How to Get a Credit Card with Bad Credit

How to Get a Credit Card with Bad Credit
Mike Randall
By: Mike Randall
Posted: July 23, 2013's popular "How-To" series is for those who seek to improve, rebuild or better understand their subprime credit rating.

So your credit stinks and you’re sick of not being able to get a credit card, right? Well, you’re not alone.

According to the Consumer Credit Research Institute, nearly 30 percent of Americans don’t have a credit card. Of those, more than 50 percent said they’d like to have one but were unable to get approved.

That’s almost 60 million Americans who want a credit card but can’t get one.

Don’t despair. There are some things you can do to get a credit card even if you have really bad credit.

Take a look at some of these suggestions:

1. Go in and talk with your bank.

In some cases, banks will consider giving you a credit card if you have a bank account with them and a record of few or zero overdrafts.

Talking to your bank’s loan officer or credit manager can sometimes pay off. This technique works especially well with credit unions and smaller community banks.

Of course, be prepared to present yourself professionally and with a good reason for your temporary financial hardship.

2. A secured card.

I know you’ve heard it before, but a secured card is actually a good way to acquire a credit card without any check of your credit history.

That’s because a secured card is not exactly the same as a card with a line of credit.

How it works is you put a certain amount of money into an account and are issued a card with that amount on it to use for whatever you need.

However, these card issuers do charge a fee, so you should shop around.

“Talking to your bank’s loan officer or

credit manager can sometimes pay off.”

3. Start with a retail store card.

A lot of retailers are willing to issue you a store card if your credit isn’t completely shot. Usually it will be for a small amount, at least initially.

What this does is allow you to rebuild your credit and eventually apply for a bank-issued card.

4. Consider a high interest rate card.

Only do this if you’re absolutely certain you can pay it in full every month.

Many credit card issuers will take a chance on someone with bad credit but will charge an exorbitant interest rate to do so.

If you want to go this route, be sure to pay your bills in full and on time every month, or else you may find yourself even worse off.

5. Cards designed for people with bad credit.

These are typically low balance cards, some with as low as a $50 limit, but these cards will allow you to gradually build up your credit again by charging and paying it off.

6. What to watch out for.

Be very careful of services that offer to get you a credit card for a fee. These companies are usually just out to collect the fee and will often come back with suggestions like I’ve given you here.

Also be wary of cards that charge extremely high fees up front with no guarantee of what your credit limit will be or whether you will even be approved.

One final suggestion is to consider adding a statement to your credit report. It is your legal right to add a statement of up to 100 words that explains your particular situation and why you find yourself with a bad credit score.

If you choose to do this, be as honest as you can about your situation. If you are currently or recently employed, add that.

Financial institutions are supposed to take into consideration any extenuating circumstances, and this may just give them the final reason to approve you.

Remember to continue working toward improving your credit score, even if it’s one small step at a time.

Photo source: