How to get a credit card with bad credit: consider a secured card

  • Figuring out how to get a credit card with bad credit takes a little more thought than just opening a card when you have good or excellent credit.
  • First, you want to check your credit score to confirm that you have bad credit and see exactly how high (or low) it is.
  • Then explore your options: Some major card issuers offer cards specifically for building or replenishing credit, or you can open a secured credit card until your credit is stronger.
  • Or, you can open a checking account with a debit card. It won’t help you build credit, but it will provide you with a non-cash way to pay for your purchases both online and in person.
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Good credit can unlock the key to so many promising things, like reasonable interest rates on loans, for example, and the ability to score a stellar credit card with great rewards.

If you have bad credit, however, it might not be impossible to get a credit card after all – it may take some extra steps or some ingenuity. Here’s where to start if you need a credit card and have less than great credit.

How to get a credit card with bad credit

1. Find out your credit score

If you just think you don’t have good credit, or it’s been a while since you’ve checked out, it’s worth reconsidering before trying to get a credit card.

It will be difficult to keep track of your credit score progress without knowing where you started. Banks often offer free credit score monitoring for customers, or you can check it for free anytime at sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and It is never necessary to pay for your credit score.

The credit rating company FICO issues five categories of credit ratings:

  • poor: 300-579
  • fair: 580-669
  • good: 670-739
  • very good: 740-799
  • excellent: 800-850

Note that for most things, you don’t need perfect credit. Once you are firmly established in “very good” territory, you should be able to secure favorable terms from lenders.

If you find out that your credit score is really not that good, looking at the benefits of cards for people with better credit might just keep you from focusing on your ultimate goal: finding a credit card you can get with. the credit you currently have and work on building your score for better options in the future.

2. Apply for a credit card specifically for people with bad credit

Before turning to secured credit cards – more information below – it’s worth considering some of the regular and unsecured credit cards that offer products to people with bad credit. These cards may come with an annual fee, but if your score is typically between 300 and 639, you can get an unsecured card that will help boost your credit score until you qualify for another card.

Cards like Credit One Bank’s Visa Platinum card for credit rebuilding (no annual fee) and Capital One Platinum card (annual fee ranges from $ 0 to $ 99) are marketed to people with a credit history. limited or non-existent, who wish to build or rebuild their credit. .

If you’re trying to build your credit from scratch, Petal Card is a new credit card designed to do just that.

3. Try a secure credit card

One of the easiest ways for someone with bad credit to access a credit card is to use a secured credit card like Discover it Secured, Capital One Secured, or Citi Secured.

A secured credit card requires a security deposit (hence “secure”). The card issuer keeps this deposit, which is usually equal to your line of credit, until you switch to an unsecured card or close the account with no balance. Most secure cards allow you to switch to an unsecured version after making payments on time for a period of time, usually after a year, although the specific terms vary by card.

4. Become an authorized user on someone else’s account

Before you embark on this path, know that asking someone to be added as an authorized user on their account is a very personal thing.

If you want to try this route, find someone you know well and trust (and who has good credit themselves). The primary cardholder is responsible for the balance whether the authorized user is spending responsibly or not – so you want to make sure you fall into the old camp.

Additionally, if you are added as an authorized user, confirm that the credit issuer is actually reporting you as an authorized user to the credit bureaus. If you are not registered, it will not help you with your own long term credit score.

5. Get a prepaid debit card

It is important to understand that a prepaid debit card will do nothing to improve your overall credit score. This type of card is simply an alternative way to pay for items without cash, except that it is impossible to overspend with a prepaid card because you have a set spending limit.

If you have bad credit and are looking for a way to secure a real credit card, but need a credit card-like option in the meantime, a prepaid debit card can help you pay online. , over the phone, or in a cashless store, and this will also help you stay on a budget.

6. Stay the course and improve your credit over time

Even if you can’t get a credit card with your score right now, you will increase your chances if you continue to improve your credit. To do this, you’ll need to get into the habit of making payments on time, tackling any unpaid debt, and keeping tabs on your credit report and score for fraudulent activity (and seeing your score. increase over time!).

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