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Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit in June 2024

Updated June 14, 2024

The listings that appear on the website are from credit card companies from which Bankrate receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). This site does not include all credit card companies or all available credit card offers. Here's an explanation for

People with bad credit scores (in the 300 to 579 FICO score range) can benefit from using a card designed specifically for them. These cards are typically more accessible to people with lower credit scores, but lack the rewards and features of standard credit cards. They may also come with higher fees and interest rates, but consumers with poor or no credit scores may apply and qualify to start building toward better options. 

The best credit cards for bad credit minimize fees while allowing consumers the opportunity to build their credit score. Many of the cards we recommend also have built-in features to help build credit.

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Best card with no interest for bad credit

Bankrate score

Rating: 4.2 stars out of 5
4.2
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Chime's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Annual fee

None

Regular APR

N/A

Best low-cost secured card for bad credit

Bankrate score

Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5
4.1
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

29.99% (Variable)

Best for building credit with savings

Bankrate score

Rating: 3.1 stars out of 5
3.1
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Self's secure site

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Annual fee

$25

Regular APR

28.74% (Variable)

Best rotating cash back card for bad credit

Bankrate score

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
4.5
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Intro offer

Info

Cashback Match™

Rewards Rate

Info

1% - 2%

Annual fee

$0

Regular APR

28.24% Variable APR

Best for building business credit

Bankrate score

Rating: 3.1 stars out of 5
3.1
Info
No Credit History
Info
Apply now Lock
on Nav's secure site

Regular APR

N/A

Annual fee

Nav Prime is $49.99/month, which gets reported as a tradeline.

Best customized rewards for bad credit

Image of Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

*

Bankrate score

Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
3.8
Info
No Credit History
Info

Regular APR

28.24% Variable

Annual fee

None

Best low-cost credit-building card

Image of Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card

Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card

*
Recommended credit score: 300 - 670
Info

Intro offer

Info

N/A

Rewards Rate

Info

N/A

Annual fee

$0 - $59

Regular APR

26.99% - 29.99% (Variable)

Compare Bankrate’s best cards for bad credit

Card Name Our pick for Recommended Credit Score Credit-Building Features
Bankrate Review Score
No interest for bad credit

No credit history*

No credit check

SpotMe overdraft protection

No annual fee

 

4.2 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Chime's secure site

Low-cost secured card for bad credit

No credit history*

Access to CreditWise® credit alerts 

Reports to the three credit bureaus

Automatic account review after six months

4.1 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Capital One's secure site
Building credit with savings

No credit history*

No deposit required

No hard pull on your credit report

Reports to the three major credit bureaus

3.1 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Self's secure site
Rotating cash back card for bad credit

No credit history*

Free access to FICO credit score

Automatic account reviews after seven months

Discover® Identity Alerts

4.5 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Discover's secure site

Building business credit

No credit history

Reports two tradelines to credit bureaus

Access detailed business and personal credit reports

3.1 / 5

Info
(Read card review)
Apply now Lock
on Nav's secure site
Image of Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

Customized rewards for bad credit

No credit history

Free access to FICO credit score

No annual fee

 
Image of Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card
Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card
Low-cost credit-building
Bad to Fair (300 – 670)*
Reports to all three credit bureaus

What should you do if you get denied a credit card for bad credit?


Financial Educator, Debt and Credit

There are a few things you should do if you’ve been denied a credit card for bad credit. In the short term, you may need to find an alternative solution for the reason you were applying for credit. Was it for an essential need that you must now find an alternative to finance? You might have better luck at a local bank, credit union or Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). CDFIs offer financial products and programs that support borrowers’ specific needs. They are also able to take more risk than a traditional bank. In the longer term, you should understand why you were denied and what you can do to improve your credit profile. This might mean reviewing your credit report, disputing any inaccuracies, making on-time payments on your credit accounts or opening a secured credit card or credit-builder loan (sometimes called a credit-builder CD) with a local bank or credit union to help improve your credit.

Contributor, Personal Finance

There are two scenarios for getting denied a card for bad credit. First, there could be a mistake on your credit report, like if someone else’s credit is being reported under your name. If you know your credit score isn’t actually bad, you’ll need to review your credit reports to find the error as soon as possible and follow up with the agency to sort it out. The second scenario occurs if your credit is actually low or needs improvement. In that case, you’ll need to intentionally do some work to boost your credit score. Tools like Credit Karma can help identify the areas where your score might be lacking.

Contributor, Credit Cards

Getting turned down for a card you were hoping for is just an awful feeling. It’s hard not to take it personally. Don’t, though. It just means that you applied for the wrong credit card for your credit profile. Before you apply for another account, find out what your credit score is. The next credit card you pursue should have scoring requirements that match those numbers. There are plenty of cards on the market, and some are specifically for people who have no or low credit scores. I also encourage people to take a look at their credit report and spot the damage that led to the poor credit scores. Maybe you have missed payments, accounts in collections, or high revolving debt compared to credit limits on other credit cards. Take action to bring your scores up by making payments on time and reducing your credit utilization ratio.

When to use a credit card for bad credit

Even with bad credit, a credit card can still be a useful tool. You can use a card to help you establish credit, boost your credit file or begin fixing past credit mistakes. Here’s when it’s smart to use a credit card for bad credit: 

Secured vs. unsecured credit cards for bad credit

The two types of credit cards most commonly available to people with bad credit are secured cards and unsecured cards. Both of these options have notable advantages and disadvantages, primarily surrounding affordability, and deciding which one is best for you may come down to a few key differences.

Some of the best credit cards for bad credit are secured, which means the issuer requires a security deposit to get the card. Credit card security deposits serve as collateral for an issuer in exchange for lending a line of credit to what it may consider to be a “risky” borrower.

Secured credit cards are great tools for building credit because they typically have more relaxed credit requirements than unsecured cards, which could make them more accessible to people with no, limited or bad credit. However, secured cards often charge higher APRs than cards for fair or better credit and the security deposit may not be ideal for some.

Unsecured credit cards for bad credit differ slightly from secured cards. They do not require a security deposit, but sometimes charge annual fees. If you don’t want to — or can’t — provide the funds for a security deposit, unsecured cards for bad credit are available, though they usually aren’t as common.

Generally, we advise people to avoid unsecured credit cards for bad credit whenever possible. Many unsecured credit cards for bad credit tend to be expensive since they also have high APRs (even higher than on some secured cards) and a few even charge annual fees. It’s also rare that these cards come with benefits like rewards, despite being unsecured.

Our data: Secured cards vs. unsecured cards

Most people have two main options for improving their bad credit scores: secured cards or unsecured cards. You can also consider alternative credit cards that combine a secured card with another product, such as a checking account, savings account or credit-builder loan, but it can be hard to tell which option is best for you.

We analyzed our proprietary data to see whether Bankrate readers in 2023 preferred secured cards, unsecured cards or combined secured cards with other products.

In 2023, readers were almost 39 percent more likely to click on secured credit cards than unsecured credit cards. And they were nearly 32 percent more likely to look at alternative credit card products than look at unsecured credit cards.

Even though secured cards require upfront deposits and credit card products like the Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card require an additional account, they may be more helpful and cost-efficient among readers. It could be because they have lower credit barriers, are easier to apply for and don’t require credit checks.

What people say about credit cards for bad credit

Having bad credit can be a burden and seem like a hopeless situation. People with bad credit turn to communities like r/PersonalFinance and r/PovertyFinance on Reddit and MyFICO Forums to find solutions, which isn’t a bad idea. Crowd-sourcing encouragement and advice may help you find the strategy you need to get your credit back on track.

And while it’s not impossible to improve your score, it takes patience and being realistic about the root cause of your credit. “It takes awhile, usually best case scenario about a full year to get your score solidly in a higher bracket [sic],” one user commented in the r/PovertyFinance subreddit.*

Bankrate and credit cards expert Nouri Zarrugh agrees — this is the same advice he gives friends when they ask how to raise their credit scores.

“Bad credit is just a starting point,” he says. “Whenever friends ask me for advice on improving their score, my go-to advice is ‘slow and steady wins the race.’”

Depending on what’s affecting your score, it can take three months to more than six years for derogatory marks to fall off your reports and stop bringing down your score. But don’t lose hope. One regular contributor on MyFICOForums recently shared their story of how online communities helped them improve their score from the mid-500s to mid-800s over 12 years.

“I didn’t have hope for a long time but found solace reading about other’s situations and learning tremendously from them and the collective knowledge here. I found addressing issues instead of ignoring them is imperative. Cutting spending and being honest about the situation is critical. Sucking up your pride and doing things you may not want to … dramatically improves your future.”

MTSN, MyFICO Forum user*

If you’ve determined a credit card is your next best step for fixing your credit, users also suggest taking advantage of prequalification and preapproval tools to help you identify which issuers will accept your bad credit.

“Start with a low-cost card, only use it for small purchases and pay it off on time and in full, every time,” Zarrugh says. “Just stick to that, and you can see your score rise considerably.”

*The quotes and citations included on this page have been verified by our editorial team and are accurate as of the posting date. Be sure to check the issuer's website/terms and conditions for all up to date content. Outlinked content may contain views and opinions that do not reflect the views and opinions of Bankrate.

Looking for a particular type of credit card for bad credit?

Still unsure if a credit card is right for you even if you have bad credit? Check out our Credit Card Spender Type Tool, where you can get personalized credit card recommendations based on your credit score, spending habits and daily needs.

How to build your credit score

One of the most effective ways to build credit is with a credit card. While a few factors are more important than others when calculating your score, consistent and positive credit management over time is the key to seeing results. Once you apply for a credit card, be sure to establish a budget so you don’t overspend and hurt your credit even more.

Use the credit management tools you have access to and keep a close eye on your progress. While getting approved for a credit card when you have bad credit may be more challenging, it’s not impossible, so it’s crucial to take intentional steps to reach your goals.

If using a credit card to build credit isn’t the best option for you and your needs, you can explore alternative ways to build credit without a credit card. Other financial tools like credit-builder loans and alternative reporting data are two of the most popular ways to build credit without a credit card. If you need more help, you could explore credit repair options or pursue credit counseling. But do your research while exploring credit repair or counseling. Some bad actors do exist, and scammers may be more inclined to target people with bad credit. Check with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or your local Financial Empowerment Center for help in identifying legitimate credit counseling and repair services.

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Bankrate Insight

Regularly checking for inaccuracies on your credit report can keep your credit report tidy, making it easier to keep your credit score accurate. Luckily “cleaning” your credit report is a fairly easy process.

In the news: Subprime cardholders feel the sting of inflation

Credit card delinquency rates among people with subprime credit rose from 11.12 percent in Q1 2022 to 15.68 percent in Q3 2023. Although the Fed left rates unchanged for a fifth consecutive meeting in March 2024, average credit card rates remain high.

Bankrate recently spoke with Katie Bossler, quality assurance specialist at GreenPath Financial Wellness, a nonprofit credit counseling service, about financial pressures subprime cardholders face. Increased prices on essentials like gas and groceries, reduced income and job losses can cause people to rely on their credit cards or other high-interest debt to make ends meet.

While these pressures can be scary, it’s important to pay credit cards on time, negotiate with your issuer and reach out for help from nonprofit credit counseling services to avoid cycles of high-interest debt.

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

For Capital One products listed on this page, some of the above benefits are provided by Visa® or Mastercard® and may vary by product. See the respective Guide to Benefits for details, as terms and exclusions apply. 

*The information about the Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Frequently asked questions about credit cards for bad credit

How we assess the best credit cards for people with bad credit

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Cards rated
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Data points analyzed
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250+
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Credit Card Reviews
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When evaluating the best cards for building credit, we consider a mix of factors, including how cards score in our proprietary card rating system and whether cards offer features that make it easy to build credit history while minimizing costs.

We analyzed over 50 of the most popular cards designed for people with no credit history, bad credit or a fair credit score and rated each based on its cost, APR, credit-building features and more to determine whether it belonged in this month’s roundup.

Here are some of the key factors that we considered and how they’re factored into our card ratings:

5
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Overall Score