7 Best Credit Cards For Bad Credit Of January 2024 (2024)

Knowing where you stand on the credit spectrum is only the beginning. It’s equally important to have a clear sense of your goals in acquiring a credit card and an understanding of what’s realistically attainable.

How To Get a Secured Credit Card With Bad Credit

A secured credit card is typically easier to get for those with bad credit than an unsecured credit card with decent terms. Each is different and comes with its own minimum and maximum credit limits, typically requiring a minimum opening deposit between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars. (This figure depends on the card’s maximum limit and how big of a deposit you’re willing or able to part with).

Secured cards are offered by nearly all major issuing banks and some smaller ones. If you know what bank or other lender you’re interested in using, secured cards are most easily pursued through the issuer’s website. We recommend comparing several different options online and checking out other trusted resources for recommendations or general advice, such as our guide to the best secured credit cards.

How To Get an Unsecured Credit Card With Bad Credit

In general, unsecured credit cards are harder to see approval for without good credit, but that’s where the cards specifically for subprime borrowers come in. Aside from credit cards that rely on a co-signer, the process for obtaining this type of unsecured credit card is similar to that of your average card, though applicants will have fewer options overall. If approved, the cardholder can then enjoy a relatively normal credit card product, so long as they are willing to put up with the drawbacks and risks that these cards tend to carry, such as high APRs.

Again, the best place to start for most applicants is online, including the materials provided on the bank or other issuer’s website. We recommend checking out our current guides to the best cards for rebuilding credit and the best second chance cards with no security deposit.

Credit Cards After Bankruptcy

Starting over financially after bankruptcy can be tricky. You can’t apply for a card until your bankruptcy is discharged. But once this has happened, your best bet is to apply for a card as soon as the bankruptcy process is completed so you can start rebuilding your credit right away.

There are steps to rebuild your credit after bankruptcy, but depending on what type of bankruptcy you filed for, the bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for seven to 10 years. Still, a bankruptcy doesn’t completely eliminate all credit card prospects.

There are a small handful of credit cards you can get even with a bankruptcy on your credit report, including options that don’t require a credit check. Make sure to read the terms and conditions of any card you’re interested in to see if your financial circ*mstances match the card’s requirements and restrictions. These cards typically have extremely strict terms.

How To Get Approved for a Credit Card With Bad Credit

You can improve your odds of being approved for a card with bad credit by:

  • Knowing your credit score and profile in advance
  • Choosing cards that are attainable
  • Checking for preapproval or pre-qualification, if offered by the card issuer
  • Having cash available as a security deposit, if you’re applying for a secured card
  • Waiting to apply until your finances are under control
  • Submitting accurate, up-to-date information on your application

Pro Tip

Applying for a card with a co-signer, or being added as an authorized user, may help you get access to credit cards you don’t qualify for independently. However, the other person involved is counting on you to only charge what you can pay off in full and on time. Have a plan in place for responsible use before asking someone if this is something they’ll agree to.

How To Pre-Qualify for Credit Cards With Bad Credit

If an issuer offers pre-qualification for one or more of its credit cards, it’ll typically show it on its website. To see if you pre-qualify, you’ll be asked to enter a few details about yourself. You’ll usually need to provide your name, address and the last four digits of your Social Security number so the issuer can run what’s known as a soft check of your credit.

This type of credit check, unlike a hard pull of your credit, won’t have any impact on your score. Running a soft check doesn’t mean you’re officially starting the application process either, but it does allow an issuer to get an idea of what among its offerings you may or may not qualify for.

Overall, there’s no downside to having an issuer pre-qualify your application. In fact, you may end up finding out you have a shot at a card you didn’t think your current credit score merited. Pre-qualifying is not a guarantee of approval.

An important note: Be sure you have complete trust in any website or service asking for sensitive information for pre-qualification (or to determine any other kind of eligibility). Be wary of initiating this process through links provided by online or email advertisem*nts and through unsolicited phone calls, as the entity on the other end may not actually represent who they claim to. You can always decline, note information and follow up yourself through the credit card issuer’s official channels. Claims that “this is your only opportunity” to act on an offer should raise red flags.

How To Use a Credit Card To Build Credit

Building better credit is synonymous with improving your credit score. There’s no silver bullet, but there are concrete actions you can take to get on the right track. For starters, do your very best to pay your bills on time—your payment history makes up 35% of your credit score. If you simply find it challenging to remember due dates, you can use autopay to eliminate the risk of missed bills.

Building credit also relies on keeping your credit utilization ratio to less than a third of your total credit limit. This measurement compares your credit card balances—what you spend—to the maximum amounts your credit limits allow. Lenders can use this ratio to gauge risk—as an indicator for how well a borrower manages finances. A ratio of less than 30% is generally considered good but below 10% is even better.

Applying for too many new lines of credit can also hurt your credit score, so managing this effectively is important to building credit. A hard credit check can drop your score by one to five points and, if approved, lower your average account age, which also can drop your credit score. If possible, try to avoid applying for too many lines of credit when working on improving your score.

Find the Best Credit Cards for 2024

No single credit card is the best option for every family, every purchase or every budget. We've picked the best credit cards in a way designed to be the most helpful to the widest variety of readers.

Learn More

Bottom Line

Getting a credit card when you have bad credit is possible and can be a good stepping stone towards building better credit. But remember: Not all credit cards for those without great credit are great credit credit cards. Choosing the right card will depend on a combination of your personal financial history and your financial goals. Watch out for high fees, interest charges and unreasonably low credit limits that’ll keep your credit utilization high and your credit low.

I'm an expert in personal finance and credit management with a deep understanding of credit cards and their implications on financial well-being. My expertise is grounded in practical experience and extensive knowledge of the financial industry.

Now, let's break down the key concepts from the article on how to get a credit card with bad credit:

  1. Secured Credit Cards:

    • Easier to obtain for individuals with bad credit.
    • Requires a minimum opening deposit, usually ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
    • Offered by major and some smaller banks.
    • Comparison of options recommended, utilizing issuer websites and trusted resources.
  2. Unsecured Credit Cards for Bad Credit:

    • Generally harder to get without good credit, but there are options for subprime borrowers.
    • Similar application process to regular cards, with fewer overall options.
    • May have drawbacks such as high APRs.
    • Online research recommended, including guides for rebuilding credit.
  3. Credit Cards After Bankruptcy:

    • Can apply for a card after bankruptcy discharge.
    • Rebuilding credit is crucial, and there are specific cards available.
    • Bankruptcy remains on credit report for seven to 10 years.
    • Strict terms for cards available after bankruptcy.
  4. Getting Approved for a Credit Card With Bad Credit:

    • Tips to improve approval odds include knowing your credit score, choosing attainable cards, checking for pre-approval, having cash for secured cards, and submitting accurate information.
    • Applying with a co-signer or being added as an authorized user is an option.
  5. Pre-Qualification for Credit Cards With Bad Credit:

    • Issuers may offer pre-qualification on their websites.
    • Soft credit check without impacting credit score.
    • Not a guarantee of approval.
    • Caution advised regarding websites or services asking for sensitive information.
  6. Using a Credit Card to Build Credit:

    • Paying bills on time is crucial (35% of credit score).
    • Maintaining a credit utilization ratio below one-third of the total credit limit is important.
    • Applying for too many new lines of credit can harm credit score.
  7. Finding the Best Credit Cards for 2024:

    • No one-size-fits-all credit card.
    • Selection based on personal financial history and goals.
    • Caution against high fees, interest charges, and unreasonably low credit limits.
  8. Bottom Line:

    • Getting a credit card with bad credit is possible for rebuilding credit.
    • Choosing the right card depends on personal financial circ*mstances and goals.
    • Watch out for potential pitfalls like high fees and low credit limits.
7 Best Credit Cards For Bad Credit Of January 2024 (2024)


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