6 Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Bad Credit

6 Best Cash Back Credit Cards for Bad Credit
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Brittney Mayer
By: Brittney Mayer
Posted: March 27, 2018
BadCredit.org's popular "How-To" series is for those who seek to improve, rebuild or better understand their subprime credit rating.

Located between Norway, Iceland, and Scotland, the remote Faroe Islands are (vaguely) known as being the country with more sheep than people. If you think that’s odd, however, consider the US — where we have more credit cards than people. Talk about odd.

Obviously, America’s love of plastic is no small thing, and there are good reasons for it — not the least of which is the sheer abundance of credit cards available to consumers these days. Consumers of all credit types can find a wealth of options, with even some subprime and secured credit cards offering low rates or purchase rewards.

That’s not to say you’ll find hot-shot travel rewards and 0% intro-APR offers if your credit score is low, but you may find a few good options for earning cash back on your purchases, including a few cards with bonus cash back rewards categories.

Unsecured Cards | Secured Cards | Store Cards

Best “Unsecured” Cards for Cash Back Rewards

Unsecured credit cards for bad credit with purchase rewards are very nearly a myth, as only subprime issuers tend to extend credit to those with low credit scores. The keyword here, however, is nearly, as there is one subprime issuer who offers credit card rewards to subprime cardholders: Credit One Bank®.

The exact rewards you are able to earn with your Credit One Bank® credit card will depend on your credit. For example, well-qualified applicants may be offered 1.1% cash back on dining purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases, while other applicants may receive 1% cash back on eligible gas and grocery purchases as well as communications services. You can see if you pre-qualify for a Credit One Bank® credit card without hurting your credit.

  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Track your progress with free online access to your Experian credit score, terms apply
  • Looking to rebuild credit? We report to the major credit bureaus monthly
  • Receive opportunities for credit line increases, a fee may apply
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Stay in-the-know with customizable account alerts via email and text
  • Receive 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases, terms apply
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 17.49% - 25.49% Variable Yes 9.0/10
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • See if you Pre-Qualify in less than 60 seconds
  • Receive 1% cash back on eligible purchases, terms apply
  • Enjoy more buying power with credit line increase opportunities, a fee may apply
  • Choose your monthly payment due date for added convenience, terms apply
  • View updates to your Experian credit score with free online access, terms apply
  • Access your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 Minutes 17.49% - 25.49% Variable Yes 9.0/10

As with the rewards, other aspects of your Credit One Bank® credit card will vary with your creditworthiness. In particular, the exact APR you’re offered and the size of the annual fee you are charged will be based on your credit risk. Those with the lowest credit risk can potentially receive a card with $0 annual fee.

Best “Secured” Cards for Cash Back Rewards

Despite requiring an initial deposit to open, secured credit cards can often end up being the most affordable credit-building option. That’s because secured credit cards are less risky for the lender, therefore you can often get lower annual fees and interest rates than with unsecured cards. Additionally, your security deposit is fully refundable when you close your account in good standing. Those unsecured credit card fees, on the other hand, are gone for good.

3. 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.

4. SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards

The SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards offers bonus cash back rewards for gas and grocery purchases, with a high annual spending cap that leaves plenty of room for earning valuable rewards.

SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards

  • Earn 2% cash back on up to $6,000 in combined gas and grocery purchases each year
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Pay a $32 annual fee

As with the Discover card, the size of your deposit will determine the size of your credit line. Plus, not only is the deposit for your SunTrust Secured Credit Card with Cash Rewards fully refundable, but it will also accrue interest while your account remains open and in good standing.

As an added incentive, both these rewarding secured credit cards offer the ability to upgrade your card to an unsecured credit card after your credit improves. And it’s all automatic; both Discover and SunTrust will periodically evaluate your credit and payment history to see if you qualify for an unsecured card. If upgraded, your deposit — and any accrued interest, if applicable — will be refunded to you in full.

Best “Store” Cards for Cash Back Rewards

While closed-loop store credit cards can be very rewarding for those who primarily shop with a particular brand or retailer, they are by far the most limited of the credit cards you can obtain with poor credit. That’s because closed-loop store cards — those that don’t have a credit card network affiliation (e.g., Visa or Mastercard) — can only be used to make purchases with the issuing/co-branded merchant.

Likewise, the rewards you earn with a store credit card can typically only be redeemed toward purchases from the merchant. These cards are also a bad idea for anyone who tends to carry a balance, both due to the high APR — interest fees can add up quickly — as well as the low credit limits typically offered. But if you make small purchases and make frequent payments, these cards can offer up to 5% rewards on your purchases.

5. Target REDcard

While the Target REDcard doesn’t have a traditional cash back rewards system, it does provide cardholders with an automatic 5% discount at the register for eligible purchases.

 Target REDcard

  • Get 5% off at checkout for eligible in-store or online Target purchases
  • Receive exclusive deals & discounts
  • Pay no annual fee

Perhaps the best part of the Target REDcard discount is that you can stack it with Target coupons for extra savings.

6. Amazon.com Credit Card

The Amazon.com Credit Card provides very competitive rewards for cardholders who are already (or become) Amazon Prime members. Both Prime and non-Prime cardholders will also receive special financing on orders of $150 or more.

Amazon.com Credit Card

  • Amazon Prime members earn 5% cash back rewards on eligible Amazon purchases
  • Receive special financing on orders $149+
  • Pay no annual card fee (Prime fee may apply)

Be careful taking advantage of the special financing offered by the Amazon.com Credit Card, as the card operates under deferred interest. This means if any amount of your financed balance remains after the promotional period ends, you’ll be on the hook for interest fees for the entire balance.

+See More Store Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Building Credit Can Be Rewarding

Since their popularization in the mid-1900s, the consumer credit card has steadily grown in popularity across the US. Today, America is home to more credit cards than people, evidence of our love of — and dependence on — paying with plastic.

Thanks to a huge range of available credit card options, few consumers need go without that beloved payment method, regardless of their credit scores. Indeed, not only can those with poor credit find a number of options for building credit — they can earn rewards while they do so.