12 Best Credit-Building Credit Cards of 2022

Best Credit Building Credit Cards

So maybe you’ve been less-than-awesome with your credit card usage in the past, but, believe it or not, this is a very common situation. In fact, many Americans have bad credit and are trying to re-establish their financial situations. These consumers may find that their options are limited for credit cards and loans, which is counter-intuitive to getting back on track.

Not only that, but a good number of people have no credit, which can be just as bad when trying to get a credit card. No matter your situation, however, responsibly using a credit card to build credit is a method that can bring those credit scores up and help you join the ranks of people considered a good credit risk. Both secured and unsecured cards can play a role in that plan, and we’ve chosen the best options for you to read up on.

In the following article, we’ve narrowed down the wide world of credit cards to a few of our top selections for the best credit-building credit cards on the market today.

Unsecured Cards (6) | Secured Cards (6) | How to Build Credit

Top 6 Unsecured Cards to Help Build Credit

If you’ve struggled with responsible credit use in the past, or are new in establishing a credit history, you may be thinking that an unsecured credit card is out of your reach. Unsecured cards (unlike “secured” cards), do not require you to put down the exact amount of the credit line you need access to as a deposit. You are usually free to access most – if not all – of your credit line right away, without setting all that money aside as security against non-payment.

Bankrate image showing how credit score affects card rates

The good news is that banks are often able to approve riskier consumers for the coveted unsecured card by requiring that they pay higher annual fees, other fees, application fees, or even annual percentage rates (APR) on borrowed funds. You may have lower initial credit limits, as well.

With time, however, you can use these cards with high interest rates as a tool to re-establish good credit habits and build a history that will earn you the right to apply for cards with better terms and rates later on.

Here are some of the best unsecured credit cards for getting started on your credit-building journey.

  • 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

Find out if you qualify for the PREMIER Bankcard® Mastercard® Credit Card within minutes of applying. Account holders will receive a credit limit with which they can use to make purchases in store and online. Even people with very poor credit scores are encouraged to apply.

  • 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

The PREMIER Bankcard® Grey Credit Card can help you rebuild credit when you keep your balance low and make consistent on-time payments, which is true of any credit card. Read the terms and conditions for a list of fees this issuer charges.

  • 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

The Surge Mastercard® will let you see whether you prequalify on its site before you apply. This will help you avoid a denial and unncessary hard inquiry on your credit report. 

  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • 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.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 24.9% Yes 8.0/10

The Indigo® Mastercard® Credit Card is ideal for consumers with poor or no credit looking to establish or rebuild their credit. Annual fees for the card vary, dependent upon your credit profile.

5. Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

This offer is currently not available.

N/A

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
N/A N/A N/A N/A

This Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit allows you to apply without leaving a negative mark on your credit history. Qualified applicants will get 1% cash back and a variety of modern card designs to choose from.

  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • 24/7 access to your account information, even on mobile
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
★★★★

4.2

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 24.9% Yes 9.0/10

Featuring a lower interest rate than many other cards on the list, the Milestone® Mastercard® also gives you a zero-fraud liability protection you can feel safe using. Sign up for text alerts and never miss a payment — the most important step in building good credit with a credit card.

Top 6 Secured Cards to Help Build Credit

Unlike our unsecured credit card picks above, a secured card will not be issued without having some kind of cash deposit available to help reduce the risk of you not paying back the account. These are most common for people with several negative marks, legal actions, or bankruptcies on their credit reports. They are the only way many people are able to get back on track with their credit.

This list features the top secured cards designed to help you rebuild your credit history and score.

  • Our mobile app helps you keep track of your spending and payments for greater financial control.
  • 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.
  • If approved, make your first six monthly minimum payments on time and we may send you an offer to apply for an unsecured credit card. Some restrictions apply. ‡
  • ‡ If you apply for the second account, which is unsecured, you will be approved if you can demonstrate the ability to pay your bills, meet our minimum income requirements, do not reside in New York or Wisconsin and are not covered under the Military Lending Act.
★★★★

4.4

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
4 minutes See Provider Website Yes 9.0/10

The PREMIER Bankcard® Secured Credit Card provides you with free monthly credit reports to help you track your credit-rebuilding progress. You may receive an offer to apply for an unsecured credit card after a period of responsible card use, which includes paying your bill on time each month.

  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 -- $2,000 Submitted with Application
  • Just Pay Off Your Balance and Receive Your Deposit Back at Any Time
  • 24/7 Online Access to Your Account
  • Nationwide program; available in all 50 US states *See Card Terms.
  • Get a fresh start! A discharged bankruptcy still in your credit bureau file will not cause you to be declined.
  • ¡Hablamos Español! Nuestros representantes de servicio al cliente hablan Español con fluidez para su conveniencia.
  • Make 6-months of on-time payments & you’ll be invited to apply for an unsecured First Digital Mastercard!
★★★★★

4.5

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 12.99% (V) Yes 7.5/10

Know in minutes if you are approved for the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card, which features the Mastercard logo and is good wherever Mastercard is accepted. Use it to build your credit with the necessary perk of monthly credit reporting.

9. Discover it® Secured

The Discover it® Secured card comes with no annual fee and a competitive APR while still offering bonus rewards for gas and restaurant purchases. Additionally, approved applicants can enjoy an introductory balance transfer offer providing 10.99% on qualifying transferred balances for six months.

Discover it® Secured Card
  • Earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined gas and grocery purchases each year
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Pay no annual fee

The minimum deposit amount required to open a Discover it® Secured card is $200, and the size of your deposit will determine your credit limit. Your maximum credit limit will be set by Discover based on your income and ability to pay, but will not exceed $2,500.

10. Capital One Platinum Secured Mastercard

The Capital One Platinum Secured Mastercard is another good no-annual-fee option for building credit. What’s more, this card has a variable minimum down payment that depends on your individual credit risk, meaning well-qualified applicants may only be required to put down $49 for a $200 credit line.

Capital One Platinum Secured Card
  • Get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • Pay no annual fee

Cardholders who make their first five payments on time may be eligible for a credit line increase with no additional deposit. This card is also upgradable; cardholders who show responsible credit use may be automatically upgraded to an unsecured card.

11. Citi® Secured Mastercard®

This card may not have a lot of bells and whistles, but it offers a low minimum deposit requirement and charges no annual fee. Cardholders also get desktop and mobile online banking access to manage their account from anywhere.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®
  • Provide a security deposit of $200 up to $2,500 for a credit line equal to your deposit
  • Enjoy 24/7 online account access
  • Pay no annual fee

While this card’s APR isn’t the lowest around, it does offer a grace period on new purchases that allows users to avoid paying interest when they pay their balance in full each month.

12. U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

The minimum deposit amount for this card is $300, and the size of your credit line will be equal to the size of the deposit. And while this card has a small annual fee, it allows users to put down a security deposit of up to $5,000 for a fairly high credit line.

U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card
  • Provide a security deposit of $300 up to $5,000 for a credit line equal to your deposit
  • Deposit earns interest in a secured savings account
  • Pay $29 annual fee

The card also has several user benefits that include online banking access, automatic bill pay features, and $0 fraud liability for unauthorized card purchases.

How to Properly Use a Credit Card to Build Credit

The cards listed above are designed for those with poor or no credit, which makes them a great way to practice responsible credit card use and build a credit history to be proud of. There are a few rules you will want to follow when using them to get the biggest bang for your credit card buck.

  1. Ensure that your usage is reported to the credit bureaus. Reporting to all three agencies is the best situation, and many cards offer these services to TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax as another perk for cardholders. Use your card each and every month (even in the smallest amounts) so there is new activity reported on every billing cycle.
  2. Pay your balance in full each month. Even with the usually higher interest rates that these types of cards charge, you should not be concerned. You will be paying everything down to zero every 30 days, according to ReadyForZero.com. If you can’t pay in full, be sure to always pay before the due date, as on-time payments account for 35% of your FICO Score.
  3. Keep your inquiries to a minimum.  Did you know that every time you apply for credit, you are risking an inquiry into your credit report? Over time, this can cause your credit score to fall, so only do this when absolutely necessary. You can also choose to apply for cards that use a “soft” inquiry and won’t ding your history (like many mentioned above).
  4. Check your credit history regularly. With the chance to check your credit report from each of the three major bureaus for free, you’ll always have the opportunity to examine your accounts and make sure things are reported properly. You may want to space them out so that you can see your credit picture over the entire year.
  5. Keep your credit utilization low. We recommend keeping your balance below 30% of its available credit limit at all times, especially if you keep a balance from month to month.
Image of calendar
Set up automatic alerts and mark your calendars so you never miss a credit card payment.

Anyone can work to steadily rebuild their credit over time by following these five simple principles and demonstrating good credit behavior.

There’s Not a Fast Fix — Rebuilding Credit Takes Time

It likely took you some time to get into a bad position with your credit, so it only makes sense that repairing it will take some time, too. Be patient with the process, do your research, and know that you are not alone.

If you need a fast fix, say, if you have a large purchase coming up that requires credit approval, many people turn to the help of a credit repair service to get the quickest results possible. Credit repair services can work on your behalf to remove credit report errors and past negative marks to get you back on track before you know it!

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.