Best Instant-Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Instant Approval Credit Cards Bad Credit
GUIDE
Anne Chumley
By: Anne Chumley
Updated: August 10, 2021
Advertiser Disclosure

Not so long ago, in the grand old days of dial-up, surfing the world wide web was less an activity you used to pass the time and more an exercise in extreme patience. As we waited for images to load, pixel by agonizing pixel, we all daydreamed of a better future, one where data speeds were high and cat videos ruled the digital world.

The edge-of-our-seat impatience of those days isn’t gone in the broadband-era; if anything, it’s gotten worse. We want everything to be like our web pages: instant and on-demand. This applies to our viral videos, our television shows — and our finances.

But while a buffering video is simply inconvenient, that credit card application may just be the key to vital financing. This can be especially true when you have poor credit and are trying to rebuild. Luckily, the internet holds part of the answer; with online credit card applications, almost any card can be instant-approval, you just need to choose wisely. Keep reading to see our top choices for instant approval credit cards for people with bad credit.

Unsecured | Secured | Bankruptcy OK | Prepaid

Best “Unsecured” Cards for Bad Credit

Although one of the newest types of credit to appear on the scene, unsecured credit cards rose in popularity throughout the latter half of the 20th century, and today there are hundreds of millions in the US alone. Unlike charge cards, unsecured credit cards are revolving, meaning you can carry a balance (for which you’ll likely be charged interest fees).

Unsecured credit cards are called “unsecured” because they require no security deposit to open the account (in contrast to secured credit cards). This can make them particularly appealing to those with poor credit looking to rebuild. Our top-rated unsecured credit cards for poor credit accept a range of credit types and provide low credit limits that are easy to maintain.

  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified with no impact to your credit score
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • 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 Fraud Liability Protection (subject to Mastercard guidelines)
  • 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 24.99% - 29.99% (Variable) Yes 8.5/10
  • 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
24.99% - 29.99% (Variable) Yes 8.0/10

+See More Unsecured Cards

While unsecured credit cards don’t require a security deposit, those aimed at subprime (poor credit) consumers will likely come with high fees, including annual maintenance fees. You may also be required to pay a program or processing fee when you open the account, which will decrease your initial available balance.

Best “Secured” Cards for Bad Credit

Similar to unsecured credit cards, secured credit cards are also revolving credit lines, so cardholders may carry a balance from month to month. Unlike unsecured cards, however, secured credit cards require an up-front deposit to open the account. The deposit acts as security for the creditor, ensuring any debt will be repaid — one way or another.

Because creditors have this extra security, secured credit cards are typically the easiest type of credit to obtain, even with bad credit. With most secured credit cards, the size of your deposit will dictate the size of your credit line (up to the maximum amount). The secured cards on our list include options for credit lines of up to $5,000 for qualified applicants.

  • Start building your positive U.S. Credit history today
  • Get real-time credit history and make every purchase count towards building your credit. Plus, get $25 when you build your credit score to a 700+ credit score within 12 months of use.
  • Up to 2% cash back on select purchases up to 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Mastercard Car Rental Insurance
  • Cell phone protection, including cracked screens
  • Zero liability on purchases and much more!
  • No annual fee or late payment fee
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
   
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes Prime + 6.99% Yes 7.0
  • 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
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” on Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
  • View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.
  • 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 7/10

+See More Secured Cards

While the fees you pay for an unsecured credit card are simply that — fees you don’t get back — the deposit you make for a secured credit card doesn’t just disappear. Instead, it sits in a protected savings account, and may even accrue a small bit of interest. When you cancel your secured credit card or upgrade it to an unsecured card, your deposit (plus any earned interest) will be returned to you.

Best “Bankruptcy OK” Cards for Bad Credit

For consumers who have become buried under an insurmountable pile of debt, the bankruptcy process can (sometimes literally) be lifesaving. Many types of unsecured debts can be eliminated through bankruptcy, removing the debt burden and allowing you to move forward and start again. Unfortunately, bankruptcy isn’t exactly the “clean slate” that many people hope for — at least not so far as your credit is concerned.

To many future creditors, particularly those in the prime market, bankruptcies are about as scary as being trapped in the woods with a horror movie villain, and they’ll be quick to tell you — and your bad credit — to take a hike to avoid the risk. The creditors on our list, however, are made of sterner stuff, and won’t be scared off by your bad credit or your bankruptcy.

  • 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.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

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

+See More Bankruptcy OK Cards

As with any credit card designed for people with bad credit, those accepting applicants with recent bankruptcies will likely charge high fees, including program or processing fees and annual maintenance fees. You’ll also likely end up with an APR about as scary as that movie villain, so be sure to always pay your full balance before your bill’s due date to avoid the horror of high interest fees. Paying your bills on time is also one of the most important things you can do to maintain a healthy credit score.

Best “Prepaid” Cards for Bad Credit

If any card can be said to have “instant” approval, it has to be a prepaid card. Why? Well, prepaid cards aren’t technically credit cards at all, as they aren’t associated with an actual credit line of any type. Instead, you’ll pre-load your prepaid card with cash, spending only as much as you put on the card yourself.

And since there’s no credit line attached, there’s also no credit check required, meaning your credit will have no impact on your ability to qualify. At the same time, prepaid cards with a network logo — think Visa, Mastercard, Amex, and Discover — will operate almost exactly like regular credit cards when it comes to making purchases, usable anywhere its network is accepted. Our top picks will even accept direct deposits, making payday simple.

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

4.5

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 9.5/10
  • Brink’s gives you the peace of mind you deserve. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • With Brink’s 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 Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply.)
  • *Card issued by Republic Bank & Trust Company, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Mastercard Debit cards are accepted. “Apply Now” for full details.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.4

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 7.5/10
  • 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.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

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

+See More Prepaid Cards

The caveat to keep in mind when dealing with prepaid cards is that the lack of credit association can be a double-edged sword. While your credit won’t influence your ability to obtain the card, the card won’t have any influence on your credit, either. In other words, prepaid cards won’t report to the credit bureaus, so you can’t use prepaid cards to build your credit history or improve your score.

Pick the Right Card for Instant Approval

Whether it’s for a video of a kitten playing piano or for a decision on an application for new credit — waiting stinks. And while waiting to see the Great Meowzart’s newest symphony can make you impatient, waiting to see if you’ll get that all-important credit card can make you stressed out and anxious.

While increasing your bandwidth can do wonders for your streaming speeds, there’s little your internet provider can do to help with your credit card application. Your best option for avoiding the nail-biting wait is to apply online — and to choose your card carefully. The more qualified you are for the card, the more likely you are to be approved quickly online. And remember, if you’re approved this can be a great opportunity to begin turning your credit score around. Paying on time each month can be the first step to seeing that low credit score begin to increase.

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