8 Best Credit Card Companies for Bad Credit (Feb. 2024)

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.

  • $400 credit limit doubles to $800! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Initial Credit Limit of $400.00 (Subject to available credit)
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere Mastercard® is accepted
  • Access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Experian (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Checking Account Required
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 minutes 29.99% Yes 7.5/10
  • Earn 3% Cash Back Rewards* on Gas, Groceries and Utility Bill Payments
  • Earn 1% Cash Back Rewards* on all other eligible purchases
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit subject to credit approval
  • Prequalify** without affecting your credit score
  • No security deposit
  • Free access to your VantageScore 4.0 score from TransUnion®†
    *See Program Terms for important information about the cash back rewards program.
    ** Prequalify means that you authorize us to make a soft inquiry (that will not affect your credit) to create an offer. If you accept an offer a hard inquiry will be made. Final approval is not guaranteed if you do not meet all applicable criteria (including adequate proof of ability to repay). Income verification through access to your bank account information may be required.
    † Your credit score will be available in your online account starting 60 days after your account is opened. (Registration required.) The free VantageScore 4.0 credit score provided by TransUnion® is for educational purposes only. This score may not be used by The Bank of Missouri (the issuer of this card) or other creditors to make credit decisions.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
7 minutes 29.99% or 36% Fixed Yes 8.0/10
  • Earn 1% cash back rewards^^ on payments made to your Revvi Credit Card
  • Perfect credit not required
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Checking account required
  • Opportunity to request credit limit increase after twelve months, fee applies
  • *See Rates, Fees, Costs & Limitations for complete offer details
  • ^^See Revvi Rewards Programs Terms & Conditions for details
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 35.99%* Yes 8.0/10

+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
  • Adjustable credit limit based on what you transfer from your Chime Checking account to the secured deposit account
  • No interest* or annual fees
  • Chime Checking Account and qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more required to apply. See official application, terms, and details link below.
  • The secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Card is issued by The Bankcorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.
  • *Out-of-network ATM withdrawal and OTC advance fees may apply. View The Bancorp agreement or Stride agreement for details; see back of card for issuer.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 minutes N/A Yes 9.5
  • New feature! Earn up to 10% cash back* on everyday purchases
  • No credit check to apply. Zero credit risk to apply!
  • Looking to build or rebuild your credit? 2 out of 3 OpenSky cardholders increase their credit score by an average of 41 points in just 3 months
  • Get free monthly access to your FICO score in our mobile application
  • Build your credit history across 3 major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
  • Add to your mobile wallet and make purchases using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay
  • Fund your card with a low $200 refundable security deposit to get a $200 credit line
  • Apply in less than 5 minutes with our mobile first application
  • Choose the due date that fits your schedule with flexible payment dates
  • Fund your security deposit over 60 days with the option to make partial payments
  • Over 1.4 Million Cardholders Have Used OpenSky Secured Credit Card To Improve Their Credit
  • *See Rewards Terms and Conditions for more information
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 25.64% (variable) Yes 7.0/10
  • 1% Cash Back Rewards on payments
  • Choose your own credit line - $200 to $2000 – based on your security deposit
  • Build your credit score.¹ Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
  • No minimum credit score required for approval!
  • ¹ Cardholders who keep their balance low and pay their credit card bill on time every month typically do see an increase in their credit score.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 19.24% (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.

  • 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.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 9.5/10
  • With 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 Netspend Mobile App to manage your Card Account on the go and enroll to get text messages or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card use is subject to activation and ID verification. Terms and Costs apply.
  • Card issued by Pathward N.A., Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa debit card is accepted.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.
★★★★★

4.5

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

+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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