Credit Cards For Building Bad Credit In 2022

Credit Cards For Building Bad Credit

Our look at credit cards for building bad credit starts with a clarification: These cards can help you rebuild your bad credit, not make your bad credit any worse.

This collection of secured and unsecured credit cards should interest American consumers who have messed up their credit for any number of reasons. If your credit score makes you uncomfortable, take heart — these cards can help you regain your mojo. 

Unsecured Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit

Obtaining an unsecured credit card does not require a deposit. That’s good and bad — good because unsecured cards don’t tie up your money, but bad because they are harder to get approved for.

Within the unsecured credit universe, the following cards make it their business to approve applicants with bad credit. 

  • 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.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
4 minutes See Issuer Website Yes 9.0/10

The PREMIER Bankcard® Orange Credit Card is our top unsecured credit card for consumers looking to rebuild their bad credit. The card doesn’t charge for maintenance during the first year and lowers its annual fee in Year Two. 

You can get a cash advance with this card, a feature some of its competitors lack. Don’t be bothered if you’ve never heard of the issuer: First PREMIER Bank® has won Mastercard’s coveted Performance Excellence Award four times. 

  • 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.
  • ‡Build credit by keeping your balance low and paying all your bills on time every month.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
4 minutes See Issuer Website Yes 9.0/10

The PREMIER Bankcard® Grey Credit Card is available in several card designs for no added cost. Compared with its PREMIER Bankcard® Orange Credit Card sibling, this card may offer you a lower credit limit, which may make it easier to obtain.

Otherwise, the two cards are almost indistinguishable. They both provide a longer-than-usual minimum grace period. Pay your entire bill within the grace period, and your eligible purchases will never cost you a penny in interest.

  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 24.99% – 29.99% (Variable) Yes 8.5/10

Celtic Bank’s Surge Mastercard® has your back, thanks to Mastercard Zero Liability Protection that guards against unauthorized charges. The accompanying mobile app lets you view statements, check due dates, set up direct deposits, or pay a bill whenever you like.

You can also use the mobile app to track how your creditworthy behavior improves your Experian VantageScore.

  • With the Aspire® Mastercard® Credit Card, you earn a 3% cash back reward on Gas, Groceries and Utility Payments
  • Earn a 1% cash back reward on all other purchases
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit subject to credit approval
  • Pre-qualify without affecting your credit score
  • No deposits or program fee
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Equifax†
  • † Your credit score will be available in your online account 60 days after your account is opened. (Registration required) The free VantageScore 3.0 credit score provided by Equifax is for educational purposes only and may not be used by The Bank of Missouri (the issuer of this card) or other creditors to make credit decisions.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
7 minutes 29.99% Variable Yes 8.0/10

The Aspire® Cash Back Reward Card lets you prequalify without harming your credit score. A rarity in the unsecured subprime market, this card allows you to earn cash back at a rate of return comparable with cards for good credit.

The interest rate is high, but remember you can avoid it altogether by paying your balance off every month.

  • With the Fortiva® Mastercard® Credit Card, you earn up to a 3% cash back reward
  • Make contactless payments through Mobile Wallet
  • Periodic Credit Increase Reviews
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Equifax†
  • † Your credit score will be available in your online account 60 days after your account is opened. (Registration required) The free VantageScore 3.0 credit score provided by Equifax is for educational purposes only and may not be used by The Bank of Missouri (the issuer of this card) or other creditors to make credit decisions.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
7 minutes 29.99% Variable Yes 8.0/10

The Fortiva® Mastercard® Credit Card comes from the same issuer as the card above, which means the two offers are very similar. The rewards are generous and the APR isn’t as high as that of other cards on this list.

But the annual fee and account maintenance fees are quite pricey — read the summary of credit terms for a list of fees this card charges.

  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified with no impact to your credit score
  • 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
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere Mastercard® is accepted
  • Checking Account Required
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 24.99% – 29.99% (Variable) Yes 8.0/10

The Reflex Mastercard® from Celtic Bank closely resembles the Surge Mastercard®. This card may reward your consistent on-time payments by raising your credit limit.

Reflex Mastercard® waives its monthly maintenance fee for the first year. It also offers strong fraud protection.

  • See if you Prequalify without harming your credit score
  • Earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services, terms apply
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities
  • Looking to rebuild credit? We report to the major credit bureaus monthly
  • View your free online access to your Experian credit score, terms apply
  • This unsecured card requires no deposit and can help build your credit
  • Choose your monthly payment due date for added convenience, terms apply
  • Never miss an account update with customizable text and email alerts
  • Manage your account on-the-go with the Credit One Bank mobile app
  • Show off your personality by selecting from a variety of card designs, a fee may apply
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 23.99% Variable Yes 9.0/10

The cash back rewards provided by the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit are unusual for this class of credit cards. In addition, you can earn More Cash Back Rewards through purchases at participating merchants.

Another plus is the card’s lack of a penalty APR, setup fee, or monthly maintenance charges. The card’s grace period for purchases is at least 24 days. 

  • 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

You can prequalify for the Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card in seconds without damaging your credit score. The card is less expensive to own than some competitors due to its lack of fees for initial setup, first-year cash advances, and monthly maintenance.

You can get this card from Celtic Bank in several different designs at no extra cost. If the issuer cannot match you to this card, it may prequalify you for a credit card from another bank.

Secured Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit

We don’t regard secured cards as inferior to their unsecured kin. Secured cards frequently have better perks, lower costs, and are arguably more effective tools for building credit. 

Most secured cards reward creditworthy behavior by refunding security deposits. In other words, secured credit cards give you back-door access to unsecured cards even if your credit score is in the ditch.

  • Earn 2% cash back on everyday purchases at Amazon, Uber, Uber Eats, Whole Foods, Netflix, Spotify, and more! And 1% cashback on everything else.
  • No credit check or U.S. credit history required. No SSN required for non-US citizens.
  • Build U.S. credit history from day 1 at major credit bureaus (get $25 when you build your credit score to a 700+ credit score within 12 months of use).
  • Get unsecured in as little as 4 months!
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no minimum security deposit.
  • Premium benefits like Cell Phone Protection (including cracked screens) and Car Rental Insurance coverage.
  • Click here for terms and conditions.
  • Click here for official site and application.
   
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 minutes 10.24% (Variable) Yes 7.0/10

The Secured Sable ONE Credit Card actively encourages you to graduate to an unsecured traditional credit card. It defines milestones to mark your progress toward that goal, such as making at least 15 purchases per month totaling at least $250.

Other milestones require four months to achieve, such as maintaining a $500 credit limit and authorizing direct deposits of at least $500 per month. This card does not charge a foreign transaction fee.

  • Our mobile app helps you keep track of your spending and payments for greater financial control.
  • When you need assistance our award-winning US-based customer service agents are there to help.
  • Monitor your progress with monthly credit reports (updated quarterly).
  • After 13 months you could be eligible for a credit limit increase (Terms & Conditions apply).
  • If approved, make your first six monthly minimum payments on time and we may send you an offer to apply for an unsecured credit card. Some restrictions apply.‡
  • ‡ If you apply for the second account, which is unsecured, you will be approved if you can demonstrate the ability to pay your bills, meet our minimum income requirements, do not reside in New York or Wisconsin and are not covered under the Military Lending Act.
  • 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.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
4 minutes See Issuer Website Yes 9.0/10

The PREMIER Bankcard® Secured Credit Card is our runner-up in this group of secured credit cards. The card reduces its annual fee in Year Two and may waive the monthly maintenance fee for the first year.

This card may make you wait a year or longer before you qualify for a credit limit increase. 

  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 19.99% Variable Yes 8.5/10

Celtic Bank designed the Surge Secured Mastercard® to help you build credit and earn rewards. It undercuts some of its competitors by waiving setup and maintenance fees.

The optional credit protection plan covers your payments when you experience specified losses.

  • Better than prepaid…Go with a secured card! Load one time – keep on using
  • Absolutely no credit check or minimum credit score required
  • Automatic reporting to all three national credit bureaus
  • 9.99% low fixed APR – Your rate won’t go up even if you are late
  • Activate today with a $200 minimum deposit – maximum $1,000.
  • Increase your credit limit up to $5,000 by adding additional deposits anytime
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.4

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 minutes 9.99% Fixed Yes 7.5/10

The Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card can approve your application in a minute or less. The card doesn’t charge an application fee, and there is no penalty APR for late payments.

In addition, you won’t face fees for monthly maintenance or credit limit increases. This card’s low interest rate takes some of the sting out of its zero-day grace period.

  • 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
  • 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
  • Enjoy protection from unauthorized purchases with $0 fraud liability
  • ‡View the cardholder agreement
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.2

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 17.39% (Variable) Yes 7.0/10

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card provides the fraud protection and worldwide acceptance common to all Visa cards. The card allows you to set up email alerts for upcoming payment dates and available credit. 

The four-step application process takes less than five minutes. The card charges a relatively low APR, and its fee schedule is more forgiving than that of other cards on this list. 

What Is a Credit Card For Rebuilding Bad Credit?

We live in a time where various numbers characterize our identities. Consider how your salary, ZIP code, and, yes, your credit score, all reveal something to the world. Sometimes, a number tells an unflattering story, as is the case when your credit score is low.

One tool that can help you rebuild your score is the credit card. If you own a small company, you can use a business credit card to help attain better credit. 

In most respects, cards for rebuilding credit operate like traditional cards. When you acquire a new card, you receive a credit line that controls how much you can charge on it. A credit card lets you make purchases up to your credit limit and then pay the amount owed over one or more months.

The Credit Reporting System

The FICO credit scoring system considers a score below 580 bad. The FICO scale runs from 300 (the worst credit) to 850 (perfect credit), with the average American’s score just north of 700. Scores above 800 signify excellent credit.

FICO Score Scale

If your score is below that for fair credit (669 or lower), your access to cheap credit, or any credit, is compromised.

The major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) generate credit reports and calculate scores based on information from creditors and lenders. When you consistently pay your bills on time, you tend to have a good credit score. 

But when a credit bureau starts receiving delinquency notices (i.e., that you are 90 or more days behind on a payment), your credit score can plunge. Your score can easily drop from good to fair credit with just one late payment and then to the poor range with repeated infractions. Moreover, missed payments remain on your credit record for seven years

Nothing good comes from poor credit, which is why rebuilding it is so important. Most cards report your credit activity to at least one credit bureau, but cards designed for consumers with bad credit usually report your activity to all three bureaus.

The significance of triple reporting is that your three scores reinforce each other’s assessment of your creditworthiness. You want to see all three of your scores rise simultaneously to reflect your better financial habits. If one score is out of line, you’ll want to find out why.

A rogue score can arise from data appearing in only one of your credit reports. To investigate, you can order free copies of your three credit reports at AnnualCreditReport.com. You can then review each to discover why your credit scores don’t line up and then attempt to fix mistakes by filing disputes with the credit bureaus. 

Alternatively, you can hire a credit repair company to fix errors in your reports that may be damaging your scores. 

How a Credit Card Can Rebuild Credit

The consequences of a bad credit score are many and unfortunate. You’ll have trouble getting a loan or a credit card, and if you do, the interest rate and other details will be undesirable. Negative information on your credit reports can even threaten your ability to rent an apartment or land a new job. 

FICO Credit Score Factors

Good credit habits begin with timely credit card payments. Card issuers generate monthly billing statements detailing, among other things, a minimum payment amount and when it is due. Your task is straightforward: Pay the bill before the due date and pay more than the minimum if possible. 

Paying all your bills on time is the most important thing you can do to rebuild your credit score. 

Your payment history is responsible for 35% of your FICO score. Your record also chronicles collections, defaults, repossessions, foreclosures, bankruptcies, and other unfortunate items. 

Another critical factor for rebuilding your score is your credit utilization ratio (i.e., CUR, the percent of your credit card limit currently spent), which accounts for 30% of your FICO score. You can help your score by keeping your CUR below 30%. FICO interprets higher values to signal possible financial distress. 

For example, if your credit card grants you a $1,000 credit limit, having an unpaid balance of $300 or more will hurt your score. You can leverage credit reporting to improve your score by paying down your outstanding balances.

You can also use credit cards to rebuild your FICO score by keeping your old credit accounts open, refraining from applying for new credit, and employing a diversified mix of credit accounts and loans.

How Do Unsecured and Secured Credit Cards Compare?

Secured credit cards serve consumers who have a poor or limited credit payment history. You must deposit cash collateral to open a secured credit card account. The deposit protects card issuers from loss if you don’t pay your bill, and a low credit score won’t prevent you from getting a secured account.

Unsecured credit cards are more traditional and trusting of applicants, requiring only their signature. Issuers risk losses when they offer unsecured cards, and that risk is highest when applicant credit scores scrape the bottom. That’s why unsecured cards for bad credit usually have high interest rates, steep fees, and few perks.

Secured versus Unsecured Credit Cards

If a card issuer approves your application for a secured card, you must make a cash deposit to an escrow account maintained by the issuer. Typically, the deposit size must equal the card’s credit limit. 

Your deposit remains frozen until you close your account or the issuer refunds it (i.e., when you “graduate” to an unsecured card). Many secured cards issue a refund after you pay your bills on time for a set period. Others may instead increase your credit line without requiring an additional deposit.

How Can I Get a Credit Card With Bad Credit?

All the cards in this review cater to consumers with bad credit. That’s a good thing in light of the following statistics concerning American consumers: 

  • 11.1% have a FICO score below 550.
  • 34.8% have a FICO score between 580 and 669.
  • 22% have no FICO score.
  • 25% of low-income individuals don’t know how to improve their credit scores.
  • About 20% were delinquent at least once for more than 30 days.

These statistics help explain the demand for subprime credit cards. The importance of these cards is that they offer the easiest way to improve your credit.

Minimum Credit Score Required

Most secured credit cards have no credit score requirements. Your security deposit is sufficient to gain approval from the card issuers, although some may check your income to verify your ability to make payments. 

You can get some secured cards without a hard credit check. Secured cards are an excellent solution for consumers with poor or limited credit. 

Unsecured cards are more selective of applicants than their secured counterparts. It’s hard to find many issuers of unsecured cards that will approve applicants with scores below 550. This reluctance is understandable, given that credit scores predict a person’s chances of going 90+ days past due within the next 24 months.

Credit card issuers face several risks from low-score cardmembers, including:

  • Not collecting some or all of a cardmember’s outstanding balance.
  • Not collecting interest and fees.
  • Being forced to spend more on collections and write-offs.
  • Adapting to reduced cash flow.

You may think that these risks would prevent issuers of unsecured cards from seeking consumers with low scores. However, actuaries at the credit card companies quantify default risk in dollars, allowing the issuers to adjust a card’s rates and terms to overcome the predicted losses. 

You can see the risk-mitigation factors at play by reading the fine print accompanying offers for unsecured credit cards tailored to subprime applicants. In almost all cases, you’ll find the following:

  • Steep interest rates, often higher than 25% APR.
  • High fees and lots of them. Some charges are unique to these cards, including a setup fee, a monthly payment for maintenance, and credit limit increase fees. In addition, these cards will likely charge an annual fee, a fee for additional cards, a foreign transaction fee, and a penalty APR for late payments.
  • Tight credit limits are the rule, sometimes as low as $200. Moreover, a card is likely to deduct your setup and annual fees from your initial credit limit and restore it only after receiving the required payments. 
  • Scant or no rewards. Occasionally, you’ll run across a subprime card, such as the Aspire® Cash Back Reward Card, that features a modest cash back offer. Furthermore, signup bonuses are as rare as hens’ teeth.
  • No introductory 0% APR. Consumers with good credit are accustomed to this incentive for new cardmembers. Our summary boxes for subprime credit cards don’t even bother to list this perk.
  • Few benefits. You can count on these cards to provide fraud protection and credit reporting to all three major bureaus. Many cards offer free access to your credit score (not necessarily your FICO score, however). Some cards may promise to review your credit performance to see whether you qualify for a higher credit limit. In this credit card category, anything else is gravy.
  • No support for balance transfer transactions. With their tiny credit limits, these credit cards would be poor candidates for balance transfer transactions, even if the cards offered them.
  • Cash advances are restricted. These cards often set meager limits for cash advances, and a few don’t allow advances for the first three months. On the plus side, a few cards waive the cash advance fee for the first year.

One other feature that makes a couple of the reviewed cards less attractive is the lack of a grace period for eligible purchases. Most cards give you at least 21 days between the end of a billing cycle and the payment due date to pay your bill without accruing interest. But check the fine print – some cards begin charging interest on the day of purchase. 

Application Procedures

It’s not unusual for a credit card company to offer a prequalification step to potential applicants. While prequalification can tell you whether your application has any chance of approval, it is not a guarantee. 

You can attempt to prequalify online by submitting basic information about yourself, including your income and housing expenses. Generally, you’ll receive an instant decision. 

Whether it’s thumbs up or down, your credit score will not suffer from the attempt. Credit card companies do not perform hard credit inquiries when you attempt to prequalify, which means you avoid the slight point loss that accompanies hard pulls. 

Surge Prequalification Screen
Many issuers allow you to prequalify before applying without hurting your credit score.

If you prequalify (or skip the step), you can submit an application form that closely mimics the one used for prequalification and receive a quick decision. However, unsecured cards will do a hard pull when you apply. Your application can cause your already bruised credit score to drop by five to eight points and linger on your credit report for two years. 

If the issuer approves your application, you will be asked to e-sign a credit agreement spelling out all the accompanying rates, terms, and conditions. We urge you to read the entire thing before signing – you may be surprised at what lurks there. 

At this point, the issuer will ship you your new card. Expect it within seven to 10 days.

If you apply for a secured card, your final approval is paused until you submit a cash deposit. Once the payment clears, your card will ship.

After the card arrives, sign the back and tell the credit card company that you received it, either online or over the phone.

What’s the Easiest Credit Card to Get With Bad Credit?

Careful readers know by now that secured cards are by far the easiest to get. We suggest you compare the rates and terms among the secured credit cards reviewed above to see which charge the least and deliver the most. 

The search for the most accessible unsecured card requires you to flip the secured-card playbook. Rather than looking for the best deal, consider the cards that really stick it to you. These cards have the most expensive fees, highest interest rates, fewest perks, no rewards, and sometimes no grace period. 

  • Earn 2% cash back on everyday purchases at Amazon, Uber, Uber Eats, Whole Foods, Netflix, Spotify, and more! And 1% cashback on everything else.
  • No credit check or U.S. credit history required. No SSN required for non-US citizens.
  • Build U.S. credit history from day 1 at major credit bureaus (get $25 when you build your credit score to a 700+ credit score within 12 months of use).
  • Get unsecured in as little as 4 months!
  • No annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, no minimum security deposit.
  • Premium benefits like Cell Phone Protection (including cracked screens) and Car Rental Insurance coverage.
  • Click here for terms and conditions.
  • Click here for official site and application.
   
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 minutes 10.24% (Variable) Yes 7.0/10
  • Our mobile app helps you keep track of your spending and payments for greater financial control.
  • When you need assistance our award-winning US-based customer service agents are there to help.
  • Monitor your progress with monthly credit reports (updated quarterly).
  • After 13 months you could be eligible for a credit limit increase (Terms & Conditions apply).
  • If approved, make your first six monthly minimum payments on time and we may send you an offer to apply for an unsecured credit card. Some restrictions apply.‡
  • ‡ If you apply for the second account, which is unsecured, you will be approved if you can demonstrate the ability to pay your bills, meet our minimum income requirements, do not reside in New York or Wisconsin and are not covered under the Military Lending Act.
  • 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.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
4 minutes See Issuer Website Yes 9.0/10
  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 19.99% Variable Yes 8.5/10

While these cards may be tough to live with, they should be the easiest to get. That’s because their issuers built in so many provisions to reduce risk that they can afford to take the biggest chances. Don’t despair — as your credit score improves, better credit cards will become available. 

Which Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit Offer Instant Approval?

No card offers instant approval, but virtually all cards provide an instant decision. When you apply for an unsecured card, the issuer (actually a computer working for the issuer) will immediately pull your credit file and make a judgment based on the company’s criteria. You’ll likely have your decision in just a few minutes.

Can I Be Denied a Credit Card?

No credit card guarantees approval, including secured cards that loudly proclaim otherwise. Here are some reasons why an issuer may deny your card application:

  • You fail to meet the card’s minimum credit and income standards.
  • You are under 18 years old.
  • You lack a Social Security number.
  • You’ve reached the issuer’s card quota.
  • You’ve recently applied for the same card.
  • You are undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. 
  • You owe money to the issuer or previously received a write-off.
  • You reside in a correctional institution.
  • The card has stopped approving new applicants.

Regulation B of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act requires issuers to respond to card applications within 30 days. If you received a rejection, the issuer must send you a written Adverse Action Notice (or declination letter) by the response deadline.

The Notice can offer two types of responses, including:

  • The chief risk factors for the denial, or
  • Your right to request the reasons for denial within 60 days after receiving the Adverse Action Notice.

The Notice should contain the following information:

  • The credit bureau that provided the report that led to your denial.
  • Your credit score and the scoring system used.
  • The risk factors that figured into your denial.
  • Notification that you can get a free copy of your credit report within 60 days.
  • Notification that you can dispute the information on which the denial depended.

The Adverse Action Notice is helpful because it explains which items you need to address, such as late payments.

You may be able to qualify for a store credit card even if other unsecured cards reject your applications. You usually can get a store credit card even if your credit score is lousy.

If you find it impossible to qualify for a credit card, consider a prepaid card instead. You can get a prepaid card without any reference to your credit score.

What Fees Do Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit Charge?

Credit card companies make money through fees and interest. If you need to rebuild your credit, you will face a phalanx of fees, including some that only subprime cards charge:

  • Signup fee: This is a one-time processing fee you pay if you accept the card. The amount varies, but one card has a $99 signup fee, about half of the minimum credit limit. Cards usually deduct the signup fee from your initial credit limit. The card will restore your limit after you pay the charge.
  • Maintenance fee: This is a monthly payment, typically $6.25, whose purpose is, well, we don’t really know its purpose. Cards for fair or better credit never charge this fee. Subprime cards usually waive the maintenance fee for the first year, which creates a strong incentive to find a better card before the fee kicks in.
  • Credit limit increase fees: A card to rebuild credit may offer you a higher credit limit after a period of on-time payments. Before jumping at the offer, check to see whether the card charges a fee for the increase.
  • Extra card fee: Many cards in this category charge a fee when you order an additional card for your spouse or an authorized user. Better quality cards usually waive this fee.

Cards for building credit also charge the conventional fees that accompany most credit cards, including an annual fee. Other charges are those for foreign transactions, cash advances, and late or return payments. In addition, expect high regular and penalty APRs from these cards (one card’s regular APR exceeds 33%).

These fees help issuers of subprime unsecured cards make a profit, even if the occasional cardowner defaults.

These fees may seem severe, but they permit millions of consumers their only access to unsecured credit cards.

In summary, unsecured cards for building credit charge high fees and interest, provide low credit limits, and give almost no perks. 

Choose the Right Card to Build Your Credit

Our review identifies over a dozen credit cards for building bad credit (or, more appropriately, rebuilding bad credit). Whatever their flaws, these cards are tools you can use to improve your credit and enhance your lifestyle.

Getting the card is just the beginning. The hard work is to use your credit cards responsibly. Always pay your bills on time, keep your debt levels low, and don’t apply for too much credit. These are the simple rules by which anybody can begin rebuilding their credit.

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