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The Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Barret WilliamsJanuary 5, 2022

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The Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit


Finding the right credit card when you have less-than-stellar credit can be hard. There are a lot of bad offers out in the world targeting those that may be desperate for credit. The offers you may be finding flooding your mailbox may seem enticing, but they are typically not going to be the best for you. 

If you're looking to improve your credit situation, you don't have to settle. There are good options available to even those with the worst credit scores. We've compared some of the best, with a focus on fees, the ability to prequalify and yes, even the ability to earn rewards. 


Petal 1 Visa Card

5 / 5 Stars

Best Unsecured Card for Building Credit
- 5 / 5 Stars - Best Unsecured Card for Building Credit

Start building your credit without being weighed down by hidden fees. There is a Petal card for those with damaged credit, or a version with better rewards earnings for those that are new to credit or have established credit. See which version you are prequalified for today.

Apply Now
at Petal's Website (Petal 1 is Issued by WebBank, Member FDIC)

  • APR:  19.99% - 29.49% Variable APR
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit: Poor - Fair
  • No Annual Fee
  • $300 - $5,000 Credit Limit
  • 2% - 10% cash back at select merchants
  • Petal 1 looks beyond your credit score to create a Cash Score based on your banking history.
  • A Cash Score shows your creditworthiness and can help you qualify for more credit at better rates.

Where other credit cards for bad credit have bogged their customers down with hidden fees and high APRs, Petal, whose cards are issued by WebBank (Member FDIC), has released a card with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee. Even better, your good behavior can be rewarded with a higher credit limit in as little as 6 months by paying your bills on time and keeping your credit score within a personalized range. 

Read our Petal 1 Review.



Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card

4.8 / 5 Stars

Best Secured Card with No Minimum Deposit
- 4.8 / 5 Stars - Best Secured Card with No Minimum Deposit

Money added to a Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your card, giving you access to a line of credit. There's no upfront deposit required, but you will need to have a Chime Spending account open with an eligible direct deposit in order to qualify.

Apply Now
at Chime's Website

  • APR: None
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit Score: None
  • No annual fee or interest
  • No credit check to apply
  • No minimum security deposit required - simply deposit funds into a Credit Builder to act as collateral
  • Start building credit for free
  • Reports to the three major credit bureaus

After standing by and watch big banks fleece people with high interest rates, annual fees and ongoing charges if they were building credit, a number of fintech startups decided to flip the narrative. One of the best of the bunch is Chime. Chime's products (offered through their banking partners) offer low-cost opportunities to manage your finances, all while building credit. 

Read our Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa Review.



Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

4.9 / 5 Stars

Best-in-class Secured Card Rewards
- 4.9 / 5 Stars - Best-in-class Secured Card Rewards

Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases, a very competitive flat earning rate for a secured credit card. The card also offers solid additional perks, like extended warranties on eligible purchases.

Apply Now
at Captial One's Website

  • APR: 26.99% variable
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit Score: Building
  • Rewards: Earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Earn 1.5% cash back
  • See if you're preapproved before applying
  • No annual fee
  • Security deposits as low as $200

When it comes to cards for those with bad credit, good rewards options tend to be a rarity. That's not the case with the Quicksilver Secured card. With an earning rate of 1.5% cash back on everyday purchases and no annual fee, it competes with some of the more popular cards offered to those with good credit. While the card doesn't have an annual fee, be mindful of the  pay your balance off in full each month or your interest charges will quickly outpace your payments thanks to the high APR. 

Read our  Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card Review.



OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

4.9 / 5 Stars

Best Secured Card with No Hard Credit Check
- 4.9 / 5 Stars - Best Secured Card with No Hard Credit Check

Apply without a hard credit pull. This helps safeguard your credit profile against declined applications.

Apply Now
at OpenSky's Website

  • APR: 17.39% variable
  • Annual Fee: $35
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit Score: None
  • No credit check necessary to apply. 

  • The security deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your new card. 

  • OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.

  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.

OpenSky provides a path for credit building to those with damaged or no credit.  You'll need to prove an ability to repay your bill, however, the approval process doesn't require that OpenSky look at your credit report. Your line of credit can be secured by a refundable security deposit, with credit lines starting as low as $200.  When you close your account, your security deposit will be returned as long as you close your account in good standing.

Read our OpenSky Secured Credit Card Review



Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

4.8 / 5 Stars

Best Security Deposit
- 4.8 / 5 Stars - Best Security Deposit

Depending on your credit profile, you may be able to secure a $200 line of credit with as little as $49 down as a security deposit. You may also be considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months.

Apply Now
at Capital One's Website

  • APR: 26.99% variable
  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Welcome Bonus: None
  • Recommended Credit: Rebuilding
  • No annual fee
  • In as little as 6 months, you could be automatically considered for a higher credit line
  • Check out quickly and securely with a contactless card, without touching a terminal or handing your card to a cashier. Just hover your card over a contactless reader, wait for the confirmation, and you're all set
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Help build your credit through responsible use of a card that reports to all three major credit bureaus

This card isn't fancy, but it's effective at what it does. Recently named a top bank for customer service, Capital One is looking to build a relationship with new customers using the Capital One Platinum Credit Card.  While the card doesn't have an annual fee, you'll want to be sure to pay your balance off in full each month or your interest charges will quickly outpace your payments thanks to the high APR. 

Read our Platinum Secured Credit Card Review.




Summary of The Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Top 5 Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

(Swipe table to see more)
ProductRatingWhy?
Petal 1 Visa Card
5 / 5
Best Unsecured Card for Building Credit
Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card
4.8 / 5
Best Secured Card with No Minimum Deposit
Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
4.9 / 5
Best-in-class Secured Card Rewards
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
4.9 / 5
Best Secured Card with No Hard Credit Check
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
4.8 / 5
Best Security Deposit

How to Choose the Best Credit Card for Bad Credit


There are a few things you should consider when picking the best card for you. Here are some of the questions you should ask yourself when making a decision on whether to take on a new debt product.

Do You Want A Secured Card?

This will eliminate a handful of cards right off the start.  From an outsider's perspective, there's no difference between a secured and unsecured card when you go to swipe at the store. Most cards won't be labeled with secured on the card itself - there's no shame in having a secured card. 

If you're uncomfortable (or unable) to put down $200-$500 down as a security deposit, that may be a good indicator that you may not be ready for a credit card. On the other hand, if you have responsibly saved some money that you can safely put down as a security deposit, there are great options, like the Quicksilver Secured Card that can provide long-lasting value with a low fee structure, good rewards rates and the ability to graduate to an unsecured card.

Are You Okay Paying An Annual Fee?

Even some of the best cards for bad credit will charge an annual fee - but be wary of annual fees over $50. Those cards tend to be aggressive with fees, and you may find yourself paying hundreds of dollars a year in fees and interest if you're not careful. Make sure you're getting something in exchange for an annual fee. OpenSky made our list even though it has an annual fee, because it offers a competitive ongoing interest rate for those that have to carry a balance from time to time. It also does not require a credit check to open an account, which can be a credit lifesaver for some. 

Have You Recently Been Denied for a Credit Card

There are steps you can take if you've recently been declined for a credit card, but every card that made our list offers either a prequalification process to help you safeguard your credit from unwanted declines, or offers a path to approval without a credit inquiry at all.  If you'e recently been declined for a card, frantically applying for more cards may not be the best move for your credit. A card like the Chime Credit Builder Secured card could help you build a solid foundation of financial habits while also reporting your payment habits to the three major credit bureaus. 

Don't Make Your Decision Based on a Nice to Have.

Some credit card companies count picking your own image as a perk for cards with bad credit. Others might tout limited rewards that are hard to use, or worse, a 2-liter of soda. Flashy benefits might seem nice, but remember your goal: build a stronger credit profile. 


Methodology


When searching for the best credit cards for bad credit, we looked at the following features:

  • Ease of application: We focused on cards that were available online, at a national level.
  • Prequalification Capabilities: Those with bad credit need to safeguard their credit profile more than most. The ability to search a bank's site for offers you may be eligible for before applying is a big plus. 
  • Fees: Fees on cards for bad credit can get out of control. We reviewed products for common fees, and excluded any cards that charged high opening, annual or other ongoing fees.
  • Credit Tools: Keeping tabs on your credit score while you build credit is one of the essential parts of a good credit building strategy. We gave bonus points to products that offered knowledge centers and free credit scores.


FAQs


Can I get prequalified for a credit card with bad credit?

Yes! There are some very good offers available for those that are working to build a better credit profile. Three of our five top credit cards for bad credit offer a pre-qualification opportunity to help you protect your credit score against an application decline.

Can I get a credit card without a hard inquiry?

You can get a credit card without a hard inquiry, but you are likely to have limited secured card options. If you're exploring options and concerned about a hard inquiry, using a pre-qualification checker might be a good place to start.



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