8 Best Credit Card Companies for Bad Credit

Credit Card Companies For Bad Credit

Finding decent credit card companies for bad credit may not be as difficult as you might think. There are a lot of options out there today, and we’ve compiled a list of some options that may suit your personal situation.

When a low budget means cutting costs, many of us go from brand name products to generics. But while some generic products are actually interchangeable with (or, in rare cases, better than) the branded stuff, others, well, leave something to be desired.

When you’re looking for a credit card to rebuild bad credit, your credit score likely won’t get you a card from the major issuing banks that are household names. No, you’re often looking at the equivalent of the lesser-known discount brands.

Indeed, many bad-credit card issuers are small banks, most with innocuous names the likes of which you’ve probably never heard. And, as with most off-brand products, what you get from these companies will vary quite a bit. So, let’s take a list at some of our top choices for the best credit card companies for bad credit, including options for unsecured cards, secured cards, and prepaid cards.

Unsecured | Secured | Prepaid

Best Unsecured Credit Card Companies for Bad Credit

Although you should look into any company with which you intend to enter into a financial contract (and yes, credit cards come with financial contracts), unsecured credit should get an extra-good going-over.

Unsecured credit cards, in particular, tend to have the high interest rates and fees that mean a little scrutiny can save you a lot of money. Our top-rated picks for unsecured credit cards come from several small-bank issuers that have flexible credit requirements.

  • 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

+See More Unsecured Cards for Bad Credit

Since unsecured credit cards don’t require a deposit, they present the highest risk to the issuing bank. Combining a high-risk product with high-risk consumers means a lot of default, which is why many mainstream issuers won’t offer unsecured credit to people with bad credit.

Subprime issuers operate on a profit model with a much higher risk tolerance, which means they can offer unsecured credit to consumers with bad credit. That’s because subprime issuers usually charge more fees and higher interest rates to offset the losses from the greater rate of default.

In fact, the typical subprime unsecured credit card will charge a one-time program or processing fee as well as an annual or monthly maintenance fee, with APRs above 20% — and as high as 35.99%.

The credit limits available on subprime unsecured credit cards are also kept quite low to minimize losses, which is another reason to keep your credit card balance low. A high utilization ratio (how much credit you’re using over how much you have available) can negatively impact your credit score.

Best Secured Credit Card Companies for Bad Credit

Secured credit cards are credit lines that require a deposit to open, and that deposit acts as security against cardholder default. Because secured credit cards have what amounts to collateral associated with them, they represent a much lower risk for the issuer.

While secured cards typically have more flexible credit requirements than unsecured cards, many mainstream issuers will still require a credit check for secured cards and may turn down applicants with poor credit. All of our expert-rated secured credit card issuers have low or no credit requirements for approval.

  • 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
  • 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
9 minutes 16.99% (V) Yes 7.5/10

+See More Secured Cards for Bad Credit

The size of the deposit you make when you open your card will generally determine your secured card’s credit limit. For example, a $200 deposit will typically equate to a $200 credit line on a completely secured card. Some semi-secured cards may offer limits higher than the deposit amount for qualified applicants.

Some issuers will allow you to add to your deposit over time to increase your credit limit (check your cardholder agreement to see if this is the case). Secured credit card companies will rarely provide credit limit increases without an additional deposit.

Perhaps the best part of secured credit cards is that your security deposit is completely refundable. So long as you maintain your account in good standing, you’ll receive your full deposit back when you close your credit card account.

In the event that you default on your secured credit card account (are more than 180 days past due) and the account is charged off, however, your deposit will be used to cover any outstanding balance. Additionally, you will be responsible for any remaining balance beyond that covered by your deposit, including accrued interest and/or late payment fees.

Best Prepaid Card Companies for Bad Credit

The simplest way to keep poor credit from stopping you from obtaining a plastic payment method is to use a prepaid card. Prepaid cards with a credit card network logo — e.g., Visa or Mastercard — can be used just like credit cards to make purchases wherever the network is accepted.

But, unlike a credit card, prepaid cards are “loaded” before use and aren’t tied to a line of credit, so they won’t require a credit check to obtain. Our top picks for prepaid cards even accept direct deposits.

  • Brink’s gives you the peace of mind you deserve. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • With Brink’s Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster* than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply.)
  • *Card issued by Republic Bank & Trust Company, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Mastercard Debit cards are accepted. “Apply Now” for full details.
  • See additional Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® Details.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 7.5/10
  • Greenlight is a debit card for kids, managed by parents
  • Parents set flexible controls and receive real-time alerts while kids monitor their balances, set goals, and learn how to manage money
  • Feel secure knowing Greenlight blocks unsafe spending categories
  • Receive Mastercard’s Zero Liability Protection
  • Upload a photo of your choice to create a unique custom card
  • Debit cards are FDIC-insured up to $250,000
  • Easily turn your Greenlight card on or off and receive real-time spending notifications
★★★★★

4.5

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 7.0/10.0
  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.
★★★★

4.4

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 9.5/10

+See More Prepaid Cards for Bad Credit

Another upside to the fact that prepaid cards aren’t tied to credit lines is that you won’t be charged interest on your purchases. Once the card is loaded, that money is used to fund purchases made with the card — not money borrowed from the issuing bank — so there are no interest fees.

The downside to prepaid card companies is that, because the cards aren’t tied to credit lines, they won’t report your payment behaviors to the credit bureaus. This means prepaid cards can’t be used to establish credit or improve credit scores (but they can’t hurt your credit scores, either).

Build Credit with the Right Credit Card Company

When you’re on a tight budget — or have a low credit score — you don’t always have the luxury of choice. The mainstream brand names are rarely an option, so you’re left with unknown companies.

Sometimes, the unknown brand is unknown for a reason — one you only discover when you’re spitting out the mouthful of cardboard-flavored cereal. Other times, however, that generic brand presents a pretty decent product — especially for the price.

Subprime credit card companies aren’t usually household names, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re indistinguishable from each other.

While all subprime credit cards are going to have high rates, copious fees, and/or limitations, some companies are definitely better than others. Make sure to do your research before you obtain a new credit card to ensure the company you choose is the right fit for your needs.

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