Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Selected by CardHub Editors from 1,000+ credit cards — Updated July 31, 2015

Damaged or bad credit will limit your credit card options. But there is a path to rebuilding your credit, and our Editor's Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit is the best place to get started. The cards described below (some of which are issued by CardHub advertising partners) are all tailored to building credit in an efficient, inexpensive manner and were selected by CardHub’s editors out of more than 1,000 offers for their suitability to people with bad credit. We consider them to be the best credit cards for bad credit because they have some of the lowest fees on the market and they all report to the major credit bureaus. While there are occasionally some unsecured options on this page, a secured credit card is your best bet if you are able to place a refundable security deposit.

secured Card Security Deposit / Low Fees

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

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  • Min Deposit $49, $99 or $200
  • Annual Fee None
  • Monthly Fee None
  • One-Time Fees None
  • Regular APR 24.9% (V)

Best Partially Secured Card. The Capital One Secured MasterCard does not charge an annual fee and the fact that it can be a partially-secured card makes it quite an attractive option for many consumers. With a partially-secured credit card, your credit line may exceed the amount of your security deposit, thereby providing you with an emergency line of credit, if needed, and enabling you to maximize your available credit. The more credit you have available, the faster your credit standing will improve. The Capital One Secured MasterCard Credit Card is therefore an option that at least merits consideration if you have bad or limited credit.

Harley-Davidson® Secured Credit Card

  • Min Deposit $300
  • Annual Fee None
  • Monthly Fee None
  • One-Time Fees None
  • Regular APR 22.99% (V)

Best Fully Secured Card. 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 an annual fee. Secured cards are most commonly used by people who have damaged or little credit, and the most important thing to look for in either situation is a card with low fixed costs for which you can qualify. Low interest rates and rewards are of lesser concern because secured cards don’t tend to offer them. The fact that the Harley Card does offer some rewards therefore makes it that much more attractive.

unsecured Card No Security Deposit / High Fees

Credit One Bank® Credit Card with Gas Rewards

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  • Annual Fee $35 - $99
  • Monthly Fee None
  • One-Time Fees None
  • Regular APR 17.90% - 23.90% (V)*

Expert Answers

How do I know if I have bad credit?

By: Odysseas Papadimitriou, CardHub CEO

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, Personal Finance Editor

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

Ask a question or help others find the best credit cards for bad credit by sharing some tips.

Jun 17, 2015
Photo of Gentric T.
Jun 17, 2015
Capital One's Master Card is easily the best option for those out there with pretty bad credit. As my first actual credit card, I had placed a $500 deposit to get the credit game rolling and, as my good behavior increased, Capital One increased my credit limit slowly but surely. After a year I was given 1.5K and had the ability to morph the card into the Quicksilver I now use on a daily basis!
Jun 17, 2015
Photo of Zillow R.
Jun 17, 2015
Capital One's Secured Credit Card is the best one out of the cards listed here, mainly due to the fact that they are a well established company who treat new customers rather well. They tend to give those who show good credit practices extended lines of credit down the road, which is always a positive for those just starting out. The best thing about this is that the secured card can be transformed into another card in their credit card product line, allowing you to skimp out on an inquiry, keeping your credit report lookin' clean!
May 20, 2015
Photo of Fish H.
May 20, 2015
The Capitol One Secured MasterCard is a fantastic credit card for those with bad credit. While the minimum deposit is higher than some other credit card in the category the Capitol One Secured MasterCard allows me to have a line of credit available in the case of an emergency. This also helps me with my bad credit due to the fact that the more credit that is available to me enables my score to improve at a much greater rate than it would if I were to use a competitors card.
May 7, 2015
Photo of Mitch D.
May 7, 2015
This kind of card can be hit or miss but the Credit One Bank Credit Card with Gas Rewards is a great card if you have both bad credit but also not a lot of money on hand.

It's unsecured so you don't need to drop a lot of money down but it does have fees you need to watch for. Still, it's a great temporary option in a pinch to shore your credit up so you can get a better card down the road.
Apr 28, 2015
Photo of Linda T.
Apr 28, 2015
Capital One was by far the best card that I could have found to improve my bad credit. I especially like the fact that there is no yearly fee just for getting it, unlike a lot of the other ones that I applied for. They reward you if you pay all the time and their interest rates are also fair.
Apr 20, 2015
Photo of Kaylee T.
Apr 20, 2015
The absolutely best credit card to get is bank of america's cc. they have no interest for the first TWO years, and have low payments, and pretty good approval even with poor or no credit history. i have absolutely nothing negative to say about this credit card. you even get "power rewards" which in turn gives you cash back, which is awesome. great perks and great way to get started or get back on your feet.
Mar 31, 2015
Photo of Brandon A.
Mar 31, 2015
Sometimes people make mistakes and those mistakes can impact their credit score. But just because you have bad credit doesn't mean you can't take steps towards helping that. There are credit cards you can get, even on bad credit.

The Capital One Secured MasterCard is a great example of this. While you do have to put some money down to have an available balance, it allows you to get a card despite whatever your credit history is. They have good customer service, and it's a great way to start building a good credit history again.
Mar 24, 2015
Photo of Edward C.
Mar 24, 2015
Having bad credit can really make it hard to get credit card. I applied for many and only the Capital One secured Mastercard I got approved for. It has a high interest rate although this card wil allow you to build credit quicker than most because it is only a partially secured credit card.
Mar 24, 2015
Photo of Maria M.
Mar 24, 2015
When I was younger and did not realize how important my credit score would be down the road, I blew through my credit. I was forced to take the secured credit route in order to help rebuild my credit to purchase a home. I was pushed toward the Capital One Secured MC. I have been happy with it. The annual fee is minimal and something that is affordable unlike so many others. My biggest pro toward this card is there is nothing due at start up, no fees, etc. That is important because so many of them require something up front and for me that wasn't an option. For me more
Mar 24, 2015
Photo of Tova H.
Mar 24, 2015
I messed my credit up pretty bad when I was in my early 20s but I found that that wouldn't deter me from still getting a credit card which was great news. I found the Capital One® Secured MasterCard to be a great option for me. I use it wisely now. The only downfall is that it does have an annual fee although small. The upside is that there is no processing fees at the start. I highly recommend this card for those who are having trouble having a card that will accept them due tot their bad credit.
Mar 2, 2015
Photo of Isaac B.
Mar 2, 2015
When I was younger I screwed up my credit and was unable to find a good credit card that would help me as I grew into an adult. When I cam across the Capital One Secured Mastercard, it became my first card and helped me build up my credit. With a pretty small deposit, I was able to get a decent credit line and work my way up from there. The only complaint I have aside from the high interest rate (which is to be expected with a card like this) is the annual fee. I am not a fan of monthly or annual fees on stuff like this. All-in-all more
Mar 2, 2015
Photo of Traci G.
Mar 2, 2015
I recently got a Netspend card for my federal tax return. I thought maybe it would be a good card for me to keep around since I have horrible credit, but I qucikly found out that they have way too many surcharges for my taste. I don't understand why the worse your credit is, the more you are charged for absolutely nothing. I guess they are covering costs of bad customers, but sheesh.. This is a prepaid card, so you'd think they'd cut some slack. Nope! You are charged for almost everything you do with this card. I guess it's back to restoring my credit so that I can have more
Feb 10, 2015
Photo of Disturbing B.
Feb 10, 2015
I had bad credit and I'm still working on improving it a little more these days, but I have the Capital One Secured MasterCard and have been using it for a little over a year now. There was a small amount that I had to put on the account to start using it, but that's a given with all secured credit cards. I had to call their customer service center a few times and go online to get more information about using the card, and the information was very easy to access in almost every circumstance. Using the credit card helped me to establish a spending pattern which in turn more
Jan 16, 2015
Photo of Timothy M.
Jan 16, 2015
The Capital One Secured Mastercard isn't the best credit card out there, but it's a viable option if you have bad credit and are willing to pay attention so you don't get hit with excessive late fees and interest rate hikes. The grace period is good and the late fee isn't too bad, and customer service is willing to work with you on most issues. It's easy to access your account information, and making payments is simple too.
Jan 9, 2015
Photo of Alex S.
Jan 9, 2015
Capital One® Secured MasterCard® is best one for me.. more info can be found on their page: http://www.capitalone.com/credit-cards/secured-mastercard/
Dec 26, 2014
Photo of Caryl A.
Dec 26, 2014
The best credit card to date for so many reasons is the Digital Federal Credit Union secured card. It's the only one I've come across that really does not charge you for transferring funds or taking out cash. When I got it, the APR was just 10.6% (it's a little bit higher now, but it goes back and forth regularly). Also, it's a VISA so it can be used pretty much anywhere (I've never encountered a situation in which I wasn't able to use it). Also it really helps you establish or rebuild credit in a simple organic way, with no confusing fees and numbers. And, finally, my favorite part more
Dec 18, 2014
Photo of Erwin Z.
Dec 18, 2014
I got the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® because my credit score has taken a hit for the worst these past few years and I needed a card to help me get my score up. One of the things I like about this card is that there is no monthly fee. I have seen other cards that do that and those charges do add up. Unfortunately, there is an annual fee but I think that is pretty standard nowadays and $29 is not too bad for an annual charge. I think this card is the best one for people like me who have bad credit, primarily because it is easy to more
Nov 13, 2014
Photo of Nicole R.
Nov 13, 2014
The best credit card for bad credit would have to be First Premier Bank. It is one of the cheaper initial fee cards, at $95.00 initial fee. Unfortunately, the yearly fee is $75.00 and there is a monthly fee of about $6.25 but it will be reported to my credit and that will help a lot! Captial One wants at least $200 for a deposit and that just isn't doable for most people. The interest rate is very high for the First Premier but honestly, you shouldn't be overspending to where you can't afford the interest. I am only in my first month but am very happy with their services so far.
Oct 22, 2014
Photo of Billy S.
Oct 22, 2014
I also agree with Cammie in that the Capital One Secured Mastercard is the best choice from what I've seen mentioned here. In particular, it's nice to have a pseudo safety cushion when you're attempting to rebuild your credit. The easy payment terms and lower interest (compared to most other rebuilding cards) make this a quick sale to me. The annual fee isn't that bad compared to most other cards. I actually prefer to know all of the restrictions up front, of which Capital one has been entirely truthful about. All in all, I really enjoy having this card in my wallet. IT's done wonders for my credit rating while more
Oct 13, 2014
Photo of Cammie A.
Oct 13, 2014
After looking through countless cards, I ended up choosing the Capital One Secured Mastercard. The application process was very quick and to the point and I received my card within the week. It's allowed me a great opportunity to rebuild my credit and so far I have no seen any hidden fees with this card. The annual fee sucks to have but I know it's a necessary evil when my card is one that is for people with bad credit. Also, the annual fee really isn't that much in the grand scheme of things. Their online bill pay is great and I've never had a problem with it.
Oct 13, 2014
Photo of Carl B.
Oct 13, 2014
I got a First Premier Mastercard that is unsecured to rebuild my credit and although it does not have the best APR the rates and fees seem pretty reasonable for someone who has bad credit and is trying to re-establish themselves and their credit score. It has a yearly service charge to carry the card but I think the benefits of rebuilding your credit outweigh the service charge.
Oct 10, 2014
Photo of Tina N.
Oct 10, 2014
I am very satisfied with my Capital One Mastercard. The application process was easy and immediate. It was only a few days before I received my card. Although there is an annual fee, this is to be expected with bad credit, it is not as high as others I looked at. What made the difference, far and away, is the credit score monitoring tool that comes free and is so simple to use. I look forward to every time the score changes as I attempt to clean up my credit. I am so pleased with Capital One, I would share it with anyone!
Sep 15, 2014
Photo of Ryan S.
Sep 15, 2014
I was not impressed at all I was not even allowed to get a card even with bad credit, not even a chance for a deposit. I hate how society has put a score on getting credit when more then half the population has bad credit. Thanks Capital One for not supporting your product, and highly recommend for people that are looking for a credit card to not start here.
Sep 9, 2014
Photo of Gennie G.
Sep 9, 2014
The Capital One secured Mastercard is the best one to build credit back up. The fees are low compared to other cards and allows you to get your credit score back up to where it needs to be. No hassle and can use most places without a problem.
Sep 9, 2014
Photo of Tracy S.
Sep 9, 2014
After filing bankruptcy nobody wanted to give me any credit so I decided to get a credit card to build my credit score. I got a capital one secured credit card and I am really happy with my decision. This card has low fees and it provides me with money to use when I need it. It has really helped to build up my credit score and it actually brought my score up high enough that I was recently able to get a mortgage pre approval.
Sep 9, 2014
Photo of Roshan J.
Sep 9, 2014
I received a credit card through Credit One Bank and as a college student I had a lot of student loans and no other company would allow me to get a credit card in which in my opinion is needed to have a good life I had a low credit rating due to some missed payments but Credit One is helping me get back on my feet.
Sep 5, 2014
Photo of Nick H.
Sep 5, 2014
I obtained my Capital One Platinum card at a time when I was unemployed and had no steady income. Nevertheless, I was allowed a $1000 limit, and a relatively low interest rate. If you’re in a situation like I was, I recommend Capital One Platinum from MasterCard.
Sep 5, 2014
Photo of Jill G.
Sep 5, 2014
For me, Capital One has always been the best credit card for me. After my bankruptcy, Capital One was the first company to give me a chance. I received an unsecured platinum credit card with an annual fee. It has a relatively low rate, flexible payment options and periodic reviews for credit line increases. The Capital One website is easy and functional. Using the card, I have managed to build my credit back up to a fair rating in just a few years. I also travel outside of the U.S. frequently and I have been able to use the card with absolutely no problems. Additionally, they have an excellent fraud more
Aug 27, 2014
Photo of Christine B.
Aug 27, 2014
The Credit One Credit card is a good card to help build or rebuild your credit. This is one of the very first cards that I ever applied for. Their payments are very manageable each month. I was given 2 credit increases in 2 months which was nice, but what I didn't like was that they charge you around $24.99 to increase your credit limit, I feel like this is ridiculous considering my Capital One Premier card is also very generous and they do not charge you to increase your credit limit. They also offer a credit tracking tool to give you your credit score, although it seems to inaccurate, more
Jul 30, 2014
Photo of Shaneeka A.
Jul 30, 2014
Like many college students, I had many credit cards throughout college that I should not have had. As a result, my credit was beyond bad. As a financially responsible adult, I began to take the steps needed to repair my credit, and a secured or bad credit, credit card were on my to do list. After shopping around, I decided to go with Capital One. To my surprise, I was approved for their unsecured card. The interest rate was not the best, but due to my situation, I knew that was going to happen. There are no other fees, so I could deal with interest. I was just thankful that more
Jul 29, 2014
Photo of Lenny D.
Jul 29, 2014
I have questionable credit. So when I look for a credit card, I need it to be understanding with respect to credit score. I have found a card that fits the description in the Capital One Secured Mastercard. The fees are high and so is the APR but it was the cheapest option. It also gave me the highest credit limit. After factoring price and credit limit, this card was a no brainer.
Jul 29, 2014
Photo of Julius G.
Jul 29, 2014
Credit One is a great credit card to get your credit back on track. Sure there are fees involved, but consider it an investment to help boost your low credit score. Your APR will generally be lower than other bad credit cards out there as well.
Jul 29, 2014
Photo of Stephanie C.
Jul 29, 2014
Credit One is the best card out there for those with bad credit. I got one and after 3 on time payments they increased my credit limit by 150!! Plus I love the gas rewards I get.
Jul 21, 2014
Photo of Jordan J.
Jul 21, 2014
I really enjoy the Harley Davidson Secured Credit Card due to the fact that it has no annual fee AND no monthly fee. It also has a decent APR at 22.99 percent. Overall I would recommend this card to anyone, I've already got a lot of my friends using it. Excellent card!
Jul 17, 2014
Photo of Kennady C.
Jul 17, 2014
When I was 18 and first went to college, I ended up defaulting on a student loan and my credit was destroyed. Two years later, I took it upon myself to start rebuilding my credit. The only credit I could get at the time was through a secured credit card, so I went to work looking for one that would suit my needs. Ultimately, Capital One Secured Mastercard was the card I ended up choosing since it had a low initial deposit, and being a broke college student I really couldn't give up a few hundred dollars for a deposit. I have recommended this card to two of my good more
Jul 12, 2014
Photo of Meredith G.
Jul 12, 2014
After messing up my credit in my teenage years, I had been rejected by too many credit card companies to count. Then a good friend told me about his secured card through Capital One. I logged on to their site to check it out, and ended up applying for the Capital One Secured MasterCard, which I was actually able to get! I've been using the card for about 8 months and it has been great, and I'm repairing my credit while I use it. I would definitely recommend a Capital One Secured MasterCard to anyone with bad credit.
Jul 1, 2014
Photo of Thomas H.
Jul 1, 2014
The Capital One secured card has one of the lowest start up fees you can find. I really like this card and I had to get it to start rebuilding my credit. Even though my score isn't to bad I still couldn't get approved for another card. Capital One approved me and made the start up process super easy!! Awesome card to have for emergencies in case car breaks down or anything else unexpected!
Jul 16, 2014
Photo of Stoikos S.
Jul 16, 2014
I don't understand how you consider a secured card as awesome for rainy day situations vs. keeping the cash in your savings/checking. If you're on a tight budget, like I am, the secured card just seems like me paying ransom to use my own money. Am I missing something about this particular secured card? To me, it seems like the only upside to a secured card is that you can rebuild credit with it..
Oct 23, 2014
Photo of Marcus E.
Oct 23, 2014
@Stoikos Savage: that's the whole point of a secured card...to build credit
Jun 26, 2014
Photo of Aly B.
Jun 26, 2014
The best credit card for bad credit is the Capital One Silver card. It is somewhat easy to qualify for, with reasonably high credit limits. If you are enrolled in the credit steps program, which is to help people build their credit, the credit limit will be automatically increased after paying the minimum due for at least five months.
Jun 26, 2014
Photo of David A.
Jun 26, 2014
I have less than good credit so it's not easy finding a card that provides great features. There are some out there though. One is Merrick Bank's Visa Card. They actually lock you into a low interest rate for the first year. This is good for saving money and rebuilding your credit. They also have the best customer service I have ever used. When I had a problem it didn't take 3 days to resolve. It was done the same day and one phone call. The card also comes with features you would come to expect from good credit issuers. Overall, I would recommend Merrick Bank for those that have more
Jun 20, 2014
Photo of Amanda F.
Jun 20, 2014
In my opinion the Harley Davidson card is the best secured card there is. A lot of cards take advantage of people with low or bad credit. They do this by not only charging high interest which is understandable with it being a higher risk but they also charge an annual fee. The Harley card does have the high interest but it has no annual fee with it. So if you pay your balance off each month you can build credit without having to pay interest or monthly fees.