If you have bad credit, you can still qualify for a credit card. That’s because there are many lenders offer special credit cards designed for people with bad credit. The best credit cards for bad credit offer a path to rebuilding your credit history, and may even offer some perks along the way.

Many of these cards are secured credit cards but many are unsecured cards. Though they have their drawbacks, these cards are an important tool for you to use on the path toward rebuilding your credit.

ALSO READ: CardCruncher’s Complete Guide to Improving Your Credit Score

The best credit cards for bad credit in 2019

The most important features of any credit cards are their fees, interest rates, and other perks, such as rewards. When you’re discussing cards for bad credit, those factors are important, but you should also look at things like whether the card is secured or unsecured and what the required security deposit is.

Every card on our list has its own strengths and weaknesses but they can all help you build your credit. Most people will want the card with the lowest fees, but you should take the time to think about what is most important to you.

What is a credit card for bad credit?

A credit card for bad credit is a card that is specifically designed to help people build their credit score. That means these cards are designed to be easier to qualify for than other cards. That may mean that a card requires a security deposit or it might mean that the lenders are simply less strict when reviewing applications, compensating for their increased risk.

Once you’ve been approved for a credit card for bad credit, you’ll see that the features and perks that the card offered are specifically designed to help you build your credit score. Many of these cards offer things like credit education resources or a monthly look at your credit report.

What to look for in a card for bad credit

While there’s no perfect credit card for any situation, there is a great card for nearly every situation. When you’re looking for a credit card for bad credit, there are a few factors that you should be considering:

  • Is the card secured or unsecured?
  • If it’s secured, what is the minimum deposit required?
  • What’s the annual fee?
  • What’s the interest rate?
  • What rewards and other perks does the card offer?

Here’s a more in-depth look at how each of these factors can affect your decision.

Secured vs. Unsecured

The majority of credit cards are unsecured. You apply for the card and, if approved, receive a card that you can use to borrow money. You don’t need to provide collateral or any other assurance that you’ll make your monthly payments.

A secured credit card is a special type of credit card that requires a security deposit. If you apply for a secured credit card and are approved, you won’t actually get the card until you provide some amount of money, usually $200-$300 to the card issuer.

The amount that you provide will become your card’s credit limit. You still have to make your payments each month, but if you eventually default on your credit card payments, the card issuer can recoup its losses by taking the security deposit you provided.

In this way, secured cards leave the lender with almost no lending risk. That makes them much easier to qualify for than unsecured cards. Of course, the downside is that you need to provide a security deposit upfront, and you might not want to commit hundreds of dollars to getting a credit card.

Annual fees

Many credit cards charge an annual fee. In the case of premium rewards cards, this fee helps to pay for the perks that you receive. In the case of cards for people with bad credit, this fee is another way for the lender to increase its income from each card, which decreases the chances that it will lose money from a customer who eventually stops making payments.

More often than not, even the best credit cards for bad credit that are unsecured will carry some form of annual fee. On the flip side, many secured credit cards have no annual fee. You’ll want to keep this in mind when making a decision about whether to focus on applying for secured or unsecured cards. Secured cards may require a larger upfront commitment of cash, but you can get that money back when you close the account. 

Interest rate

The best way to give your credit score a boost is to use your card only to buy the things that you can afford and to pay it off, in full, at the end of every month.

Unfortunately, even if that’s your goal, there are times when this can be difficult. You might encounter an unexpected expense or some other event that leaves you unable to pay your bill in full at the end of the month.

In this situation, you’ll want to have the credit card with the lowest interest rate possible. If you fear that you’ll often have trouble paying your bill in full, make a low interest rate one of your top priorities.

Rewards and Perks

Rewards and perks are largely reserved for premium credit cards and cards designed for people with good credit, but that doesn’t mean that you’re completely out of luck if you have bad credit. Some of the best credit cards for bad credit will offer cash back or travel rewards. Others might offer discounts on certain services or perks like rental car insurance.

While your primary focus should be on using your card to build your credit, these perks can be a nice extra and they’re worth looking at as a tiebreaker if you’re having trouble deciding between a couple of cards.

Here are answers to some of the most common questions that people have about credit cards for bad credit.

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What is the easiest credit card to get with bad credit?

There is no single answer to the question of which card will be easiest to get because it will depend heavily on your personal situation and credit history. As a rule of thumb, secured credit cards are among the easiest cards to qualify for, so if you’re worried about your chances of approval, focus on secured credit cards.

Can I get a credit card with a 550 credit score?

Yes, you can get a credit card even with a 550 credit score. Applying for a secured credit card is a great way to give yourself a good chance of qualifying.

Can I get a credit card with a credit score of 530?

Yes, it is possible to get a credit card if you a 530 for your credit score. Think about applying for a secured card if you want to give yourself the best possible odds of approval.

Can I get a credit card with a 500 credit score?

If you have a credit score if 500, it is still possible to get a credit score. Focus on credit cards designed for people with bad credit, such as secured cards.

What banks offer credit cards for bad credit?

Many banks offer credit cards for bad credit, including Bank of America, Discover, and Capital One. Even smaller local banks may offer secured credit cards that you can use to improve your credit history.

How can I get approved for a credit card with bad credit?

The best way to get approved for a one of the best credit cards for bad credit is to apply for a card designed specifically for people with bad credit. This can include secured credit cards offered by your local bank or by a larger national one.

Credit cards for bad credit no deposit?

There are several credit cards for bad credit that don’t require a deposit. Some examples include the Indigo Platinum Mastercard and the Sure Mastercard.

Instant approval credit cards for bad credit?

Many credit cards for bad credit offer instant approval decisions when you apply through their online portal. You can check individual cards’ websites to find out how long approval takes.

Guaranteed approval unsecured credit cards for bad credit?

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a guaranteed approval credit card. Every card will have some form of requirements before you can qualify and unsecured cards tend to have more stringent requirements than secured cards.

Guaranteed approval credit cards with $1,000 limits for bad credit?

While secured credit cards still have some approval requirements, they are as close as you can get to guaranteed approval cards. Many will give you a credit limit that mirrors your security deposit, so if you can provide a $1,000 deposit, you can get a $1,000 limit.

Travel credit cards for bad credit?

Travel cards tend to be designed for people with good credit, but there are travel cards that you can get with bad credit. For example, the AeroMexico Visa Secured Credit card offers travel rewards every time you use it.

Guaranteed approval credit cards with $10,000 limits for bad credit?

Secured credit cards are as close as you can get to guaranteed approval cards, but you’ll have trouble finding one that gives you a $10,000 limit. Even cards that give you a limit equal to your security deposit are unlikely to allow you to provide a deposit of $10,000.

What is the best credit card for bad credit?

There is no single best credit card for bad credit. You have to make the decision for yourself based on whether you want a secured or unsecured card, if you’re worried about interest, if you’re willing to pay an annual fee, and you want to earn rewards.

Conclusion

Credit cards for bad credit are important tools to have when you’re trying to rebuild your credit. The best time to start rebuilding your credit is today, so take some time to prepare an application, use your card well, and watch as your score begins to improve.

More details on credit cards for bad credit

Discover it Secured Credit Card

Discover Secured Card

Discover Secured Card

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 25.24% Variable

Bonus: 100% match on cash back your first year

Security deposit: $200

Upgrade to unsecured: Yes

Pro: Cashback rewards

Con: No way to increase credit limit without additional deposit

Read full Discover it Secured details here.

Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured Credit Card

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured Credit Card

Annual Fee: $49

APR: 9.99%

Bonus: none

Security deposit: $200

Upgrade to unsecured: No

Pro: Low interest rate

Con: Heavy fees

Read full Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured details here.

Citi Secured Credit Card

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 24.24%

Bonus: $0

Security deposit: $200

Upgrade to unsecured: Yes

Pro: No authorized user fees

Con: Low maximum credit limit

Read full Citi Secured details here.

Indigo Platinum Credit Card

Indigo Platinum Mastercard

Annual Fee: $0-$99

APR: 23.90% Variable

Bonus: none

Security deposit: None

Upgrade to unsecured: N/A

Pro: Unsecured card that lets you pre-qualify without impacting your credit

Con: Large annual fee if you qualify for the card with the $75 fee in the first year

Read full Indigo Platinum details here.

Capital One Secured Mastercard Credit Card

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One Secured Mastercard

Annual Fee: $0

APR: 26.49%

Bonus: None

Security deposit: $49

Upgrade to unsecured: No

Pro: Automatic credit limit increase after five months of good standing

Con: No path to unsecured card and high fees

Read more Capital One Secured Mastercard details here.

The Surge Mastercard

Surge Mastercard credit card

Annual Fee: See Terms

APR: See Terms

Bonus: none

Security deposit: None

Upgrade to unsecured: N/A

Pro: Fast online approval process

Con: Hefty annual fees

Read more Surge Mastercard details here.

The Secured Visa from Merrick Bank

Merrick Bank Secured Credit Card

Merrick Bank Secured Credit Card

Annual Fee: $36, billed $3 monthly

APR: 19.70% Variable

Bonus: none

Security deposit: $200

Upgrade to unsecured: No

Pro: Lower-than-average foreign transaction fee

Con: Heavy fees in general 

Read more details on The Secured Visa from Merrick Bank here.

American Savings Bank Secured Visa Credit Card

American Savings Bank Secured Credit Card

American Savings Bank Secured Credit Card

Annual Fee: $35

APR: 21.99% Variable

Bonus: none

Security deposit: $300

Upgrade to unsecured: Yes

Pro: Non-citizens are eligible

Con: High fees for late payment, foreign transactions, etc.

Read more American Savings Bank Secured Visa details here.

The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

Annual Fee: $35

APR: 19.64% Variable

Bonus: none

Security deposit: $200

Upgrade to unsecured: No

Pro: No credit check required

Con: No way to graduate to an unsecured card. You have to close the account to get your deposit back.

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