There is no secret for how to get a credit card with bad credit, other than choosing the right kind of card. There are two types of credit cards that you can get with a poor credit score: secured credit cards and unsecured credit cards for people with bad credit. Both types report account information to the major credit bureaus each month, which means either can help you rebuild your credit if used responsibly. But they’re far from equal in terms of accessibility and cost.
Secured cards are the easiest credit cards for anyone to get, offering nearly guaranteed approval even to people with very bad credit. Some don’t even check applicants’ credit history, which means there’s no hard pull to hurt your score more. Secured cards also charge much lower fees than unsecured cards for bad credit.
All of that, from the high approval odds to the low fees, is thanks to the fact that you have to place a refundable security deposit to get a secured credit card. The amount of this deposit, which you typically have to place when you apply, usually serves as your spending limit. This prevents you from spending more than the card’s issuer knows for sure you can afford to repay. And without the risk of being left with an unpaid balance, the issuer can afford to approve more people as well as offer more attractive terms.
Now that you know the lay of the land, the path to plastic despite poor credit should be clear. But for your convenience, we’ll lay out step-by-step instructions below.
Here’s how to get a credit card with bad credit:
Compare secured credit card offers. Shopping around will help you find the card with the lowest fees, lowest deposit requirement and highest approval odds.
Fill out an application. Applying online is best because you get a decision soonest.
Place your security deposit. You’ll have to submit your deposit either when you apply or after approval but before opening an account. You can usually fund the deposit with a transfer from a bank account or prepaid card. The funds will be returned if you don’t get approved or when you close your account (minus any unpaid balance).
Get approved. It’s possible to get rejected for a secured credit card, but not likely.
Getting a credit card with bad credit can be tricky. But it’s crucial to open an account as soon as possible in order to begin repairing your credit reputation. A secured card allows you to do that. And it has the added benefit of helping you avoid being rejected repeatedly, which would only make matters worse.
When it comes to specific cards to consider, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® and Discover it® Secured Card are two of the best options available. And they’re generally available to people with bad credit who don’t have a non-discharged bankruptcy on their credit report. Alternatively, the OpenSky, primor Gold and primor Classic secured cards won’t check your credit when you apply.
No matter which secured card you choose, paying your bill on time every month will add positive information to your credit reports, which will help cover up past mistakes. But sometimes that’s not enough. Some people with bad credit need a credit card with no security deposit to cover emergency expenses. In that case, an unsecured credit card for bad credit is your only option.
You won’t have much of a selection when shopping for an unsecured card with bad credit, unfortunately. You won’t get too much extra spending power, either, because high fees will initially consume much of your credit line. But it’s definitely possible to get approved for such a card. Just compare your options and double-check the eligibility requirements in their terms and conditions to make sure nothing in your background rules you out.
So, to recap, a secured credit card is your best bet if getting approved and beginning to rebuild your credit as soon as possible is your top priority. But if you need an emergency loan, you’ll have to make do with a costly unsecured card for bad credit.
WalletHub Answers is a free service that helps consumers access financial information. Information on WalletHub Answers is provided “as is” and should not be considered financial, legal or investment advice. WalletHub is not a financial advisor, law firm, “lawyer referral service,” or a substitute for a financial advisor, attorney, or law firm. You may want to hire a professional before making any decision. WalletHub does not endorse any particular contributors and cannot guarantee the quality or reliability of any information posted. The helpfulness of a financial advisor's answer is not indicative of future advisor performance.