13 Best “After Bankruptcy” Credit Cards (Unsecured + Secured Options)

13 Best “After Bankruptcy” Credit Cards (Unsecured + Secured Options)
GUIDE

Advertiser Disclosure

Eric Bank
By: Eric Bank
Posted: February 15, 2017
BadCredit.org's popular "How-To" series is for those who seek to improve, rebuild or better understand their subprime credit rating.

Some of life’s setbacks can be impossible to overcome. Fortunately, bankruptcy is not one of them. In fact, for many people in extreme debt, bankruptcy can actually be the first step to repairing your credit, for two important reasons:

  1. Bankruptcy can reduce or wipe out your debt. Since you now have less (or no) debt, you are in an excellent position to repay the next debt you take on.
  2. Creditors know you will be willing to pay high interest rates to rebuild credit and many are happy to offer you those products, which are often the most profitable.

There are several ways to restore your credit rating after bankruptcy. For example, credit unions offer credit builder loans that can rebuild your credit rating over the course of a year or two. The most feasible method is usually to obtain a credit card, secured or unsecured, and use it responsibly. After six months or so, you should see your credit score start to improve.

Unsecured | Secured | Post-Bankruptcy Advice

10 Unsecured Cards to Help Rebuild Your Credit

An unsecured credit card is one that is not backed by a cash deposit. Even if you are just coming out of bankruptcy, you might be able to procure an unsecured card, but be prepared for a high interest rate, high fees, and a low credit limit. That’s OK; consider it the price of regaining your credit rating. We’ve evaluated unsecured credit cards geared toward those consumers who need to rebuild their credit ratings, and here is our list of the 10 best.

First PREMIER (VISA)

First PREMIER Bank, together with its sister organization, PREMIER Bankcard, is the 12th-largest issuer of MasterCard and VISA credit cards in the US and was recently recognized as one of the “healthiest banks in the country.”

  • 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 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

In addition to this card, First PREMIER offers a selection of MasterCard options below.

First PREMIER (MasterCard)

VISA and MasterCard are far and beyond the largest payment networks in the world, both with different advantages and benefits. Yahoo! Finance has a great article detailing the differences, helping you decide whether VISA or MasterCard might be best for you.

  • 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

All First PREMIER cards offer free text or email alerts and convenient online banking through its new mobile app.

Total VISA

The Total VISA card is available to anyone with no, poor, or limited credit, and is issued by Mid America Bank & Trust Company.

  • 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

Applicants will receive an approval decision in seconds. Visit the card’s terms and conditions to learn more.

Credit One Bank

Credit One is the fastest-growing credit card issuer in the US, with over 7 million card members nationwide. All Credit One members receive free monthly credit score tracking, and most cards come with cash back rewards.

  • 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 15.90% - 24.40% (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 15.90% - 24.40% (Variable)* Yes 9.0/10

Credit One is popular among its members, as 85% of surveyed cardholders would recommend them to a friend.

Best of the Rest

If any of the above offers don’t suit your needs, the following three cards are great choices for anyone looking to rebuild their credit after bankruptcy.

  • 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

Your strategy should be to pay off most, but not all, of your balance each month, avoid tapping more than 20% of your credit limit, and never miss a payment due date.

3 Secured Cards to Help Earn Your Credit Reputability Back

A secured credit card requires you to deposit funds in an account that acts as collateral for your card balance. The deposit is usually equal to or greater than your card’s credit limit, and you can’t withdraw the deposit unless you either decide to drop the credit card or you are upgraded to an unsecured card.

You might choose a secured card if you can’t qualify for an unsecured one, or if you want to pay a lower interest rate than that charged on unsecured cards. These are our three top picks for an unsecured card:

  • Credit line secured by your fully-refundable deposit of $200-$5,000 submitted with application
  • Low fixed 9.99% APR on purchases. Guaranteed approval* if your monthly income exceeds your monthly expenses by $100 or more.
  • Perfect card for establishing or re-establishing credit. Reports monthly to all 3 credit bureaus.
  • Fast, easy application process.
  • No processing or application fees.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details
   
★★★★

4.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 9.99% Yes 9.0/10
  • Credit line secured by your fully-refundable deposit of $200-$2,000 submitted with application
  • Pay off your balance & get your deposit back any time
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to establish credit history
  • Not available in: NY, IA, AR, or WI
  • No credit history or minimum credit score required
  • See if you are pre-approved in 60 seconds or less
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 19.99% (V) Yes 7.5/10
  • Credit line secured by your fully-refundable deposit of $200-$2,000 submitted with application
  • Pay off your balance and get your deposit back any time.
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to establish credit history.
  • Not available in: NY, IA, AR, or WI.
  • No credit history or minimum credit score required.
  • See if you are pre-approved in 60 seconds or less.
  • Click for for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 11.99% (V) Yes 7.5/10

Make sure to only choose a secured credit card that reports your activity each month to the three credit bureaus or you will not receive any positive credit impacts.

Restoring Credit After Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 7 bankruptcy liquidates your debt, but you may lose most of your property in the process. In a way, Chapter 7 cleans the financial slate, although the black mark remains on your credit report for many years. Chapter 13 bankruptcy reorganizes your debt, which means you are expected to pay back at least some of it. In return, you get to keep your property.

Primary differences between Chapter 7 & Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Under Chapter 13, secured credit cards receive preferential treatment to unsecured ones, which means you have to pay off your secured cards first, along with other collateralized debts, like your home and car loans. Here are some tips for restoring your credit after bankruptcy:

  • Review your credit reports: You can get free copies of all three reports once a year on AnnualCreditReport.com. Go through each one to find any mistakes, which you can rectify by following the procedures set out by each of the credit bureaus. You can also add comments to explain your side of any issues.
  • Open one or two credit accounts: We’ve mentioned credit building accounts from credit unions and secured/unsecured credit cards. Even if you are allowed to open multiple accounts, go slow — the credit bureaus will mark you down for opening too many accounts all at once. Be scrupulous about making your payments on time every month.
  • Pay down debt: If you underwent a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, pay down your leftover debts as quickly as possible. The sooner you repay them, the sooner your credit rating will begin to recover. For new credit cards, don’t pay the full balance each month; rather, pay down your balances on a rolling two-month schedule. Sure, you’ll be paying interest, but you’ll also be restoring your creditor’s confidence in your creditworthiness.

Credit cards are a primary tool for restoring your credit rating following bankruptcy. The ones we’ve listed in this article will provide you the best deals and the greatest access to credit. Use your cards responsibly, and over time you’ll reestablish your financial reputation.

Photo credits: totaldebtnet.com