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How Can You Get a Credit Card with Bad Credit?

Whether it's a secured card or card with no rewards at all, you can still get a credit card with bad credit. Here's how to make it.
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024
The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.
Author: Baruch Mann (Silvermann)
Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Writer, Contributor

Experience

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
Interest Rates Last Update: April 15, 2024

The banking product interest rates, including savings, CDs, and money market, are accurate as of this date.

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Table of Content

Key Takeaways

  • Any FICO score which is lower than 580 is considered to be a poor credit score. Applicants with such scores might have difficulty getting approval for credit cards.
  • One of the ways to make it easier to get approval for a credit card is to apply for secured credit cards. In this case, the size of the credit limit will depend upon the size of deposited funds. This might be a good option for those people to want to improve their credit score.
  • It might be a good idea to apply for a credit card only after you have a job and secure stable sources of income. This way you can improve your chances of getting approval.
  • In this process, it is important to watch out for subprime credit cards which have very high commissions and upfront costs.

A low credit score can make it difficult to get a new credit card because it indicates to lenders that you are a higher risk borrower. When lenders evaluate your application for a new credit card, they consider your credit score as one of the factors to assess your creditworthiness.

If your credit score is low, lenders may be concerned that you are more likely to miss payments, default on the card, or run up high balances that you can't pay off.

As a result, they may be less likely to approve your application for a new credit card, or they may offer you a card with higher fees, higher interest rates, and lower credit limits.

What Is a Bad Credit Score?

Any FICO Score that runs from 300 to 579, signifying considered as a poor credit score. Applicants with FICO scores in this range may be charged an additional fee or a deposit. 

Because this is the lowest rating category on the scale, applicants may have difficulty receiving credit card approval.

Credit Score Ranges
A score below 580 is considered bad and may make it more difficult to obtain new credit

Can I Get A Credit Card With Bad Credit?

Yes, you can get a credit card with bad credit, but it may be more difficult than getting a credit card with good credit. There are several credit card options available for people with bad credit, including secured credit cards, prepaid credit cards, and subprime credit cards.

These types of credit cards may have lower credit limits, higher fees, and higher interest rates compared to traditional credit cards.

However, by using the card responsibly, paying your bills on time, and keeping your balances low, you can start to rebuild your credit and potentially be eligible for better credit card options in the future.

What Credit Card Can I Get With Bad Credit?

The three types of credit cards available to those with bad credit are secured and prepaid.

A secured credit card requires a specific amount of money to be placed into a savings account, and the credit limit is often based on a percentage of the amount deposited. The monies are not used for monthly payments and are used as security for a secured credit card.

On the other hand, prepaid cards are funded with money you deposit and are not reported to credit bureaus. Unsecured credit cards account for the vast majority of credit cards. An unsecured credit card is a revolving credit line with a limit you can use without making a deposit.

Another type of card for bad credit is a subprime credit card. Subprime credit cards are designed for people with poor credit, but they often come with high fees and high-interest rates. Read the terms and conditions carefully before applying for a subprime credit card.

How To Boost Eligibility When Having Poor Credit

Here are some steps you can take to increase chances to get approval for a credit card if you have poor credit:

It's recommended to limit the number of credit card applications you make, and to only apply for the credit cards you need. Avoid applying for credit cards aimed at individuals with high credit rankings, “simply to see” if you may get accepted. You're probably to be denied and the additional cards can damage your credit score rating even greater.

Every time you apply for a credit card, the credit card issuer will perform a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many hard inquiries in a short period of time can lower your credit score.

Credit cards with extremely good rewards, low APRs, and promotional interest fees are always geared toward customers with high credit. Applicants with bad credit score rankings are generally denied.

Credit utilization is the amount of credit you use compared to the amount of credit you have available. It is a key factor in determining your credit score and your credit card eligibility.

If you have a high credit utilization rate, it can indicate to lenders that you are using a lot of your available credit and are at higher risk of defaulting on your debt. This can lower your credit score and make it harder for you to be approved for a credit card or to get a favorable interest rate on a credit card.

On the other hand, if you have a low credit utilization rate, it can indicate to lenders that you are a responsible borrower who is using credit wisely. This can increase your credit score and make it easier for you to be approved for a credit card or to get a favorable interest rate on a credit card.

It's recommended to keep your credit utilization rate below 30% for optimal credit score and credit card eligibility. This means that you should aim to use no more than 30% of your available credit at any given time. For example, if you have a credit limit of $5,000, you should aim to use no more than $1,500 at any given time.

Credit card companies won't provide you with a credit card unless you've got enough annual earnings to satisfy the minimum payments for that card’s credit restriction. You must think twice, prior to making use of a credit card, if you can’t afford to repay your card in complete every month. Besides- you would be better off using a debit card than entering into debt.

If you don’t have a permanent career or a dependable source of earnings, don’t apply for a credit card yet. You're all likely to get rejected by principal banks and other credit score lending establishments. This creates every other black mark in your credit file. 

Having more than one employer in a short period doesn’t help you get a credit card with a horrific credit score. This is because maximum creditors seek out one or more strong sources of income to pay off the card debts.

Apply for a secured credit card that permits you to make a deposit that serves as your credit limit.

Make sure the card company reviews your transactions to the credit bureaus so you can build credit and graduate to a normal, unsecured card. Some credit cards offer better advantages than others, like a more cash-back or a lower APR.

Apply for a Subprime Credit Card- but Only as a Last Resort. These cards indict very high-interest rates and fees. You should have to continuously pay them off in full, or timely per month. Responsible use of a subprime card can boost your credit and help you qualify for a less expensive card.

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How to Choose a Credit Card for Bad Credit?

The principles for choosing a credit card for bad credit are the same as you would if you have an excellent score. However, people with bad credit should also focus on rebuilding their credit, and a credit card can help you do it. Over time, a strong credit score can help you get approved for better credit card options

One of the most important factors in determining your credit score is your payment history. Making on-time payments on your credit card can demonstrate to lenders that you are a responsible borrower and can improve your credit score over time.

Choose a credit card that reports to the major credit bureaus, so you can improve your credit score by making on-time payments and keeping your credit utilization low.

While most cards won't offer it, it is also important to look at the potential benefits and rewards. If you intend to repay your monthly balance, choosing a card that provides cash back on purchases at your favorite stores may be more beneficial. 

Lastly, pay attention to the fees. Some cards, especially subprime cards,  tend to charge higher fees. Once you have narrowed down which cards are suitable for those with a bad or poor credit score, you can evaluate their benefits.

Sub Prime Cards: Pay Attention To Fees

Watch out for fee harvester, or subprime credit cards, that accumulates high upfront expense. Why?

These soak up the maximum amount of your credit restriction. Although federal law limits quantity of costs to 25% of the credit restriction, a subprime credit card company has gotten across the law by assessing a $90 fee before the credit card is ever issued. The First Premier Bank Gold MasterCard is an instance of a credit score card to stay far away from.

Prepaid cards are frequently advertised as an alternative for individuals with low credit, but those are not true credit cards. Prepaid cards require you to make a deposit before you can use it to make purchases.

However, unlike secured credit cards, your “pay as you go” card purchases are deducted out of your stability. “Pay as you go” cards don't improve your credit score either, due to the fact they don't report to the major credit score bureaus. They cannot when you consider that they're no longer a credit score product.

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What Are The Easiest Cards to Get?

The easiest cards to get when you have bad credit are secured credit cards. Since you’re providing funds as security, there is minimal risk for the card issuer. If you default on your account, they can simply use your deposited funds to repay the debt.

This does mean that your credit limit is determined by your deposited funds. So, if you only have $200 spare to put into your card, your credit limit will be just $200. However, these cards can help you to build your credit. Each time you make a repayment, it is reported to the major credit bureaus, which will boost your score

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How to Apply For a Bad Credit Card?

Check your credit score document and credit score prior to applying for a brand new credit card so that you realize what you’re looking at. In case you apply for a card that is available to individuals higher credit scores, it’s possible you’ll take a hit in your credit rating with nothing to reveal for it.

Once you have determined the best cards for your credit profile and needs, you will need to complete an application. You will need to supply your basic personal information and some financial details. Just be sure to be honest about your income, expenses and other debt.

Lying on an application is not only acting in bad faith, but it could invalidate your account, if the card issuer determines you lied. In a worst case scenario, it could even be regarded as fraud.

After you submit the application, the card issuer will assess it and determine if you are eligible. Most lenders aim to provide a decision as quickly as possible, and if approved, you can expect your new card within a week or two.

Can I Get a Credit Card With a 530 Credit Score?

 

A 530 credit score is classified as poor, which will limit your credit options. However, there are still some credit cards that are available for those with a poor credit score. These cards are typically quite basic with low limits, but they can help you to build your credit score, so you may be more successful applying for other cards in the future.

The other credit card option if you have a poor credit score is a secured credit card. These cards involve depositing some funds, and the balance of the deposit will determine your credit card limit.

While this is not ideal if you’re low on cash, if you simply want a credit card to make purchases or want to build your credit score, it can be a viable option, regardless of whether you have a poor score or no credit history.

rejected credit card application
New account, recent applications, low score, low income or late payments are just some of the reasons for rejected credit card application (Photo by Cast Of Thousands/Shutterstock)

Where Can I Get A Credit Card With Bad Credit?

Here are some places to consider when looking for a credit card with bad credit:

  • Credit unions or local banks: Credit unions and local banks may offer credit cards for people with bad credit with lower fees and interest rates compared to big national banks.

  • Online: Credit card companies may also offer credit cards for people with bad credit. However, be cautious of offers that promise to repair your credit or that require a large upfront fee, as these types of offers are often scams and can end up hurting your credit score even more.

  • Store credit cards: Some retail stores offer store credit cards that you can use only at their stores. These types of credit cards may be easier to get if you have bad credit, but they often come with high interest rates and fees.

It's important to compare different offers and carefully read the terms and conditions of any credit card you're considering, especially if you have bad credit. Be mindful of hidden fees, high interest rates, and the rewards and benefits offered by the credit card to make sure it's the right fit for you.

Can I Get An Amex Card With Poor Credit?

Amex is known for offering premium credit cards with high credit score requirements, so it may be more challenging to get approved for one of their cards if you have bad credit.

You can try Amex pre-approval and check your options.

Can I Get A Chase Card With Poor Credit?

Getting a Chase credit card with bad credit is possible, although your options may be limited. If you have bad credit, you may find it more difficult to get approved for one of their premium credit cards, but you may still be eligible for some of their secured or lower-tier credit cards.

Chase offers several secured credit cards, such as the Chase Freedom Flex Secured Credit Card, that may be a good option for people with bad credit. 

FAQs

A good FICO credit score is anywhere above 670, while a fair credit score is 580 or more. So, if your credit score is less than 580, you will need to consider credit cards designed for bad credit.

However, the key to harness this is to know your score. Fortunately, this is quite easy. Anyone can request a copy of their credit report from the major credit bureaus. You can then check your score and go through your report to determine if there are any errors that may be damaging your score.

Even if you opt for a secured credit card, your card issuer will report your monthly repayments to the major credit bureaus. This will help you to show a pattern of responsible financial behavior.

Another way that a bad credit card can help you to build your credit is that it will increase your available credit, thereby increasing your credit utilization ratio. Just be sure to keep your credit card balance in check or it will negate this benefit

If you have bad credit, you are unlikely to get a high level of rewards, so it is best to look for a card that has a reasonable rate and low fee structure. Try to get a credit card with a low annual fee, but watch out for hefty late payment fees or other charges that may make the card expensive.

You should also ensure that the credit card does report your activity to the major credit bureaus. After all, if you are going to the trouble of ensuring you make payments on time each month, it should be reflected in your credit report.

The quickest way to build your credit score is to pay down your existing debt. This will not only show payments on your credit report, but it will reduce your credit utilization ratio. This is a percentage of your debt expressed in terms of your available credit. So, if you have credit card balances of $2,000 and total credit limits of $6,000, your credit utilization ratio is 33%.

Ideally, to have a good credit score, you need to try and keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%.

Secured credit cards are designed for people with bad credit or no credit history. Since you are providing funds to act as security, there is less risk for the card issuer. If you should fail to make a payment, the issuer can simply use your deposit funds.

So, you should have no problem getting a secured credit card even if you have a very poor credit score.

If you have bad credit and want a no annual fee credit card, there are not a great many choices. You may find the best options are secured credit cards, like the Discover It secured card or the Capital One Platinum secured card.

While these cards do require that you deposit funds to act as security, you won’t need to consider an annual fee.

Getting any credit cards if you have bad credit can be tricky, but there are some store cards that may be a little more lenient about their applicant requirements.

Some examples of these are Target, Macy’s, JCPenney and Kohls. However, you will need to be prepared for quite a small credit limit. However, this can be a great way to build your credit. With regular, on time monthly payments reported to the credit bureaus and your card issuer increasing your limit as a result of good practices, you could end up with a card that has a decent limit and a better credit score.

Picture of Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Mann (Silvermann)

Baruch Silvermann is a financial expert, experienced analyst, and founder of The Smart Investor.  Silvermann has contributed to Yahoo Finance and cited as an authoritative source in financial outlets like Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC Select, CNET, Bankrate, Fox Business, The Street, and more.
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