10 Low-Credit-Score Credit Cards

10 Low-Credit-Score Credit Cards
GUIDE
Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: January 27, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

As the U.S. slowly transforms into a cashless society, consumers may find it increasingly difficult to survive without a credit card. If your credit score keeps you from joining the millions of Americans who already carry plastic in their wallets, you may want to consider one of our favorite low-credit-score credit cards.

Whether you sign up for a secured or unsecured card, you can use your new line of credit to make purchases, pay bills, and improve your credit standing with responsible use.

Not only will these cards help you succeed in the digital payment ecosystem, but they could also save you money when you no longer have to purchase money orders or pay for certified checks to make important payments.

Unsecured | Secured | Retail
How to Apply | FAQs & Methodology

Best Unsecured Cards for Low Credit Scores

An unsecured credit card means you won’t need collateral or a security deposit to open your account. You may find these cards a little harder to obtain, but all of the options below specialize in providing credit to consumers who may struggle to get approved for a card elsewhere.

  • 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 program 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

The Total Visa® Card offers near-instant credit decisions following a brief online application process. All approved applicants receive an initial $300 credit limit that can increase with responsible use and on-time payments.

  • Get the security and convenience of a full-feature, unsecured Visa® Credit Card – accepted at millions of merchant and ATM locations nationwide and online
  • Reporting monthly to all three major credit reporting agencies
  • Perfect credit not required for approval; we may approve you when others won’t
  • Easy and secure online application
  • If approved, pay a Program Fee and you can access the $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.7

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
10 Minutes See Terms Yes 8.0/10

The First Access Solid Black VISA Credit Card reports your payment history to the three major credit reporting bureaus, which can give your credit score a boost if you keep your account in good standing. The issuer claims to approve applicants that other issuers deny, and every new cardholder receives an initial $300 credit limit.

  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From TransUnion* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • 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 See website for Details* Yes 8.5/10

The Surge Mastercard® has lower fees and charges than most of the cards on this list. The card also provides potentially higher initial credit lines, with new cardholders receiving $500 to $750 limits.

  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • 24/7 access to your account information, even on mobile
  • Card designs to fit your personality at no extra charge
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.2

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 24.9% Yes 9.0/10

Milestone® offers multiple credit card options for consumers who have bad credit. You can submit a prequalifying form that can potentially match you with a card in the issuer’s portfolio. The Milestone® Mastercard® ties for the lowest APR on the list and offers a sliding-scale annual fee structure based on your credit history.

  • 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.
★★★★

4.2

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 Minutes 24.9% Yes 8.0/10

Depending on your credit history, you could pay no annual fee for the Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card. That’s because the card offers three tiers of service, with the annual fee ranging between $0 and $99 based on your tier.

The card’s lower-than-average APR also makes it a winner if you’re looking for a product that can affordably help you rebuild your credit.

  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Track your progress with free online access to your Experian credit score, terms apply
  • Looking to rebuild credit? We report to the major credit bureaus monthly
  • Accounts are automatically reviewed for credit line increase opportunities
  • Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
  • Stay in-the-know with customizable account alerts via email and text
  • Receive 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases, terms apply
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 19.49% - 25.49% Variable Yes 9.0/10

The Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® is one of only a few subprime credit cards with cash back rewards, offering 1% cash back on eligible purchases. You’ll also receive free online access to your Experian credit score to help track your credit-building (or rebuilding) progress.

Best Secured Cards for Low Credit Scores

Secured credit cards require a refundable security deposit to open your account. The amount of your deposit typically equals your new card’s credit limit.

The card’s issuer will refund your deposit when you close your account, as long as you have no outstanding balance owed to the issuer.

  • 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.
  • 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

The Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card offers credit lines of between $200 and $5,000, based on the amount of your security deposit. The card’s issuer charges no processing or application fees, keeps its APR below 10%, and has very flexible acceptance standards for new cardholders.

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.
  • Apply in just a few moments with no negative impact to your credit score; no credit inquiry will be recorded in your credit bureau file
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 19.99% (V) Yes 7.5/10

The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card offers credit limits of between $200 and $2,000, based on your security deposit. The card sports a higher-than-average interest rate, but its lower fees offset that cost — especially if you don’t carry your balance over month to month.

  • Invest your tax refund to improve your credit by making the refundable deposit for your new secured card today
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 -- $2,000 Submitted with Application
  • Nationwide Program though not yet available in NY, IA, AR, or WI *See Card Terms.
  • Apply in just a few moments with no negative impact to your credit score; no credit inquiry will be recorded in your credit bureau file
  • Click for for official site, terms, and details.
★★★

3.0

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 9.99% (V) Yes 7.5/10

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has a lower interest rate than its Platinum Elite sibling, but charges a slightly higher annual fee. If you carry a balance each month, you may find this card more affordable than the alternatives on the list.

Best Retail Card for Low Credit Scores

The Fingerhut Credit Account is a revolving credit line that allows you to make purchases from Fingerhut and its online retail partners. The account is one of the easiest to obtain on this list, and your on-time payment history will work to improve your credit score.

  • 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

Even if you aren’t approved for this account, Fingerhut can likely approve you for its Fresh Start Installment Loan that provides similar credit-building opportunities.

How to Apply for a Credit Card with a Low Credit Score

Most credit cards — regardless of your credit score — provide a similar application process. You can typically complete an online application that provides a credit decision within minutes.

The key to getting approved is to only apply for cards that fall within your credit score range. For example, if you have “very poor” credit (typically defined as a credit score of between 300 and 579), you don’t want to apply for a card that only accepts applicants with excellent credit (800 to 850).

You’ll almost certainly receive a denial, as well as a potentially damaging hard inquiry on your credit report.

FICO® Score Range

Once you’ve found your credit rating sweet spot, you can search for cards that offer a prequalifying application. These forms allow the card issuer to see a small portion of your credit report (without the hard inquiry) that gives them an idea of whether you’ll qualify for the card.

Prequalifying doesn’t guarantee you’ll get the card once you officially apply, but there’s a strong chance you’ll be approved if you pass the prequalifying stage. These forms typically ask for the standard identifying information — your name, address, Social Security number, and household income.

Once you submit the form, the issuing bank quickly processes your application (which typically takes a matter of seconds) and returns with a decision. In some cases, the bank may require more information, which can prolong the application process.

If you’re declined for credit, the card issuer must send you a letter in the mail explaining its decision and listing its reasons why it could not grant your request for credit.

There isn’t a minimum credit score required for credit approval. Every card issuer sets different standards, and some accept applicants who have very low scores. You may also find specialized credit cards that meet your needs if you’re a first-time credit user or a student.

If your credit score disqualifies you from most cards, you can consider a secured credit card that requires a refundable security deposit for approval. The amount of your security deposit typically equals your new card’s credit limit.

With responsible use, you can potentially graduate to an unsecured card after establishing a pattern of on-time payments.

What is the Easiest Credit Card to Get with Poor Credit?

If you have poor credit, the easiest card to qualify for is a secured credit card. These cards often don’t even require credit checks since they require a security deposit to use as collateral for your new credit line.

Fingerhut Credit Account

One of the easiest cards to be approved for is the Fingerhut Credit Account.

But not everyone has a stack of cash laying around to tie up in a security deposit. If you’re not in a situation to make that sort of investment, you may find the Fingerhut Credit Account is the most likely to approve your application. Still, this comes with some strings attached.

This credit account doesn’t act like a traditional credit card. It’s a closed-loop card that you can only use to purchase name-brand merchandise at discount prices through Fingerhut and its associated partners.

Still, Fingerhut reports your payment history to the three major credit reporting bureaus. You can improve your credit score with responsible use and eventually upgrade to an open-loop credit card.

As far as the traditional, unsecured credit cards, there’s no way to tell which is the easiest to get. Each issuing bank has its own proprietary methods for approving or denying applications — none of which advertise their minimum approval criteria.

Many cards, such as the First Access Solid Black VISA, state that it accepts many applications that other credit card issuers deny. If you can find a prequalifying form, you can get a better idea of your approval chances without hindering your credit file with multiple inquiries.

Which Credit Cards Provide Instant Approval?

Just about every credit card issuer provides a decision within seconds of submitting your online application. In some cases, the bank may require additional information that you’ll need to submit before receiving an official ruling.

No card, though, provides guaranteed approval.

Each card issuer has different things it looks for in an applicant, but every bank has certain requirements from an applicant. This includes, but isn’t limited to:

  • Proof of residency — You must have a permanent address where the card issuer can contact you.
  • Proof of income — A bank wants to know that you can repay your debt. This can include income from employment, government benefits, a structured settlement, an annuity, child support, or pension income. Credit card applications allow you to declare your total household income if you have access to shared money, not just your individual income.
  • You must be 21 or older — This came into effect after the Credit CARD Act of 2009, though some card issuers will accept applications from someone who is 18 or older and has parental permission.
  • Social Security number — This is a way for the bank to pull your credit history.

This information can help banks identify you, and make certain that someone else isn’t filling out an application for credit in your name. Some cards may also require an active checking or savings account from which you can submit electronic payments.

What Should You Look for in a Credit Card for Bad Credit?

As with most things you shop for, a good product will give you maximum benefits at minimum cost.

Every credit card issuer takes a risk when they extend credit to someone with a history of late payments or defaults. To offset those risks, banks typically grant low initial credit limits and charge high fees to open a card.

Some cards designed for consumers with bad credit will only allow an initial credit limit of $200 — and, once you’re approved and activate your card, the issuer will instantly deduct a program fee and an annual fee from your available balance. That can leave you with almost no credit until you pay off those fees.

But the best cards for low credit scores keep the fees low. Several of the options listed above charge only a program fee or an annual fee when opening your card.

While this will still limit your initial available credit, it will lower your overall cost of credit, and make the card more affordable to add to your wallet.

Maintaining a low annual fee is also important if you have a very low credit score. In a best-case scenario, you can use your first year with the card to improve your credit score enough to graduate to a more affordable card and close the more expensive card that you currently have.

But if you have a very low score and need more than one year to upgrade, you should consider a card that won’t hit you for a massive annual fee when you sign up and again when you hit the one-year mark.

Your annual percentage rate (APR) is also important if you carry a balance from month to month. This percentage is what the bank will charge you for any balance that isn’t paid within your credit card’s grace period.

Example Credit Card Interest Fees

If you don’t pay your charges off right away, interest can quickly make your credit-building journey very expensive. Maintaining a low APR can reduce those costs and give you more of your available credit limit.

Ranking Methodology

Our rankings of the best low-credit-score credit cards are based on several factors, including payment reporting to the credit bureaus that help improve credit scores with responsible borrowing, rewards offered (if applicable), APRs and annual fees, the likelihood of approval for poor-credit applicants, and overall customer satisfaction. Our editorial integrity process ensures that content is not compromised by advertiser influence.