It’s OK if you have bad credit. What’s not OK is doing NOTHING to repair it, whether it’s getting out of debt, working extra jobs/hours to pay down your balances, or not taking steps to rebuild your credit, such as getting a low-limit card or a small loan you can easily pay back to boost that score.
Some people just don’t know where to look for such credit cards, and this is where we come in. We have created a list of the top 5 best credit cards for bad credit and discussed what you need to know before signing up.
Read on to discover these cards and how they work.
List Of Top 5 Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit To Build Credit
- OpenSky Application – Overall Best Credit Card To Build Credit
- Surge Mastercard – Secured And Unsecured Credit Cards With Instant Approval
- First Access Card – Top Rated For Credit Cards For Small Businesses
- FIT Mastercard – Low Interest On No Credit Check Credit Cards
- Reflex Mastercard – Most Popular Credit Cards For Small Businesses
#1. OpenSky Application – Overall Best Credit Card To Build Credit
This is a secured credit card that you do not need a bank account or credit check to get! This is great if you need to rebuild your credit or boost up your credit score with a secured card. If you find that you are struggling to get a credit card due to bad credit or no bank account, you have to check out this card.
The card is just that- a basic, useful card that will help rebuild your credit. However, you have to also understand that the card comes with an annual fee.
Another thing we didn’t care for was the fact that you cannot get an unsecured version of the card after using it responsibly for a few months. So, you would have to close out the account and THEN get your security deposit back.
Now, the annual fee is just $35. However, when it comes to your security deposit, you’ll be paying a minimum of $200, and at the max, $3000.
You do not even need a credit check to qualify for this helpful card. You could have bad credit and still qualify for it. This card will not perform a credit check on you.
Approval is NOT a guarantee, however. You must meet certain requirements if you hope to qualify.
- You must have a monthly income that exceeds your monthly expenses.
- In addition, you need to be a permanent resident /US Citizen.
- You must have a social security number or tax ID number
- You must pay the security deposit, which you will only get back by closing the account on good terms.
You do not need a bank account to get this card, which is a huge obstacle for people who desire a credit card but lack a checking account. Simply pay your security deposit using Western Union or money order. You can also make credit card payments this way.
Another thing we loved about this card is how they report to all three major bureaus. This is a great way to build your credit, provided you make payments on time and stay under your credit limit. You can get reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion about how your score is going.
In summary, this card is pretty good- although there are a few drawbacks. The annual fee, the lack of rewards, and the inability to upgrade to an unsecured card are all things we would like to see changed. However, it is a winner if you do not have a bank account.
- 17.39% APR
- 3% Foreign Transaction Fee
- The cart offers payment reporting to the three major bureaus
- It is relatively easy to get
- No bank account is necessary
- Great if you do not have a bank account/your credit is poor
- Great way to rebuild your credit/Establish credit
- They do not require a credit check
- No rewards are offered as part of this credit card
- No unsecured card option
- They charge an annual fee
#2. Surge Mastercard– Secured And Unsecured Credit Cards With Instant Approval
This particular card is a Celtic Bank product, a company known for providing banking services to people with bad credit or no credit whatsoever. Or, if you are trying to rebuild your credit, this card is a great way to go about it.
It takes less than a minute to see if you are prequalified. You are not required to carry collateral on this particular card; however, you should be prepared to pay the hefty annual fee.
This is an excellent option to take advantage of if you have limited credit cards to choose from. This card will help you rebuild credit so long as you use it responsibly.
The company does not offer any kind of welcome bonus or sign-up offers such as airline miles or cash back. The big draw is the prequalification, which happens in moments.
Once you have determined if you qualify or not, you can take advantage of the fast application process and begin working on rebuilding your credit quickly.
People with many credit scores can take advantage of this cool card. It is good if you are having trouble qualifying for an unsecured card but don’t care to give over a huge security deposit, which is a hallmark of secured credit cards for bad credit.
Plus, you could very well qualify for a higher credit line limit after just six months of responsible usage and making all minimum payments in a timely fashion. Use only a small amount of your credit limit and pay the balance in full each month. This will keep your credit utilization low, which has a positive impact on your minimum credit score.
So, do we recommend this card to readers? Yes- it’s great if you don’t qualify for anything better, but you would prefer an unsecured credit card. This Surge Mastercard could be what you need to improve your credit, provided you’ll use it responsibly.
The only real drawback we must warn readers about is the annual fee. They charge $75 to $99, which is relatively high. Moreover, you will also have to pay a monthly maintenance fee, along with a one-time fee of $30 for the card itself. If you plan on doing cash advances, the fee for that will be $5 or 5 percent of the cash advance, whichever is higher.
- No security deposit required
- Prequalification takes just minutes
- APR range: 24.99% to 29.99%
- No Security deposit required
- Credit limit of $300 to $1000 can be yours
- You can enjoy a credit limit of up to $1K with no security deposit required
- Six months of responsible use could help you qualify for a bigger limit
- Great way to build your credit
- The card charges an annual fee
- The card lacks rewards
- The APR is rather high
#3. First Access Card– Top Rated For Credit Cards For Small Businesses
The First Access Visa Card is good if you need some help building your credit history but have bad credit or no credit to speak of. That being said, the card is nice, but there are some fees to be aware of.
First off, this is an unsecured credit card. So, you do not have to put a deposit down on your credit line limit. It is great if you would like to rebuild credit but don’t have money on hand to put down as a refundable security deposit.
We then checked to see if they had any introductory or welcome bonuses for new customers. While they lack offers such as an introductory APR or rewards of some sort, there are no cash advance fees/monthly fees for your first year of membership.
When you think about the high fees the card carries, such as the $8.25 service fee charged every month and the cash advance fee (3% or $10) is an excellent offer for new customers.
So, while you won’t earn airline miles or cashback rewards, it is a fine way to build your credit score without spending a bundle or putting down a big deposit.
The card offers you a limit of $300, which is generous for an unsecured card for a person with bad credit. However, you will have your annual fee of $75 taken from that balance. This is the first-year fee, and afterward, it drops to $48 in the years following.
Also, you may be eligible for a credit limit increase after your first year of usage. However, you will have to pay an assessment fee for this at a rate of 20%. So, if you increase your limit by $100, the fee that you will pay will be $20.
Now, we will discuss the drawbacks of the card- namely, the many fees charged with your membership. The card is excellent but notorious for charging its users maintenance and interest fees that are relatively high.
For starters, the APR on this card is 35%. Your interest charges, at minimum, will be one dollar. And, once you sign up for the card, you will have to pay a one-time fee of $95, also known as a program fee.
This is in addition to the $75 first-year fee, which will drop to $48 in the subsequent years. In addition, any supplementary cards you get for partners/spouses will carry a supplementary fee of $29.
Should you miss a payment or incur a returned payment fee, the cost associated with that is $40- very high even for a credit card for people with bad credit.
Ultimately, it is a good card for people who are down on their luck but know they can rebuild/repair their credit.
- Supplementary cards for spouses are easy to get
- Great if your score is 300 to 670
- No deposit required
- You can obtain a card for your spouse if necessary
- No cash advance fees or monthly membership fees in the first year
- Limit is small and easy to use for credit repair
- APR is high
- The annual fees are expensive
#4. FIT Mastercard– Low Interest On No Credit Check Credit Cards
Here we have another stylish-looking card- with the contrasting colors of red and black- perfect for people that need a safe way to rebuild their credit while having some buying power of their own.
This handy card sends reports to the three major credit bureaus. At first, you will get $400, and cardholders could increase their limit in as little as six months, provided you are making payments on time.
They also offer Zero Fraud Liability Protection on the card. Plus, you can choose to receive online statements and, in turn, have access to your credit score free of charge every month.
While our initial impression of the card is favorable, we do have to note the high fees and the high APR that comes with it.
For starters, you will be charged a processing fee of $89, an annual fee of $99, and a $6.25 monthly fee. However, they waive that monthly fee during your first year of membership.
These fees do nothing except drive up your balance and leave you with little remaining credit. You may just be better off getting a secured credit card to avoid all this. However, we know that not everyone deposits money lying around.
Other fees you will find associated with this card are the 3% foreign transaction fee, as well as the cash advance fee of $5 or 5% of the advance, whichever is higher.
Should you make a late payment, you will owe a fee comparable to the minimum payment amount- usually $29 and no more.
If you make another late payment on your next six credit card bills with the FIT Mastercard, your fee will be equal to the minimum payment or $40 at max.
You may also opt to add a second user to the card if you wish, but this will incur a one-time $30 fee.
The card also lacks a rewards program of any sort.
However, the benefits do outweigh the drawbacks. For example, you will enjoy monthly access to your credit score. In addition, you do not have to worry about a security deposit.
It also provides a small limit, so you do not have to worry about going into debt over your head. That being said, do make sure you understand all the fees you will be expected to pay. To reiterate, you will be responsible for:
-$99 annual fee
-$6.25 monthly fee after the first year of membership
-$89 one-time processing fee
Do not forget the $30 fee if you plan to add an authorized user to the card as well, such as a spouse or partner.
- $400 limit right from the get-go, which could double with responsible use
- Find out if you’re qualified in just minutes
- Great chip card that is accepted anywhere Mastercard is taken
- Great for people with poor to fair credit
- Reports to the three major credit bureaus each month
- The card offers excellent fraud liability protection
- The interest rate is high
- Many fees will be charged to new users
#5. Reflex Mastercard– Most Popular Credit Cards For Small Businesses
Continental Finance is a company with many cards to choose from when you need a piece of plastic that can help you get some buying power and help rebuild your credit.
These cards feature similar terms and conditions, one of them being the Reflex Mastercard. The great thing about the Reflex is that you do not need a security deposit to get it.
With no deposit required, and poor/fair credit accepted, the Reflex Mastercard can be a real lifesaver. However, potential users should be aware of the fees they will be required to pay.
Let’s begin with the good stuff- they report to all three major credit bureaus. This means that Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian will know your scores.
And, once you have had the card for over six months, you could apply to get a higher credit limit. This is great news for your credit utilization ratio and your buying power.
But back to those fees. For starters, you will be paying an annual fee ranging anywhere from $75 to $99. This is a relatively high fee, and it is based on the applicant’s creditworthiness.
This is big in comparison to other cards like it. You may wish to seek out an unsecured card with zero annual fees.
The monthly maintenance fee can be anywhere from zero to $10 each month after the first year of membership. In the worst-case scenario, your second year of membership with the card could cost you $219.
You must also be aware of the other fees that come with the card- for instance, the 5% cash advance fee (or $5) and the 3% foreign transaction fee (pretty standard for cards like this).
The card has no rewards program associated with it, but it does have some Mastercard benefits- the strongest one being the zero liability for unauthorized purchases made on your card.
Apps for Apple and Android are also available to keep you on top of your payments and account status as well. You can report a lost or stolen card and take a look at past statements too.
If you like, you may add an authorized user to the card- this will cost $30 and is a one-time fee. That user will get a card of their own, but you will be the one responsible for paying off the balance since it is connected to the primary account.
Prequalifying is easy and takes just a few minutes to complete. So, you don’t have to worry about it impacting your score. That being said, it’s worth comparing to the other great cards on our list to make sure you choose the one that’s best for you.
- Highly rated issuing company with the BBB (Look up Continental Finance)
- They offer an initial limit of $1K
- Accepted everywhere Mastercard is taken
- You can double your credit limit in just 6 months by making your first six payments in a timely fashion.
- No security deposit required
- It reports to the three major bureaus
- Prequalification takes minutes and doesn’t affect credit
- The card charges a high annual fee
How We Made This List Of Credit Cards To Build Credit
- Accepted Credit Scores
The idea was to create a list of credit cards that people with bad credit or no credit could apply for and be accepted. Although most credit card applications are done at home in private nowadays, it can be disheartening and somewhat embarrassing when you are turned down, even if nobody is around to see it.
So, we wanted to choose cards that most folks would be accepted for and could begin using once they arrived at their home. Remember that approval is NOT guaranteed, but you have a higher chance of being approved with these cards.
We know not everyone has a bank account, so we included an option that did not require its applicants to have one- this is the OpenSky card, specifically.
We also wanted to choose cards that had apps that could help users stay on top of their accounts- particularly, this includes the Reflex Mastercard. So, it becomes easier to pay bills and stay in the know when you do it on your smartphone, on your time.
- Credit Bureau Reporting
One of the best things about these cards is that they report to the three major bureaus. Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian are all responsible for consumer credit scores. So raising your score with these bureaus will help get you access to things you want: the ability to borrow money, rent an apartment, get a nicer car, a loan for something, etc.
These cards are not going to be your one-way ticket to an “Exceptional” score, but they will get you the building blocks necessary to raise it over time.
- Mastercard and Visa
You will find that the cards we recommend in today’s article are complete with a Visa or Mastercard logo. This means you can use them anywhere these cards are accepted, such as paying a bill over the internet or buying a meal with friends.
You can use them to make internet purchases if you have shied away from doing so in the past, which is great, especially if you opt for a Mastercard. In addition, they offer zero-dollar liability protection, so if an unauthorized purchase is made on the card, you will not be held responsible
Buying Guide For Bad Credit Score Credit Cards
Don’t know what you need to be watching out for while getting your first credit card? We have got a few pointers here that can make the experience that much easier.
Read on to know what to look for as you select a credit card for bad credit.
- Minimal Fees, Please
Most of the cards you are going to find for persons with bad credit will be rife with fees. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the beast- but there are some cards out there that do not carry as many fees.
Make sure you read over the fees carefully before applying and compare them to other cards designed for people with bad credit as well.
- Prequalification Is a Must
Prequalification is a great way to see if you are eligible without having to do a “hard pull” on your credit score. Some cards do not run a credit check, but others do- and if you opt for the latter, make sure they offer the chance to pre-qualify first.
Granted, it is not a guarantee that you will qualify after all, but it will help you see if you are at least in the running to get approved.
- Reporting to All Three Bureaus
Your on-time payments are a testament to your responsibility and how serious you are about rebuilding your credit. So, make sure your hard work is getting rewarded.
Be sure to choose a credit card that sends reports to the three big bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian).
As time goes on, consistent repayments will display on your credit report and subsequently improve your score. Be sure the card you choose reports to all of them for best results.
- Upgrade Options
Now, some of the cards we featured on our list today do not allow this, but some of you may want to have it as a feature. To be specific, we’re talking about the chance to “upgrade” to an unsecured credit card after you have made payments on time for many months.
This is good as you do not need to open up a different account to get this benefit after your credit has gotten better. Opening and closing new lines of credit can be harmful to your credit score and even negate the hard work you have put in.
FAQs About Credit Cards For Poor Credit History
Q1. I Have Bad Credit; How Do I Get Approved for A Credit Card?
Don’t worry if you have bad credit or damaged credit. There is a good chance you can still find a card that is just right for you.
Bear in mind the rewards probably won’t be that great, nor will there be a generous welcome bonus or airline mile perks. However, you can still get your hands on some plastic and have a little buying power in your wallet, plus improve your credit score.
You should aim for a secured card, or a card created just for somebody with less than perfect credit. With a secured card, you can get a line of credit equal to the security deposit that you put onto the card.
You can still find cards that do not require a security deposit, but you will be faced with account fees, annual costs, and interest rates that are sky-high.
Q2. I Went Bankrupt… Can I Still Get a Credit Card?
Yes, you can still get a credit card even after bankruptcy. However, choices are going to be rather slim, and you will need to wait until your bankruptcy is settled/discharged.
If you end up filing for Chapter 7 (you will be selling off eligible assets to settle the debt), it is going to take approximately three months to get your card.
Meanwhile, Chapter 13 bankruptcy will have you waiting for years because part of your debts will be paid back to creditors. So, just be patient, as, after bankruptcy, it is going to take a bit of time before your credit is rebuilt.
The cards you will qualify for are going to be high in fees and interest rates. Try to find a card with minimal fees. Also, be sure they report to the three major bureaus.
Q3. Are Secured Cards the Only Choice You Have with Bad Credit?
No- there are a handful of unsecured credit cards available if you have bad credit. However, they are packed with fees and APR that will be painful.
If you cannot or don’t want to put a security deposit down, you should be mindful of the costs associated with unsecured credit cards for persons with poor statement credit.
The only way to boost your credit will be to make on-time payments. So, be sure to choose a card that reports your activity to at least one of the three major credit bureaus, ideally, all three.
So, make sure to do things that positively impact your credit score. For example, pay all your bills on time every month.
Be sure that when you do get a credit card, you don’t max it out or use a good chunk of your available credit- keep that credit utilization ratio to a minimum.
Only submit credit applications when it is necessary to do so. And lastly, do not close old accounts right away. Pay them off and just let them remain dormant, using them only when necessary.
Credit Cards To Build Credit: Conclusion
At first, getting a credit card to help improve your credit score might seem like a bad idea. However, responsible usage of this card is a great way to improve your score.
With no credit or bad credit, it will only be harder for you to get a better card- the kind that offers lower APR and rewards such as airline miles.
You should aim to pay your bill on time and in full every month. This will show the card-issuing company and the credit bureaus that you are serious about paying on time and that you are capable of managing the debt.
This will increase your score and help you get access to better credit and the perks that come with it.