Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit with No Fees in 2024

Credit Cards For Bad Credit With No Fee

Whenever someone expects a seemingly good deal to have an inevitable downside, they often describe it as, “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” Like renting the perfect apartment at the perfect price — then finding out about the ghost in the attic. Shoe dropped.

For those with poor credit, the consumer finance world is full of other shoes dropping. And credit cards are some of the worst, with those dropped shoes often representing costly fees that can turn credit-building into an expensive task.

However, not every card on the market has a pricey gravity-driven shoe coming in for a landing. Like a one-legged pirate, some of the best credit-building cards have only one shoe — so to speak — offering transparent rates and few surprise fees.

Here are our top choices for credit cards for bad credit with no fee, including cards with no application fees, no processing or program fees, no interest fees, and no annual fees.

No Application Fees | No Processing/Program Fees | No Interest Fees | No Annual Fees

Best Cards For Bad Credit With No Application Fees

While some dropped shoes seem to be on a time delay, waiting to drop on you when you least expect it, other shoes aren’t so crafty. No, some shoes — and the fees they represent — land right away. Like credit card application fees, which don’t even wait to see if you’ll be approved before raining down on your unprotected noggin.

But what use is paying a fee for a card you may not even get? Instead of forking over funds for a potential rejection, you can avoid application fees altogether by selecting a credit card that simply doesn’t charge them. Save your cash for better things — or, at least, better fees — by skipping the application fee with one of our top-rated picks.



Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 35.99%* Yes 8.5/10


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 minutes 35.99%* Yes 8.0/10
  • Greater access to credit than before - $700 credit limit
  • Get a Mastercard accepted online, in store and in app
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • $0 liability* for unauthorized use
  • Access your account online or from your mobile device 24/7
  • *Fraud protection provided by Mastercard Zero Liability Protection. If approved, you'll receive the Mastercard Guide to Benefits that details the complete terms with your card.


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes See terms Yes 9.0/10

Of course, not needing to pay application fees does not mean you should go off and apply for every credit card you see. While you won’t pay a monetary fee, you’ll still find a dropped shoe in the form of a hard credit inquiry showing up on your credit reports.

By themselves or in pairs, hard credit inquiries won’t typically do much damage to your credit score, but, like a teenage party gone awry, the more inquiries that show up on your report, the more damage you’ll likely see. Since hard inquiries can remain on your credit report for two years, it’s wise to spread out new credit applications to minimize potential damage to your score.

Best Cards For Bad Credit With No Processing or Maintenance Fees

One of the more unfortunate realities of obtaining a credit card with a low credit score is that you’ll likely run into some costs and fees simply not charged by prime credit cards, like program and/or processing fees. In contrast to application fees, program/processing fees are typically paid after you’re approved — but before you can start using your card.

While avoiding program or processing fees can be difficult when you’re limited to the subprime credit card market, it isn’t impossible. That being said, most of the credit-building cards without program or processing fees will be secured credit cards that require a deposit. Start your search with our expert picks below.

  • 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!
  • Monthly Credit Score – Sign up for electronic statements, and get your Vantage 3.0 Score Credit Score From Experian
  • 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
  • Online account access 24/7
  • Checking Account Required


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 35.90% Fixed Yes 8.5/10
  • 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


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 25.64% (variable) Yes 7.0/10
  • 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.


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 25.24% (V) Yes 7.5/10

The fact that secured credit cards require a deposit to open can seem a little like a dropped shoe at first glance — but it’s more like a dropped sock (alright, so that’s straining the metaphor a bit). In other words, that deposit isn’t gone forever like a typical fee.

Instead, you can get your deposit back at any time simply by closing your credit card account. The only exception to your deposit being fully refundable is if you default on your balance (i.e., you don’t pay your bill), in which case the issuing bank will use your deposit to pay off your delinquent debt.

Best Cards For Bad Credit With No Interest Fees

Fees from interest charges are the universal bane of all credit cardholders, regardless of credit score. But interest fees can be particularly painful for those with poor credit who are likely paying significantly higher APRs than their good-credit kin.

While a simple way to avoid paying interest fees is to pay off your balance before the end of your grace period (if you have one — some subprime cards may not), the easiest way may be to get a card without interest fees. When you have bad credit, however, the only cards likely available that won’t charge interest fees are prepaid debit cards, like our options below.

  • 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.


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.


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


Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 7.0/10.0

When adorned with a logo from a credit card network — e.g., Visa, Mastercard, Amex, or Discover — prepaid cards generally operate just like a regular credit or debit card, and they can be used to make purchases wherever the network is accepted. Unlike credit cards, however, prepaid cards aren’t a line of credit and will need to be “loaded” with funds before you can make purchases.

Additionally, since prepaid cards aren’t actual credit lines they won’t require a credit check to qualify — which can be a double-edged sword. That’s because it also means the cards won’t report to the credit bureaus and, therefore, can’t be used to build or establish credit.

Best Cards For Bad Credit With No Annual Fees

Annual fees are another common cardholder cost, though the reasons for the fee will vary based on the type of credit card you’re after. For example, frequent travelers with excellent credit may pick up a card with a $95 annual fee, but they’ll receive a ton of perks and benefits for the expense.

On the other hand, credit-builders with poor credit may also end up with a card with a $95 annual fee, but the only perks they’ll receive is the pleasure of getting a card at all. Thankfully, high annual fees aren’t your only options for a credit card to build your credit score. A range of store and secured credit cards offer fee-free credit to a variety of scores.

10. Discover it® Secured

The Discover it® Secured card comes with no annual fee and a competitive APR, plus it has no penalty APR charged for late payments. 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 at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter
  • Low APR
  • $0 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.

Perhaps one of the best reasons to build credit with a Discover it® Secured card — besides the fact that it has rewards and no annual fee, which is kind of a big deal — is that your Discover it® Secured card can be upgraded to an unsecured Discover it® credit card when your credit history improes. Even better, it will likely happen automatically, as Discover periodically reviews your account to see if you qualify.

11. Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One

The Platinum Secured Credit Card from Capital One has no annual fee and a variable deposit size based on your creditworthiness. All new cardholders will receive an initial $200 credit limit, with the necessary deposit amount varying based on your individual credit profile.

Capital One Secured Mastercard

  • Get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
  • Automatic credit line reviews
  • $0 annual fee

Similar to the Discover it® Secured card, you may be able to upgrade your Capital One Secured Mastercard to an unsecured Capital One card with responsible use, but it isn’t guaranteed.

Don’t Let Your Bad Credit Impact Your Bottom Line

When you’re stuck with bad credit, it can often feel as though you need a hard hat to protect you against a falling shoe landing on your head. Between the extra fees and high rates, most credit-building cards seem to be more expensive than they’re worth. With a little research, however, you can find some one-shoed wonders that allow you — and your pocketbook — to stop looking for the other shoe.

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