12 Best Instant-Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit

12 Best Instant-Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit
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Ashley Dull
By: Ashley Dull
Posted: October 19, 2017
BadCredit.org's popular "How-To" series is for those who seek to improve, rebuild or better understand their subprime credit rating.

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.

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.

  • Checking account required
  • Application response in 30 seconds
  • Know the score! Quarterly FICO score on your monthly billing statements
  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
6 minutes See issuer website Yes 9.5/10
  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 Minutes See issuer website Yes 9.0/10
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes See terms Yes 8.5/10

+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.

  • 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 Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card details
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details
★★★★

4.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 9.99% Yes 9.0/10
  • Credit line secured by your fully-refundable deposit of $200-$2,000 submitted with application
  • Good for car rental, hotels; Anywhere credit cards are accepted
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to establish credit history
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI
  • Just pay off your balance and receive your deposit back at any time
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 20.24% (V) Yes 7.5/10
  • Credit line secured by your fully-refundable deposit of $200-$2,000 submitted with application
  • Good for car rental, hotels; Anywhere credit cards are accepted
  • Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to establish credit history.
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI
  • Just pay off your balance and receive your deposit back at any time
  • Click for for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 10.24% (V) Yes 7.5/10

+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.

  • Checking account required
  • Application response in 30 seconds
  • Know the score! Quarterly FICO score on your monthly billing statements
  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
6 minutes See issuer website Yes 9.5/10
  • 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
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 Minutes See issuer website Yes 9.0/10
  • Checking account required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine VISA card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a processing fee to open your account and access your available credit
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes See terms Yes 8.5/10

+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.

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.

  • Trust Brink's with your money. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • 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.
  • Add extra protection for shopping in stores by putting your photo on your card.
  • Earn Cash Back via the PayBack Rewards program from restaurants, shops and more.
  • $10 Purchase Cushion When You're A Little Short.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10
  • Get paid up to 2 days faster with Free Direct Deposit  - Get your paycheck or benefits checks in your card account and access your funds up to 2 days earlier than payday.
  • 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.
  • Use it everywhere Visa Debit Cards are accepted and pay anyone with PayAnyone Bill Pay. Shop online, rent a car, pay your rent and more.
  • Easy mobile account access and text alerts. Get your account balance, transaction details sent to your phone within seconds.
  • BBB Accredited A+ company. Excellent Customer Service.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

3.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10
  • 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*
  • Easy Online Bill Pay - 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.*
  • * Certain restrictions apply. See card site for details. Click on "Apply Now" to learn more about Midnight Prepaid Visa RushCard.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

3.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes N/A (Prepaid) No 8.0/10

+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.