Best credit cards for bad credit in 2021

Building or repairing your credit can make it easier to open doors with lenders, landlords and even potential employers. We’ve compiled the best credit cards for bad credit from our partners. Find the card that fits your needs with the help of our 5-star rating system and start your journey to a better financial future today.

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit:

Best for flexible payment

Credit One Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

Bad to Fair (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.

Apply Now On Credit One Bank's secure website

Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0 - $99
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99% to 23.99% Variable

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
  • See Rates & Fees

Best unsecured credit card with rewards

Credit One Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

Bad to Fair (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.

Apply Now On Credit One Bank's secure website

Credit One Bank® Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Rewards Rate:
Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0 - $99
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99% to 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Looking to rebuild credit? We report to the major credit bureaus monthly
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities
  • 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.
  • Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV, terms apply.
  • This unsecured card requires no deposit and can help build your credit
  • Choose your monthly payment due date for added convenience, terms apply
  • See Rates & Fees

Best for rebuilding credit

Capital One Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

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.

Apply Now On Capital One's secure website

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
26.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • No annual fee
  • Unlike a prepaid card, there is regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you'll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • We will monitor your account, and as you use it responsibly by doing things like making on-time payments, you may be able to earn back your deposit as a statement credit
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best secured card with rewards

Discover Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

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.

Apply Now On Discover's secure website

Discover it® Secured

Rewards Rate:
Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Welcome Offer:
Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
10.99% for 6 months
Regular APR:
22.99% Variable

Card Details

  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Using your secured card will build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can't do that.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases - automatically.
  • Discover is accepted nationwide by 99% of the places that take credit cards.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score.
  • Intro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.

Best for local cash back offers

WebBank Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

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.

Apply Now On WebBank's secure website

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
19.99% - 29.49% (Variable)

Card Details

  • $0 Annual Fee
  • 2% - 10% cash back from select merchants
  • $500-$5,000 credit limits
  • Variable APRs 19.99-29.49% APR
  • No annual or international transaction fees. Late and returned payment fees may apply
  • Build credit alongside tens of thousands of Petal Card members
  • Cash flow technology may help applicants without credit history get approved
  • Petal's mobile app makes it easy to manage your money, track your spending, and automate payments
  • See if you're pre-approved within minutes without impacting your credit score
  • Petal reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • No deposits required
  • Card issued by WebBank, Member FDIC
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best for credit score tracking

Credit One Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

Bad to Fair (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.

Apply Now On Credit One Bank's secure website

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

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$0 - $99
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.99% to 23.99% Variable

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
  • See Rates & Fees

Best for building credit with savings

Self Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

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.

Apply Now On Self's secure website

Self - Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa® Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
One Time $9 + Secured Card $25
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
23.99% This APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate

Card Details

  • Combined credit builder account and secured card products to help you build credit and save* money (minus interest and fees)
  • No credit check. No credit history required.
  • Start with a credit builder account that reports to all 3 credit bureaus. Each on-time monthly payment builds credit history and savings. Choose the plan that works for you.
  • Make at least 3 monthly payments on time, have $100 or more in savings progress in your account, and be in good standing.** You’ll automatically be eligible for the Self Visa Credit Card, without a credit check.
  • Your savings progress from your Credit Builder Account acts as your refundable security deposit.
  • The Self Visa Credit Card is accepted at millions of locations in the U.S.
  • Stay on track with credit utilization monitoring, auto pay, account reminders, a mobile app, and dedicated customer support.
  • *Sample product: $48 monthly payment, 12 month term with a $9 admin fee at a 15.65% Annual Percentage Rate. Please refer to www.self.inc/pricing for the most recent pricing options.
  • **Disclaimers, Rates and Fees: https://www.self.inc/card-agreement and https://www.self.inc/terms-of-service
Terms and Restrictions Apply

Best credit card for new professionals

Jasper Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

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.

Apply Now On Jasper's secure website

Jasper Mastercard®

Rewards Rate:
Earn 1% cash back on every purchase. Terms apply.
Welcome Offer:
Apply by January 31, 2021 using the promo code RVPROMO to receive a $50 signup bonus as a credit to your Jasper account upon activation, if approved. Terms apply
Annual Fee:
$0*
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
15.49% - 24.99% (Variable)

Card Details

  • Apply by January 31, 2021 using the promo code RVPROMO to receive a $50 signup bonus as a credit to your Jasper account upon activation, if approved. Terms apply
  • Earn 1% cash back on every purchase. Terms apply.
  • Up to a $5,000 credit limit
  • Unique autopay settings, push notifications, and utilization alerts that help you manage your account and build your credit
  • All the benefits of a premium Mastercard®
  • No annual fee, no security deposit, no foreign transaction fees*
  • *See terms and fees
  • Issued by WebBank, Member FDIC

Best for credit educational support

Capital Bank Image

Recommended Credit Score

No Credit History

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.

Apply Now On Capital Bank's secure website

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Rewards Rate:
N/A
Welcome Offer:
N/A
Annual Fee:
$35
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Balance Transfer Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
17.39% (variable)

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

Some of the offers on this page may have expired.

The information about  the Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card and the Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.


Everything you need to know about credit cards for bad credit

Credit cards for people who have poor credit scores are designed with their financial situation in mind. Although the credit score requirements to qualify are lower than with other cards, credit cards for bad credit usually come with different fees and requirements. The key is to choose one that best fits where you are today financially and where you want to go in the future.

Personal finance experts at Bankrate have evaluated today’s best credit cards for bad credit and chosen the top options. We also offer tips on qualifying for a credit card and improving your credit score. Use this information to make the best choice for your financial future.

Compare Bankrate’s best cards for bad credit

Card Name Our pick for … Bankrate Review Score
Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card Best for flexible payments Coming Soon
Credit One Bank® Visa® for Rebuilding Credit Best unsecured credit card with rewards 3.6 / 5
(Read full card review)
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One Best for rebuilding credit 4.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it® Secured Best secured card with rewards 4.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card Best for local cash back offers Coming Soon
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Free Credit Score Access Best for free credit score tracking 3.7 / 5
(Read full card review)
Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa Credit Card Best for building credit with savings Coming Soon
Jasper Mastercard® Best for new professionals 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Best for credit educational support 3.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card Best unsecured credit card for rebuilding bad credit 2.8 / 5
(Read full card review)
Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank Best discount shopping Coming Soon

A closer look at top credit cards for bad/poor credit

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

Why we rate it best for rebuilding credit

The Secured Mastercard® from Capital One 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 35-day period.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Capital One
  • Card Type: Secured card for bad credit
  • Best For: Rebuilding credit with responsible use
  • Bankrate Score: 4.2/5
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • APR: Variable 26.99%

Read our Secured Mastercard® from Capital One Review.

Discover it® Secured

Why we rate it the best secured card with rewards

If you don’t have a robust credit history, finding a card that offers a substantial rewards program can be difficult. With the Discover it® Secured card, you’ll earn 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter. Plus, you’ll earn 1 percent cash back on all other purchases, and Discover will match all of the cash back that you earned at the end of your first year — automatically.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Discover
  • Card Type: Secured card for bad credit
  • Best For: Secured card with rewards
  • Bankrate Score: 4.8/5

Read our Discover it® Secured Review.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Why we rate it best for credit educational support

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: Credit educational support
  • Bankrate Score: 3.4/5
  • Annual Fee: $35
  • APR: Variable 17.39%

Read our OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review.

Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa Credit Card

Why we rate it best for building credit with savings

Improving bad credit doesn’t happen overnight. However, the Self – Credit Builder Account + Secured Visa Credit Card could help you get on the right track in a matter of 12 to 24 months. The first step is starting a credit-building savings account with Self and paying it off gradually until you qualify for the Secured Visa Credit Card.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Visa
  • Card Type: Combination savings account/secured credit card
  • Best For: Building credit with savings
  • Bankrate Score: 3.3/5
  • Annual Fee: One Time $9 + Secured Card $25
  • APR: 23.99% variable

Jasper Mastercard®

Why we rate it the best credit card for new professionals

Starting a career can be challenging, especially if your credit is less than perfect. The Jasper Mastercard® aims to help you build your credit history, manage your account effectively and monitor your credit utilization. You can also use a credit limit of up to $5,000 for personal and professional expenses while paying no annual fee.* Earn 1% cash back on every purchase. Receive your cash back automatically every month as a credit to your account, as long as your account is active and in good standing.

Card Details:

  • Issuer: Mastercard
  • Card Type: Unsecured
  • Best For: New professionals
  • Bankrate Score: 4.4/5
  • Annual Fee: $0*
  • APR: 15.49% -24.99% variable

Read our Jasper Mastercard® Review.

Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card

Why we rate it the best unsecured credit card for rebuilding bad credit

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: Unsecured card for rebuilding bad credit
  • Bankrate Score: 2.8/5
  • Annual Fee: See terms
  • APR: See rates and fees

Read our Total Visa® Unsecured Credit Card Review.

What is considered a bad credit score?

Bad credit is typically defined by FICO® as a credit score lower than 579. 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.

The five factors that determine your credit score carry different weights:

  • Payment history (35%): Your track record of consistent, on-time payments is the most important factor credit bureaus look at to calculate your score. Tools like autopay and account alerts can nip late payments in the bud. If you’re new to credit, becoming an authorized user on a responsible cardholders’ account could give you a solid head start in this department.
  • Credit utilization (30%): How much of your available credit you’re using counts for nearly one-third of your credit score. The amount you owe won’t automatically hurt your score, but the lower your utilization ratio is, the better. A higher credit limit could help reduce your ratio below the recommended 30% threshold.
  • Length of credit history (15%): FICO considers the age of your oldest and newest accounts, the age of your other credit accounts, the average length of your accounts and how long it’s been since you’ve used them. Instead of canceling cards, people with limited history can build credit by keeping their oldest account occasionally active.
  • Credit mix (10%): You can bump up your score a bit by successfully maintaining different types of credit — like mortgage or car installment loans — on top of your card. Although FICO doesn’t require multiple credit lines, a credit builder loan may be an option if you need the boost.
  • New credit (10%): This fraction of your score is reserved for new credit inquiries you’ve made over the past 12 months. Be careful since each credit application could temporarily shave around five points off your score for a few months.

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

How to build your credit score

With time and careful decision-making, you can make a bad credit score better and gradually build a healthier credit profile.

Start by following these five tips for improving a 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. Avoid opening and closing credit 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 past mistakes.

The difference between secured and unsecured credit cards

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.

If you’re curious to learn more about these options, check out our picks for the best secured credit cards available from our partners.

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.

Things to do before you apply for a new credit card with bad credit

Getting credit is never a sure thing, especially when the economy is in a state of uncertainty. A recent Bankrate survey found that 21 percent of consumers have had an application for credit denied in recent months because of a low credit score. Thirteen percent of that group had been rejected for a credit card.

Try not to get discouraged, though. Even if you have bad credit, credit cards aren’t necessarily out of your reach. Consider these four tips for finding a card that fits your needs.

  1. Check your credit score first. Knowing your credit score will give you a better idea of which cards you might qualify for, as well as your overall financial standing. Most credit card offers specify a range of recommended credit scores.
  2. 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.
  3. Be selective with applications. An application that involves a hard inquiry on your credit will temporarily lower your credit score. You can use features like CardMatch™ to compare pre-approval offers that don’t require a hard credit pull.
  4. Consider secured credit 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 on-time payments and other types of responsible credit behavior, these cards could help you build your credit score.

Frequently asked questions about credit cards for bad credit

Can you get a credit card after bankruptcy?

Extreme financial distress, like bankruptcy, can seem like an impossible situation to recover from. The good news is that depending on your situation, you still may be able to qualify for a credit card after filing for bankruptcy. While applying for a credit card may seem counterproductive, a credit card can be a great tool to help you financially recover when you use it correctly.

Even though it may be difficult to find a card that you can get approved for, a secured credit card may be your best bet at strengthening your creditworthiness. In order to make the most of your credit card after bankruptcy, it’s important to avoid the financial mistakes that were made in the past. Paying your bills on time, not allowing a balance to accumulate and using your card only for things that you can afford at the time can be key in improving your overall financial health.

Can you do a balance transfer with bad credit?

If you have bad or poor credit, you’ll probably have a hard time qualifying for a balance transfer credit card with a zero-APR introductory offer that lets you temporarily avoid interest payments. You might qualify for a balance transfer with a low-interest introductory offer, or at least a regular APR lower than your current rate. The most straightforward option may be to keep up consistent payments until you qualify for a better credit score and balance transfer offer. A personal loan may provide a better APR, though, if the interest is too much to handle in the meantime.

Are there guaranteed approval cards for bad credit?

If you have bad credit, credit cards with guaranteed approval are too good to be true. No applicant is guaranteed credit card approval beforehand — even with the best credit. Cards with no credit check required are the closest you can get to “guaranteed” or “instant approval.”

Secured credit cards may be your best shot at a guaranteed credit card for bad credit since many of them simply need a refundable security deposit for approval.

If you’re a student with poor or limited credit, student credit cards could deliver better rewards without a deposit. Many student cards require a Social Security Number (SSN) and bank account to gauge your financial health instead, but some cards like the Deserve® EDU Mastercard for Students don’t even require a SSN.

Seeing if you prequalify for specific credit cards may be another option if you’re worried about hard inquiries. Your lender checks if you’re a good fit for their card, and you quickly learn in a few days if you’re preapproved.

Can you get blacklisted by a credit card company?

Simply put, no, you cannot get blacklisted by a credit card company. Your creditworthiness and personal credit history will affect whether you get approved or denied, not a credit card blacklist.

If you keep getting denied, conducting a personal audit of your credit may be a good idea. Here are some things to look for:

  • Do you have any outstanding balances?
  • Do you have a history of skipping payments?
  • How much credit card debt have you racked up over the years?

The answers to these questions could provide an answer as to why you’re not getting approved.

How we chose our list of top cards for bad credit

Bankrate uses a 5-star scoring system that evaluates credit cards based on annual fees, APR , sign-up bonuses, rewards programs and other features. For credit cards tailored to people with poor or bad credit, we focus 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 look for benefits that help make up for the cost of an annual fee.

0% introductory APR offer

The annual percentage rate is the rate of interest you’ll have to pay on your outstanding balance. The longer the period without APR, the better.

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.

Additional research to help you improve your credit score

Check out these informative Bankrate resources, plus in-depth reviews of credit cards designed for people with bad credit:


Senior Editor Barry Bridges has been writing about credit cards, loans, mortgages and other personal finance products for Bankrate since 2018. His work has also appeared on websites including Nasdaq.com, Zillow.com and The Simple Dollar. He was previously an award-winning newspaper journalist in his native North Carolina. Send your questions about credit cards (and fantasy baseball) to bbridges@bankrate.com.

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

* 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.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, is accurate as of the publish date. All products or services are presented without warranty. Check the bank’s website for the most current information.