3 Reloadable Credit Cards for Bad Credit

3 Reloadable Credit Cards for Bad Credit
GUIDE
Matt Walker
By: Matt Walker
Posted: December 19, 2019
Advertiser Disclosure

Researching reloadable credit cards for bad credit can be confusing. Each card has specific conditions and so many complicated terms, and, if you choose the wrong card, you could get stuck paying hidden fees, high APRs, and service charges.

We’ve compiled our list of the best reloadable secured and prepaid cards for bad credit for easy spending. These cards will give you the buying power of a traditional credit card while helping you stick to your budget because you can only spend what you load onto the card.

And, if you play your cards right, you’ll spend that money on yourself — and not on hidden fees.

Prepaid | Secured | FAQs

Reloadable Prepaid Cards for Bad Credit

Reloadable prepaid cards are similar to the debit cards a bank issues to account holders. You deposit — or “load” — money into an account that links to your card. Since these cards work on a credit card network (typically Visa or Mastercard), you can use them at any location that accepts the network featured on your card.

But the logo doesn’t represent the bank that issues these credit cards. Since you’re using only the money loaded onto the card — and not a line of credit — you won’t help your credit score with responsible use. Still, these cards allow you to pay bills, make online purchases, and do many of the things you couldn’t do without a traditional credit card.

  • 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.
★★★★

3.5

Overall Rating

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

The Netspend® Visa® Prepaid Card also features multiple account tiers, with three options that offer varying levels of transaction fees. The high-end plan offers unlimited transactions and all plans unlock free direct deposit.

If you don’t want to set up direct deposit, you can also load money onto your card through one of the thousands of Netspend Reload Network locations nationwide. For a fee, these locations can collect your money and instantly load it onto your card for immediate use.

Reloadable Secured Cards for Bad Credit

Secured credit cards differ from reloadable prepaid cards in several ways. For one, a secured card is a credit card, and, with responsible use, can help improve your credit score.

These cards require a refundable security deposit to open your account. Typically, the amount of your deposit will equal your credit limit. You can then make credit-based purchases using your card and make monthly payments that make your credit line available to you again.

Here are our top choices in the category:

  • 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 an expedited processing option (for a fee) that allows you to get your card faster if you’re in a hurry and need access to a credit card. You can use the card anywhere that accepts Mastercard.

Credit lines on this card range between $200 and $2,000, based on the amount of your deposit. A small annual fee also applies as soon as you activate your card.

  • 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

You don’t need a minimum credit score for approval with the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. The issuer accepts all applicants and reports your payment history to help you improve your credit score.

This card charges a low flat-rate APR, which can be helpful if you tend to carry a balance from month to month. An annual fee applies and is deducted from your deposit upon activation.

What is the Best Reloadable Credit Card?

This depends mostly on your needs and spending habits. Since a prepaid reloadable card isn’t technically a line of credit — it only allows you to spend the money you deposit into your account — it can help you stick to a budget while still providing the spending power of a credit card network.

FICO Score Factors

Your payment history is the most important component of a credit score.

But, that also means your responsible behavior won’t work to improve your credit score. Because you aren’t technically paying anyone but yourself back, there is no payment history to report to the credit bureaus.

A secured credit card, on the other hand, will help boost your credit score if you make on-time payments and never spend more than you can afford to pay back. These cards require a refundable security deposit that typically matches your credit limit.

So, for example, a $500 security deposit will give you a $500 credit limit. You’ll have to pay back whatever you charge each month to regain access to that credit. You’ll receive your deposit back when you close your account, as long as it’s in good standing and has no outstanding balance owed to the credit card issuer.

If your goal is to rebuild your credit, a secured card is the best option. If you’re simply looking for a card that will allow you to make online purchases, pay bills over the phone, or rent a car or a hotel room, then a reloadable prepaid card may be your best bet.

Either way, you may have to pay a host of fees (monthly fees for prepaid cards and annual fees and interest for secured cards). So be certain that you know what you’re facing before you activate your card.

How Do Reloadable Credit Cards Work?

A reloadable card works very much like the debit cards banks issue to account holders. When you sign up for a prepaid card, the issuer creates an account for you to deposit your money in.

This money becomes the balance on your prepaid card. The card issuer deducts the money from your account to cover the transaction whenever you make a purchase.

There are typically multiple ways to load more money onto your card. You can receive direct deposits for your employer or benefits checks, deposit a check using the bank’s mobile application, or add money to your account at a physical location.

These locations typically charge a fee for collecting your money and sending it to the card issuer, but it is a fast process, thanks to Automated Clearing House (ACH) funding. The location collects the money, adds it to your account, and you can spend it using your card right away.

And since these cards link directly to your deposit account, they’ll only let you spend the money you have available in the account. There’s no credit line associated with the account. Since you aren’t borrowing money from anyone, you also can’t build a credit history using one of these cards.

But since the cards work on a major credit card network, typically Visa or Mastercard, you’ll receive the benefit of using your card at any location that accepts the network.

Do Reloadable Credit Cards Build Credit?

There are two main types of reloadable credit cards. One can help rebuild your credit and the other cannot.

A reloadable prepaid card works like a debit card. Since you aren’t borrowing money and can only spend the money you’ve deposited in your account, you technically don’t have revolving credit.

That means these cards won’t build your credit history or affect your credit score at all. A secured credit card, on the other hand, does give you access to credit and will impact your credit score.

Chart showing the differences between secured and prepaid cards

With a secured credit card, you must pay a refundable security deposit to open your account. The amount of your deposit typically equals the credit limit on your card. If the issuer allows a deposit that is less than the credit limit extended to you, this is known as a partially or semi-secured credit card.

Once you activate your card, you can use it as you would any other credit card. Just note that you’ll have to make at least a minimum payment for any charges you make each month. The issuer does not consider your security deposit as payment and will hold those funds until you close your account. Whereas, with the prepaid option, you can reload the funds when it’s convenient to you.

The issuer will report your payments to the three credit reporting bureaus. That means repeated on-time payments can help improve your credit score. Equally, a single late payment can sink your score by as many as 100 points.

As long as you have no outstanding debts and your account is in good standing, you’ll receive a check for your entire deposit amount once you cancel your card. If you have a card that allows for automatic account upgrades, such as the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, you’ll get your deposit back when Capital One upgrades your card to an unsecured offering.

Stick to a Budget and Gain Access to a Reliable Network

You work hard for your money and deserve to spend it however you choose. But if your credit history has you looking for reloadable prepaid or secured credit cards, you may find yourself paying a lot more in fees than you want to.

But, with the cards featured on our list of the best reloadable credit cards for bad credit, you can save your money and still have access to a credit card network that lets you make the purchases you need without paying dearly for the privilege.

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