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Guides

12 Best Instant-Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Ashley Dull 5/11/18

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.

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

+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.

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

+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.

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
4.6 /5.0 Stars
  • Checking account required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • 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
  • See official site, terms, and details »
Interest Rate See terms
Reports Monthly Yes
Application Length 9 Minutes
Reputation Score 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.

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

+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.

About Ashley Dull
Ashley is the Finance Vertical Manager at Digital Brands, Inc., where she oversees content published on BadCredit.org and CardRates.com. Ashley works closely with experts and industry leaders in every sector of finance to develop authoritative guides, news, and advice articles with regards to audience interest. Connect with Ashley on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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