How to Apply for a Credit Card (With Bad Credit)

How To Apply For A Credit Card

Maybe you’ve had some detours on your journey to good credit — life happens — but if you’re ready to turn things around, it’s important to know how to apply for a credit card with bad credit. 

The first step is to check your own credit score so you know where you stand.

This is considered a soft inquiry — and soft inquiries do not affect your credit score.

Taking this first step will help ensure you don’t waste your time applying for a credit card you won’t get approved for if your score is below average; not to mention that application can cost you a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can bring your credit score down even more.

Once you know your score and determine what you’re likely to be approved for, you can apply for a credit card with bad credit by selecting and applying for one online in as little as 10 minutes. Approval time for an online credit card application can be instantaneous or take as much as two weeks.

The Best Credit Cards to Apply for if You Have a Low Score

There’s more to choosing a credit card than finding the best option among bad credit credit cards. Every person has a different situation, so there’s no one best card. You’ll want to determine what credit card suits you.

A score of less than 630 typically means you’ll have a harder time finding a lender, limiting your choices to cards that may have high interest rates or even an annual fee.

Regardless of interest rates and other fees, almost all credit cards are considered unsecured loans, meaning the loan isn’t tied to anything the creditor can seize upon non-payment, such as property or your own funds in the case of a secured credit card.

Let’s take a look at some top offerings for unsecured cards for people with bad credit.

  • Don’t let a low FICO score stop you from applying – we approve applications others may not.
  • You don’t need good credit to apply.
  • Just complete the short application and find out in 60 seconds if you’re approved.
  • When you need assistance our award-winning US-based Customer Service agents are there to help.
  • FICO scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any PREMIER Bankcard® product.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
4 minutes See Provider Website Yes 9.0/10
  • You don’t need good credit to apply.
  • We help people with bad credit, every day.
  • Just complete the short application and find out in 60 seconds if you’re approved.
  • You can build* or rebuild your credit: apply for a PREMIER Bankcard credit card, keep your balance low, and pay all your monthly bills on time.
  • Don’t let a low FICO score stop you from applying – we approve applications others may not.
  • FICO scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any PREMIER Bankcard® product.
  • *Build credit by keeping your balance low and paying all your bills on time every month.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
4 minutes See Provider Website Yes 9.0/10
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking Account Required
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 24.99% – 29.99% (Variable) Yes 8.5/10

On the other hand, a secured credit card basically acts as a pre-paid card in that you must deposit funds with the creditor up front in order to use a credit limit equal to what you deposited. These cards can be easier to obtain with really low credit scores, and for some people, may be the best option.

Here are top offerings for secured cards for people with bad credit.

  • Earn 2% cash back on everyday purchases at Amazon, Uber, Uber Eats, Whole Foods, Netflix, Spotify, and more! And 1% cashback on everything else.
  • No credit check or U.S. credit history required. No SSN required for non-US citizens.
  • Build U.S. credit history from day 1 at major credit bureaus (get $25 when you build your credit score to a 700+ credit score within 12 months of use).
  • Get unsecured in as little as 4 months!
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no minimum security deposit.
  • Premium benefits like Cell Phone Protection (including cracked screens) and Car Rental Insurance coverage.
  • Click here for terms and conditions.
  • Click here for official site and application.
   
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 minutes 12.49% (Variable) Yes 7.0/10
  • No credit check to apply and find out instantly if you are approved
  • OpenSky gives everyone an opportunity to improve their credit with an 85% average approval rate for the past 5 years
  • Get considered for a credit line increase after 6 months, with no additional deposit required
  • You could be eligible for the OpenSky Gold Unsecured Card after as few as 6 months
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus monthly, unlike a prepaid or debit card
  • View your FICO® Score through your OpenSky account, an easy way to stay on top of your credit
  • Nearly half of OpenSky cardholders who make on-time payments improve their FICO score 30+ points in the first 3 months
  • Your refundable* deposit, as low as $200, becomes your OpenSky Visa credit limit
  • Easy application, apply in less than 5 minutes right from your mobile device
  • Offer flexible payment due dates which allow you to choose any available due date that fits your payment schedule
  • *View the cardholder agreement
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 18.89% (variable) Yes 7.0/10
  • Initial refundable deposit of $300 becomes your credit limit
  • 1% Cash Back rewards on every purchase
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 Score from Experian (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere Mastercard is accepted
  • Mastercard Zero Liability Protection (subject to Mastercard guidelines)
  • Checking Account Required
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 19.99% Variable Yes 8.5/10

These are our top recommendations of the cards available when figuring out how to choose a credit card with bad credit. While bad credit is not ideal, it doesn’t mean you can’t get a credit card, and when used responsibly, bad credit credit cards can even help you rebuild your credit.

Apply for a Credit Card Online – And Be Patient for Approval

Once you’ve identified the credit card you want to apply for, it takes about 10 minutes to apply for credit cards by filling out an application online. You will need some personal information including your social security number and a physical address, but make sure you’re on the secure web page for the credit card issuer before entering sensitive information.

Approval can be instantaneous, or it may take up to two weeks — a longer review process is typical when applying for a credit card with bad credit. If your application is denied, it is best to wait at least six months before submitting another hard credit inquiry.

Once you’re approved, a new card takes about two weeks to arrive at the address you provided in your application and will arrive with instructions for activation and typically includes how to set up an account online for easy transaction tracking and bill payment.

If you can afford to do so, consider creating an automatic bill payment drafting from a bank account so you never miss a payment, as on-time payments are the most heavily weighted factor in determining your credit score.

Final Thoughts

Whatever your situation, don’t be discouraged. Building — and sometimes rebuilding — credit is truly a journey with unexpected twists and turns. As consumers, we must remain diligent on our journey and we have a few missteps along the way, it’s usually not too late to turn things around.

All of the cards mentioned can help rebuild your credit as long as you spend responsibly and plan for timely monthly payments.

In as little as six months’ time, your credit score can begin to improve, which can bump you up into the realm of better cards with lower interest rates and fewer fees.

Advertiser Disclosure

BadCredit.org is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free for users, we receive advertising compensation from the financial products listed on this page. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear on the page (including, for example, the order in which they appear). BadCredit.org does not include listings for all financial products.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.