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TIPS FROM THE MONEY COACH
A Credit Card Perks Column
Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach®, is a personal finance expert, speaker, and the author of more than a dozen books. She now works as a financial educator, helping Americans to better handle their money - especially managing credit and debt.

Top credit cards for people with bad credit

Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers from our partners. How we make money.

Having a decent credit score can open a lot of possibilities in your life, whether it’s purchasing a home at a low mortgage rate, reducing your auto insurance premiums, or even securing certain types of jobs.

If you’ve had a problematic credit history, however, your credit might have sunk to new lows.

No matter what your current situation: don’t count yourself out.

By using certain credit cards available to those with bad credit in a responsible manner, you can dig yourself out of a hole and re-establish your credit score and credit history.

Credit card considerations

The first step when you have poor credit is to educate yourself about your financial options.

It’s crucial to understand that there are two different types of credit cards for people with credit challenges: secured and unsecured cards.

Secured credit cards

With a secured card, you get a credit card after you first pay a security deposit to a bank, credit union or other lender.

Then you build your credit by making regular payments (and paying certain applicable fees). So let’s say you put up a $500 security deposit. You would then get a secured card with a $500 credit limit.

Unsecured credit cards

On the other hand, unsecured cards have no security deposit. These are the traditional kind of credit cards most people apply for when they seek a new card.

But both secured and unsecured cards can be used almost anywhere credit cards are accepted, and retailers and others won't know if you’re using one card or another.

Credit cards usually have an online application form that’s easy to fill out. Some offer an instant approval, whereas others may take weeks via snail mail.

The rule of thumb is that the better your credit score is, the quicker you’ll be approved.

Here is a selection of 16 secured and unsecured credit cards from CardRatings partners that people with bad credit can apply for to get their credit back on track:

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Issued by: Capital One Financial Corporation
Bank Location: MacLean, Virginia
Brand: Mastercard
Secured? Yes
Type of Credit Needed: Limited/Bad

Learn more


Milestone® Unsecured MasterCard®

Milestone® Unsecured MasterCard®

Issued by: Mid America Bank & Trust Company
Bank Location: 
Dixon, Missouri
Brand: 
MasterCard
Secured? 
No
Type of Credit Needed? 
Bad/Poor

Learn more


Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Issued by: Credit One Bank
Bank Location: 
Las Vegas
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
No
Type of Credit Needed? 
Bad/Poor

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit


UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card - The Comeback Card™

UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card - The Comeback Card™

Issued by: OneUnited Bank
Bank Location: 
Boston
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
Yes
Type of Credit Needed? 
Bad

Learn more


Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® - No Deposit Required

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® - No Deposit Required

Issued by: Credit One Bank
Bank Location: 
Las Vegas
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
No.
Type of Credit Needed?
Fair

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® - No Deposit Required


Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®

Issued by: Credit One Bank
Bank Location: 
Las Vegas
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
No
Type of Credit Needed? 
Bad/Poor

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa®


OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Issued by: Capital Bank
Bank Location: 
Coral Gables, Florida
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
Yes
Type of Credit Needed?
 Fair Credit/Poor/Bad/No Credit

Learn more


Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Issued by: CitiBank
Bank Location: 
New York
Brand: 
Mastercard
Secured? 
Yes
Type of Credit Needed? 
None/Limited History

Learn more


Total VISA® Unsecured Credit Card

Total VISA® Unsecured Credit Card

Issued by: Mid America Bank & Trust Company
Bank Location: 
Dixon, Missouri
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
No
Type of Credit Needed? 
Bad/Fair

Learn more


Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Building Credit

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Building Credit

Issued by: Credit One Bank
Bank Location: 
Las Vegas
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
No
Type of Credit Needed? 
Poor/Bad/Fair

Learn more


Surge Mastercard® Credit Card

Surge Mastercard® Credit Card

Issued by: Celtic Bank
Bank Location: 
Salt Lake City
Brand: 
Mastercard
Secured? 
Secured/Partially-secured/Unsecured
Type of Credit Needed? 
Poor

Learn more


USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®

USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®

Issued by: USAA Federal Savings Bank
Bank Location: 
San Antonio
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
Yes
Type of Credit Needed? 
None/Limited History

Learn more


Merrick Bank Double Your Line™ Visa® Credit Card

Merrick Bank Double Your Line™ Visa® Credit Card

Issued by: Merrick Bank
Bank Location: 
South Jordan, Utah
Brand: 
Visa
Secured? 
Yes
Type of Credit Needed? 
Bad

Learn more


Emporium Preferred Account

Emporium Preferred Account

Issued by: Pacific Credit Group, LLC
Bank Location: 
Los Angeles
Brand: N/A
Secured? No
Type of Credit Needed? None/Poor

Emporium Preferred Account


Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee

Issued by: Discover Bank
Bank Location: Greenwood, Deleware
Brand: Discover
Secured? Yes
Type of Credit Needed? Poor

Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee


Indigo® Unsecured MasterCard®

Indigo® Unsecured MasterCard®

Issued by: Celtic Bank
Bank Location: Salt Lake City
Brand: MasterCard
Secured? No
Type of Credit Needed? Bad/Poor

Learn more

Qualifying for a secured card

To qualify for a secured card, you need to do more than put up a security deposit. 

You also typically need to be at least 18 years of age, have a Social Security Number, a U.S. address as well as an American bank account.

Bear in mind also that, in some instances, you can be turned down for a secured credit card. One of the main reasons this may occur is if you have no steady source of income.

If you are rejected, don’t despair

You can utilize a few “workarounds” to boost your bad credit history, including getting “credit builder loans” from local credit unions.

Start Here

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