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9 Best Credit Cards for Poor Credit (2018‘s Top Bad Credit Offers)

Brittney Mayer 5/11/18

While most people recognize the importance of knowing their consumer credit score, as with many things in life, a credit score can be a matter of opinion. Whether you have “fair” credit, “poor” credit, or just plain “bad” credit will depend on exactly which scoring model — and which version of that model — is used to calculate your credit score.

Of course, regardless of which model is used to calculate your score, or which title your score is given, a low credit score is bad news. Not only does a low credit score mean you’ll see higher interest rates and fees, but it makes it more difficult to even obtain a new line of credit.

Fortunately, a number of credit card issuers specialize in providing credit opportunities to those with poor credit (or worse), offering both unsecured and secured credit cards. Those who want to make purchases with a card without dealing with credit qualifications can check out the prepaid offers.

Unsecured (3) | Secured (3) | Prepaid (3)

Best Unsecured Cards for Poor Credit

Although it may be easy to forget, your credit card is, in effect, a loan. The bank backing your credit card is lending you the money you use to make credit card purchases, doing so with the understanding that you are responsible for repaying those funds in the agreed-upon time frame (i.e., by your statement’s due date).

The most common type of credit card, an unsecured card requires no security deposit or other money down to access the line of credit extended to you by the issuing bank. At the same time, because the bank has no way to guarantee it will receive that money back, unsecured credit cards come with higher interest rates and credit requirements than lines of credit secured by a deposit.

4.8 /5.0 Stars
  • Checking account required
  • We may approve those currently building their credit history
  • No security deposit required
  • Application response in 30 seconds
  • Know the score! Quarterly FICO score on your monthly billing statement
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Your First PREMIER Bank credit card activity is reported to the Consumer Reporting Agencies each month. Making your payment on time and keeping your balances low relative to the credit limit will result in positive marks on your credit report
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate See issuer website
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 6 minutes
Reputation Score 9.5/10
4.8 /5.0 Stars
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate See issuer website
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 5 Minutes
Reputation Score 9.0/10
4.7 /5.0 Stars
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Initial Credit Limit of $500.00! (subject to available credit)
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere that Mastercard® is accepted
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking Account Required
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate See terms
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 9 Minutes
Reputation Score 8.5/10

When you apply for a credit card, the issuer will run what is called a hard credit inquiry, or credit pull, to determine your creditworthiness — even issuers offering credit cards for bad credit. Each hard credit pull will have a small negative impact on your credit score, with multiple recent hard credit pulls acting as a warning sign to potential lenders.

If you’re unsure about whether you’ll qualify for a particular unsecured credit card, you may want to check for pre-qualification offers before risking a hard credit pull. This process will require a soft credit inquiry to get a more general idea of your credit, and will not have any effect on your credit. Pre-qualification isn’t a guarantee of acceptance, but it can be a good indicator of your chances.

Best Secured Cards for Poor Credit

While those with low credit scores can likely qualify for an unsecured credit card, you may be stuck paying large fees for the privilege. Those who would still like to build (or rebuild) their poor credit, but who don’t want to be saddled with fees — or absurdly high interest rates — can choose to obtain a secured credit card instead.

Unlike unsecured cards, secured credit cards require an initial deposit, which acts as security against the potential for default. In other words, if you don’t pay the balance on your secured credit card as agreed (paying on time and making at least the required minimum payment), the bank will use your deposit to cover its losses.

4.0 /5.0 Stars
  • Credit lines available from $200 to $5,000. Super Low Fixed 9.99% interest rate on purchases - with no penalty rate.
  • No minimum credit score requirements. We invite all credit types to apply. No processing or application fees.
  • Helps strengthen your credit with responsible card use. Reports to three national bureaus.
  • Fast, easy application process. Choose your credit line and open your Personal Savings Deposit Account to secure your line.
  • See additional primor® Secured Visa Gold Card details
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate 9.99%
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 8 minutes
Reputation Score 9.0/10
3.0 /5.0 Stars
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 -- $2,000 Submitted with Application
  • Just Pay Off Your Balance and Get Your Deposit Back at Any Time
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Not available in: NY, IA, AR, or WI
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate 19.99% (V)
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 9 minutes
Reputation Score 7.5/10
3.0 /5.0 Stars
  • Credit line secured by your fully-refundable deposit of $200-$2,000 submitted with application.
  • Pay off your balance and get your deposit back any time.
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to establish credit history.
  • Not available in: NY, IA, AR, or WI.
  • No credit history or minimum credit score required.
  • See if you are pre-approved in 60 seconds or less.
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate 9.99% (V)
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 8 minutes
Reputation Score 7.5/10

With most secured credit cards, the amount of money you initially deposit when opening the account will also dictate your card’s credit limit. So, if you deposit $500 when you open your account, your available credit line will be $500. Many secured cards have a cap on the size of the deposit you can make, usually around $2,000 to $5,000.

Because your total available credit is one of the numbers used to calculate your utilization rate — an important factor in calculating your credit score — applicants are often encouraged to make as large a deposit as possible. This will provide you with a higher credit limit, potentially improving your credit utilization rate, which can, in turn, boost your credit score.

Best Prepaid Cards for Poor Credit

In some cases, an applicant may not want a traditional credit card, but may still wish to take advantage of many of the benefits of paying with plastic. For them, the best option may be to obtain a prepaid credit card. Similar to a secured credit card, prepaid cards require an initial deposit to use the card.

Unlike secured cards, however, a prepaid card is not actually a line of credit. Instead, a prepaid credit card behaves more like a gift card, with each purchase reducing the amount of the initial deposit until the entire amount is spent. Once empty, prepaid cards require the cardholder to reload the card, by making another deposit, to continue use.

4.0 /5.0 Stars
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with Direct Deposit.
  • Access your money whenever, wherever you are. Use your mobile phone and online Account Center to check your balance, send money, find reload/ATM locations and much more.
  • Let alerts help you stay connected to your money. Know when your card is used, direct deposit arrives, transaction details and your available balance.
  • Shop securely Online with a Virtual Account so you don't have to use your card number.
  • Earn Cash Back via the PayBack Rewards program from restaurants, shops and more.
  • $10 Purchase Cushion When You're A Little Short.
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate N/A (Prepaid)
Reports Monthly No
Application Length 10 Minutes
Reputation Score 8.0/10
3.8 /5.0 Stars
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with free Direct Deposit
  • No CreditCheck to Get a Card. No ChexSystems Check. No Existing Bank Account Required.
  • $0 Activation fee. No Minimum Balance. No risk of Overdraft fees.
  • $15 Bonus with qualifying Direct Deposit. Never pay to cash your paychecks and get your pay faster.
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate N/A (Prepaid)
Reports Monthly No
Application Length 10 Minutes
Reputation Score 8.0/10
3.6 /5.0 Stars
  • Easy to sign up. Set up your secure PIN and load money to your card with cash or checks or enroll in Direct Deposit.
  • Enroll in Direct Deposit and get your pay up to two days early. Certain restrictions apply. See card site for details.
  • Easy Online Bill Pay to practically anyone — pay your rent, utilities or a friend.
  • Shop online and in stores - everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted.
  • Your funds are FDIC-Insured through MetaBank®, Member FDIC. Card accounts are subject to ID Verification.
  • Access to over 23,000 fee-free MoneyPass® ATMs from coast-to-coast. Get cash or check your balance at no additional cost.
  • Click on "Apply Now" to learn more about Midnight Prepaid Visa RushCard.
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate N/A (Prepaid)
Reports Monthly No
Application Length 10 Minutes
Reputation Score 8.0/10

Since prepaid cards aren’t actually credit products, obtaining and using a prepaid card will not have any impact on your credit (negative or positive). You can’t use a prepaid card to establish new credit or to rebuild existing credit, as the prepaid card issuer won’t be reporting to any of the credit bureaus.

Other than having to be reloaded — and having no impact on your credit — prepaid cards act just like regular credit cards when used to make purchases. For instance, a prepaid card issued by Visa can be used to make purchases at any location that accepts Visa credit cards, including online retailers.

Responsible Credit Card Use Can Improve Your Credit Score

Depending on where you look, your creditworthiness may be displayed by a score, a color, or just an adjective. Of course, no matter if you call it “poor” or “bad” — or even just give it a bright red frowny face — having a bad credit history and low credit score is never good.

Most importantly, a low credit score is a strong indicator of financial risk to potential creditors. Even lenders specializing in subprime borrowers will check your credit to determine your creditworthiness before making a decision about your credit card or loan application, and your rates and fees will reflect this fact.

The best way to ensure you are able to qualify for the credit products you need is to build — or rebuild — a healthy credit history. A pattern of good financial behaviors over time, such as paying your credit card balance as agreed each month, will help improve your credit score, demonstrating your creditworthiness to future lenders and making you a better potential borrower.

Brittney is a Contributing Editor for Digital Brands, Inc., where she uses her extensive research background to develop comprehensive guides and in-depth company profiles for BadCredit.org and CardRates.com. Brittney specializes in translating complex ideas into readable, engaging content for B2C and B2B audiences.
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