8 Best Credit Card Companies for Bad Credit

Credit Card Companies For Bad Credit
GUIDE
Adam West
By: Adam West
Updated: June 23, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

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.

  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes See website for Details* Yes 8.5/10
  • 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.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 Minutes 24.9% Yes 8.0/10
  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine Visa credit card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
  • 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

+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.

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • 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
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.
  • Apply in just a few moments with no negative impact to your credit score; no credit inquiry will be recorded in your credit bureau file
  • 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
  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • 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
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.
  • Apply in just a few moments with no negative impact to your credit score; no credit inquiry will be recorded in your credit bureau file
  • Click for for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 9.99% (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.

  • With Netspend Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • No Overdraft Fees on purchases using your card.
  • Use the NetSpend Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card issued by MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa Debit cards are accepted. "Apply Now" for full details.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

3.5

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 7.0/10

+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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