Although credit cards are the root of so much toxic debt in America, they can also provide a roadmap back to the path of good credit if your score takes a beating. If you can get approved for a credit card, after all, you can make on-time payments, keep your utilization ratio low and rebuild your reputation among potential lenders. The Catch 22 is that you need good credit to get approved for the credit cards that you need to rebuild your bad credit — or do you?
GOBankingRates has identified six credit cards designed specifically for people with fair credit, bad credit and even no credit at all. Some stand out for their forgiving application standards, while others made their names with rewards and perks that are usually reserved for people with good credit. All, however, are worth a look if you’re wrestling with a subpar score.
1. Discover it Student Chrome
All cards marketed to students have lower standards for credit histories and scores than mainstream cards, but Discover it Student Chrome is especially forgiving and especially rewarding. Although you don’t even need a credit score to apply and there is no annual fee, you’ll earn premium perks while you build your credit. This includes up to 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, your cash back will automatically be matched your first year, and you can benefit from a 0% intro APR for six months (then a 15.24% – 24.24% variable APR will apply). All of this on top of earning 1% cash back on all other purchases, which Discover describes as “at school, at home and everywhere in between.”
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2. Platinum MasterCard from Capitol One
Capital One Platinum consistently ranks as one of the highest-rated cards for people with fair to average credit. It has a low credit score requirement and automatically considers cardholders for a credit limit increase after just six months. The only nagging criticism is the lack of a rewards program, but the card comes with no annual fee and no international transaction fee. Plus, card holders qualify for automatic credit line reviews so you can monitor your score as you go.
3. Capital One Platinum Secured
This secured card provides a clear and attainable path to improved credit and life with a full-fledged mainstream card. Not only does Capital One report on-time payments to the bureaus, but if you continue to use your card responsibly, you’ll get your deposit back and be upgraded to an unsecured Platinum card. There’s a $0 annual fee and flexible due dates that fit your budget, as well as your schedule.
4. First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured
You don’t need a credit history or minimum score to get this card, but you will pay an annual fee of $29. In exchange, you’ll be approved with no inquiry, even if you have a discharged bankruptcy on your file. Like all secured cards, this one doesn’t extend credit, but does offer cardholders the chance to “pay 6-months on-time and apply to get a second credit card.” A unique perk for those looking to expand their credit card usage.
5. OpenSky Secured Visa
Apply for this card with a quick, four-step online application, accept the terms, make a deposit and you’ll be ready to go. You will have to pay a $35 annual fee, but there’s no minimum credit score to get approved for this card. As with First Progress Platinum Elite, deposits can be as low as $200 and on-time payments are reported to all three bureaus to help you build your credit.
6. Capital One QuicksilverOne
Capital One used to list the credit requirement for its QuicksilverOne card as “fair” and charged a $39 annual fee, but those days are over. The annual fee is now zero and so is intro APR: 0% for 15 months and then 17.99% – 27.99% variable APR past that timeframe. Other than that, it offers many of the same perks from Capital One, including unlimited 1.5% cash back with every purchase and up to a $200 cash bonus, as well as some Travel Rewards that come with no foreign transaction fees.
Start Building Your Credit
Even with poor credit or no credit, you can still get a credit card to build or rebuild credit. A credit card can make paying for things very convenient–but you must be responsible with it. Avoid getting into debt if you want to increase your credit score and open up other credit options in the future. There are no such things as guaranteed-approval credit cards, and if you apply for too many credit cards in a short period of time, it could hurt your credit.
Easiest Types of Credit Cards To Get
You can also improve your credit score with a couple of these credit card options, provided you make timely payments.
Store credit cards: Store cards might be the easiest credit cards to get with bad credit because they generally don’t require a high credit score. In addition, you can build your credit with a store card. You are, however, limited to using it at that particular store, typically a department store.
Prepaid cards: A prepaid credit card works like a debit card. You make a deposit to the card and withdraw the funds as you make purchases. You won’t build your credit with a prepaid credit card because issuers typically don’t report your usage to the credit bureaus.
Secured credit cards: Like prepaid credit cards, secured credit cards require a deposit. If you fail to make the payments, you’ll lose your deposit. Unlike prepaid cards, secured credit card issuers report your payment history to the credit bureaus so you can repair and build your credit with this type of card. Because credit cards for bad credit with no deposit can be hard to find, you might get a secured card as a good alternative.
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Methodology: GOBankingRates.com identified the best credit cards by analyzing purchase APRs, credit card fees, rewards and offers. All fees and rates are subject to change at the credit card issuers’ discretion. And, some bonus offers may or may no longer be available on the credit card issuers’ websites, depending on how you access the web page. View current credit card offerings from our partners at CardCritics Here or on the issuer’s website.