10 Expert Picks: Best Credit Cards for “Bad Credit” (2017)

10 Expert Picks:  Best Credit Cards for “Bad Credit” ([current_year])
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Mike Randall
By: Mike Randall
Posted: September 3, 2015
BadCredit.org's popular "How-To" series is for those who seek to improve, rebuild or better understand their subprime credit rating.

Having a credit card is practically a necessity in our modern day and age. Without one you’ll have a hard time renting a car, making a hotel reservation, buying an airline ticket and many other things.

Credit Score Chart

Responsible use of a credit card can also be a good way to rebuild poor credit after dealing with debt or other financial stumbles. But what if you have bad credit and a low credit score making it difficult to qualify for a credit card? Not to worry, because we’ve identified some of the best credit cards available for folks with a less than perfect credit score.

Many of these issuers specialize in subprime, or poor credit, consumers and won’t require a perfect credit score to qualify. Here are our top 10 expert-reviewed unsecured credit cards for bad credit:

First PREMIER (VISA)

Headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, First PREMIER Bank issues several cards designed to help people rebuild their credit.

  • Checking account required
  • Easy online application
  • Unlike some other issuers, good credit is not required
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Reports to the major Consumer Reporting Agencies
  • Application response in 30 seconds
  • We may approve those currently building their credit history
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes See issuer website Yes 9.5/10

VISA cards are accepted in millions of businesses and more than 200 countries around the world.

First PREMIER (MasterCard)

If you’d rather have a MasterCard than a Visa, try one of these other First PREMIER credit cards for bad credit.

  • Checking account required
  • A manageable credit limit can help you stay in control
  • This is a credit card - not a debit or prepaid card
  • Track your progress. Your FICO Score is provided for free on your monthly billing statement.
  • Make your payments on time each month, and keep your balance low relative to the credit limit, for positive marks on your credit report.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes See issuer website Yes 9.5/10
  • Checking account required
  • Monthly reporting to the major Consumer Reporting Agencies
  • We provide a response in 60 seconds or less
  • No security deposit required
  • Apply today, and if approved, pay a Program Fee to access your available credit (additional fees and charges apply)
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes See issuer website Yes 9.5/10
  • Must have checking account to qualify
  • A good choice for those with less than perfect credit
  • Credit card response in 60 seconds or less
  • First PREMIER Bank may approve you when other issuers will not
  • Apply today, and if approved, pay a Program Fee and you could begin enjoying a manageable credit limit (subject to available credit, additional fees and charges)
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.4

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes See issuer website Yes 9.0/10

First PREMIER Bank is the 10th largest issuer of MasterCard credit cards in the US.

Total VISA

Offered by Mid America Bank & Trust Company, the Total VISA card reports to all three major credit bureaus, so responsible use can help rebuild bad 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
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a processing fee to open your account and access your available credit
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes See terms Yes 8.5/10

Most applicants can expect a response in just seconds when applying online.

Credit One Bank

Prospective Credit One cardholders can see if they pre-qualify by going online to the Credit One website and filling out a quick form.

  • Receive 1% cash back on eligible purchases, terms apply
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment date. Terms apply.
  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Zero fraud liability protects you from unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit with free online access to your credit score
  • Show off your style with a premium card design, a fee may apply
  • Receive opportunities for credit line increases, a fee may apply
  • Email or text alerts to remind you when your payment is due
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 16.15% - 24.65% (Variable)* Yes 9.0/10
  • Find out if you Pre-Qualify without affecting your credit score
  • This unsecured card provides opportunities to raise your credit score
  • Receive opportunities for credit line increases, a fee may apply
  • Monitor your credit with free online access to your credit score
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases, terms apply
  • Zero fraud liability protects you from unauthorized charges
  • Email or text alerts to remind you when your payment is due
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 Minutes 16.15% - 24.65% (Variable)* Yes 9.0/10

Your Credit One card will come with free credit score tracking so you can see your progress.

Best of the Rest

If the other offers on the list didn’t appeal to you, these credit cards from Surge, Milestone, and Indigo are also designed for those with poor credit.

  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere that MasterCard® is accepted
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking account required
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.5

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes See terms Yes 8.5/10
  • Applying is quick and easy with our fast decision process
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • 24/7 access to your account information, even on mobile
  • Card designs to fit your personality at no extra charge
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.2

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 23.90% Yes 9.0/10
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • All credit histories considered
  • Online servicing available 24/7 at no additional cost
  • Unsecured credit card, no security deposit required
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.2

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 Minutes 23.90% Yes 8.0/10

Remember to compare offers to make sure you get the best interest rates and lowest fees.

Choose Your Card (and Use It) Wisely

Having a poor credit score can be a challenge, but these “bad credit” credit cards can help you to get back on track. Prefer to rebuild with a secured credit card?

A number of issuers offer secured credit cards for subprime consumers. Regardless of the type, Using any of these recommended cards wisely and paying your bill on time each month can not only give you the flexibility you need, but also boost your credit score, too. Even if you’ve got bad credit, these cards can help you turn around your finances and start building a positive credit status from this point forward.