A credit score of less than 599 is considered low, and you’ll hardly qualify for traditional credit cards.
While it’s hard to get a conventional credit card, having a low credit score doesn’t mean you won’t get one completely.
It’s possible to acquire a credit card regardless of your bad credit; nevertheless, it will not be those cards typical of awards and premier bonuses.
You’ll get a basic card that will work as a springboard to build credit as you move on to a moderately better card.
Typically, you’ll provide a security deposit to secure one of these cards, which is meant to protect the card issuer in case you default.
On the closure of the account, you are guaranteed a refund of your security deposit.
In any case, approval for the credit card isn’t always a guarantee. You’ll need to prove your income, show that you don’t have bankruptcies, and other adverse financial problems.
At the same time, you can opt for an unsecured card for bad credit, which typically doesn’t require a security deposit. Still, you’ll end up coughing up more in fees.
While some cards are generally easy to get, you should proceed with caution since they have limited credit limits and high-interest rates.
Best Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit
Secured credit cards require a deposit that works as security to ensure the card issuer has something to collect if you fail to pay your bills.
Typical security deposits range from $200, and this amount translates to your credit limit.
One benefit of secured credit cards is that they don’t need setup fees to open new accounts, although they charge annual fees.
Discover It® Secured Credit Card
The Discover It® secured credit card is the most viable option for building credit as you enjoy rewards and related perks.
Without a doubt, it’s great to have a card with no annual fee and even better to have one that enables you to update to a regular card.
As a secured credit card, Discover It® goes way beyond consumers’ expectations in several ways.
Unlike most competitors, this card lets you know when you can upgrade to a regular card and receive your deposit.
Discover It® will start reviewing your eligibility to upgrade to a secured card starting form 8 months. It also features rewards and perks not offered by conventional secured cards.
Despite requiring a security deposit of at least $200, this card lets you get your refund once you upgrade. Alternatively, you can get the money when you close the account as long as it’s in good standing.
Discover It® Stats
- You’ll be eligible to upgrade to a regular credit card after eight months of complimentary usage.
- Payments are reported to the bureaus, which assists you to establish good credit if you use it wisely.
- Discover It® doesn’t have penalties on the first late payments
- You can track your credit score with the Discover It® platform.
- If your information is accessed on the dark web, you’ll get free SSN alerts.
- The card features security layers found in the portal or app that let you “freeze” your card if you notice purchases you don’t recognize
- Opening deposit of $200-$2,500, which determines your credit limit
- Interest rate: 25.25%
- Access to free FICO score from TransUnion
- Cashback rewards: This perk is where Discover It® is more distinctive than most multiple other cards. Although these rewards vary between customers, you can earn 2% cashback at a fuel station and restaurants, and 1% on any additional purchase.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card tops the secured credit cards that you can obtain without having a bank account or going through a credit check.
Unlike traditional credit cards, a secured card requires a consumer to place a deposit that works as a security and credit limit.
In case the cardholder defaults, this amount will protect the card issuer from loss.
If you’re looking for a secured card, yet you’re struggling to establish your credit because you lack a bank account, OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card can be an ideal option.
Besides being easy to get, this card divulges account activity to all the three credit bureaus.
It’s one of the scarce cards that do not compel customers to open a bank account. Instead, consumers can make monthly payments using money orders, debit cards, cheques, or wire transfer.
Of course, there are some associated downsides that you should take into consideration prior to applying.
There is an annual $35 fee, with no option to waive. Besides, you won’t have an option to upgrade to a better card even if you use it responsibly.
Besides foreign transaction fees of 3%, you’ll be required to pay a $25 fee to increase your credit limit. At the same time, late fees can go as high as $38, which can pile up if you don’t take care.
Since the card has no option to upgrade to a better card, the only option to get your security deposit back is to effect the closure of your account.
While several users have reported that OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card has helped them build their credit, experts advise that it’s worth applying for a second chance checking account if you can qualify to open a bank account. Such an account will help you upgrade to a better card and save you hundreds of dollars, which you would have incurred in fees.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Stats
- No credit check, which makes it ideal for people with damaged credit reports
- Credit limit: $200 – $3000
- An FDIC-insured deposit: Very few companies have this security perk, which makes it an incredibly good protection
- APR: 17.39%
- Annual fee: $35
- No need for a bank account to acquire this card
- OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card reports account activity to all the three bureaus
First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card®
First progress secured credit cards are ideal for those looking to improve their credit, and it offers a broad range of options from which consumers can choose.
Aside from the Platinum Select Mastercard®, First Progress offers Platinum Elite and Platinum Prestige Mastercard® – fairly decent options but a bit more expensive.
The cards require a security deposit ranging from $200 to $2000, which works both as security and your credit limit.
Unlike several secured cards, First Progress cards have annual fees, no rewards, and an unclear path to get a better card.
The good news is that you can apply to acquire this card without dropping your credit score. Also, the card issuer reports activity to the three credit information centers.
Besides, they include reasonably competitive interest rates perfect for people with bad credit.
One notable thing, however, is that the annual charges show a disparity from the interest rates.
The higher you pay in annual fees, the less you’ll accrue in interests. The Platinum Elite Mastercard®, for instance, charges a yearly fee of $29 and an ongoing variable APR of 19.99%. In comparison, the Prestige Mastercard® has a 9.99% irregular APR couples with an annual $49 fee.
For the first month, the annual fee will gobble up your credit limit. If you, for instance, place a deposit of $200 and pay a yearly fee of $29, your credit limit for will be $171.
To apply, you must have an active Synovus Bank account. Aside from placing your security deposit here, this bank account will help you avoid additional charges you might accrue with external vendors.
If this requirement is a burden to you, you might probably consider OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card.
Thankfully, applying won’t result in a hard inquiry; hence your credit score will remain constant. If you have a low credit score, this provision will work to your leverage; therefore, you shouldn’t have any cause for worry.
No doubt, the First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card® has its associated downsides. If you reside in Iowa, New York, Arkansas, or Wisconsin, you won’t apply.
First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card® Stats
- APR: 13.99%, and it varies according to the prime rate
- Annual fee: $39
- No credit check: you can apply without a minimum credit score requirement
- No credit history requirement
Armed forces bank credit builder secured card
This credit card has a variable credit limit.
Well, you don’t have to be in the army to have this card – but it’s a probable good option for consumers with relatively limited options.
Unlike several cards, the Armed Forces Bank Credit Builder Secured Card offers flexible credit limits; hence it lives up to its “credit builder” name.
Besides, it reports account activity to the three major credit bureaus, consequently helping you document good financial habits that would undoubtedly work to your leverage.
Although your credit limit is adjustable, the minimum deposit is incredibly high. In this case, you’ll need at least $300 to place as a deposit, which is 50% higher than other cards’ minimum threshold.
The minimum deposit for the Discover It®, for instance, is $200, and the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® can give you a credit limit of $200 for a $49 deposit.
Thankfully, the Armed Forces secured card has the provision to increase your credit limit in proportions of $50, which can go as high as $3,000.
Besides, your deposit earns interest of 0.05%, which can be very little, but better than having your money staying idle in the account.
Not all secured credit cards have a clear pathway to a standard credit card, but the Armed Forces card guarantees an upgrade to maintain good performance. This means that a history of good usage will enable you to upgrade to the bank’s unsecured version with a credit limit going up to $10,000 with no annual fee.
Ideally, an upgradable path is an incredible feature with a secured credit card because you’ll receive a refund of the security deposit, and you won’t necessarily have to close the account to open a new one.
Another perk of the Armed Forces Bank credit card is that it allows multiple account owners. Keeping in mind that most card issuers don’t allow joint account holders, this card might be a good option if this provision is necessary.
This card, however, charges significant fees. Besides the yearly $35 fee, you’ll also have to pay a $4.50 quarter charge – which can pile up expenses up to $53 annually to have this card.
Unless you enroll for e-statements, there’s no other way to avoid this $4.50 quarter fee.
Armed Forces Bank Credit Builder Secured Card Stats
- Annual fee: $35
- Quarter fee: $4.5 – which you can avoid by enrolling e-statements
- Joint account ownership
- 0.05% interest on your deposit
- Minimum deposit: $300
- It reports account activity to credit bureaus
- A clear pathway to upgrade to a better card
Best unsecured cards
An unsecured credit card requires no security deposit.
Typically, card issuers have stricter approval measures that secured cards.
However, some cards are much easier to obtain than others.
Total Visa® Card
The card issuer gives you an initial $300 credit threshold, subject to review after a year.
You require an active checking account. Here all the fees and automated payments will be deducted.
At a glance, the card issuer charges a one-time $89 setup fee and a 34.99% APR which would only be charged if you default for 21 days.
The annual fee for this card starts at $75 for the first year then reduces to $48. At the same time, the card issuer has fee-free cash advances, which is either 3% of the amount or $10 – whichever is higher.
You can qualify for the Indigo® MasterCard without dropping your credit score since the card issuer performs a soft inquiry that won’t affect your report.
The unique element about Indigo® is that members have roadside assistance, which is an advantage you don’t find with most cards.
During the first year, you won’t be charged any cash advance fee. After the completion of the first year, the cash advance fee rises to $5 or 5% of the amount you’ve borrowed, depending on which fee is higher.
Aside from a $75 annual fee that increases to $99 after the first year, Indigo® charges 23.95% APR – that’s pretty much within the average range associated with most cards.
Another reasonably decent unsecured card with friendly interest rates and a fair 23.9% APR is Milestone®.
In most cases, you won’t have to pay a setup fee, but if your credit score is low, you’ll incur $50.
Besides the opening fee, Milestone® charges $75 annually, which rises to $99 after the first year and a $0 cash advance fee for the first year that rises to $5 or 5% of the advance amount.
The meaning of “Guaranteed Credit.”
Unsurprisingly, some consumers think that “Guaranteed” is a brand that issues credit cards.
It can be a little confusing term, but it’s a suitable method for companies to promote their cards.
Essentially, the term “Guaranteed Credit” means your chances of qualifying are high.
It’s essential to understand that while these cards have minimum requirements like having a checking account, they undoubtedly throw some people off the hook.
Unsecured credit cards normally require fewer requirements than secured cards. Still, you’ll have to pay a deposit that is at least the minimum amount to get the cards.
How to know you need a credit card in case of bad credit
When applying for a standard credit card, you’re inherently requesting the card issuer to advance you the funds based on your word for this reason that you’ll pay them. Aside from this promise, the card issuer has no other guarantee that you’ll pay them back.
If your credit is ls less-than-stellar, the issuer considers you a risk and rejects your application.
Credit cards for bad credit are, however, designed for people with bad credit, which overall reduces the risk with card issuers.
For this reason, the application procedure for credit cards meant for bad credit is usually less rigorous compared to standard cards.
Here’s how to know you need one:
You have inadequate or hardly any credit history
“Poor Credit” is often associated with bad financial habits like missed payments or severe cases like bankruptcies and unpaid collections.
If you have a credit history that’s so minimal that you cannot apply for a standard credit card, you’ll have a higher success rate if you use the ones for bad credit.
This doesn’t mean you have bad financial habits, but it’s because the card issuer considers you a risky borrower.
You have a credit score below 630
On a metric of 300-850, a credit score of less than 630 is considered poor credit.
This is the top reason it’s a good idea to check your credit score often to be sure you get rid of the elements causing a tremendous drop in your score.
If your score goes below this threshold, you’ll probably need such credit-building tools to get right on track.
Causes of bad credit
Several factors contribute to your credit score.
Some activities, like applying for a new credit card, can eat out some points through a hard inquiry. At the same time, severe cases like bankruptcies can do significant damages.
Below are major triggers of bad credit, and why you need to avoid them.
The question of paying your bills on time accounts for over a third of your credit report.
Paying bills a few days late is understandable, but going way beyond 30 days will undoubtedly show up on your credit report.
While a single less payment can make a massive impact dropping your score, the effect reduces with time. Still, you should avoid repeatedly missed payments as it will not work in your favor.
If you haven’t utilized credit for quite some time, it can show up on your account as a low-ranking score.
One common mistake most consumers make is closing old accounts will boost their score, but that is untrue.
Even if you have a credit card staying in your physical wallet 24 hours a day, it will still be counted as a valuable scoring parameter.
Unless the account has an annual fee that seems like a burden, you should keep it open.
New credit applications
Every application translates to an inquiry that might take out some points from your overall credit score.
If you apply for several cards simultaneously, card issuers might think you’re desperate for cash and have poor credit habits.
Unless you’re confident that you have a high success rate, it is not good to apply to several card issuers.
The amounts you owe matters to credit scoring models when calculating your average.
To put this into perspective, consider a consumer who has accumulated $450 in debts, yet they have a credit limit of $500. In other words, they have utilized 90% of their credit, which paints the picture of someone trying to push to the limits using all means.
Experts advise consumers to keep their utilization below 33%.
Choosing a credit card for bad credit
Credit cards designed for low-credit consumers typically have low credit limits and incredibly high interest rates.
Given that the primary purpose of these cards is to build credit, the considerations should be how favorable the terms will be on you.
Let’s take a look.
Credit bureau reporting
A credit card that reports account activity will help the bureaus assemble reports of fair account usage, that will, in turn, work to your favor.
Keep in mind, however, that prepaid cards do not disclose information to any of the bureaus since they do not entail loaning money.
You should, therefore, consider a card that reports all activity.
Cards for bad credit are typical of high fees and expensive interest rates.
While unsecured cards claim that you can acquire them without a deposit, they usually hit you with a mammoth of charges that can pile up in the tune of hundreds of dollars.
At the same time, some cards can come with hidden charges meant to eat out your account balance, neither with your consent nor knowledge.
Good credit cards have fair annual fees, refundable deposit, and zero hidden charges.
Things like free access to a credit score, mobile app, debt-payment calculators, and education programs are often less considered.
For someone trying to take hold of their financial life, such resources come in handy and might be the make-or-break factor.
For this reason, it’s crucial to check whether the card issuer offers such resources to help you progress without much hassle.
Once you improve your credit, having a card that has friendlier terms will be good progress.
Look for a card issuer with a clear path to upgrade to a card with friendly terms, no fees, and rewards.
The application process
Examine your credit report
The most dreadful mistake most consumers make is choosing cards designed for people with excellent credit.
Aside from the fact that a hard inquiry will add to your report, applying for a card whose minimum score threshold is 580 will be a rejection.
Check your credit score, and know where you stand and what you deserve so that you don’t send multiple applications that will propagate the damage.
Find an ideal card
The market is full of card issuers offering “friendly” terms to people with bad credit.
Without a doubt, you cannot entirely rule out the fact that some issuers are manipulative.
Run through the fine print prior to signing the application forms, and know what to expect from the card issuer.
Hitting the “apply now” tab usually redirects you to a page where you input your name, contact information, and physical address.
Besides, the application asks about your income, financial details, and requires you to accept the company’s terms and conditions.
Fund your deposit
Some secured credit card issuers won’t open your account till you secure a deposit.
Besides acting as security to your loan issuer, the security deposit that ranges from $200 to $2,000 determines your credit limit.
If you lack a bank account, you can pay for the deposit through a direct transfer, money order, or wire transfer.
Once you pay for your deposit, you’ll receive the card, which you should use to come up with a good credit history.
Credit cards to avoid
Several credit cards designed for people with bad credit have expensive interest rates and high annual fees.
Some might not stand in need of a security deposit. However, they saddle someone with a mammoth of fees. From application fees, processing, and activation fees, monthly membership, and annual fees, these expenses can end up piling in the long term.
Unlike a security deposit where you’re sure to get your money back, the money you pay in charges will be gone for good.
Sift through each card for eye-popping charges, and stay away from such.
If your score goes above 630, but you have a few negative items on your report, you’ll likely qualify for a conventional card.
Having a score below this threshold means you might have to apply for a Guaranteed approval credit card for bad credit.
Overall, guaranteed approval cards offer an excellent way to build a more comprehensive history and take hold of your financial life.