It's a catch-22, you can't build your credit score unless you have access to a credit card, but getting a credit card when you have bad credit can be difficult – unless you find credit cards for bad credit.
Credit cards for bad credit help people with low credit scores add positive information to credit reports. While most people can get approved for a secured card for bad credit, unsecured cards for bad credit are available too.
5 Credit Cards for Bad Credit
Credit cards for bad credit aren't the only credit-building tool but they are the most expedient. The best credit cards for bad credit have low-interest rates and no annual fees. But when your credit is shaky it's going to be rare to find credit card issuers that don't charge an annual fee.
1. First Digital Mastercard® – Unsecured Credit Card
Get the security and convenience of a full-feature, unsecured MasterCard® Credit Card – accepted at millions of merchant and ATM locations worldwide and online.
- Build up your credit history with a card that reports to all three major credit bureaus every month.
- Perfect credit not required for approval; we may approve you when others won’t.
- Easy and secure online application – It takes just moments to apply.
- Issued by Synovus Bank, Member: FDIC
2. X1 Credit Card – Unsecured Credit Card
X1 Credit Card is a no credit check visa that offers consumers the chance to get a credit limit based on their income, not their credit score.
- Credit limits are based on current and future income.
- Cardholders will earn a flat 2 points per dollar on every purchase.
- Cardholders that spend more than $15,000 in a year will earn 3 points for every dollar you spend during the year.
- Credit limits will automatically increase over time.
- To manually increase your credit limit you can link your bank account and provide pay stubs.
- No late fees.
3. Self Visa® Credit Card – Secured Credit Card
Open a Self account and pay the $9 administrative fee. Self’s bank partner will lend you funds to put into a certificate of deposit (CD), and you can’t access the money until the CD matures. Make your next three monthly payments on time. Once you’ve accumulated at least $100 in savings and your account is in good standing, you’re eligible to open the Self Visa® Credit Card.
- Use your savings progress to secure your Self Visa® Credit Card.
- $300 credit limit (subject to available credit).
- When you pay off your credit-builder loan, you’ll receive your principal back minus fees and interest.
- You don’t need a credit score.
- No hard inquiry.
- Fund your secured-card deposit with your credit-builder loan.
4. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
- 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.
- OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
- The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
- *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card
5. Surge Mastercard® – Unsecured credit card
The Surge Mastercard® Credit Card is designed for people with bad credit that reports to the three major credit bureaus each month. Build credit by making timely monthly payments and using 30 percent or less of the credit limit.
- All credit types welcome to apply!
- Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
- Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
- See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
- Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
- Free online account access 24/7
- Checking Account Required
How can I build my credit fast with a credit card?
To build a credit history fast you need to have at least one account open and recorded on your file for six months. Here is what you need to do for a good credit score:
Set up automatic monthly bill payments. Late payments destroy credit scores. If a payment is more than 30 days overdue, the credit card issuer may report it to the credit bureaus. Plus, late payments come with late fees which can be up to $28. Avoid negative side effects of forgetting to pay on time with automatic monthly payments from a bank account.
Nourish your payment history. Always pay on time, even if it's just the minimum payment. A good payment history is essential for future approvals and credit limit increases. Ideally, you should pay the full balance by the due date (to save on interest, too).
Use between 1% to 10% of your available credit limit. Using less of your available credit limit demonstrates good credit management and helps your utilization rate. How much of your available credit you're using accounts for 30 percent of your credit score. Never max out your credit limit.
Step to take after credit cards for bad credit are opened
- Review your credit reports
Regularly review your credit reports, at least 3 to 4 times a year for unauthorized activity, errors and unpaid bills. You may request a free copy of your credit report annually at annualcreditreport.com.
- Dispute errors
Credit bureaus maintain tons of information on consumers. Mistakes are bound to happen. Dispute those mistakes as soon as possible.
- Don't close old accounts
Lowering your available credit will lower your credit score.
- Use your accounts
Make purchases and pay the full balance each month.
- Maintain a low balance-to-limit ratio
Using less of your available credit will help raise your credit score.
- Pay bills on time
Lenders consider payment records to help determine your reliability.
- Start early
The length of your credit history is a key factor in determining your credit scores. Don't wait to build or rebuild credit.