2020‘s Best Reviews: Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Below are our experts' rankings of 2020's top credit card offers for those with poor credit, based on the terms, rewards, and ease of approval for each offer. Our reviews follow strict editorial guidelines. Visit the issuer's site using the Apply Here button to read more details and/or apply online:

All Cards | Unsecured | Prepaid | Secured | Bankruptcy

Advertiser Disclosure
  • 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.
★★★★★

4.8

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes 25.90%-29.99% Yes 8.5/10
  • 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.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 Minutes 24.9% Yes 8.0/10
  • 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
  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine Visa credit card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★★

4.5

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 Minutes See terms Yes 8.5/10
  • 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
  • Checking Account Required
  • 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
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • The First Access Visa Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.
  • Click here for official site, terms, and details.
★★★★

4.3

Overall Rating

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

Other Popular Offers

for People With Bad Credit

#1 In Bad Credit Loans

#1 In Auto Loans

  • Network of dealer partners has closed $1 billion in bad credit auto loans
  • Specializes in bad credit, no credit, bankruptcy and repossession
  • In business since 1999
  • Easy, 30-second pre-qualification form
  • Bad credit applicants must have $1500/month income to qualify
  • Click here for application, terms, and details.

Auto Loans

★★★★★

4.9

Overall Rating

Interest Rate In Business Since Application Length Reputation Score
3.99% - 29.99% 1999 3 minutes 9.5/10

#1 In Credit Repair

Advertiser Disclosure

BadCredit.org is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free for users, we receive advertising compensation from the financial products listed on this page. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear on the page (including, for example, the order in which they appear). BadCredit.org does not include listings for all financial products.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.

Advertiser Disclosure

BadCredit.org is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free for users, we receive advertising compensation from the financial products listed on this page. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear on the page (including, for example, the order in which they appear). BadCredit.org does not include listings for all financial products.

Our Editorial Review Policy

Our site is committed to publishing independent, accurate content guided by strict editorial guidelines. Before articles and reviews are published on our site, they undergo a thorough review process performed by a team of independent editors and subject-matter experts to ensure the content’s accuracy, timeliness, and impartiality. Our editorial team is separate and independent of our site’s advertisers, and the opinions they express on our site are their own. To read more about our team members and their editorial backgrounds, please visit our site’s About page.

Review Breakdown: Credit Cards for Bad Credit

If you have poor or damaged credit, it certainly doesn't mean credit card issuers don't want your business. In fact, many issuers create cards specifically for those with a bad credit history. Though these cards' interest rates and fees tend to be higher than others, they offer easier approval standards and are geared toward helping customers build credit through responsible use. Make your payments on time each month, and keep your balance low relative to the credit limit, for positive marks on your credit report. Below is a summary of these cards and their terms.

Here are 2020's best credit cards for bad credit:

Best Credit Cards Bad Credit
Rank Credit Card Interest Rate Reports Monthly Our Rating
1 Surge Mastercard® 25.90%-29.99% Yes ★★★★★4.8
2 Indigo® Platinum Mastercard® Credit Card 24.9% Yes ★★★★★4.6
3 PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® N/A (Prepaid) No ★★★★★4.5
4 Total Visa® Card See terms Yes ★★★★★4.5
5 NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card N/A (Prepaid) No ★★★★4.3
6 First Access Visa® Card See Terms Yes ★★★★4.3
7 Milestone® Mastercard® with Choice of Card Image at No Extra Charge 24.9% Yes ★★★★4.2

7 Things to Know About Getting a Credit Card with Bad Credit

Ashley Dull

Expert Guide By:

Ashley Dull, Finance Editor

Updated:

While having a less-than-perfect credit score can make being approved for a credit card difficult, it’s certainly not impossible — you just need to know a few facts and a little big-bank jargon.

Below we’ll take a look at seven considerations when applying for a credit card when you have bad credit.

1. Secured vs. Unsecured Credit Card Offers

Credit cards come in many forms, but the two biggest differentiators are secured and unsecured. As a subprime applicant, it’s important to understand the differences between the two, as your card type can have a substantial impact on your card’s fee structure.

Secured Cards

Secured cards are normally easier for people with low credit scores to be approved for. This is because secured cards require a security deposit, oftentimes equal to the amount of your credit limit.

Securing a deposit is the bank’s way of protecting itself in the event you default on payments. If you miss a payment, the bank can deduct it from your deposit.

While credit limits are usually low with secured credit cards, they’re great stepping stones to unsecured cards.

Unsecured Cards

An unsecured card is a line of credit that does not require a deposit for approval. Many unsecured cards come with rewards programs, and a general rule of thumb is the better your credit rating, the better the cards and rewards you’ll qualify for.

However, many unsecured cards for bad credit applicants still offer points and cash back rewards, and with responsible use, you can work your way toward better unsecured card offers.

2. Some Issuers Accept Low Credit Scores, Some Don’t

It’s important to know which offers you qualify for before you begin the application process. This is because your credit score can be negatively affected by applying for credit cards you’re not approved for.

Every time you apply for a line of credit — be it secured, unsecured, or even a personal loan — a hard inquiry is made to your credit report. An inquiry is the vetting process by a lender reviewing your credit history to determine approval.

While the impact is minor, it can affect your credit score for up to 12 months and remain on your credit report for two years.

The following issuers approve people with bad credit:

Credit One® Bank

Credit One Bank offers many unsecured cards for bad credit that provide cash back rewards. Depending on your credit score, you may not have to pay an annual fee. Additionally, Credit One cardholders enjoy free credit score tracking and automatic reviews for credit line increases.

The following issuers generally do not approve people with bad credit:

· American Express (Amex)
· Bank of America
· Chase
· Citi
· Discover

Whichever issuer you choose, be sure to select a card that reports your activity to the major credit reporting agencies — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax.

Making your payment on time and keeping your balances low relative to the credit limit will result in positive marks on your credit report.

3. Do You Have Bad Credit, Poor Credit, or No Credit?

The category you fall into is based on your credit score, which is a reflection of the information contained on your credit reports from each of the three credit bureaus.

Bad Credit: 350-549*
Poor Credit: 550-649*
No Credit: You have no reported history with the credit bureaus.

If your score is 650* or above, you’re more likely to qualify for a credit card for fair credit (650-699*) or a credit card for good credit (700+*).

Your credit score is determined by your payment history, amounts owed, length of credit history, types of credit, and new credit.

FICO Credit Score Factors

Each of the five components is weighted differently to calculate your score.

4. Choose from Only the Best Credit Card Reviews

Choosing the best credit card for your wallet can quickly become overwhelming given the number of options available. That’s why it’s important to refer to reliable and trusted sources for the best credit card reviews.

Understanding what makes a good card is an important first step — this entails a low APR (the worse your credit, the higher your APR, but always compare options to find the best available to you) and no annual or hidden fees.

Rewards cards are nice, but generally carry higher APRs, so if you’re not paying the balance in full each month, your interest charges can easily outpace the rewards you earn.

For those with poor credit, a card with automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities can be a valuable feature.

Our rankings are determined by a number of factors, such as issuer reputability, customer satisfaction, and terms of the card itself. The details of each card are listed above for easy readability to ensure you’re never victim to predatory lending.

5. “Pre-Approved” & “Pre-Qualified” Does Not Guarantee Approval

Despite the tricky language, receiving a pre-approved or pre-qualified offer for a card does not guarantee approval. What this actually means is that you’ve been identified by that issuer as having met a certain set of criteria for approval of that particular card, such as having a credit score above 650.

When applying for the card, you’ll be required to provide additional qualifying information, such as your income and debts. This may disqualify you for the same card for which you were “pre-approved” or “pre-qualified”.

The bottom line – just because you meet one of the criteria the issuer has set for a card does not necessarily mean you meet all of them, and approval is never guaranteed, which leads us to our next topic of discussion.

6. Beware of “Guaranteed Approval” & “Instant Approval & Use” Cards

You’ll see the term “guaranteed approval” in a card’s description, usually marked with an asterisk. This is because you’re guaranteed approval if you meet this, that, and the other issuer requirements.

These cards are notorious for having high interest rates, fees, and other unfavorable terms because these issuers know their customers’ options are limited. In other words, easy-to-get cards might be bad news.

There’s also no-credit-check and instant-approval cards, which are predominantly prepaid cards. Unfortunately, prepaid cards cannot help you build your credit score because they do not report to the credit bureaus.

A prepaid card is not a line of credit, but rather acts more like a debit card in that you fund the card yourself and use it wherever cards are accepted.

7. Build Credit with Responsible Credit Card Use

When you decide on the right card, you have to use it responsibly, or you won’t be doing your credit history any favors. A credit card is just one tool that can help you build your credit history.

Ultimately, only you can turn your credit problems around, and each person’s situation is different.

Starting Credit (No Credit Score)

When you have no credit history, the best thing you can do is establish your first trade line (line of credit) on your credit report. One of the easiest ways to do this is by getting your first credit card and following the golden rules of credit card ownership: always pay on time and keep your balance low.

Building Credit (Low Credit Score)

If you’ve made a few credit blunders in the past, know that time is your friend — late payments, charge-offs, and other negative marks can only remain on your credit report for up to seven years. Bankruptcies may last up to 10.

Chart Showing Time Items Take to Age Off a Credit Report

In the meantime, you can actively work to build your credit by getting a card for bad credit and proving yourself a good credit risk by applying for a manageable credit limit, avoiding missed payments to your creditors, and establishing a diverse mix of accounts.

Choose the Card that’s Right for You

Between your newfound knowledge and our expert reviews, you can choose the best credit card for bad credit and use it to prove you can responsibly manage a credit account. You’ll realize that being approved for the card, even with bad credit, is actually the easy part — it’s using it responsibly that can be difficult. Spend wisely!

*FICO scores/credit scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator of the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any credit card product.

Information in these articles is brought to you by BadCredit.org. Banks, issuers, and credit card companies mentioned in the articles do not endorse, guarantee, and are not responsible for, the contents of the articles.

About The Author

Ashley Dull Finance Editor Ashley Dull

Ashley Dull is a finance editor for BadCredit.org, where she works with a team of finance experts and journalists who develop in-depth industry profiles and advice articles read by more than 15 million Americans. Her years of experience reporting on consumer credit scores and reports positions Ashley to make smart recommendations on ways to improve one’s credit and avoid predatory lending. She often serves as an expert source on financial topics for national media outlets, including CNN Money, MarketWatch, Money Matters, ABC News, Kiplinger, and NBC News. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Information Warranty & Disclosure: Great efforts are made to maintain reliable data on all offers presented. However, users should check each provider’s official website for updated terms, details and conditions for each offer before applying or signing up. Our site maintains strict terms of service and may accept compensation for paid ads or sponsored placements in accordance with these terms. Users must be at least 18 years of age to be eligible for financial offers as per the terms presented on provider websites.

* FICO scores/credit scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any financial product.