The Worst Credit Cards

Selected by CardHub Editors from 1,000+ credit cards — Updated October 10, 2015

Ghouls, goblins, vampires and…credit cards? That’s right, having the wrong plastic in your wallet this Halloween could be even scarier than the best haunted house on the block. The reasons why are simple.

For starters, the best credit card offers are about as attractive as they’ve ever been. In an effort to garner the business of consumers with above-average credit scores, banks have been offering increasingly lucrative initial rewards bonuses and 0% introductory APR deals ever since the end of the Great Recession. According to CardHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report you can still get an initial rewards bounty of up to $500 or 0% interest for the first 18 months your account is active. The benefits don’t stop there either, as ongoing rewards have also improved as a result of the rebounding economy and fierce competition in the credit card industry.

In other words, picking the wrong card is tantamount to skipping the house that gives out King Size candy bars on All Hallows’ Eve.

When characterizing the impact of a bad credit card, you also have to consider just how rough the past few years have been and how beneficial a few hundred dollars in rewards and/or a respite from interest would be. While unemployment is down to 5.9%, we are also on track to end 2014 with $54.79 billion more credit card debt than we began it with, after adding nearly $75.6 billion to our tab in the previous two years.

So, in order to help consumers avoid making scary credit card choices this year, we at CardHub compared more than 1,000 credit card offers (some of which originate from CardHub advertising partners) and identified the cards to avoid in seven different key categories:

Worst Credit Card for Rebuilding Bad Credit

First PREMIER® Bank Gold Credit Card 360 reviews

This is the card’s 4th appearance on this list.

In addition to a 36% interest rate, this card charges a $95.00 processing fee prior to account opening, a $75.00 annual fee during the first year, a $45 annual fee in each subsequent year, a $6.25 monthly fee beginning in the second year, and a 25% fee for any credit limit increase. By comparison, the Harley-Davidson Secured Credit Card can be free to use and earns you rewards.

CardHub was recently sued by First Premier. The ongoing litigation had no bearing on our editors' decision to include this card in the list.

Worst Credit Card for Students

US Bank College Visa® Credit Card 105 reviews

This is the card’s 3rd appearance on this list.

The U.S. Bank College Visa Credit Card doesn’t provide any rewards or low introductory rates and students may end up with a regular APR as high as 20.99% APR – one of the highest rates among student cards. For context, the Journey Student Rewards Card from Capital One offers 1.25% cash back across all purchases, while the BankAmericard for Students offers 0% on new purchases for the first 15 months, and neither charges an annual fee.

Worst General-Consumer Credit Card for Rewards

Visa® Black Credit Card 768 reviews

This is the card’s 4th appearance on this list.

Despite the best efforts of Barclaycard US, you shouldn’t confuse this Black Card with the famed Centurion Card from American Express. While the latter is a status symbol and pop culture staple, the former is just a grossly overpriced attempt to capitalize on the social cache of the “black card” name. In return for paying a $495 annual fee, cardholders get 1 point per $1 spent, airport lounge access, the vague promise of luxury gifts, and the opportunity to earn 25,000 bonus points if they spend at least $1,500 during the first 90 days. Those terms might seem decent, but there are a variety of cards available that offer more lucrative rewards bonuses, higher ongoing rewards earning rates, and airport lounge access for hundreds of dollars less each year.

Worst General-Consumer Credit Card for Big-Ticket Purchases

Toyota Credit Card 0 reviews

This is the card’s 1st appearance on this list.

Offers a 3.99% introductory interest rate on new purchases for 6 months and has a 12.99% - 22.99% regular APR. This card narrowly beat out last year’s worst card for big-ticket purchases, the Arvest Bank Classic Credit Card. Using either card would mean sacrificing a lot of value relative to the various cards on the market that offer 0% on new purchases for 15-18 months.

Any card with an introductory interest rate might at first seem attractive, but the disparity that exists on the market among specific intro rates, intro terms, and regular rates means that consumer costs can vary widely if one does not choose their card wisely. As a result, we used CardHub’s credit card calculator to compare credit cards with introductory rates to see how much each would cost a consumer who is trying to pay off a $1,000 purchase over two years. The Toyota Card was the most expensive offer out of the more 400 cards that we considered in this category.

Worst General-Consumer Credit Card for Balance Transfers

UBS Preferred Visa Signature Credit Card 83 reviews

This is the card’s 3rd appearance on this list.

Offers a 9.99% introductory balance transfer APR for 6 months and charges a 3% balance transfer fee as well as a $495 annual fee. For the sake of comparison, the Slate Card from Chase offers 0% on transferred balances for 15 months and charges neither a balance transfer fee nor an annual fee.

Worst Small Business Credit Card for Rewards

CorTrust Bank Visa Business Credit Card 56 reviews

This is the card’s 1st appearance on this list.

This card charges a $9 annual fee and does not offer rewards or low introductory interest rates. Small business credit cards are known for their business-oriented rewards programs (which are often lucrative enough to warrant paying an annual fee) and business owners who opt for the CorTrust Bank Visa Business Credit Card are forgoing an opportunity to earn a lot of free money.

By comparison, the Ink Plus Business Card from Chase offers 50,000 bonus points when you spend $5,000 during the first three months, 5 points per $1 spent on office supplies and telecommunications services (up to a $50,000 spending limit in those categories), 2 points per dollar spent on gas and hotel reservations (up to a $50,000 spending limit in those categories), and 1 point per $1 on everything else. It does not charge an annual fee during the first year ($95 thereafter).

Finally, it's important to note that the designation of Worst Credit Card for Small Business Funding has to go to the majority of small business credit cards. The Credit CARD Act of 2009 doesn’t apply to business credit cards, which means they don’t benefit from the rule prohibiting issuers from increasing interest rates for existing balances unless a cardholder is at least 60 days delinquent. While certain issuers like BofA have proactively adopted that rule for their business-branded cards, everyone else's business credit cards are ill-suited to be funding vehicles for small business owners. Instead, business owners should use some of the best general-consumer 0% APR and balance transfer credit cards, as they will not incur any additional personal liability relative to a business credit card.

Hopefully this list will enable you to avoid being tricked into getting one of the worst offers on the market and instead help you find a card that is truly a treat. The following 5 Tips for Avoiding a Scary Credit Card should help as well.

5 Tips for Avoiding a Scary Credit Card

  1. Evaluate Your Needs: There is no one-size-fits-all credit card. From the credit standing needed for approval to the fee structure and associated perks, there are myriad ways in which one credit card offer may differ from another. And since cards that excel in one particular area – rewards, for example – are likely to be deficient in others, it’s very important that you determine exactly what you need before looking into specific offers.

  2. Use the Island Approach: The Island Approach is a credit card strategy that involves isolating different types of transactions on different accounts in order to garner the best possible collection of terms. For example, this might entail getting a rewards card for everyday expenses that you pay off completely by the end of the month and a 0% balance transfer credit card to lower the cost of existing debt.

  3. Compare Offers: Consumers too often get hung up on which bank issues their credit card or what cards they’ve seen advertised on TV. Those things don’t matter. Dollars and cents are what counts, so make sure to compare relevant offers across issuers in order to identify the card that will save you the most money.

  4. Read the Fine Print: While credit card disclosures have improved in recent years, they still aren’t perfect. And even though fine print can lead to headaches, it can also contain crucial information that impacts how much you pay for card use as well as the overall benefit you derive from your card.

  5. Track Your Progress: Reviewing your monthly account statements and taking advantage of your right to free annual credit reports will enable you to keep tabs on your spending and payment habits, your credit building progress, and erroneous information that could indicate either fraud or credit bureau errors. Using a credit card calculator to plan a debt payoff strategy before transferring a balance or making a big-ticket purchase will also help you minimize interest payments.

Community Discussion

Ask a question or help others find the the worst credit cards by sharing some tips.

Feb 13, 2015
Photo of David M.
Feb 13, 2015
Lowes and Discover are some of the worst! Can't wait to get these crooks paid off!
Nov 14, 2013
Photo of Pete L.
Nov 14, 2013
For my personal use I have found that Capital One credit cards to be the worst, I also found that the Card issued by Home Depot to be Bad in the sense that you could go in to a store and pay your bill ahead of time and the store has the option to post the payment when they want at times making it show as a late payment and costing you interest..I will read the small print on my receipts from now on.