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This article was last updated Dec 10, 2019. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.
If you find yourself with a poor credit score — whether due to financial missteps or hardships beyond your control — you might be looking for a credit card that will give you a second chance. We’ve got some cards worth considering, and some tips that can help you rebuild your credit.
In this article:
- Best credit cards for bad credit
- Best card for bad credit and no deposit: Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
- Best card for no deposit and cash back: Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Best secured card for bad credit: Discover it® Secured
- Best card for bad credit with no credit check: OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
- Best retail card for rebuilding credit: Target RedCard Credit Card
- Things to know about cards for bad credit
- Steps you can take to rebuild your credit
- The bottom line
Best credit cards for bad credit
|Rewards||Annual fee||Minimum security deposit||Regular purchase APR|
|Capital One® Platinum Credit Card||Non-rewards Card||$0||None||26.99% (variable)|
|Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card||1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day||$39||None||26.99% (variable)|
|Discover it® Secured||2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically||$0||$200||22.99% variable|
|OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card||None||$35||$200||17.39% (variable) variable|
|Target RedCard Credit Card||5% discount on Target and Target.com purchases||$0||None||22.90% variable|
Best card for bad credit and no deposit: Capital One® Platinum Credit Card
The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card is a non-rewards card, so don’t expect to earn cash back or miles with it. However, it doesn’t require a security deposit like some of the other cards for those looking to rebuild their credit, and its annual fee is $0. If you get approved, this is a great comeback card. And after making your first five monthly payments on time, you can get access to a higher credit line. The card is designed for those with average credit and a limited credit history (less than 3 years).
Best card for no deposit and cash back: Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card offers 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. There’s a $39 annual fee, but if you spend $2,600 on this card each year, you’ll earn enough cash back to recoup the annual fee. Be aware that while this card is designed for applicants with fair/limited credit, if you have a poor credit score, you might not be approved. In that case, a secured credit card might be a better option.
Best secured card for bad credit: Discover it® Secured
2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically
Credit line will equal your security deposit of $200 or more*
No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment. No penalty APR*
- No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
- It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
- Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
- Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
- Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
- Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
- INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
- Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for Discover it® Secured
The Discover it® Secured is an outstanding secured credit card. Secured cards require you to submit a deposit, which often serves as your credit line. It’s rare for a secured card to offer cash back, but this one does: 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically Plus, if there’s a Chapter 7 bankruptcy on your credit history, you might still be able to qualify for this card. (But any pending, non-Chapter 7 bankruptcies will disqualify you.)
There’s also a great sign-up bonus for new cardmembers — Discover automatically matches all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. The minimum security deposit is $200. After you’ve had the card for eight months, Discover will begin monthly reviews of your account to see if you qualify to upgrade to an unsecured card and get your deposit back. You can also have the deposit refunded if you pay off the full balance on your card and close the account.
Best card for bad credit with no credit check: OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Free Credit Bureau Reporting
$200 - $3,000 Credit Line*
- 0% introductory APR on all purchases for the first three months
- No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
- The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
- Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
- 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
- We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
- *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card
See additional details for OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card could be a lifeline if you’re worried that something on your credit report will prevent you from getting approved for a credit card. It doesn’t require a credit check when you apply, though other financial information, such as income and rent or mortgage payment amounts, will be considered.
Note that this card earns no rewards and charges a $35 annual fee. If you can qualify, the Discover it® Secured is a better choice. That said, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card provides an opportunity for those with poor credit to apply for a card and use it responsibly to rebuild a crumbling credit score.
This card requires a minimum security deposit of $200. You can get your deposit back if you pay off your card and close the account. However, there’s no opportunity to upgrade to an unsecured card.
Best retail card for rebuilding credit: Target RedCard Credit Card
Retail cards can be great credit building tools as they initially come with lower credit limits and are easier to qualify for. The no-annual-fee Target RedCard Credit Card offers a 5% discount on Target and Target.com purchases, applied when you check out. It’s a good value for frequent Target shoppers, and you don’t have to bother with redeeming rewards. Note that this is a store card, meaning you can only use it at Target and the Target website, but it does report payment activity to the major credit bureaus. Used responsibly by paying on time and keeping a low or no balance, the Target RedCard Credit Card can help boost your credit score.
Things to know about cards for bad credit
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you search for the right credit card with which to rebuild your low credit score:
- The credit cards you’ll have a better chance at qualifying for despite having bad credit will be “secured” cards. This means you’ll have to submit a security deposit, which will become your credit limit. Your deposit doesn’t cover payments — you’ll still have to pay off what you charge to the card. An “unsecured” card doesn’t require a deposit.
- When selecting an secured card, avoid those that have a variety of fees, which can make them expensive to carry. Such fees may include annual fees, credit limit increase fees, authorized user fees and more.
- When you have poor credit, it’s likely that any credit card for which are approved will have high APR. Make a point to pay off your card in full each month to avoid expensive interest charges.
Steps you can take to rebuild your credit
- Check your credit score. You need to know what you’re working with and what kind of cards you might be able to qualify for. There are free ways to check your score, such as the Discover Credit Scorecard with your FICO® score, which you can access without having a Discover credit card.
- When you get a credit card, always make on-time payments. This is the most important thing you can do to build good credit — payment history makes up 35% of your score.
- Use a fraction (less than 30%) of your credit limit. This is the second most important factor behind payment history. So, for example, if your card has a $200 credit limit, never spend more than $60 on it. If possible, pay off your card in full each month.
The bottom line
If you’re looking for a credit card that will give you a second chance, the ones on this list are worth serious consideration. It’s important to understand exactly how good or bad your credit is before you apply — so consider using a free method to check your credit score.
Here’s how good or bad different scores are considered, according to myFICO.com*:
- An exceptional score is 800 and upward
- A very good score is 740-799
- A good score is 670-739
- A fair score is 580-669
- A poor score is less than 580
Once you get a credit card, it’s key to practice good credit behavior by paying on-time every month and keeping your balance to less than 30% of your credit limit. There’s no magic spell to improve your credit score, but good behavior over time will make an impact.
If none of the cards on this list fit what you need, you might find a better option on our recommendations for the easiest credit cards to get approved for.
*There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions.