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Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit 2023

Our top picks:
  • Credit One Bank: Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit
  • OpenSky®: Secured Visa® Credit Card
  • Capital One: Platinum Secured Credit Card
  • Discover it®: Secured Credit Card
  • Capital One: Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
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Holly D. Johnson - Contributor Updated: 1 February 2023 9 Min Read
Reviewed By Bestcovery - Editorial Team
Why Trust Us?

Credit card issuers can help you build and repair your credit so you can qualify for the credit card of your choice. Having bad credit means your options are limited. It can be harrowing trying to apply for a credit line when you have bad credit, especially if you don’t meet pre-qualification standards that credit lenders have in place. The good news is that there are many credit card options for people with bad credit that can help you start to rebuild your credit score.

Our picks for the best credit cards for bad credit

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Learn more about your credit card options
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Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit

Best Overall

Why we like it

Credit One Visa for Rebuilding Credit was built for those with low scores who are looking to rebuild their credit. This card provides a rotating credit line without requiring a security deposit. While there is an annual fee, you also have the opportunity to earn cash back on select purchases.

If you’re rebuilding your credit, you already know that you should make your payments on time and use your account responsibly. By doing so, Credit One Visa will automatically qualify you for an increase in your credit limit, which will give you supportive spending power.

This is a great card for those with poor credit or even no credit who want a card without having to put a deposit down. Unlike secured cards, this one gives you access to a revolving line of credit.

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit

PROS

  • Unsecured card
  • 1% cash back on select purchases
  • Automatic credit-line reviews

CONS

  • Annual fees
  • No 24/7 customer service

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Best for No Credit Check

Why we like it

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® is a great option for those with bad credit who are looking to rebuild. There is no credit check to apply, and you’ll find out instantly if you’ve been approved. The approval rating for this card is particularly high, making it a great choice if you’ve struggled getting approved for other cards. You can easily upgrade your credit line to an unsecured card over time if you use your card responsibly.

This is a great card for those who want to build their credit by paying by their due dates. OpenSky makes it easy by reminding you and allowing you to set up auto-pay.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

PROS

  • Qualify with poor credit
  • Build credit quickly
  • Provides credit tips

CONS

  • Annual fee of $35
  • No rewards
  • Requires deposit

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Best Low Deposit

Why we like it

If you’re looking for a simple, low-fee path to an established credit score, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card can be a great asset. This is one of the few secured cards whose security deposit might be lower than your credit limit.

Capital One automatically reviews your credit line after six months if you make your payments on time each month, which is a great perk if your immediate goal is to fix your poor credit. 

You must have a checking or savings account to qualify for the Capital One Platinum Secured Card, and they check your employment and credit history, which could be a hardship if you don’t have a credit history or a bank account. This is by far one of the best secured cards available for those with less than stellar credit. With no yearly fees and an incredibly low security deposit ($49), you can easily rebuild your poor credit without breaking the bank.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

PROS

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Qualify with poor credit

CONS

  • High APR
  • Requires minimum deposit
  • No rewards

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Best Secured Credit Card

Why we like it

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is one of the best secured cards you can find when you tally up the lack of yearly fees, dollar-for-dollar match, and the opportunity to rebuild your poor credit with responsible use. This secured credit card can far exceed your expectations in many ways. Using your secured card allows you to rebuild your credit history with the three major credit bureaus, something your debit card doesn’t do.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

PROS

  • Cash back reward
  • No annual fee
  • Build your credit

CONS

  • Refundable deposits
  • Rewards are capped
  • High APR

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Best for Rewards

Why we like it

It can be difficult to find a good rewards credit card when you don’t qualify for many options. The Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is one of the few cards that caters to those with less-than-stellar credit. The rewards can be pretty solid: 1.5% cash back on any purchase and no annual fee are hard to find. The variable APR is high ( around 26.99%), but if you maintain good credit, you may be able to qualify for a lower-rate APR in the future.

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

PROS

  • No need to activate bonus categories
  • Automatically considered for higher credit line
  • Build your credit

CONS

  • Annual fee
  • High APR
  • No intro APR

Compare Cards for Bad Credit

Learn about the top credit cards
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What is considered bad credit?

The FICO Score scale, which estimates your creditworthiness, starts at 300 and goes up to 850. A bad credit score is below 570, while anything between 580 and 690 is fair.

The higher your credit score, the more likely you are to qualify for credit cards with better interest rates. It can be harder to get good credit or be approved for a card or loan if your FICO score is too low.

Maintaining good credit can be useful when an emergency comes up. For example, if your car needs a last-minute repair and you don’t have accessible cash, a credit card can pay for the necessary repairs.

Having a bad credit score can mean you don’t qualify for loans or higher lines of credit, like car loans, mortgages, personal loans, student loans, and more. It could even be challenging to apply for rent if the landlord conducts credit checks. Some utility companies may require security deposits if you are switching, and cell phone carriers may check your credit history.

What causes bad credit?

Bad credit can happen if the cardholder misses a payment or defaults on payments entirely. If this happens, your credit lender will file a report with the 3 credit bureaus.

Your credit report will show whether you pay on time, pay late, or miss your payments altogether. This is important because your credit report is public which means other lenders and creditors can access this information.

If you’ve been turned down for a credit card, loan, or mortgage because of a bad credit score it isn’t the end of the world. It’s possible to turn things around! Knowing why your credit score dropped is half the battle.

Here are six of the most common reasons people get a bad FICO rating:

1

Making a late payment, missing a payment, or not paying the full minimum balance amount.

If you continue to not stick to your credit agreement, your FICO report could dip into poor ratings

2

Declaring bankruptcy can negatively alter your credit score

If you’re currently under a repayment agreement or Individual Voluntary Arrangement, you may also see a negative dip in your score

3

Not picking the right card could become detrimental to your score and ability to pay your balance off every month

Always check a new card’s purchase APR rate, annual fees, hidden fees, credit limit, and more to ensure you can stay within your balance limit.

4

Receiving a County Court Judgment, which is a court-ordered debt repayment policy that can impact your score

If you’re not sure if you have a CCJ in your credit reports, you can order a free report through any of the credit bureaus

5

Identity theft is a common way someone can have terrible credit

If someone opens a card in your name, they can rack up giant bills and damage your credit reputation. Protect yourself from identity theft by setting up an alert that lets you know anytime your credit is used or when someone makes a transaction. It’s good to remember that financial fraud happens every day to ordinary citizens and it can take a long time to clear your name. It’s easier to prevent fraud by monitoring your accounts

6

If you don’t have any credit history, your rating could be impacted

Credit agencies have no information on you and whether or not you are able to repay your debt. Not to worry, there are many cards designed for people with absolutely no history to start establishing it over time

Who should get a credit card for bad credit?

When you have bad credit, your credit card options are limited, but all of us have to start from somewhere.

The great news for most of us is that there are many credit cards for poor credit or for those who are building their credit profile. It’s important to also remember that each time you apply for a card and get rejected, your credit score could be impacted by the credit inquiry.

Your credit journey starts with choosing which credit cards for bad credit are right for you.

Typically, you have two options for credit cards if you have poor credit: secured cards that require a deposit that equals the line of credit, or unsecured cards that are designed for those with bad credit.

While putting down a security deposit may not sound ideal, just know that many unsecured cards for those with poor credit usually also come with hefty annual fees and higher-than-average APRs. Going with a secured card could help you build your credit if it reports to the three major credit bureaus and you make your payments on time.

Whatever you decide, if your credit card options are limited because of your credit history, consider applying for a credit card for bad credit, where your approval odds are high and you can work towards building a stronger credit profile so you can eventually qualify for a better credit card or credit loan in the future.

Secured and unsecured credit cards: How to choose

The primary difference between a secured and unsecured credit card lies with the security deposit.

Secured cards require a refundable security deposit that determines your card’s credit limit. Many secured cards require a minimum or maximum security deposit, often ranging from around $200 all the way to $3,000. Since you are essentially borrowing from yourself, you remove the risk of loss to the card issuer, so it’s typically easier to qualify for a secured card.

Outside of the security deposit, both secured and unsecured cards allow you to make purchases and build your credit by paying off the balance in full every month in order to avoid interest. Both require that you at least make the minimum monthly payments to avoid late fees or hurting your credit score. If you miss too many payments, the card issuer may decide to close your account or keep the security deposit, so it’s important that you only apply for a card if you are ready for the responsibility of monthly payments.

The rest is up to you. Many secured and unsecured cards for bad credit may charge high annual fees, monthly fees, variable APR, and maintenance fees. It may be challenging to find a card with a high rewards structure.

As far as secured cards go, the best ones for their value don’t have an annual fee and even offer cash back rewards. While you will have to put up a refundable deposit, it could still retain a higher value than an unsecured card if you are good with your credit and make on-time payments.

For some people who do not want to have a hard credit check impact their score or who do not have a bank account, paying an annual fee can be worth it. For example, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card from Capital Bank has a $35 annual fee but it is easier to qualify for.

Ultimately, credit cards for poor credit are designed to have less frills and more opportunities to start building or improving your credit history.

What is the easiest card to get approved for?

Generally, secured credit cards are the easiest to get approved for. While you’ll have fewer options overall, you may qualify for a variety of secured cards and a few unsecured credit cards even if you have bad credit.

When choosing between the two types of cards, consider the following:

How to choose a credit card when you have bad credit

Even those with poor credit still have options when trying to apply for a credit card. Some credit card issuers design certain cards specifically for those with bad credit.

For many, these credit cards work the same way as traditional cards with a few exceptions. Any purchase you make is protected, for example. However, your credit limit may be lower, and you may have to pay higher interest than with a standard card.

You can use these cards as a building block towards better interest and a higher credit line, as long as you make on-time payments each month and show that you are responsible enough to manage a credit agreement.

If you have declared bankruptcy, you may need to search for cards that are specific for credit building. The same goes if you have no credit history whatsoever.

Over time, you’ll notice that your FICO score improves, which increases your credit opportunity. If you decide to apply for a credit card to help improve your bad credit, you should make sure it is the right card to fit your needs.

There are many types of cards, each one with its own application. Some have lower interest rates, zero balance transfer fees, zero annual fees, cash back rewards, etc. Many of these cards are only available for good to excellent credit scores, but don’t worry! Even if you have poor credit now, you can eventually build your way up to a better score.

How we selected our top cards

First, we analyzed many different types of cards that were designed to help people rebuild their credit or start their credit journey for the first time. Every credit card has its own benefits and cons, depending on what your particular lifestyle and financial needs are. We focused on cards that help you build strong credit by reporting to the three major credit bureaus. We looked for cards that are specific to those with bad credit and even tried to find cards that offered rewards, zero annual fees, or low APR rates.

Credit cards for bad credit FAQ

Holly D. Johnson
Holly D. Johnson Contributor

Holly D. Johnson is an award-winning personal finance writer who covers topics like insurance, investing, credit and family finance. As a leading voice in the travel and loyalty space, Johnson has traveled with her family to more than 50 countries over the last decade. 

The author has also written extensively on the power of household budgeting, and she even co-authored a book on the topic. Zero Down Your Debt: Reclaim Your Income and Build a Life You’ll Love was originally published in 2017, and it teaches families how to use zero-sum budgeting to reach their financial goals. She is also the co-owner and founder of the family finance and travel website, ClubThrifty.com.

Johnson’s 10+ years of writing have focused on helping families make important financial decisions at each stage of their lives. The author also applies the financial principles she teaches to her own life, and she is currently on track to retire in her late 40’s with her partner. She currently lives in Central Indiana with her husband and children, and she is a regular contributor for Bankrate, CNN, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report Travel and many other notable publications.