Annual Fee

Card Details

  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank

fingerhut-credit-account-101716.png Card Image
Apply Now ON Fingerhut's secure website
Recommended Credit Score:
300 - 670

A FICO score/credit score is used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.

300 850
N/A Purchases intro APR
N/A Balance Transfers intro APR
See Issuer Website Regular APR
$0 Annual Fee

Card Details

  • Fingerhut offers more than 500,000 items including the brand names you want like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Take advantage of low monthly payments if you apply and are accepted for a Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank, who determines eligibility and qualifications for the terms of credit
  • Fast, easy online application process and a quick decision
  • Not an access card
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by Bankrate.com staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank’s website for the most current information.


Author: Bankrate Staff | Last Updated: September 28, 2018

Have questions for our credit cards editors? Feel free to send us an email, find us on Facebook, or Tweet us @Bankrate.


Bankrate’s Guide to Credit Cards for People with Bad Credit

Credit cards designed for those with bad credit often come with different fees and requirements than cards that are created for those with good credit. The key is to choose one that best fits your current situation, as well as your future plans. In this article, our experts dive into the impact of bad credit, how you can improve your credit score, and Bankrate’s take on some of the best cards on the market today.

Table of contents

How we chose our top picks

If you have a bad credit score there are still a ton of great credit card options for you. The credit card pros at Bankrate have studied over 260 credit cards for bad credit and they have applied our credit card scoring system to give each card a Bankrate score out of 100.

Review criteria

Using Bankrate’s scoring methodology our experts assess a ton of factors such as annual fees, APR rates, introductory bonuses, balance transfers, rewards value and how easy rewards are to redeem, travel perks, and any extras and discounts. If you have a bad or poor credit score we have focused on the attributes you might be most concerned about when selecting a new credit card.

  • Annual fee – Getting charged a fee every year for being a cardholder can eat into the value you’re getting from your card. We make sure that the perks and rewards of the card make up for the annual fee and identify how much you need to use your card to make the annual fee worth the expense.
  • 0% Introductory APR offer – The annual percentage rate is the rate of interest you’ll have to pay on your outstanding balance so the longer the period without APR, the better. We make sure you’re getting the best deal.
  • Balance transfer offer – When you move part or all of the outstanding balance you owe from one lender to another, this is called a balance transfer. Some cards offer a low fee on transferred balances — usually around 3%-5% of the transferred amount. Transferring a balance can be a tool to consolidate debt, pay down what you owe at a lower rate, and improve your credit score.
  • Rewards – Even if your credit score isn’t perfect there are cards that offer fantastic rewards that help you earn cash back, points, or miles on what you’re spending every day. We evaluate the rewards and identify which card is a good fit for different types of spenders.

What is considered a bad credit score?

Bad credit is typically defined as a credit score lower than 549. Major credit bureaus determine your credit score by measuring your ability to keep up with credit agreements such as credit card bills, loans, and utility bills.

A few different factors determine your credit score, such as:

  • The amount you owe to creditors
  • The length of your credit history
  • Mix of credit (loans vs. cards vs. bills)
  • New credit inquiries
  • Available credit
  • Credit utilization (how much of your available credit you’re using – the lower, the better)
  • Timeliness of payments

It’s important to keep in mind that credit scores are flexible and can change often depending on your individual credit activity.

How to smartly build your credit score with your new credit card

With time and smart decisions, you can improve your credit score and create a healthy financial environment.

Start by following these five tips for improving your bad credit score:

  1. Check your credit report. Obtain your credit report and check it thoroughly for any errors. If you see any, be sure to submit a dispute.
  2. Clear debts. Catalog all of your debts and create a plan of attack to clear them. Prioritize your debts and stick to a payment schedule to pay everything down. Of course, this is easier said than done, but managing debt is a big step forward in improving your score.
  3. Spend smart. Ensure you’re making all of your payments on time and in full. Try to keep your balances low, and do your best not to spend beyond your means.
  4. Stick to a plan. Although you can quickly find yourself with a low score, building a positive score takes time. Stick to your financial plan, and don’t start aggressively opening and closing accounts unless it makes sense.
  5. Keep climbing. Length of credit history plays into your score, but recent activity also carries weight. Your continued good credit behavior can help offset historical mistakes.

The difference between secured and unsecured cards and which one is best for you

Secured credit cards require an initial deposit, which serves as a layer of protection for the card issuer in case you miss payments. The deposit you make often becomes your credit limit. But you may receive a credit line that is greater than the initial deposit. A secured credit card otherwise operates in a way that is similar to a regular, unsecured credit card. You’ll be able to purchase items with the card and then make payments. Interest is charged on balances carried month-to-month.

Bankrate’s favorite secured cards

  • Capital One Secured Mastercard
  • Discover it Secured

Unlike secured credit cards, unsecured credit cards don’t require a deposit. They allow you to buy items, charge them to the account, and then pay off the balance. However, unsecured credit cards for bad credit tend to include additional fees and higher-than-average interest rates.

Bankrate’s favorite unsecured credit cards for bad credit

  • Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa
  • Credit One Bank Platinum Visa with Cash Back Rewards
  • Total Visa Unsecured Card

Helpful tips before you apply for a new credit card

Even if you have bad credit, credit cards aren’t necessarily off-limits. Consider these five tips for finding a card that fits your needs.

  1. Do your research. Be thorough in your research before applying and ensure it’s the right card for your needs. Look closely at any fees and interest rates.
  2. Check the fine print. Some credit cards for bad credit offer rewards programs such as cash back. But be wary of luxury cards. Although the benefits may be attractive, these cards often come with annual fees and high rates. Don’t apply for cards that you’re unlikely to qualify for, as this will hurt your score further. If you’re unsure of your credit score, check it for free at myBankrate.com
  3. Transfer a balance. If you’re looking to transfer debt, consider balance transfer cards that allow you to put a balance on the card for an extended period of time for a low or zero interest rate.
  4. Keep balances low. Other than a balance transfer card, try to avoid putting large balances on a new credit card. Take a look at your credit limit, and try to keep balances low to lower your credit utilization.
  5. Try secured cards. If you’re finding it difficult to find a card that you qualify for, take a look at secured cards. These cards require a deposit up front, but with your help (on-time payments, keeping a low debt-to-credit ratio), these cards could help you build your credit score.

Editor’s reviews: The best credit cards for bad credit

Card Bankrate Score Best For Annual Fee
Discover it® Secured 95/100 Cash back $0
Capital One® Secured Mastercard® 84/100 No annual fee $0
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card 68/100 Low APR $35
Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card 55/100 Unsecured $75 for the first year, then $48

Discover it® Secured

The Discover it secured is an excellent choice if you have a credit score that is lower than 600, and want to rebuild credit while earning rewards. After eight months, Discover will review your account monthly to see if you qualify for a security deposit refund. If you make consistent on-time payments, the issuer will let you know when you qualify for one of its unsecured cards.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Discover
  • Card Type: Cash back for bad credit
  • Best For: Cash back
  • Bankrate Score: 95/100
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • APR: Variable 24.99%

Capital One Secured Mastercard

The Capital One Secured Mastercard is one of the only secured cards with a deposit requirement that could be lower than your limit. This card also comes with an option to pay the opening deposit in installments over an 80-day period.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Card Type: Secured card for bad credit
  • Best For: No annual fee
  • Bankrate Score: 84/100
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • APR: Variable 24.99%

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

If you have zero credit history or just very little, the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card doesn’t care. In fact, they won’t do a credit check at all or even require you to have a checking account. This makes it one of the few cards to basically grant access to anyone who is willing to fork over a deposit. This can be a lifeline for someone in a credit jam who is trying to get a card.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: OpenSky
  • Card Type: Secured card for bad credit
  • Best For: Low APR
  • Bankrate Score: 68/100
  • Annual Fee: $35
  • APR: Variable 19.14%

Total Visa Unsecured Credit Card

If fast approval is the most important factor in selecting an unsecured card, then the Total VISA Unsecured Credit Card delivers. It clearly states on the card application page that even those with less-than-stellar credit are likely to get approved.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Visa
  • Card Type: Unsecured card for bad credit
  • Best For: No deposit requirement
  • Bankrate Score: 55/100
  • Annual Fee: See terms for annual fee information
  • APR: See rates and fees for APR information

Additional research and reviews to help you improve your credit score

Still want to do some additional reading? We’re here to help! Our team of experts have compiled in-depth reviews on all of the credit cards designed for people with bad credit to help improve your credit score. We’ll help you weed out the good from the bad and get you into a card that is right for you to improve your financial standing.

* See the online application for details about terms and conditions for these offers. Every reasonable effort has been made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. After you click on the offer you desire you will be directed to the credit card issuer's web site where you can review the terms and conditions for your selected offer.