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Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit [Instant Approval]

David Warner

David Warner

Financial Advisor

Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit: Overview

Credit Card Known For Editor's Rating

Our Top Pick for 2020

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

Improving Credit
Primor® Secured Visa® Gold Card
Low ongoing interest rate

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

Editor's Rating

Credit Score Required:

Poor, Limited, No Credit

Our Review

Going from bad credit to good credit takes hard work and the right tools. The Capital One® Secured MasterCard® is one of the best tools to help you boost your credit score. You just make a deposit with Capital One, and that deposit becomes your credit limit. Pay your bill off every month and you can earn your deposit back, upgrading this card to an unsecured card.

What We Like

Can be upgraded with on-time payments

Easy to qualify for

Flexible credit limit determined by deposit amount

Primor® Secured Visa® Gold Card

Editor's Rating

Credit Score Required:

Poor, Limited, No Credit

Our Review

One of the most important things with any credit card is the interest rate you pay. That’s even more important with a secured credit card because paying interest means you’re losing money. That’s why the Primor® Secured Visa® Gold Card is a popular option – it has lower ongoing interest rates than most other secured cards and a reasonable annual fee.

What We Like

Determine your credit limit with a deposit between $200 and $5,000

Low ($39) Annual Fee

No penalty APR if you miss a payment

In the credit industry, there are dozens upon dozens of types of credit cards that people may apply for. Chances are, the ones you see on commercials or internet advertisements look so enticing and intriguing that you wish you could apply. However, you see that the minimum stated credit score is well into the 700s. The reality is, not everyone can qualify for the best possible credit cards. Sometimes, people make poor financial decisions or live their life with poor credit habits that have led them to having bad credit.


Now, if you have bad credit and are reading this article, you are half-way through the battle. The truth is, many people deny their finances and can’t accept that they have bad credit. Having bad credit can be discouraging; however, you must realize and be open to seeing the opportunities of improving your credit score.

In this article, we are going to discuss one of the best ways to fix bad credit and, ironically, we are taking about credit cards for bad credit. We will explore exactly what is bad credit, how you can fix it with a credit card for bad credit and a few tips to help you along the way.

What is Considered Bad Credit

One of the most loaded questions that any credit holder can ask is: what is considered bad credit? The truth is, the answer is the eye of the beholder. Depending on who you ask, you will get varying degrees of answers. Reason being, no matter what an individual’s score may be, they may consider it to be bad. In our opinion, if you are ever planning on doing anything great with your credit or improving it beyond the 800 markers, you must adapt a new positive and confident attitude and perception.

Now, there are a few measures that can help us gauge bad credit by technicalities. Typically, anyone with a credit score under 600 is considered to be categorized as “bad credit”. Since there are a few different credit score systems, the best way to know whether your credit is considered bad is to see how close your credit score is to the first hundred numbers of the credit score system. On top of that, an individual who has many negative marks, delinquencies, bankruptcies, or other poor financial decisions attached to their credit report may be designated as “bad credit holders”. While this may be a tough cookie to digest, understanding why you have bad credit is the key to moving forward.

Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Understanding Why You Have Bad Credit

As we said above, knowing that your credit is considered bad can be difficult to believe and digest. However, once you can admit previous poor financial decisions – or that you are merely starting to build credit, it can make the process to improving your credit much, much easier. In our opinion, the best way to accelerate the process of understanding why you have bad credit, you must get a copy of your credit report. If you didn’t know, you can receive an annual copy of your personalized credit report every year, once a year, for free. Once you receive this document, it will shine light on a few areas that can impact your credit score. We are going to share a few things to look out for:

  1. Negative Marks – Do you have any negative marks on your credit report? These would show up if you have ever missed a payment or defaulted on past loans. You may also have received a negative mark if you have filed for bankruptcy in the past. These marks are significant and hold great value over your credit score.
  2. Inquiries – Inquiries are smaller marks on your credit report that can leave lasting impacts if not taken care of. These are only allowed to be reported on your credit report for a maximum of two years. Take the time to look at both hard and soft inquiries to ensure they are up-to-date. This will help improve credit score by a few points.
  3. Credit Utilization – What is your credit utilization based on your credit report? How much credit have you used compared to how much you have taken out? If you are quick to spend credit, chances are, your credit utilization is very small, meaning you have no credit left.

In almost every single case, credit holders with bad credit are well aware of their bad credit. Rather than find faults in your credit, there are many opportunities that lay ahead. One of the best ways to fix bad credit is through opening a credit card for bad credit.


3 Steps to Getting a Credit Card

To better help out individuals that are seeking how to specifically get a credit card for bad credit, we have created a simple and fool proof three step method to getting a credit card, even with bad credit. Here is how it works:


The first step to do research. The reality is, no matter what your credit score is, you need to do research. We suggest taking the time to research different credit card companies and their credit cards that are designed for individuals with bad credit. You should look at interest rates, fees, and what deposits they may charge for individuals with bad credit. Yes, if you are wondering, for individuals with bad credit, companies may ask for a nominal deposit, which is technically known as a secured credit card, which we will talk more about below.


The next step in our 3 steps to securing a credit card for bad credit is to book an appointment or to schedule a call with a specialist with the credit card company. We firmly believe that, while many company believe you should apply online for a credit card, we see past this approach as informal. You want to be taken seriously. Take the time to speak with a representative and specialist. We advise to write down all questions prior to meeting. This is the best way to ensure all of your questions get answered and you are clear about what to expect. At the same time, this shows a level of respect and professionalism to the lender.

Sign the Contract

If you have made it through step two without any unanswered questions or doors closed, then its time to sign the deal. You have performed the researched, found the best possible credit card for bad credit for you, met with the company to learn more about their specific card, and now it’s your turn to capitalize. This is a major step towards improving your credit score and you should be proud of yourself. Always stay on-top of your payments and be sure to never, ever miss a payment again!


Can Secured Credit Cards Help?

Say you have been denied a credit card for bad credit; however, the bank decides to offer you the opportunity of a secured credit card. You might be wondering, can secured credit cards help your credit score? Typically, secured credit cards are a fantastic way for individuals with bad credit to begin rebuilding or establishing better credit. To open a secured credit card, banks will require a refundable deposit, which will be established as your credit limit. Typically, these accounts will not offer the benefits or features of a regular credit card, excluding annual fees. Now, these accounts will not require a credit check as, in order to open the account, you must provide the bank with the credit limit as a deposit. Moreover, there are a few words of caution for those who open these accounts. Secured Credit Cards can be a great opportunity for credit holders; however, the fees are a bit higher. At the same time, some banks will not report secured credit cards to all three bureaus – be sure of this before you select an institution. Compare the best secured credit card offers.


5 Ways to Improve Credit Score

Credit Report Disputes

One of the fastest ways that anyone can improve their credit score is through pulling their own credit report. We highly suggest that every single individual, regardless of their credit score, performing this task. You are able to receive a free copy of your credit report each year – so why waste it! Take the time to really analyze the entire report, line-by-line. Figure out what areas are confusing, what doesn’t make sense, and, most important, highlight any mistakes. It’s your responsibility to inform the credit bureaus when something is wrong – otherwise, it will continually impact your credit score. For example, are there any inquiries on your report that are longer than two years? If so, you need to request to remove these, especially if they are hard inquiries.

Balance Credit Utilization

Credit utilization is one of the important credit concepts that are impacting your credit score. As we discussed earlier, this is a critical component that you must take into consideration when reviewing your credit report, and as you move forward. Most people who have great credit are well aware of their credit utilization and use credit as a means to balance their utilization to maximize their efforts and credit score number. With that being said, if you are planning on improving your credit score, you must take the time to balance your credit utilization better. This may mean using your credit cards less or paying down the principle faster with larger monthly payments.

Pay on Time – In full

Aside from learning how to dispute your credit report, one of the fastest ways to improve your credit score is through paying your bills on time, and paying statements in large, full balance payments. This is truly the only way that you can secure your credit score keeps going up – otherwise, with interest rates and other variables, your credit score number is volatile. By paying on-tie and paying off balances in full, each month, you are contributing to over 65% of your credit score. Some financial gurus will say that if you can’t afford to pay off a credit card balance, don’t use it. However, the majority of society has accrued a few thousands of dollars of credit card debt. So, if you can pay more than the minimum payment – do it!

Credit Mix

Your credit mix has always held a very important role in establishing your credit score. However, in recent years, the idea of balancing a great mix of credit has risen in importance and more and more people are talking about it. Did you know that over 10% of your entire credit score can be attributed to what types of credit accounts do you have? Take the time to look at your credit profile and break down the varieties of credit streams that you have. One of the best type of credit accounts to mix in your report is installment loans. These will help give your credit an extra boost over time as they are known as credit builder loans or agreements. Do make sure you are careful though when opening more than one type of account, which leads us to number 5!

One Card at a Time

Before you are quick to open multiple credit cards, we want you to understand the importance of focusing on one card at a time, especially with bad credit. You see, typically individuals with bad credit do not have the financial knowledge or capacity to handle multiple credit cards, all of which can lead to further debt and the worst-possible credit score. So, don’t apply for multiple cards at once and only focus on improving your credit score one credit card a time, for now.  If you didn’t know, every time you apply for a new credit card or loan, your credit score and report will show this change and application in a negative manner, resulting in a few points lost. Take this time to learn more about finances and credit, how to create a stable budget, and more about debt. Once you feel confident and can officially handle more credit accounts because of your budget, then you could consider starting to mix your credit lines.


Getting a Credit Card with Bad Credit

Before going into particulars, let’s set realistic goals and limitations regarding getting a credit card. You will also find general recommendations on credit cards here.

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How do I get a new credit card with bad credit?

Try and make regular payments on your existing debts. That will greatly help your case.

How do I get an unsecured credit card with bad credit?

Some companies simply have a higher risk appetite. So, consider credit card companies with relatively lower credit score requirements.

Can I get a secured credit card with bad credit?

Definitely. In fact, it is much easier given your situation to get a secured credit card compared to its unsecured counterpart.

How do I get a bank card with bad credit?

Your best bet is to go to a bank you already have a strong relationship with. Be open to the possibility that they won’t grant you an unsecured card but a secured one instead. Or look at rebuild credit credit cards as an option if your score is low.

What credit cards are good for bad credit?

It’s not the issuer of the credit card per se but the type of it. Secured credit cards are great because there’s a greater motivation to pay it back – the real threat of losing your collateral. Plus, because it’s secured, your interest rate would be relatively lower. It may be more challenging to get a 4% cash back credit card for example.

How do I apply for a credit card with bad credit?

Ideally, you raise your credit score first before you apply. If that’s not an option, there are credit cards meant for people with bad credit, but expect a higher APR. So its probably going to be more challenging to find low interest credit cards bad credit offers.

Can you get a corporate credit card with bad credit?

Yes. With a corporate credit card, the issuer will mainly look into the company’s credit score, not yours. Given that the company fulfills the minimum requirements, that card would only be charged with higher rates if your low score becomes an issue.

Can I get a student credit card with bad credit?

Yes, you have a number of options. Credit Karma has listed a few of them that are worth considering. Or look at our review page for credit cards for students with bad credit.

The Right Credit Cards for Low Scores

Like all credit cards, the application is fairly simple and straightforward – submit your personal and financial information as required by the company.

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How do I get a Sears card with bad credit?

You may not be able to. According to customer reviews, Sears only approve people with low to mid 600 credit rating. 

Can you get a Home Depot card with bad credit?

No. Home Depot credit cards require at least a fair credit (640 to 699) for your application to even be considered.

Can you get a Chase credit card with bad credit?

It’s possible, but it’s rare for someone with score below 670 to be approved. You can try for Chase Freedom if you want which has a lower credit limit, thus a higher possibility of approving lower credit scores. If you're just starting out your financial history then take a look at the best credit cards for beginners with no credit.

How do I get a Disney credit card with bad credit?

As both Disney Rewards Visa and Disney Premier Visa are from Chase, your chances of approval are low as well, especially for the latter. If you're getting your first credit card then we cover better options in another article.

How do I get a 5000 credit card with bad credit?

With bad credit, it is unlikely to find a card with this limit. It is not guaranteed that you’d get approved for a $5,000 limit, but there are some cards that might be worth looking into.  Also it may be challenging to get the highest reward credit cards.

Can I get a Zales credit card with bad credit?

No. A Zales credit card only looks into applicants with fair to excellent credit score. You may get credit card pre qualify offers but this doesn't mean you're fully approved yet.

How do I get a Discover card with bad credit?

Go for the ones with lower credit requirements like Discover it Secured which accepts applicants with scores as low as 640. You may apply online, follow a few simple steps, and wait for their decision. Take a look at credit cards for fair credit no annual fee.

Can I get a Target RED card with bad credit?

It may be possible because it requires a minimum credit score of 580. You may apply for this in-store or online, and fill out forms needing your personal and financial information. Look at more store cards for bad credit.

How do I get a Visa credit card with bad credit?

Look for ones with low credit requirements such as Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa with Cash Back Rewards. You can even use their site to see if you pre-qualify for this and all of their cards. Check out 0 interest credit cards no balance transfer fee offers.

How do I get an airline credit card with bad credit?

As always, the first step is to cross off of your list all cards with minimum score requirements way higher than yours. If you don’t fit even closely with their requirements, you’d be outright rejected. Try for Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards Credit Card which accommodates those with a minimum score of 610. See more airline credit cards for bad credit in our full review.

Can I get a Lowe’s card with bad credit?

This is one of the more difficult store cards to get, needing a credit score of at least 620. If your score is near 620 and you’re a regular customer, they might just consider. But we suggest applying in-store in this case to improve your odds. Otherwise take a look at other credit card poor credit options.

Can I get a Chase Liquid card with bad credit?

Yes. Chase Liquid is a prepaid card, not a credit card. This means it will be easier for you to get. However, there is a monthly service fee of $4.95 to use.

Can I get a Kohl’s card with bad credit?

Just apply. Unless your score is terribly bad, you’re still likely to get approved with a score between 580 to 680. You may see if you’re pre-qualified on their website.

How can I get Sam’s credit card with bad credit?

You can’t. Even with those with fair credit have a hard time getting approved as they this card needs you to have at least a score of 700.

Can I get a Shell gas card with bad credit?

It depends on the Shell gas card you’re trying to get. The easiest one to apply for is the Shell Drive for Five card which you can get approved for just a credit score of 620.

Does a Fingerhut credit card help with bad credit?

Yes, because it doesn’t have an annual fee and you can apply for it get the decision in seconds. This means you can immediately start on building your credit. 

Will BB&T give a credit card if an applicant has a bad credit?

No. Unfortunately, you need to have an excellent credit score (above 720 to enjoy the perks that come with a BB&T credit card).  You can compare other options and apply credit card offers on our site though.

Can I get Best Buy credit card with bad credit?

You can try. While they do not publish a minimum credit score, people with a 620 credit score or above are highly likely to be approved. Your chances are definitely slimmer, but if you apply for a Best Buy credit card at the same time as with other cards, the effect on your credit score would be minimal.

Can I get a BP gas card with bad credit?

If your score is above 580, you still have a chance of getting a BP gas card. However, your odds won’t be as good as someone with a score of 650, for example. 

Are Santander credit cards for bad credit?

No. As with any other bank, their unsecured loan products are reserved for those with excellent credit score. Take a look at the best credit cards no annual fee required.

Can I get an Amazon credit card with bad credit?

If your score is in the low 600, you can still be approved for an Amazon credit card. However, as they don’t share all their requirements, your best bet is to see for yourself and apply. Use our credit card comparison to help you choose the card that's best for you.

How do I get a Macy's card with bad credit?

The average credit score of those who get a Macy’s credit card is 593. So, you only need to apply for one and still have a great chance of getting approved.

Can I get a Capital One card with bad credit?

If you’re dead set on Capital One, the only option for those with bad credit is applying for the Secured Mastercard. However, the initial credit limit for this is only $200. This may mean that the best signup bonus credit card is off limits for now but you can work your way up.

Can you get a CareCredit card with bad credit?

A CareCredit card tries to accommodate every applicant (even those with low credit scores), but the chances of approval are generally lower. With this card, a minimum of 624 is associated with a higher odds of getting approved.

Can I get a JCPenney card with bad credit?

Yes. However, even if you apply and get approved, your credit limit would definitely be lower than someone with a better score.

How do I get an American Express card with bad credit?

If you want AmEx, you’d want to go for an American Express Green Card. While the average score of those who get approved for this is 619, this is still on the high end of what’s considered a bad credit score.

How do I get a Walmart credit card with bad credit?

Unless you’re eyeing the Mastercard version, you can a Walmart credit card with a score as low as 550. 

Other Questions

With your questions on getting particular credit cards covered, this FAQ will focus on the effects of certain things on your credit score as well as how to increase your current score.

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How do I rebuild bad credit with credit card?

It’s not by haphazardly opening new credit accounts. Instead, keep your oldest credit cards while still religiously paying off your existing loan. When you do rebuild your credit you'll have a better chance of qualifying for 0% apr credit cards and other categories. In the meantime check out some good credit cards to build credit.

Are too many credit cards bad for credit score?

Not necessarily. However, if those credit cards were opened at around the same time, your score would experience a serious decline.

Are making returns on your credit card bad for credit?

No. Not only is it your right as a customer to be completely satisfied with your purchase, there is absolutely no major credit score factor that looks into returns.

How do I pay off credit card debt with bad credit?

If it’s as much as a financial problem as a bad habit, try to seek debt consolidation services. That way, someone could negotiate lower rates on your behalf while also forcing you to pay a fixed amount that you can actually afford regularly.

Are store credit cards bad for your credit score?

Generally, yes. Store credit cards are generally always report late payments, but when you’re on time, not all of them give that much of an effort into making sure it helps your score.

What travel card benefits can I get with bad credit?

Travel credit cards usually have higher credit score requirements. So you may not qualify for one yet. Benefits like credit card travel insurance will be within reach once you raise your score.

David Warner

David Warner

Financial Advisor -

David is our in-house financial advisor with years of experience in the credit card industry. He became interested in credit cards after working for several years at a major bank. He holds a Masters Degree in Finance.