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Best Credit Cards for Poor Credit

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by Sam Lipscomb | Updated Sep. 23, 2020

Overview of the Best Credit Cards for Poor Credit

If you've had some bad luck with credit, you may find that a lot of credit cards require good or excellent credit for approval, making it difficult to qualify for new credit cards. This not only makes it challenging to get access to a line of credit but build credit as well. Luckily, a number of issuers have introduced high-quality credit cards for consumers with fair credit. Today, poor credit offers range from cards with cash back to those with low interest rates. Keep reading to see our picks for the best credit card offers for poor credit. See More


Best for Cash back

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  • 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 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.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • 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.

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

10.99% for 6 Months

Regular APR

24.49% Variable

Details

The Discover it® Secured earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter. In addition, it earns 1% cash back on all other purchases. Discover will also match your cash back earnings after your first year of card membership, which will effectively double your rewards total.

With this secured card, you’ll need to put down a security deposit of $200 to $2,500; an amount that will also act as your credit line. While Discover offers a 10.99% introductory balance transfer APR for the first six months after your first transfer that’s made by Dec. 10, 2020, there are no purchase APR promotions currently.

Why We Like It

The Discover it® Secured credit card is a great option for those with a weak credit past. It’s a secured card, so you’re in control of your overall credit line, provided you have enough cash to put down. You’ll also be able to earn valuable cash back rewards, which is a rare benefit in the “poor credit” market. The card reports to all three major credit bureaus, and if you use it responsibly, you’ll hopefully soon have the option to upgrade to a non-secured card.

Best for No Annual Fee

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  • When used responsibly, the Citi Secured Mastercard can help you build a credit history - all with no annual fee
  • Unlike debit or some prepaid credit cards, your monthly credit activity with the Citi Secured Card is reported to the three major credit bureaus which can help build credit history. Plus, get access to your FICO® score for free, updated monthly
  • The Citi Secured Card is a Mastercard with worldwide acceptance
  • A security deposit is required for this account, a minimum of $200. Once you are approved, your credit limit will be equal to the amount you put down as a deposit
  • Set up account alerts and set up automatic bill pay to make sure you stay on top of your account
  • Flexibility to choose your own due date at the beginning, middle, or end of the month to work best with your bill payment schedule
  • Get access to your account from anywhere 24/7 by phone, online, or with the mobile app
  • Standard APR when taking part in the Citi Flex Plan is a variable 22.49% depending on creditworthiness

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

22.49% Variable

Details

The Citi Secured Mastercard is a basic secured card that requires a security deposit to act as your underlying credit line. Cardholders can put down anywhere from $200 to $2,500. The card does not have an annual fee, and you’ll gain access to theft protection and other safeguards against fraud.

There is no 0% introductory APR period with the Citi Secured Mastercard, and no rewards program is available either. In order to qualify for this card, you’ll need to meet Citi’s credit qualification criteria, which includes a review of your income and debts.

Why We Like It

When it comes to cards designed for those with poor credit, the Citi Secured Mastercard stands out because of its simplicity and low-cost nature. You have the option to get a credit limit of up to $2,500, which is high when compared to most secured cards. The card’s built-in theft and fraud protections can make it well worth it for anyone with poor credit trying to rebuild their score.

Best for Low Ongoing APR

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  • Load your card one time and keep on using it. Better than a prepaid card, choose a secured card!
  • There is no minimum credit score required for approval and no credit check needed
  • Reports to all 3 national credit bureaus automatically
  • Low fixed APR of 9.99% - there is no penalty APR if you are late
  • $200 minimum deposit - up to $1,000 maximum deposit to activate. You can add additional deposits anytime to increase your limit up to $5,000

Annual Fee

$48

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

9.99% Fixed

Details

The Applied Bank Secured Visa Gold Preferred Card carries an annual fee of $48 and has no rewards program. However, applicants won’t need to go through a credit check to get this card. This could be a major benefit, especially for those with exceptionally low scores.

Like other secured cards, your security deposit acts as your credit line, and you can put down anywhere from $200 to $1,000 at account opening. You can increase this credit line up to $5,000 after the fact by adding more money to your security deposit. The card has a low, fixed APR of just 9.99%. It’s important to note that the card does not have a grace period, so you’ll begin accruing interest almost immediately if you don’t pay your bill.

Why We Like It

Because the Applied Bank Secured Visa Gold Preferred Card doesn't require cardholders to go through a credit check for approval, it is much more attainable than even other low-credit cards. With the option to increase your credit limit to up to $5,000, this card makes larger purchases a reality. That said, it’s important to be cognizant of the fact that the card has no grace period, despite the low APR. In turn, you’ll want to avoid carrying a balance at all costs.

Best for Low Minimum Security Deposit

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  • With responsible card use, this card can help you build credit – all with no annual fee
  • This card regularly reports to the 3 major credit bureaus - unlike a prepaid card
  • The Capital One® Secured is a Mastercard® which is accepted at millions of places worldwide
  • A security deposit of $49, $99, or $200 is determined based on your creditworthiness. Access to an authorized bank account is required for deposit.
  • Capital One® will automatically review your account and consider you for a higher credit line in as little as six months
  • Manage your account 24 hours a day from anywhere – by phone, online or on the Capital One mobile app

Annual Fee

$0

Purchase Intro APR

N/A

Balance Transfer Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

26.99% Variable

Details

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® works a bit differently than most other secured cards. If you’re approved for it, you’ll need to put down a deposit of either $49, $99 or $200, depending on your financial situation. Regardless of what you’re required to deposit, your credit line will be $200. However, you have the option to increase your credit line by putting down more money. Additionally, cardholders who use their card responsibly may earn access to a higher credit limit in as little as six months.

This card does not have an annual fee, which helps to keep your costs low. However, if you plan to carry a balance, the APR for this Capital One card is quite high at 26.99% Variable.

Why We Like It

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® works much like other secured cards, with the key difference being that your security deposit is determined by your financial situation. Regardless of how much you put down, you’ll earn access to a minimum credit line. With other perks, such as no annual fee, credit bureau reporting and the opportunity to earn a higher credit line with responsible use, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a great option for anyone looking to rebuild their credit profile.

Methodology SmartAsset has developed a quantitative and independent system for evaluating the relative value of a credit card offer versus other offers in the marketplace. Our system evaluates cards based exclusively on their features, such as their rewards earning rate (if applicable), fees, perks, and rewards program redemption options. The annual rewards values on this page are calculated using annual spending assumptions in various categories such as, but not limited to, gas, restaurants, airfare, and US supermarkets. These spending assumptions are built on research that SmartAsset has conducted on existing balance transfer credit cardholders. Our promise with our credit card recommendations is that we will always strive to have the most comprehensive, accurate, and objective method of evaluating credit card offers. Any recommendations are solely determined by the result of this research and model, and is never influenced by any fees, commissions, or other forms of compensation that SmartAsset may receive from credit card issuers for leads generated on our website.

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