Our top picks of timely offers from our partners

More details
UFB Secure Savings
Learn More
Terms Apply
Up to 5.25% APY on one of our top picks for best savings accounts plus, no monthly fee
Accredited Debt Relief
Learn More
Terms Apply
Accredited Debt Relief helps consumers with over $30,000 of debt
LendingClub High-Yield Savings
Learn More
Terms Apply
Our top pick for best savings accounts for its strong APY and an ATM card with no ATM fees
Choice Home Warranty
Learn More
Terms Apply
Protects 25+ systems & appliances. Free quote + $50 off + 1 month free
Freedom Debt Relief
Learn More
Terms Apply
Freedom Debt Relief can help clients get started without fees up front
Select independently determines what we cover and recommend. We earn a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links. This commission may impact how and where certain products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). Read more about Select on CNBC and on NBC News, and click here to read our full advertiser disclosure.
Credit Cards

Best credit cards for bad credit of April 2024

CNBC Select analyzed the most popular credit cards offered by the biggest banks, financial companies, and credit unions that we determined have bad or poor credit score requirements to find the best card for your needs.

Share

A credit score below 580 puts you in the bad credit category. If you fall within this range, you'll likely have trouble qualifying for a credit card. But that doesn't mean all hope is lost. If becoming an authorized user on someone else's account isn't an option, there are a few cards that are marketed toward people with less-than-stellar credit histories.

Secured cards are typically the best choice for people with bad credit. These cards require a security deposit (often $200) that becomes your line of credit. When you use your secured card responsibly — paying your bill on time and in full each month — you can begin to improve your credit score.

Once you establish a fair (580 to 669) or good credit score (670 to 739), you can graduate to an unsecured card or apply for a new card. (Check out the difference between secured cards and unsecured cards.)

CNBC Select breaks down the best credit cards for people with bad credit, so you can choose a card designed to help you build credit. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best credit cards for bad credit.)

Best credit cards for bad credit

Best for earning rewards

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

On Discover's secure site
  • Rewards

    Earn 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.

  • Welcome bonus

    Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    N/A on purchases

  • Regular APR

    28.24% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    New / Rebuilding

  • *See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • Cash-back program
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Starting at seven months from account opening, Discover will automatically review your credit card account to see if you can transition to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit

Cons

  • Cash-back program limits earnings: 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%
  • Low credit line prevents cardholders from charging high-cost items or many expenses

Best for low deposit

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

On Capital One's secure site
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    No current offer

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    N/A for purchases and balance transfers

  • Regular APR

    29.99% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    $0 at the Transfer APR, 4% of the amount of each transferred balance that posts to your account at a promotional APR that Capital One may offer to you

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    No credit history

  • See rates and fees, terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • $49, $99 or $200 refundable deposit
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.
  • Flexibility to change your payment due date

Cons

  • High variable APR
  • No rewards program

Best for low interest

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Information about the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the cards prior to publication.
  • Rewards

    None

  • Welcome bonus

    None

  • Annual fee

    $0

  • Intro APR

    None

  • Regular APR

    As low as 16.25% variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    None

  • Foreign transaction fee

    None

  • Credit needed

    No credit history

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons

  • $500 minimum security deposit, which is higher than average
  • Credit union membership required, which may cost a minimum of $10 if you don’t qualify
  • No rewards program
  • No clear timeline to upgrade to an unsecured card

Best for no credit check

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

On OpenSky's secure site
  • Rewards

    New feature! Earn up to 10% cash back on everyday purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    No welcome bonus

  • Annual fee

    $35

  • Intro APR

    N/A

  • Regular APR

    25.64% Variable

  • Balance transfer fee

    N/A

  • Foreign transaction fee

    3%

  • Credit needed

    No credit history

Terms apply. Click here to view the Cardholder Agreement.

Pros

  • No credit check, regardless if you have a credit score

Cons

  • $35 annual fee
  • 3% fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

 

More on our top credit cards for bad credit

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Who's this for? The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a well-rounded secured card that offers many of the benefits that are typically found with unsecured cards. Cardholders can earn cash back, receive a generous welcome bonus, use the card overseas without incurring added fees and more — all for no annual fee.

Cardholders earn a competitive 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%. Plus, you can earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases automatically. The welcome bonus is also unique: For new card members in the first year only, Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year. If you earn $25 cash back at the end of the first year, Discover will give you an additional $25.

This card requires a $200 security deposit, which is fairly standard for secured credit cards. It stands out from the crowd because cardholders have a clear path to upgrading to an unsecured card (and getting their deposit back). Starting at seven months from account opening, Discover will automatically review your credit card account to see if they can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit. This takes the guesswork out of wondering when you'll qualify for an unsecured credit card.

[ Return to card summary ]

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Who's this for? If you're looking for a secured card with a low deposit, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is your best option. This card has no annual fee (see rates and fees) and minimum security deposits starting as low as $49, $99 or $200, based on your creditworthiness.

If you qualify for the low $49 or $99 deposits, you'll still receive a $200 credit limit. This is a great feature considering many secured cards require $200 deposits to receive an equivalent line of credit.

By using your card responsibly and making on-time payments, you may be able to improve your credit score and be considered for a credit line increase in as little as six months. In addition to paying on time, make sure you pay in full, since this card has a very high 29.99% variable APR. (see rates and fees)

[ Return to card summary ]

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Who's this for? The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card offers one of the lowest interest rates for a no annual fee secured card at 16.25% variable APR.

While we don't recommend carrying a balance month-to-month (especially when you're trying to build or rebuild credit), it can be a good idea to choose a low interest secured card if you have a history of carrying balances or you're looking for a safety net.

There is a higher-than-average $500 minimum security deposit to open the card. But it does come with some additional perks, including travel insurance, auto rental collision damage waiver and extended warranty protection.

Membership to the Digital Federal Credit Union is required, but anyone can join in one of several ways: if you're a friend or family member of a DCU member, live in select communities, work for select employers or make a one-time contribution (as low as $10) to a participating organization.

[ Return to card summary ]

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Who's this for? If you have bad credit and have struggled to be approved for cards in the past, you may want to consider a card that doesn't perform a credit check. The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn't pull your credit when you apply.

Like other secured cards, a minimum $200 security deposit is required to open the card and you can deposit up to $3,000.

While this card is great for no credit check, it does come with a $35 annual fee, unlike the other cards mentioned above that have no annual fee. The annual fee can be worthwhile if you're trying to build your credit and you have trouble qualifying for cards other cards.

[ Return to card summary ]

Act now: Check your credit score for free

Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every credit card review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of credit card productsWhile CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics. See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best credit cards for bad credit.

Find the best credit card for you by reviewing offers in our credit card marketplace or get personalized offers via CardMatch™.

Subscribe to the CNBC Select Newsletter!

Money matters — so make the most of it. Get expert tips, strategies, news and everything else you need to maximize your money, right to your inbox. Sign up here.

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including: annual fee, minimum security deposit, credit limit, rewards program, introductory and standard APR, welcome bonuses and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit score and customer reviews when available. We also took into account how easy it is to upgrade the card from secured to unsecured and how quickly you can get your security deposit back.

Because it's unusual for secured credit cards to have robust rewards programs, we did not analyze how many rewards points you can earn in the first year. For cardholders who are looking to rebuild credit, it's more important to practice good credit card habits — spending within your means, paying your balance on time and in full — than try to optimize your points balance.

Catch up on CNBC Select's in-depth coverage of credit cardsbanking and money, and follow us on TikTokFacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

For rates and fees of the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, click here.

Click here to view the Cardholder Agreement for the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
Chime
Learn More
Terms Apply
Chime offers online-only accounts that minimize fees plus, get paid up to 2 days early with direct deposits
Find the right savings account for you
Learn More
Terms Apply
Help your money grow by finding the savings account that offers the best rates and features for you