Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Last update: Apr 15, 2014

best-credit-cards-for-bad-credit While your options are unfortunately limited when you have damaged or bad credit, you need to start from somewhere in rebuilding your credit. Our Editor's Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit is the perfect place to do so because the products listed below are all tailored to building credit in an efficient, inexpensive manner.

We consider them to be the best bad credit credit cards because they have some of the lowest membership and one-time fees and they all report monthly to the major credit bureaus. While there are occasionally some unsecured options on this page, we always recommend getting the best secured credit card if you're willing to place a refundable security deposit. Read more about our Editor's Picks for the Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit.

Secured Card Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit for Secured Card Security Deposit / Low Fees
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

capital one secured credit card Apply Now

  • Min Deposit: 49, 99, or 200
  • Annual Fee: $29
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • One-time Setup Fees: None
  • Regular APR: 22.9% (V)
  • Editor's Notes: While the Capital One Secured MasterCard charges a higher annual fee than certain other cards in its class, the fact that it can be a partially-securemore
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Harley-Davidson® Secured Credit Card

harley davidson secured credit card Apply Now

  • Min Deposit: $300
  • Annual Fee: None
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • One-time Setup Fees: None
  • Regular APR: 22.99% (V)
  • Editor's Notes: Don’t let the branding fool you, the Harley Davidson Secured Credit Card is one of the best secured cards on the market given that it doesn’t charge amore
  • Learn More »
Unsecured Card Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit for Unsecured Card No Security Deposit / High Fees
Credit One Bank® Credit Card with Gas Rewards

credit one credit card Apply Now

  • Annual Fee: $35 - $99
  • Monthly Fee: None
  • One-time Setup Fees: None
  • Regular APR: 17.9% - 23.9% (V)
  • Learn More »
About our Editor's Picks

Our editors' recommendations for the Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit are a reflection of their own subjective opinions, and they should not be relied upon as the sole basis for choosing your credit card. Certain offers originate from paying advertisers, and this will be noted on a card’s details page, when applicable. We work hard to present you with the most accurate credit card information, however, the credit card terms and conditions do not originate from us and thus we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information. Before applying for a credit card we recommend that you verify the credit card terms and conditions on the credit card company's web site. Please let us know if you find any differences.

Ask our Experts
EXPERT’S ANSWERS

How do I know if I have bad credit?

By: Odysseas Papadimitriou There are a few easy ways to check your credit standing. First, you can pay to check your three major credit scores (a score between 300-619 is considered bad). Alternatively, you can use a free credit estimator that will give you an accurate approximation of your credit standing. Finally, if you are late on any kind of bill, your credit usage consistently approaches your limit, you have declared bankruptcy in the last three years and/or you have been more than 60 days late on a bill in the last nine years, you most likely have bad credit and should consider getting one of the best credit cards for bad credit.

How do I build credit?

By: John Kiernan Credit building is all about diluting negative information with positive information. Credit cards are great for this purpose because information about their use is reported to the major credit bureaus on a monthly basis. Therefore, by using a credit card responsibly, you are increasingly surrounding past mistakes with information about responsible use, thereby devaluing its importance. Interestingly, you don't even need to make purchases in order to build credit. It's considered responsible use to simply maintain a card at zero balance and in good standing. This is why when our editors look for the best credit cards for bad credit, they focus on identifying the credit card offers that report to all three credit bureaus and have the lowest fees rather than those with the lowest interest rates.

What's the difference between a secured credit card and an unsecured credit card?

By: Ross Garner Secured credit cards require you to place a refundable security deposit in opening them, but have lower fee structures than unsecured credit cards as a result. They are generally regarded as the best bad credit credit cards because they are fairly cheap and they make it impossible to spend beyond your means.an important feature for people who have made mistakes using credit in the past. Unsecured credit cards do not require security deposits and have high fees but provide revolving lines of credit, making them the best credit cards for people with bad credit who need access to credit because of an emergency.
COMMUNITY DISCUSSION

Help others find the best credit card by sharing what your deciding factor was when choosing your card (customer service, interest rate, fees, convenience, rewards, etc.)

 
March 21, 2014
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By: Jason Scanlon
Capital One's card is excellent for people with bad credit. They give you a brand name that you're not ashamed to use, and have low payment options. You can even choose your due date if you need to, which can be very handy as sometimes due dates fall at some of the worst times of the month for me. They work with you if you have to make payment arrangements, and the annual fee isn't gouging like some cards. Overall, this is a fine card to have if you're trying to rebuild your credit.
March 21, 2014
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By: Mercedes Burt
I have to say that I love the Credit One Bank Card. I've been very wary of credit cards because I wasn't careful enough as a young adult. This card is great though. You get pre- approved without any effect on your credit score and there are no minimum deposits. i also love the gas rewards aspect of it. Everyone knows that gas is more expensive than ever these days. It is really nice to be able to use this card to earn points that'll make it much cheaper to fill up my car!
February 28, 2014
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By: Ermine Vita
Capital One offers the best options for those with bad credit or no credit at all. They really give you a fighting chance to rebuild your credit. While their secured card is great, I prefer the unsecured. They offered me a small credit limit at first, but within six months they had raised it significantly. It really helped that the APR was lower than some others too. I continue to stay with Capital One ever after rebuilding my credit disaster.
February 19, 2014
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By: Michael Meza
The best card here is the Credit One with gas benefits. Gas is expensive these days and gas rewards really help out these days! I use the card a lot so I can earn gas rewards!
February 19, 2014
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By: Fred Gearge
The Capital One secured Mastercard is by far the best for rebuilding bad credit. So long as you keep your payments up to date you will have no problem rebuilding credit, as the card reports to the three major credit score agencies. there are no processing or application fees but there is a payable monthly fee of $29 and an APR of 29.9% which is variable. As long as you keep your credit in line you will be awarded an increase in your credit limit and it is accepted anywhere just like a regular credit card.
February 11, 2014
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By: Sophie Ogasawara-Neko
I got the Credit One Bank Credit Card with Gas Rewards a few years ago after my divorce destroyed my credit and I needed something to serve both as emergency funding and a ladder to climb back up to a respectable credit score. As far as these poor credit credit cards go, it's definitely the least demanding in terms of there not being a deposit, and the annual fee is manageable. The gas rewards actually helped pay for that several times over, as it helped me save tons of money on fuel even though I only used the card sporadically. It took a little while, but that card helped me pull myself out of the pit.
February 11, 2014
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By: Michael Meza
The best card is the Capital One Secured Mastercard. For one, even though the annual fee is $29, it is not that high compared to others. Secondly, there is no monthly fee! This is a huge plus because a lot of banks hide feeds on cards and accounts. The regular APR is 22.9 % which is not too high. Also, I like how they do the minimum deposits on the account. I do the $49 minimum a lot, and it is not hard to do if you just plan your bank deposits accordingly. I urge everyone to try out this card, it is a great card to have.
January 15, 2014
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By: Steve Theman
The best credit card of this genre is the Capital One Secured Mastercard. The Regular APR gives me a second chance to rebuild my credit score, and the annual fee of twenty nine dollars is completely affordable for my low salary. I have made the minimum deposit, and found it very within my means as well. The partially secured credit line had helped me in times of emergency when my car broke down in the middle of the road, and I did not have any cash to get back home.
January 15, 2014
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By: Jeremy Stephens
To me, the best credit card for people who have bad credit and want to rebuild themselves financially is the USAA Platinum Mastercard. This card has a slightly higher spending limit than similar cards and has a low APR of 13.00%. Also, there is no annual fee.
January 9, 2014
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By: James LeGrand
The best way to start dealing with bad credit is to talk to your bank. they can offer options for people who can not get approved for a credit card.
January 3, 2014
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By: Billy Maney
The Credit One Card with Gas Rewards is a really good credit card for someone who has bad credit.The annual fee is pretty high and the interest rate is a bit unattractive but for a starter credit card it is a good way to build a good credit history.It is a Visa and can be used almost anywhere which is also nice.If you are looking for a good credit card to establish credit i would recommend applying for this one today.
December 17, 2013
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By: Theshack Ofsin
When searching for a credit card I discovered a couple of options: secured or unsecured. I guess like most people, I didn't have a lot of dough to put up for a secured card, so I explored the Credit One Bank Visa card. Not too bad of a deal so far, but there is an annual fee that is pretty steep. But, when you compare that one time cost with putting up perhaps three to four times as much for a secured card, it makes sense for a struggling photographer like myself. So far I've been very happy and pretty glad to have the Credit One Bank Visa card in my wallet for emergencies. I use it a few times a month, and I also pay it off every month, and their online portal makes it rather simple.
December 17, 2013
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By: Scott Spurlock
When searching for a credit card I discovered a couple of options: secured or unsecured. I guess like most people, I didn't have a lot of dough to put up for a secured card, so I explored the Credit One Bank Visa card. Not too bad of a deal so far, but there is an annual fee that is pretty steep. But, when you compare that one time cost with putting up perhaps three to four times as much for a secured card, it makes sense for a struggling photographer like myself. So far I've been very happy and pretty glad to have the Credit One Bank Visa card in my wallet for emergencies. I use it a few times a month, and I also pay it off every month, and their online portal makes it rather simple.
December 16, 2013
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By: Lindsay Whitehead King
Luckily I have good credit now, but when I was younger it took me a little time to figure out how to be responsible. My first credit card was a Capital One Secured Mastercard. The apr was high (around 22.99%) but that is to be expected when you have poor, or short credit history. The best thing about that credit card, is their willingness to work with you. I was able to lower my interest rate after showing a timely payment history. They also refunded a late fee several times for me, when the website malfunctioned and I couldn't make a payment. All in all, Capital One was really fair to me, and I feel like they treated me as a valued customer. A lot of credit companies really try to take advantage to those that need a little bit of help, but Capital One was honest with me from the beginning.
December 11, 2013
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By: Carry Houman
in my humble opinion one of the best credit cards for someone with bad credit to use and feel safe with is the Capital One Secured Mastercard. In the past I've had my identity comprised and my credit score tarnished, due in part to a large bank who shall remain nameless. In my effort to restore my credit, i came upon the Capital One Secured Mastercard, and i am truly glad i did. It's everything i want in a credit card, with the piece of mind that Capital One has my back!
December 11, 2013
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By: Skye Harris
In my experience, Capital One Secure Mastercard is the best option if you don't have very good credit. They generally always accept you, and if you have bad credit you can use them to try to get your credit up. They have low rates, and if you ever run into trouble, they're more than willing to help you out instead of charge you over and over. I'm new to the credit world, and this card has helped me build credit and start learning more about what credit actually is. I highly recommend this card for anyone with bad credit.
November 15, 2013
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By: Billy Maney
One of the best cards for bad credit is Capital One Secured Mastercard.It may be a secured card but the annual fee is very low and you can start out with a very small deposit and after making your payments on time for several months you will likely have good enough credit built up to qualify for an unsecured card.This is also great starter credit card.
November 17, 2013
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Card Hub
Hi Billy. This is a good choice. You could also take a look at Harley-Davidson Secured Credit Card. It has no annual fee and a rate of 22.9%. However it requires a deposit of $300 in order to start using it and there's also a foreign transaction fee of 3%.
November 4, 2013
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By: Gregory Stancil
I would definitely have to say that the Credit One Bank Credit Card is the best option for those with bad credit. My decision is based upon the fact that the card, unlike similar cards for those with bad credit, doesn't require a security deposit. Yes, the fees may be higher but only a little bit higher. The annual fee is between $35-$75 which is very reasonable and the card also has gas rewards. I'd definitely go with the Credit One Bank Credit Card.
November 4, 2013
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By: Kyle Curry
My sister in law had a very bitter divorce recently. One of the biggest problems was that her ex-husband ran her credit into the ground, it was so bad that she could not even get a store card. We were able to find the Capital One Secured Mastercard, to help build her credit back up. It has a higher rate of almost 23%, and there is an annual fee, but Capital One is a company that we have used for years. Months later this card has really helped her get her life back on track.
October 29, 2013
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By: Billy Maney
The Harley Davidson Secured Credit Card is a very good one to have.You don't have to worry about paying any annual fees and this card actually has some rewards associated with it.If you are responsible and pay your bill on time each month you will likely see your credit score go up significantly over a period of time.
October 29, 2013
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By: Chris No
For people with bad credit I would recommend Capital One Secured Mastercard I've had a Capital One Card when I first was establishing my credit and it was perfect for making small purchases and quickly paying them off. One good thing about this card is there is no set up fee or monthly fee to have this card, one down side is that it does have a annual fee which is $29 not that bad. The APR is 22.9 which is pretty much standard for people with bad credit, I would recommend the Capital One Secured Mastercard for anyone with bad credit, it's a good card for those in need.
October 22, 2013
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By: Constantina Hauser
Credit One Bank Credit Card with Gas Rewards. I thought this was Capital One when I first received an offer in the mail, but after taking a second a look, I realized that it is actually Credit One not Capital. I was hesitant about opening an account with this bank, based on the name similarity. But went ahead and gave it a try. I currently have a $300 limit on this card, which is quite low but there was not a requirement for a security deposit like other banks. Since establish an account with this bank I have raised my credit score but I still keep this card and often make small purchases with it. As long as they report to credit agencies I am fine with the high interest rate. This card does not offer any rewards.
October 22, 2013
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By: Tonio Stewart
For people with bad or no credit, the Capital One Secured Mastercard is a great way to building up your credit history. You will need to pay up front to use it but it builds a relationship with Capital One so you will be able to get a real credit card in the future. I used it for 2 years before Capital One offered me a real card. It's a great investment in the future.
October 22, 2013
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By: Ric Rogers
For the past 2 years, I’ve had and have been pleased with using the Capital One Secured Mastercard. Since I’ve been building up my credit, I decided on this card because it gives access to a credit score and tools to monitor your transactions. Other cards have hidden fee penalties that you need to worry about. This card is truthful and straight-forward in what it offers.
October 21, 2013
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By: Billy Maney
I love the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa credit card.It is one of the best because you don't have to secure it.Even though there is a seventy five dollar annual fee they are quick to give credit line increases.If you are short on cash and trying to work on your credit scores at the same time i would go with this one because they actually report to all three credit bureaus as well.
October 18, 2013
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By: Gregory Stancil
Capital One Mastercard is definitely the best secured credit card. My favorite thing about the card is that it has a very low minimum deposit and does not have a monthly fee. When I applied for the card, there wasn't a setup fee and it has a good APR rate. One thing that most people do not know is that you get access to a credit score and other tools so it's definitely helpful. I highly recommend it!
October 4, 2013
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By: Theshack Ofsin
The Capital One Secured Credit Card is by far the best way to rebuild your credit. They have a card that has worked perfect for me for over 5 years now. During this time I've received three different credit limit increases based on timely monthly payments of which I've only missed one of. In regards to that one missed payment, I called them and explained my situation and they not only worked with me, but they made sure not to assess any late payment fees to my account. Highly recommend their services!
October 3, 2013
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By: Robert Brasher
The Capital One Secured card has been phenomenal in helping restore my credit. After facing bankruptcy, I realized the challenges I would face in rebuilding my credit. When I got the Capital One card I began using it as often as possible. As time has gone forward, I have seen a significant increase in my credit rating. I am now ready to pursue an unsecured card with Capital One.
September 27, 2013
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By: Gary Cazorla
After racking up some debt after college, I ended up with some very poor credit. I had cut up all my credit cards and vowed to never look back. However, now that I am getting middle aged, I realize to obtain the house I want, I need to build credit. I had tried going through Chase Bank, whom I bank with, but they would not extend me credit. I went online and found some other options and as others here have mentioned, Capital One granted me a card and a hope to build a better future for myself and my family. The interest rate is nearly 23%, but as long as you pay it off each month, you will never have to pay it. I have owned the card for a year and a half now and have noticed my credit score ramp up, it feels good to get back on the side of responsibility. Capital One has helped me on my endeavor to raise my score and get the things I want for my future.
September 27, 2013
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By: Elizabeth Rankin
First Premier Bank Card has been a godsend for me and my poor credit. I tried to get other credit cards but was constantly getting turned down. First Premier gladly gave me a card with a good balance available. The only bad thing is that there is a $7 per month fee for having the card. Since I am trying to build credit, this is a small price to pay.
September 20, 2013
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By: Robert McKinnon
Capital One Secured Mastercard has been one of the biggest helps in rebuilding my poor credit. It has given me the opportunity to repair my credit after being denied most other credit cards that I applied for. Without them I do not think that I would have had such an easy time repairing my credit and it definitely would have taken much longer. Even though it is a secured card the interest rate is not bad at all.
August 26, 2013
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By: Sylria Andersson
I actually like the Visa Platinum from Credit One Bank. I know a lot of people will be put off by the high interest rate, but it is precisely because of that high rate that I prefer it. I have found that when I am standing in front of a pair of much desired boots, I no longer look at them as "Only $100? That's a great deal for those boots!", I look at them as "That will cost me at least $124 for those boots." That may not be exactly how it works, but because credit is such a mystery to me in the first place, it not only keeps me from spending money I cannot repay within the month while at the same time assuring me that I will have the credit available in case of an emergency. Also, rebuilding my credit after years of heavy debt and bad decisions is important to me and I like that they do report to all three agencies. I also much prefer Visa over other card types. I've never had so much as a single problem with any Visa card whereas my debit card with another popular "logo" on it really was a bit of an issue for one of my favorite places to shop. I've no idea why this was, but I do know I've never had the problem with Visa, so much prefer to stick with Visa branded cards.
August 26, 2013
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By: Chris Michaels
I think the best credit card for bad credit is the Capital One secured mastercard. It's absolutely amazing in many ways. The customer service is top notch. Also, I only had to deposit $75.00 to get a $200 limit on my card initially. I've seen upgraded the card but I've never seen another secured card offer that. It was very helpful in establishing my credit in the early days.
August 19, 2013
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By: Philip Nguyen
I made some bad decisions in the past. I had a hard time to get credit, especially to obtain a credit card. Fortunately, I applied for Capital One Secured MasterCard. I used it for more than one year. I rebuilt my credit. I paid the balance in full each month. After almost two years, my credit is getting better. Now, I have another unsecured credit card due to my good credit. I am happy with my decision. I am highly recommended anyone who wants to build their credit to apply for the Capital One Secured MasterCard.
August 19, 2013
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By: Michael Holt
The Capital One Secured Mastercard is one of the best options for people with bad credit. While most similar cards have an expensive annual fee, the Capital One Secured Mastercard only charges 29 dollars. The interest rate is average and is below what many other offer. I started out with this card a few years ago and now Capital One has given me 3 unsecured cards. If you want a card and company that will grow with you, this is a great option.
August 15, 2013
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By: Harry Knuckles
Many Americans my self included are struggling with credit and have messed up in the past. Lucky there are a line of credit cards for people like us. I personally got the Capital One Secured MasterCard almost a year ago and could not be more happy. I really like the way it lets me add more money when I get it to help raise my credit limit, many other cards on the market do not offer this. also the annual fee of only 29$ is hard to beat. Over all I love this card.
August 9, 2013
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By: Stephen Blackwell
I was fortunate enough to have a Capital One Secured Mastercard. The yearly fee was $29 but with a deposit of $150 I was able to get a credit line of $2000. The great thing was that if I could have put down as little as $49 to get a line of credit. This did wonders for my credit and pulled me out of the hole that I was in, which allowed me to get a loan that enabled me to buy a house. I couldn't recommend this card enough but I think it was discontinued.
August 9, 2013
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By: David Bishop
I'm back to tell you about my girlfriend who recently got the Capital One Secured Mastercard, and it has been a great tool for her to start to establish some credit history. It's nice because we have been able to get her to have a larger limit than she deposited, so it actually is a little bit of a line of credit. It seems if you have no credit history, the Capital One Secured Mastercard is a good "advanced" secured card.
August 9, 2013
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By: Bill Smith
The Visa Platinum Credit One is the one that I used. I didn't really have that bad of credit but it was still incredibly helpful . I was able to increase how much I could take out depending on what I needed and as my credit improved. I didn't use it very much but I'm still glad I had it as it allowed me to improve my credit.
July 24, 2013
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By: Sherri L. Tolbert
I have had a Visa Platinum Credit One card for a while. Although they have an annual fee, they are very generous with credit limit increases. I started out with just a couple hundred credit line and now I'm up to $800. They grow with you unlike many other cards. They also give you access to your credit score every month so that you can see how your activity is affecting your credit. You'd pay much more than the annual fee to get that service elsewhere.