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Find Good Credit Cards for Bad Credit

If your credit score is low due to some reasons, credit cards for bad credit may help you rebuild your credit history and boost your FICO score. These cards give a second chance to those borrowers who failed to build their credit in the past. Bad/no credit offers are also good for beginners or students, i.e. for those who have just started establishing their FICO score. Want to raise your current credit rating? Feel free to do so with credit cards designed especially for people with limited or bad credit. Compare credit offers presented at this page and apply for the card that is right for you!

  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus.
  • Initial Credit Limit of $500.00!* (subject to available credit).
  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine VISA card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Must have Active Debit Card or Credit Card to qualify.
  • $500 Credit Limit.
  • No Credit Check.
  • No Annual Fee. See WebBank/Fingerhut Credit Account Terms.
  • No Over Limit Fee. See WebBank/Fingerhut Credit Account Terms.
  • Instant Response (Delays may occur depending on application data provided).

choice and compare them

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Survey Finds Students Lacking In Money Management Savvy

September 20, 2016

A recent survey on students and personal finance found that while many students are confident that they understand the basics of how finances work, they don’t think they do a good job of managing their money, and they lack understanding of how credit works. The US Ba[. ]

QDo store credit cards help build credit.

Store credit cards do help people with poor credit establish or rebuild their credit history if used carefully and wisely.[. ]

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

10000 credit card limit bad credit

10000 credit card limit bad credit

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You don't have too many credit card options when you have bad credit. One solution is to get a secured credit card, which requires a refundable deposit before an account can be opened. If you want an unsecured card, then there are a few good choices. In both cases, be prepared to deal with high interest rates, low credit limits, substantial annual fees, and more. This reflects the greater risk of loaning money to individuals who have had serious financial difficulties. But when you use these cards responsibly, you can quickly improve your credit, and will be able to qualify for a different card with more favorable terms in the future.

Unsecured vs. Secured Credit Cards

There are both unsecured and secured credit cards for bad credit that can help you rebuild your credit. The primary difference between the two types of cards is secured credit cards require a security deposit, usually at least $200, that the card issuer holds in case you default on your account. In exchange, you get a credit card with a limit in the amount of the security deposit that you can use as you would any credit card. Some credit card issuers will refund your security deposit after you manage your account responsibly for a certain amount of time, and allow you to continue using the card as an unsecured card.

On the other hand, unsecured cards for bad credit don't require a security deposit. However, because they are designed for those who may have had credit problems in the past, these cards typically carry higher APRs and higher fees, sometimes even higher than the fees you will find with secured credit cards. In both cases, the APR can be, at least, 20%, making it even more important, in either case, to pay your balance in full every month.As you use your unsecured or secured credit card, the card issuer reports to the credit bureaus, which, if managed responsibly, can help you establish a better credit rating. As your credit score increases, you will be able to qualify for credit cards with lower fees and lower interest rates.

These are the best credit cards that you can be approved for, when your credit is bad, that can help you increase your credit rating.

Best Unsecured Credit Cards for Bad Credit

We’ve only listed two unsecured options because these are the best (and you’re likely to qualify for them). Most unsecured cards that offer credit to those with bad credit have higher interest rates, annual fees, and even application and maintenance fees added on top of that. If you are looking for unsecured options, these two are the best choices.

Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

10000 credit card limit bad credit10000 credit card limit bad creditThe Capital One Platinum Credit Card is a popular unsecured card option for those who have lower credit scores. It is one also one of the best unsecured cards available for average or poor credit because it has no annual fee, no balance transfer fee, and no foreign transaction fees, which is rare with cards for low credit ratings. Plus, you may qualify for a credit limit increase after making your first 5 payments on time.

Highlights of the Capital One® Platinum Credit Card

  • No security deposit
  • No annual fee, balance transfer fee, or foreign transaction fees
  • 24.99% variable APR

10000 credit card limit bad credit10000 credit card limit bad creditIf you aren't sure if you will qualify for an unsecured card, you can see if you prequalify for the Indigo® Platinum MasterCard® without it affecting your credit report. The annual fee for the card is dependent on your credit worthiness. You could qualify for no annual fee, a $59 annual fee, or an annual fee of $75 the first year and $99 per year after that. This fee and any other set up or maintenance fees are deducted from the credit limit you begin with on the card.

Highlights of the Indigo® Platinum MasterCard®

  • See if you prequalify first
  • No security deposit required
  • Annual fee $0-75; $99 after
  • 23.9% APR

10000 credit card limit bad credit10000 credit card limit bad creditThe Milestone® Gold MasterCard® offers a quick pre-qualification and the ability to choose a custom card design. The standard interest rate for purchases is a fixed APR of 23.9%. Depending on your credit profile, they can offer you one of three cards, each with a different annual fee.

Highlights of the Milestone Gold

  • No security deposit required
  • Annual fee between $35 and $99
  • 23.9% fixed standard APR

Best Secured Credit Cards for Bad Credit

We’ve also listed our favorite secured credit cards -- even though you need to leave a security deposit, they may end up being the more economical option. Plus, there are more secured cards for bad credit available than unsecured cards. If you don't qualify for an unsecured card, these secured credit cards are among the best available for rebuilding or building credit.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

10000 credit card limit bad credit10000 credit card limit bad creditThe Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is our favorite secured credit card. The interest rate is 24.99% variable and like all Capital One credit cards, there are no foreign transaction fees. You may also get your credit line raised without having to add more to your deposit. Best of all, there is no annual fee.

Highlights of the Capital One Secured Mastercard

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 24.99% variable APR
  • Credit limit increase without additional deposit

10000 credit card limit bad credit10000 credit card limit bad creditNeed a credit card with a low APR? The primor® Secured Visa Gold Card is your best bet, with a 9.99% fixed APR. It’s never ideal to keep a balance on our card, but if you have to, you can’t beat 9.99% if you have trouble getting approved for a standard low interest credit card. The annual fee is $49 and your deposit accrues interest. Note that this card does charge various fees for different types of account activity, so be aware of those before you sign up.

Highlights of the primor Secured Visa Gold

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

10000 credit card limit bad credit10000 credit card limit bad creditThe OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card has an annual fee of $35 and 18.39% variable APR. It requires a deposit of $200 to $3,000 which will be your credit limit. Additionally, you may be approved for a credit line increase if you maintain good standing. There’s no credit check needed so your credit won’t be affected if you apply. This is a strong option if you can’t get approved for other cards.

Highlights of the OpenSky Secured Visa

  • No credit checks
  • $35 annual fee
  • 18.39% variable APR
  • Credit line increase if you maintain good standing

USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®

10000 credit card limit bad credit10000 credit card limit bad creditThe USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa® provides military personnel and their family members an opportunity to build or rebuild their credit. This card requires a security deposit of $250 to $5,000, which is held in a two-year CD which earns interest. In addition to the military benefits you get as a USAA member, you can also enroll in credit monitoring services for six months free. The annual fee is $35 per year.

Highlights of the USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®

  • Security deposit earns interest
  • $35 annual fee; no foreign transaction fee
  • Variable APR of 10.90% - 20.90%

Additional Tips for Rebuilding Bad Credit

In addition to getting either an unsecured or secured credit card for rebuilding bad credit, you can work to improve your credit score over time by keeping the following tips in mind when you use your cards.

  • Check credit reports annually and correct any errors
  • If you have to carry a balance and pay interest, choose the card with the lowest APR available
  • Always make your payments on time
  • Keep balances manageable
  • Enroll in credit monitoring to keep an eye on your credit score and credit reports
  • Avoid extra rewards and benefits if the card has extra fees or if you have to carry a balance

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of 2017

Find the right credit card for you and learn how to improve your credit score.

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of 2017

Find the right credit card for you and learn how to improve your credit score.

Credit cards for bad credit are designed for people with low credit scores. Your credit score is a numerical representation of your creditworthiness, and it tells lenders how good you are at repaying debts and effectively utilizing your available credit. There are several credit scoring models in use today, but the most common is the FICO, created by the formerly named Fair, Isaac and Company in 1956.

Your FICO score is calculated based on the data in your credit report collected by the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Ninety percent of top lenders use that score when making their approval decisions.

It's important to note that no person has a single credit score or even one FICO score. Your FICO (or any type of score) can fluctuate depending on which agency is doing the calculation and which FICO model they're using.

There are several FICO models developed for specific industries such as auto lending and mortgage lending. The FICO 8 is the most widely used model in the U.S.

The general FICO credit score ranges are defined as:

  • Exceptional (800-850)
  • Very Good (740-799)
  • Good (670-739)
  • Fair (580-669)
  • Very Poor (300-579)

When a product is designed for those with bad credit, it is typically intended for consumers in the "Very Poor" credit category. Because they have little creditworthiness in the eyes of lenders, it's usually impossible for them to obtain a traditional credit card.

To offset risks for the lenders, these bad credit or subprime credit cards often come with drawbacks such as an initial deposit, a low credit limit or a high interest rate. Some credit cards for poor credit are even predatory and have hidden fees and restrictions that keep users locked into debt.

2017 Survey: 35 Percent of People with Bad Credit Don't Research Before Applying for a Credit Card

U.S. News ran a nationwide survey of 1,500 consumers who said they have credit scores under 640. The survey asked these consumers about their credit card habits and efforts to improve their credit.

Most people (68 percent) report that they are trying to improve their score. More than half of respondents have relied on their credit card to pay for basic necessities in the last year, but despite the need for affordable credit, 35 percent didn't do any research the last time they applied for a credit card.

Almost one-third of consumers surveyed are not trying to improve their score.

Although 68 percent of respondents want a better credit score and are working to improve their credit, 32 percent are not trying.

(Conducted using Google Surveys – April 2017)

Beverly Harzog, credit card expert and author of "The Debt Escape Plan," suspects that a lack of financial literacy may explain why not all respondents are working to improve their score. "A lot of people don't know how credit works and how a bad credit score can damage you in so many areas," she explains. Of the people surveyed, 20 percent struggle with knowing how to repair their credit score.

Similarly, credit expert John Ulzheimer, who formerly worked with FICO and Equifax, notes that some people with bad credit become accustomed to paying higher interest rates and just don't recognize all of the benefits that would be available to them if they had a higher score.

Of those trying to improve their score, most respondents are taking some appropriate action to do so. Forty-six percent are trying to pay down existing balances, and 32 percent are cutting down on spending.

(Conducted using Google Surveys – April 2017)

People with bad credit are not checking their credit report frequently enough.

Only 24 percent of survey respondents are checking their credit report monthly, which is what experts recommend. Ulzheimer points out that it used to be expensive to check your credit report that frequently, but today it's easier than ever and should be the new norm for people who are trying to build their score. Given how confusing credit scores can be, Ulzheimer advises, "One of the ways to make it really simple is to stop focusing so much on the numbers and really focus more on the credit reports because everything flows from that information."

While most respondents are trying to rebuild their credit, they are not seeing progress yet.

Thirty-four percent of respondents have seen their credit score increase in the last year. Nearly 40 percent of respondents have seen no improvement in their credit score in the last year, and 27 percent don't know if their score has changed.

(Conducted using Google Surveys – April 2017)

About half of people with bad credit sometimes need credit cards to pay for basic necessities.

Just over half of the people surveyed needed credit for groceries, gas or other household necessities at least once in the last year.

(Conducted using Google Surveys – April 2017)

Experts agree that you should never sign up for a credit card if you know you're always going to carry a balance, especially credit cards that carry high interest rates and fees. If you're consistently behind on your bills and your monthly balance is mounting, Harzog urges that consumers reach out for help. Talk to a credit counselor at NFCC.org who can give you some ideas or help you get on a program to repay your debt.

People with bad credit do not spend much time, if any, researching before deciding to apply for a new card.

Sixty percent of people with bad credit said that they spend less than an hour researching fees, interest rates and terms and conditions when applying for a new credit card. Thirty-five percent of respondents didn't do any research at all.

(Conducted using Google Surveys – April 2017)

Harzog recommends that consumers spend more than an hour researching and comparing credit cards because there can be serious ramifications, especially in the bad credit category. "Credit is just not intuitive … if you don't read the fine print, you're not gonna know where all the gotchas are." Some credit cards for bad credit have high interest rates and fees and may not have a grace period. You should take the time to compare cards and get the best card you can qualify for.

  • U.S. News ran a nationwide survey through Google Surveys between April 1 and April 4, 2017.
  • The sample size was the general American population and the survey was configured to be representative of this sample.
  • The survey polled 1,512 people with bad credit (respondents needed to first say their credit score was lower than 640 to be eligible for our survey).
  • The survey asked nine questions relating to their credit habits.
  • All winning answers were statistically significant at the 95 percent confidence level.
  • See the full survey data, questions and results.

Related Low Credit Score Card Categories

You shouldn't apply for a new credit card unless you understand its costs and benefits. You should be committed to rebuilding your credit, using your card only on essential purchases and paying your monthly balance in full and on time.

Set realistic expectations for improving your credit score.

There is no quick-fix solution to raising your credit score. It's important to stay current on your monthly bills like rent, cellphone and cable. Paying these bills won't help improve your credit score, but unpaid bills can harm your credit if they get reported to collection agencies.

At the same time, you should demonstrate responsible use of credit through credit cards, student loans, auto loans and mortgage payments. Responsible card use means paying the balance on time every month and never utilizing more than 30 percent of your credit limit; in doing so, you should see your credit score start to rise after just a few months.

Know your credit score and how it is calculated.

In order to give lenders an objective measure by which to make their approval decisions, FICO developed a system that predicts the credit risk of a borrower based on the information in their credit history. The borrower is then assigned a number according to their risk level.

The score is calculated from data in your credit report at the following weights of importance:

  • Payment history: 35 percent
  • Amounts owed: 30 percent
  • Length of credit history: 15 percent
  • New credit: 10 percent
  • Credit mix: 10 percent

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recommends these four ways to obtain your FICO score:

  • Purchase at myfico.com for $19.95
  • Your monthly credit card statements (if offered as an additional feature)
  • Paid credit monitoring services
  • A nonprofit credit counselor

The VantageScore, developed jointly by the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion in 2006, is becoming increasingly prevalent but is not as highly accepted by traditional lending institutions. It follows a similar model to the FICO and its score ranges are defined as:

  • Excellent (750-850)
  • Good (700-749)
  • Fair (650-699)
  • Poor (550-649)
  • Very Poor (300-549)

The VantageScore can be useful to see what is on your report but can vary greatly from bank-quality FICO scores.

Each of the three major credit bureaus is required by law to provide you with a free copy of your credit report once per year through the official site AnnualCreditReport.com. Many financial advisors recommend that you stagger your free reports and request from a single bureau every four months.

At a minimum, you should check your credit score at the same time so you can get a complete picture of your progress. If possible though, check your score every month; seeing constant improvement can help keep you motivated.

A growing number of websites give you free access to an educational credit score, which can be a good alternative for those who can't pay for it. Once you have your baseline FICO score, Harzog recommends CreditKarma.com and CreditSesame.com for the purposes of monitoring your credit report. They provide an educational score, but most importantly, they grade you on each category that goes into calculating your score, such as payment history and credit inquiries, so you can see where you need to improve. It's important to note:

1) Some credit score sites are funded through advertising and are entirely free. They give you an educational credit score in exchange for your personal information, which they use to send you solicitations from their sponsors. Other services will offer you a free score as part of a trial period for a regular paid subscription service. Once that trial period is over, you are automatically billed monthly for access unless you cancel in time.

2) They are simulated scores calculated in much the same way as a FICO, but in some it may not give you an accurate picture. In a study, the CFPB found meaningful differences between a consumer-purchased score and creditor-purchased score for every one out of four people. You don't want to rely on these educational scores for tracking improvement in your true credit score.

Dispute errors on your credit report.

Your credit report is a detailed account of your credit history compiled separately by three major bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Each report contains information from a variety of sources (lenders, creditors, bill collectors, etc.) that shows how well you pay your debts.

Credit reports are not error-proof. If you find any false information on yours, dispute them immediately. Each credit bureau has a page on its website for filing disputes.

There are three common errors you should look out for:

  • identity errors
  • incorrect account details
  • fraudulent accounts

Identity errors could be as simple as an incorrect address or spelling of your name, but they could also be serious. Your report might contain accounts that belong to someone else with the same name as you (known as a mixed file). Incorrect account details often include wrong credit limits, incorrect origination dates and closed accounts still listed as open.

If you notice a line of credit open that you never applied for, you should move quickly to dispute it because it may be a fraudulent account. If you have it successfully removed, you will see an immediate increase in your score.

Keep old accounts open.

The length of your credit history accounts for 15 percent of your FICO score. It may be tempting to close old accounts as soon as they are paid off, but it's one of the worst things you can do for your credit score, advises Ulzheimer. A borrower with a long history of managing revolving credit is a more attractive investment for lenders. Keeping those older accounts open and using them semiregularly to show credit utilization can lead to a higher score.

You should, however, consider closing old accounts if they have burdensome maintenance fees. Your score may take a temporary hit, but you can put that money to better use paying bills and re-establishing a solid payment history.

Create a budget and plan to pay off existing debt.

If you want to rebuild your credit, you need to analyze all of your income and create a monthly budget that accounts for your regular bills, as well as any purchases that you may make with your new credit card so you can pay the balance in full each month.

If you have any extra money in your budget, you should start an emergency fund for those unforeseen bills such as auto repairs and medical expenses. Without an emergency fund, you may have to put those bills on a credit card which will make it harder to rebuild your credit.

After that, use the extra money in your budget to pay down any high credit card balances you have before making additional payments on installment loans such as student or auto loans. Lowering your revolving credit balances will lower your utilization ratio, or how much of your available credit you're currently using. A lower utilization ratio is better for your score, and credit cards also tend to have higher average interest rates than many other loans.

Negotiate payment plans on existing accounts.

If you are having trouble making the minimum payments on any existing accounts, it is better to try to negotiate an alternative payment plan with the lender than not pay at all. Many creditors will work with you because they would rather receive a smaller, regular payment than no payment at all.

For any other accounts, set up automatic payments or reminders. They are the single best way to ensure that you pay your bills on time. Remember, payment history accounts for 35 percent of your FICO score.

Calculate and manage your monthly credit utilization.

Credit utilization is the amount of available credit that you are using at the time your score is calculated, and it contributes to 30 percent of your FICO score. Credit card companies report utilization in one of two ways. They either report your average utilization for the entire month or for a specific day during the billing cycle.

To show utilization, you only need a balance until your monthly statement is billed to you. You can then pay it off before your grace period. You will show regular use without accruing any interest or carrying too high of a ratio.

FICO recommends that you regularly use your card but avoid using more than 30 percent of your available credit, but the lower your utilization ratio, the better your score will be. Simply divide your total outstanding balances by your total credit limits to calculate your current utilization.

A high utilization rate on one card can be offset by a low rate on another, which can help balance your overall ratio.

Shop for new credit quickly.

You can't shop around for credit cards the same way you do for other purchases, Ulzheimer explains. Every time you apply for a credit card, that creditor makes a request for your credit report. Each of those inquiries stays in your credit history for two years, though your FICO score only considers the ones made in the past 12 months when determining your score. Too many inquiries can give the appearance of trying to open too many accounts and will further damage your credit.

Fortunately, the system allows for comparison shopping. The credit agencies do not penalize you for inquiring with multiple issuers to find the best card or for applying for multiple accounts in hopes of being approved for just one. If you confine all your applications to approximately a two-week period, they will fall under the rate shopping provision and only register as one inquiry on your history. The newer FICO scoring models allow for rate shopping from 30-45 days, but some agencies view credit applications differently than loan applications, so it's safest to adhere to the 14-day window.

Choosing the Best Credit Card for Bad Credit

Given how difficult it is to escape bad credit once you have it, you need a responsible strategy to improve your credit score and proper knowledge on what credit cards, if any, are right for your situation.

The first step in choosing a credit card if you have bad credit is learning about the two types available: secured and unsecured. The primary difference is that secured cards are easier to get approved for because they represent less risk to the lender, but they require an initial cash deposit and have lower credit limits than unsecured cards.

What are secured credit cards?

Secured credit cards are specifically designed for new users looking to establish a credit history or those trying to rebuild one. They operate in the same way as traditional, unsecured cards except they require the user to make a cash deposit against the credit limit. The deposit protects the lender in the event of a default.

How do secured credit cards work?

The cash deposit on a secured credit card is typically $200-$500 or 50 percent to 100 percent of the credit limit. The lender places that money into a secure account, and depending on the bank, you might accrue interest on your deposit like a traditional savings account. As long as the secured card is active, you cannot withdraw those funds. If you miss your payments, the lender uses the deposit to pay the balance.

A secured card is not a prepaid credit or debit card; the billing cycle works just like a standard credit card. When you make a purchase using your card, you have to make payments on the card balance. The creditor only uses the deposit as an emergency backup plan, and it is considered the same as defaulting on a traditional credit card.

Benefits of secured cards for people with bad credit:

  • Easier approval because they represent less risk for the lender
  • Lower APR than most unsecured cards for bad credit

Drawbacks of secured cards for people with bad credit:

  • High security deposit
  • Low credit limits, which make it difficult to maintain a low utilization ratio

What are unsecured credit cards?

Unsecured credit cards are traditional cards that are not secured by a cash deposit. They are cards issued by a financial company that the holder uses to borrow funds to pay for purchases. Credit cards let you buy things using the creditor's money, with an agreement to pay it back with interest if you carry a balance. In effect, they are a way to access a small, instant loan directly at the point of sale for any item.

How do unsecured credit cards work?

Unsecured credit cards come with a credit limit, which is the maximum amount you can spend with it. Your credit limit is determined in large part by your credit score and income. The higher each of those, the higher your limit. The amount you spend on the card is your balance. If you do not pay that balance in full after every billing cycle (your grace period of typically 21-30 days), it starts to accrue interest at an established annual percentage rate (APR). Like most credit cards, unsecured cards for bad credit also come with additional fees.

Benefits of unsecured cards for people with bad credit:

  • No security deposit
  • Higher credit limits

Drawbacks of unsecured cards for people with bad credit:

  • High interest rates
  • High annual fees
  • Monthly maintenance fees

Below are two popular cards for people with bad credit offered by the same bank, one secured and one unsecured: