Chip Lupo, Credit Card Writer
To apply for a credit card with bad credit, first choose a card designed for people with a credit score of 639 or below. Then, apply for the card online and wait for a decision. The two types of credit cards that are best suited for applicants with bad credit are secured credit cards and unsecured credit cards for bad credit. Both types of cards can help rebuild your credit if managed responsibly. Plus, both report your account activity to the major credit bureaus every month.
How to Apply for a Credit Card with Bad Credit
- Do some comparison shopping. Secured credit cards with rewards and no annual fee are the best type of credit card for bad credit. If you need to borrow for emergency expenses, however, go with the unsecured card that has the lowest fees. If you sign up for a free WalletHub account, you’ll get personalized recommendations for the best credit cards to consider.
- Submit an application. You can apply for almost any credit card for bad credit online. Alternatively, you may also apply by phone, at the issuer’s branch, or by mail in some cases. Applying online is typically the best option, since you’re likely to get an immediate decision.
- Pay the security deposit (for secured cards). Unlike other credit cards, secured cards require a deposit, usually a $200 minimum. The deposit is due either when you apply or after you’ve been approved for the card, depending on the issuer.
You can typically transfer funds from an external bank account to fund the deposit. However, some issuers may require you to open a savings account with their bank. You’ll get the deposit back in full when you close the account with a $0 balance.
- Await approval. In most cases, you should have little trouble getting instantly approved for a credit card with bad credit. That is if the card is designed for rebuilding credit and the information on your application is easily verifiable. If you’re not instantly approved, it usually takes 7-10 days to get a decision. Keep in mind that some scenarios, such as having a pending bankruptcy on your credit report, could result in a rejected application.
Notable Credit Cards for Bad Credit
Whether you apply for a secured credit card or an unsecured card for bad credit, you are ultimately responsible for using the card in a way that helps rebuild your credit. That means paying your bill on time, and preferably in full, every month. A flawless payment history, along with low credit utilization, will gradually counter any negative information that’s keeping your credit score down.
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