Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit in September 2022

The best credit cards for bad credit give you the ability to rebuild your credit. These cards come in the form of secured and unsecured cards, and examples include the Citi Secured Mastercard and the Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa Card.

Advertising & Editorial DisclosureLast Updated: 9/2/2022
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Last Updated: 9/2/2022

When you have bad credit or are trying to rebuild your credit, getting approved for a credit card can be challenging. About 1 out of every 6 people in the U.S. have a very poor FICO score (300 to 579), so you're not alone. There are many reasons people have poor credit, such as job loss, emergency bills, divorce and economic hardship.

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MoneyGeek’s Take: Top 10 Credit Cards for Bad Credit

We’ve selected the top credit cards for bad credit based on multiple factors. For instance, the Citi Secured Mastercard charges no annual fee, whereas the Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa Card for Rebuilding Credit lets you earn cash back on eligible purchases. We’ve also taken other factors such as APRs and added perks into account.

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Some of the links in the above table will take you to one of our partner's sites where you can compare and apply for a selected credit card.

Best Credit Card Offers for Bad Credit

We've separated the best credit card offers for bad credit into two types — those that require a deposit and those that do not. Our MoneyGeek experts prepare detailed reviews of every card and include their opinion on the pros and cons of each card's offer and key details of fees and benefits.

Best Secured Credit Cards to Build Credit

The best secured credit cards for bad credit require a refundable security deposit to get approved for the card. In most cases, you can receive a higher credit limit by depositing more money, and your deposit will be refunded when it is converted to an unsecured card or if you close your account.


  • Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa Credit Card

    A good secured credit card with no annual fees and interest


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • UnspecifiedAPR
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • OakStone Platinum Secured Mastercard®

    An excellent secured credit card with no credit score requirement


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $49Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 9.99%APR

  • Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Secured Credit Card

    A good secured card for building credit and earning rewards


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 18.00%APR
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 1 Point per $1Rewards Rate

  • OakStone Gold Secured Mastercard®

    A secured credit card meant for people with poor or no credit histories


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $39Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 13.99%APR

  • Citi® Secured Mastercard®

    Best credit card for building credit with no or limited credit history


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 22.49%APR

  • Assent Platinum 0% Intro Rate Mastercard Secured Credit Card

    Best for those looking for a credit-boosting card with a 0% intro APR


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $49Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 12.99%APR

  • Merrick Bank Secured Credit Card

    A good secured credit card for people who wish to build their credit


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $36*Annual Fee
    • $200Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 17.45%APR

  • Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

    Best secured card for building credit on a budget


    • Limited-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $49–$200*Min. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 26.99%APR

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Secured credit cards are great options for people with limited credit because they only allow for so much spending. Unsecured credit cards, while they have a credit limit, the card will not limit your spending which could cause issues if the cardholder spends beyond their means. Compare the top secured credit cards at our partner site, CardRatings.com.

Best Unsecured Credit Cards for Bad Credit (No Deposit)

Our choices for the best unsecured credit cards for bad credit allow you to get approved for a new credit card without having to deposit any money. These cards are an excellent choice for people who don't have the ability or desire to make a security deposit.


  • Indigo Mastercard

    A good unsecured credit card to build or rebuild credit


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $0–$99*Annual Fee
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 24.90%APR

  • Milestone® Unsecured Mastercard®

    A good unsecured credit card for people with poor or no credit history


    • None-PoorCredit Needed
    • $35 – $99Annual Fee
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 24.90%APR

The Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit at a Glance

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Other Cards to Consider

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HOW WE RANK CREDIT CARDS APPROVED FOR LOWER CREDIT SCORES

Our experts analyze 57 data points they collect from issuer websites, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and details provided by our partners to make sure we give you the most accurate information possible. They subject all new and existing cards from this segment to our unique ranking methodology that takes multiple parameters into account to arrive at the best of the lot.

  • Average APR: 20%
  • Annual Fee: 20%
  • Credit Needed to Apply: 20%
  • Cash Back/Rewards Rate: 5%
  • Late Fees: 2%

How to Compare Credit Cards for Bad Credit

There are many good credit cards available for those with bad credit. If you're looking to build or repair your credit history, it's important to choose a card that best fits your needs and financial situation. So to cut through the noise, you'll want to pay close attention to certain features and criteria that will help you decide which card is right for you. Below are 10 things you should look out for when comparing credit cards:

1

Application fees

Is there a fee to apply for the credit card or to open your account?

2

Annual or monthly fees

Does the credit card charge any fees to keep the account open?

3

Interest rates

What is the interest rate on purchases and balance transfers? Is the card issuer offering a promotional rate for new cardholders? If so, what are the terms?

4

Security deposit amount

How much does the credit card require as a security deposit, and is it refundable?

5

Earn rewards on purchases

Does the card earn rewards on your purchases? If so, does it earn cash back, miles or points? Are there any bonus categories or limits on how much you can earn, and do your rewards expire?

6

Initial credit limit

What is the minimum credit limit, and can you get a higher limit by increasing your security deposit?

7

Credit limit increases

Does the bank automatically increase your credit limit after you've used the card responsibly? If so, how long until that happens?

8

Conversion to an unsecured card

Will your secured credit card convert to an unsecured card after you've built good credit habits?

9

Free credit score

Does the card provide free access to your credit score so that you can monitor your progress towards building your credit history?

10

Additional benefits

Are there any other benefits when using the card, such as no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection or zero liability for unauthorized purchases?

Types of Credit Cards for Subprime Credit

There are a variety of credit cards available for people who are building their credit. While some require a security deposit, many do not.

  • Card Type
    Description
  • Secured credit cards

    These cards require a deposit to open your account, and
    the credit limit is equal to your deposit. Many cards,
    like the Merrick Bank Double Your Line Secured Visa,
    have a minimum security deposit amount but also allow you
    to deposit more money to receive a higher limit.

  • Partially secured credit cards

    Customers have to provide a security deposit, but the
    credit limit is more than the security deposit. The
    Capital One Platinum Secured Card requires a security
    deposit of $49, $99 or $200 to receive an initial credit
    line of $200. Your account may receive a credit limit
    increase in as little as six months without requiring a
    larger security deposit.

  • Unsecured credit cards

    Unsecured credit cards do not require a security deposit
    for approval. The Petal 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa Credit
    Card
    has no annual fee and does not require a security
    deposit.

  • Store cards

    These cards help build your credit by reporting your
    payments to the credit bureau, but the card can only be
    used for purchases at that store. For example, the Home
    Depot card cannot be used to make purchases at Lowe's,
    Target or a gas station.

What to Look for in a Card to Help Build Credit More Easily

When looking for a credit card to build your credit, it pays to look at the basic features of each card. Ideally, you'll find a credit card with no annual fee and a low APR on purchases that earns attractive rewards and offers useful benefits, like free access to your credit score.

Good credit cards for bad credit usually have no annual fee, but it is OK to pay a fee if the card earns rewards or includes benefits that make paying the fee worthwhile. You should try to pay your balance in full each month to avoid interest charges, but that may not always be possible. If you have to carry a balance over to the next month, having a card with a low APR means that you'll pay less interest than you would on other credit cards that charge a higher interest rate.

Beyond these standard features, you also want to dig deeper into the credit card's details to avoid unfriendly terms and fees.

What to Be on the Lookout For

  • Hidden fees. While some credit cards do not charge an annual fee, they may charge an application fee or monthly fees.
  • Grace period. The grace period is the number of days after the statement closes that you have to pay the balance without being charged interest. Longer is better for this feature, and the best credit cards provide a grace period of up to 25 days.
  • Foreign transaction fees. When you travel internationally or buy something online from another country, banks can charge up to 3% of the transaction amount as a fee. The best credit cards waive this fee completely.
  • Penalty APR. Paying late or having a payment returned by your bank for insufficient funds can increase your interest rate. But there are some secured credit cards that do not raise your APR if you pay late.
  • Late fees. How much does the credit card charge if you pay late? Late fees can vary, but most charge about $40 for late payments, but there are a few issuers that waive late fees.
  • Over-the-limit fees. Because many subprime credit cards have low limits initially, it can be easy for consumers to go over the limit. Pay attention to the fees that the credit card charges and use your credit card sparingly to avoid going over the limit.

4 Tips for Improving Your Credit with Your New Card

Getting a new credit card is the starting point for improving your credit. Now that you've been approved, you must use it responsibly to increase your credit score. Build your score by following these tips:

  • This is an icon

    Make all payments on time

    Be sure to make your minimum monthly payment before the due date. Setting up an automatic payment of the minimum due from your bank account ensures you will never miss a payment.

  • This is an icon

    Use the credit card regularly

    By making a few small purchases each month and then paying them off quickly, you're showing the bank that you can use the card responsibly. This behavior is usually rewarded with an increased credit limit or upgrading your secured card into one that is unsecured.

  • This is an icon

    Keep your balances low

    When the amount you owe is low compared to your credit limit, that can increase your credit score. Consider limiting your purchases to only the amount that you can pay in full each month.

  • This is an icon

    Avoid fees and penalties

    Whenever the bank charges a fee or penalty, it is that much harder to keep your balances low and pay off your balance each month. Avoid late payment fees, over-the-limit fees and other fees to keep your money in your pocket.

Other Ways to Build/Rebuild Credit Without Getting A Credit Card

While getting approved for a new credit card is a popular way to build credit, it is not the only way to do so. There are several alternatives available that will help you build your credit history so that you can get a new card in the future.

Alternatives to Building Credit without a Card

  • Use a credit builder loan. Credit builder loans are similar to a traditional loan, but the payout is at the end. You pay monthly payments for a period of time. Then, when the term is over, you receive a check for the loan amount. These lenders charge a small fee for the service and report to the credit bureaus to show your positive payment history.
  • Rent payment services. While most landlords do not report rent payments to the credit bureaus, some companies do so for a fee. When you sign up for one of these services, your positive rent payment history can help you build your credit.
  • Get added as an authorized user. By adding your name as an authorized user on someone else's credit card, you'll benefit from their payment history and responsible use of the card. Because you can make purchases against their credit limit and the account owner is responsible for your charges, this can be a risky decision for them.
  • Turn on Experian Boost. Experian Boost allows payments to telephone companies, utilities and select streaming services to report to your credit report. There is no fee for this service, but it only affects your Experian credit history.

Top Questions About Credit Cards for Bad Credit & Rebuilding History

After learning about credit card options for people with bad credit and tips for rebuilding your score, you may have additional questions. Some of the most common questions are focused on how to get approval when your credit score is low and what to do if your application is declined.

  1. Are there many unsecured credit cards that accept applicants with fair credit?
  2. Are there any unsecured credit cards that will accept applicants with lower-than-fair credit?
  3. If the issuer of an unsecured credit card accepts someone with fair credit, should consumers expect to see higher interest rates and/or lower credit limits for that card than what would be offered to a consumer with better credit?
  4. What red flags should credit card shoppers with poor or fair credit look for in unsecured credit card offers?
  5. If someone has fair or poor credit, would that person be better off getting an unsecured credit card (if approved) or a secured credit card? Will one affect a person's credit score more positively than the other?
Bruce McClary
Bruce McClary

Vice President of Communications, National Foundation for Credit Counseling

Rutherford Cardinal Johnson
Rutherford Cardinal Johnson

Lecturer of Economics at the University of Minnesota

Larry Connatser
Larry Connatser

Family Financial Management Specialist at Virginia Corporate Extension

Ant Ozok, PhD
Ant Ozok, PhD

Professor at the Department of Information Systems, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Seddik Meziani
Seddik Meziani

Professor of Finance at Montclair State University and ETF Author and Speaker

Natasa Christodoulidou, Ph.D.
Natasa Christodoulidou, Ph.D.

Professor at California State University, Dominguez Hills

Frank Wonsok Jee, Ph.D.
Frank Wonsok Jee, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor in the College of Business at Western Carolina University

Nicholas Robinson
Nicholas Robinson

Director of Accountancy at Eastern Illinois University

Dr. Marc Fusaro
Dr. Marc Fusaro

Associate Professor at Emporia State University

John Hilston
John Hilston

Professor of Economics and History at Eastern Florida State College

Michael Omansky
Michael Omansky

Associate Professor, Felician University, School of Business and Information Sciences

Dr. Sahar Milani
Dr. Sahar Milani

Associate Professor of Economics at St. Lawrence University

John Longo
John Longo

Professor of Finance at Rutgers Business School; Author of Buffett's Tips: A Guide to Financial Literacy and Life

Dr. Andrew Burnstine
Dr. Andrew Burnstine

Associate Professor of Marketing at Lynn University

Anthony Rondinelli
Anthony Rondinelli

Professor of Business

Gregory Germain
Gregory Germain

Professor at Syracuse University College of Law

Nick Maeder
Nick Maeder

Assistant Professor of Economics, Knauss School of Business, University of San Diego

Alex Pomelnikov, PhD
Alex Pomelnikov, PhD

Visiting Lecturer, College of Business at Texas Woman's University

Anil Agarwal
Anil Agarwal

Adjunct Instructor in International Business at The University of Arizona

Dr. Robert Chatt
Dr. Robert Chatt

Assistant Professor of Finance at Westfield State University

S. Abraham Ravid
S. Abraham Ravid

Sy Syms Professor of Finance, Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University

Pradeep Rau
Pradeep Rau

Professor of Marketing at The GW School of Business

Nicolas Jankuhn
Nicolas Jankuhn

Assistant Professor of Marketing at the University of Southern Indiana

Tammy Johnston
Tammy Johnston

Professor of Economics at the University of Louisiana

Dr. Hrishikesh (Hrish) Desai
Dr. Hrishikesh (Hrish) Desai

Assistant Professor of Accounting at Arkansas State University

John Garner
John Garner

CEO & Co-Founder of Card Curator

W. Eric Lee
W. Eric Lee

Associate Professor of Accounting at the University of Norther Iowa

David S. (Steve) Heesacker
David S. (Steve) Heesacker

Business Instructor at Central Carolina Community College

Lawrence J. White
Lawrence J. White

Professor of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University

Dr. Kent Belasco
Dr. Kent Belasco

Director of Commercial Banking Program at Marquette University

Adel Varghese
Adel Varghese

Instructional Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, Texas A&M University

Dr. Rebecca J. Davis
Dr. Rebecca J. Davis

Assistant Professor in the Economics and Finance Department at Stephen F. Austin State University

Kashif A. Ahmed
Kashif A. Ahmed

Financial Planner, Professor of Finance at Suffolk University

Dr. Geo Kelly
Dr. Geo Kelly

Assistant Professor of Marketing at Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Latisha Nixon-Jones
Latisha Nixon-Jones

Assistant Professor of Law

Demissew Ejara
Demissew Ejara

Associate Professor of Finance at The University of New Haven

Other FAQs

Next Steps

Now that you know how credit cards for bad credit work, consider applying for one based on factors such as your existing credit score and whether or not you can pay a security deposit. Paying attention to a card’s fees, APRs and possible rewards is also important.

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About the Author


Lee Huffman spent 18 years as a financial planner and corporate finance manager before quitting his corporate job to write full-time in 2018. Lee has been writing about early retirement, credit cards, travel, insurance, and other personal finance topics since 2012. He enjoys showing people how to travel more, spend less, and live better through the power of travel rewards. When Lee is not getting his passport stamped around the world, he's researching methods to earn more miles and points towards his next vacation.

Lee's writing can be found on many popular travel and credit card websites such as The Points Guy, Investopedia, and NerdWallet. You can follow Lee's travels at BaldThoughts.com or listen to his weekly travel podcast at WeTravelThere.com.


*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity.
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