Apply now
On Capital One's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best for low annual fee

Apply now
On Mission Lane's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0 - $59
Regular APR
26.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
Recommended credit
Bad to Fair (300 - 670)

Best secured card with rewards

Apply now
On Discover's secure site
Rewards rate
  • 2% Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.
  • 1% Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Intro offer
Cashback Match™ 
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
23.24% Variable
Recommended credit
No Credit History 
Apply now
On Self's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$25
Regular APR
24.24% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best for local cash back offers

Apply now
On Petal's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$0
Regular APR
20.24%-29.74% (Variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Best for credit educational support

Apply now
On Capital Bank's secure site
Rewards rate

N/A

Intro offer
N/A
Annual fee
$35
Regular APR
17.64% (variable)
Recommended credit
No Credit History 

Compare Bankrate’s best cards for bad credit

Card Name Our pick for Bankrate Review Score
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card Rebuilding credit 4.2 / 5
(Read full card review)
Mission Lane Visa Credit Card Low annual fee 3.0 / 5
(Read full card review)
Discover it Secured Credit Card Secured card with rewards 5 / 5
(Read full card review)
Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card Local cash back offers 4.4 / 5
(Read full card review)
Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card Building credit with savings 3.1 / 5
(Read full card review)
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card Credit educational support 3.1 / 5
(Read full card review)

A closer look at top credit cards for bad credit

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card: Best for rebuilding credit

  • What we love about the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card: With its automatic credit line review after six months of responsible use and its security deposit that’s lower than most annual fees, the Capital One Platinum Secured is an affordable and efficient credit-building tool.
  • Who this card is good for: Simplicity-lovers building their credit scores. There’s not a lot of fluff that comes with this card—you won’t earn cash back or points.
  • Alternatives: If you want to earn rewards on your spending with a secured card, this card isn’t the best choice. There are secured cards that will earn rewards. Capital One Quicksilver Secured card, for example, earns 1.5 percent cash back on every purchase.

Read our Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Mission Lane Visa Credit Card: Best for low annual fee

  • What we love about the Mission Lane Visa Credit Card: This card is a straightforward credit-building tool. It doesn’t come with a lot of the bells and whistles of traditional credit cards but it makes up for it by being an accessible, inexpensive option for building credit.
  • Who this card is good for: Credit builders looking for an inexpensive card to start their credit-building journey. The annual fee is reasonable—ranging from $0 to $59—and there is no need to tie up your funds in a security deposit.
  • Alternatives: If you’re looking for a card that will give you a higher credit limit to work with, it may be worth it to consider other options. The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card, for example, provides cardholders the opportunity to have a credit limit that matches their security deposit, so your credit limit can be as high or low as you’d like.

Read our Mission Lane Visa Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Discover it Secured Credit Card: Best secured card with rewards

  • What we love about the Discover it Secured Credit Card: It’s rare to find a secured credit card that earns such a generous rewards rate. It also touts notable features like the Cashback Match™ offer (Discover will match all cash back earned at the end of your first year) and no annual fee.
  • Who this card is good for: Cash back seekers with less than stellar credit. Few secured cards earn cash back, the Discover it Secured does. Cardholders will earn 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter) with a security deposit as low as $200.
  • Alternatives: Consumers without bank accounts won’t be able to access this card. Look instead to a card like the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. All you’ll need to qualify is a social security number, proof of income, and ID.

Read our Discover it Secured Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card: Best for local cash back offers

  • What we love about the Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card: This is a low-cost starter card that provides the opportunity to earn limited rewards—cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Petal Perks program and can earn anywhere from two percent to 10 percent cash back at eligible merchants.
  • Who this card is good for: Credit builders who want to earn some rewards and skip the annual fee. Some rewards are better than none, cardholders will earn rewards occasionally and with select merchants.
  • Alternatives: If you’re looking for a simpler way to earn cash back the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card provides a solid alternative. Cardholders can earn up to 1.5 percent cash back on eligible purchases (with 12 on-time monthly payments).

Read our Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

Self – Credit Builder Account with  Secured Visa Credit Card: Best for building credit with savings

  • What we love about the Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa: When you’re approved for the Self Visa card, you’re granted a loan that’s placed into an interest-bearing account. Repayments of that loan are reported to the credit bureaus—helping you boost your credit score. Once you’ve repaid the loan, the principal and interest can be used as a security deposit for your credit card.
  • This card is good for: People who want to build their credit and their savings at the same time.
  • Alternatives: If you’re looking for access to a line of credit immediately, a secured card like the Citi® Secured Mastercard® could be the right choice. The $200 minimum security deposit could be refunded after 18 months of using the card responsibly.

Read our Self – Credit Builder Account with Secured Visa Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card: Best for credit educational support

  • What we love about the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card: You can choose your own credit limit (of up to $3,000 with matching deposit) with this card, and with its 17.64 percent variable APR, it comes out ahead of its competition in a number of ways as a credit-building tool.
  • This card is good for: Someone who wants more control over their credit. Choosing your own credit limit can help you manage your credit utilization ratio and credit score more effectively.
  • Alternatives: The annual fee for the OpenSky Secured Visa is on the higher end for a secured card. Options abound for secured cards with no annual fee, but they often come with higher APRs and access to less credit. The BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card addresses the need for a higher credit limit with its maximum of $4,900, but it comes with a higher APR.

Read our OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card review.
Jump back to offer details.


What is considered bad credit?

A bad credit score—a FICO score under 579—can happen for a number of reasons. Defaulting on loans, missing credit card payments or even opening too many credit cards can negatively impact your credit score. Bad credit can happen through no fault of your own as well. If you’re a victim of credit card fraud or identity theft, your credit score could take a hit.

Bad credit can have a negative impact on your personal finances. You’ll have limited access to financial products, and what you are able to qualify for will generally come with higher interest rates and fees. This will hurt you when you need a credit card, a personal loan or mortgage. It can also have a negative impact when you try to rent an apartment, as landlords run credit checks to see how likely you are to make on-time payments.

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Bankrate Insight
Not sure how to check your credit score? Experian offers a FICO 8 credit score with its free monitoring service so you can stay on top of your credit-building journey.

Who should get a credit card for bad credit?

Credit cards for bad credit can help you repair your credit. They have fewer requirements needed to qualify and come with credit-building features, which may include affordable interest rates, limited fees or free credit score access and credit monitoring. When used responsibly, credit cards for bad credit are a good fit for the following people:

Pros and cons of credit cards for bad credit

Pros

  • Easier approval: Compared to traditional credit cards, it’s easier to get approved for credit cards for bad credit. Most have lower credit score requirements, and some do not even require a credit check for approval.
  • Improve credit score: The two biggest factors that impact your credit score are payment history and credit utilization. When you use a credit card for bad credit, make on-time payments and keep your available credit high, which will help quickly raise your credit score.
  • Opportunity to upgrade: Though credit cards for bad credit are considered the lowest rung on the credit ladder, responsible use of these credit cards will allow you to upgrade over time to better options as your credit score increases.
  • Credit-building tools: Free access to your credit score, auto-pay and automatic credit line increase reviews are common features among credit cards for bad credit.

Cons

  • Higher interest rates: A low credit score suggests to lenders that someone is more likely to fail to make payments and default on a credit card. So creditors and lenders often charge a higher interest rate to account for the riskiness of a cardholder with bad credit.
  • Lack of rewards: Credit cards for bad credit focus on helping you build your credit. Most will not offer the type of rewards, introductory offers or sign-up bonuses you will find with credit cards for people with good credit.
  • Less leeway from issuers: Although it will vary among cards, bad credit options are typically less generous when it comes to penalties and fees. Also, if you ever need to negotiate with your provider, a bad credit score may keep you on a shorter leash as you try to plead your case.
  • Security deposits: Many cards for bad credit are secured and require an initial deposit to open the account, usually between $200 to $5,000. This refundable deposit serves as the card’s credit limit (and an added expense for new cardholders).

How to get a credit card with bad credit

Applying for a credit card doesn’t guarantee approval. Don’t be 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.
  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 upfront, but with on-time payments and other types of responsible credit behavior, these cards could help you build your credit score.
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The more you know…
The Federal Reserve Bank has raised interest rates for the first time since 2018, and it’s having a big impact on consumers. The prime rate—which is what most credit card APRs are based on—is tied to the federal funds rate. When the prime rate rises, so do credit card interest rates.

How to choose the right credit card for bad credit

Getting a credit card designed for consumers with bad credit is an excellent opportunity to improve your credit profile, but it’s important to choose the right credit card if the card is going to work for you. Here are some important factors to consider when looking for a credit card for bad credit:

  1. Know the fees: Some cards for poor credit carry high annual fees, among a multitude of other fees. Seek out a card that attempts to minimize your out-of-pocket costs as much as possible.
  2. Get reporting: The best cards for bad credit will report to at least one of the three major credit bureaus. Consistent payments over time will be crucial to improving your credit score.
  3. Prep for upgrades: Many of the best cards for bad credit will allow you to upgrade to an unsecured credit card after a period of time, assuming good payment history. This is beneficial for cardholders because you don’t have to close a credit line and open a new account once your credit has improved, which can negatively impact your credit score.

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

What’s the easiest credit card to get approved for?

Although many of our listed cards have low barriers to entry, finding guaranteed approval in the credit card world is a near-myth. The closest thing you’ll get are options that let you bypass a credit check, such as the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card. To take a broader approach on finding the easiest credit cards to be approved for, here are some types that make it much simpler than others:

  • Secured cards: Submitting a deposit lessens the risk taken on by card issuers, so these types of cards are often much more accessible than their unsecured counterparts.
  • Student credit cards: There may be certain requirements to be approved, such as proving you have independent income or finding a co-signer, but these cards are specifically designed to help those who are just starting their credit journey.
  • Store cards: These cards are typically easier to qualify for than traditional credit cards, and can be used as a credit-building tool with the right habits, but their often low credit limits and high-interest rates raise valid questions around whether store cards are worth it.

How to build your credit score with a credit card

Responsible use of a credit card is one of the best ways to build a positive credit history. Without any credit history or with a poor credit score, it may be difficult to acquire a more traditional credit card.

With responsible use like paying your full balance each month on time, you demonstrate to your card issuer and the credit bureaus that you can manage a credit card responsibly. This will boost your credit score and open the door to more lucrative cards that offer rewards and perks.

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

  1. Check your credit report. Credit report errors are common, so obtain your credit report and check it thoroughly. 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.
  3. Spend smart. Ensure you’re making all of your payments on time and in full. Keep a healthy amount of available credit, maintain low balances when possible and do your best not to spend beyond your means.
  4. Keep climbing. Length of credit history plays into your score, but recent activity also carries weight. Your continued good credit behavior will be rewarded as enough time passes for past debts to fall off your credit report.

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 with a 0 percent 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 percent to 5 percent 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:


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

Frequently asked questions about credit cards for bad credit

about the author
As a Bankrate credit cards editor, Ashley Parks is fascinated by the ways people can make credit cards work for them when armed with the right knowledge.
about the editor
Courtney Mihocik is an editor at Bankrate Credit Cards and CreditCards.com specializing in credit card news and personal finance advice. Previously, she led insurance content at Reviews.com and worked as the loans editor at The Simple Dollar.

* 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.