Find the Right Card for Payday Loans Bad Credit

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Editorial Picks for Best Credit Cards for Payday Loans Bad Credit

Discover it Secured

Best Overall, Best for Cash Back

Discover it Secured is our top choice for those looking to repair their Payday Loans Bad Credit. It comes with no annual fee, an excellent rewards program, and the possibility of upgrading to an unsecured card.

Read the Full Discover it Secured Review Payday Loans Bad Credit

Discover it Student Cash Back

Best for Students

Those who are just starting out on their credit journey should check out the Discover it Student Cash Back card. With excellent acceptance, no annual fee, and relatively low interest rates, it’s a great fit for the student market.

Read the Full Discover it Student Cash Back Review.

nRewards Secured Credit Card

Reasonable APR, $0 Fees

A solid secured credit card for members of the Navy Federal Credit Union who are looking to build or repair their credit. This card offers low fees and a reasonable long-term APR to help you stay on track.

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card 

Travel Rewards

Designed for U.S. citizens and expat workers who want to build their credit while also earning travel rewards. This card comes with a $50 annual fee but can be justified by the 5,000-mile bonus after the first purchase.

Read the Full SKYPASS Visa Secured Card Review.

BankAmericard Secured Credit Card

Account Features 

BankAmericard Secured Credit Card is a secured card with no annual fee and access to free FICO scores. While it doesn’t offer a rewards program or bonus, it does provide an automatic review that allows some cardholders to retrieve their security deposit.

Read the Full BankAmericard Secured Credit Card Review.

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Unsecured

An unsecured card with no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees, and no penalty APRs. The Capital One Platinum Credit Card also offers an automatic credit line review to be eligible for a higher credit limit in as little as six months.

Read the Full Capital One Platinum Credit Card Review.

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Business

For those with bad credit looking for a secured business credit card, Wells Fargo gives business owners the opportunity to build their personal and business credit. With no annual fee and the opportunity to earn cash back rewards, this card is also a great option for those looking to build their credit history.

Read the Full Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card Review.


What To Look for in a Credit Card for Bad Credit

While credit cards designed for people with poor or bad credit generally don’t come with the same generous terms as those for lower-risk consumers, there are still some critical features to look for when reviewing options and choosing one to apply for.

  • Report to all three credit bureaus: You want to find a card that reports to all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). This is what will help you to build your credit over time providing you are keeping up with your payments.
  • No annual fee (or a very low one): There are many cards available that don’t charge you an annual fee, though a security deposit is generally required for secured credit cards.
  • Minimum security deposit: Most secured credit cards will require a minimum deposit of around $200 or $300.
  • Low credit score requirements: If you have bad credit, it’s important that you find a credit card with a credit score requirement that will allow you to get approved.
  • Monthly credit scores: This has become a common feature that’s provided through billing statements or on the issuer’s website. Being able to see your score rise over time can be invaluable in terms of feedback on how you’re doing and encouragement to keep at it.
  • An automatic way to move from a secured card to an unsecured one: Many secured card issuers will automatically review your account after a period of on-time payments to determine if you’re eligible for an upgrade to an unsecured card with friendlier terms.


How Many People Have Bad Credit?

As mentioned above, FICO credit scores range between 300 and 850. According to the credit bureau Experian, in 2021 about 16% of Americans had what FICO classifies as very poor credit (a score under 580), while another 17% had fair or subprime credit (a score between 580 and 669).

The full distribution of how Americans fall into the score ranges is below:

Average FICO Score by Score Range
Range Description Score Percentage w/ Score
Bad/Subprime 300-579 16%
Fair 580-669 17%
Good 670-739 21%
Very Good/Prime 740-799 25%
Excellent/Superprime 800-849 21%
Source: Experian

How to Improve Your Credit Score Using a Credit Card

There are several ways you can use a credit card to improve your credit score, including:

  • Correct any errors on your credit report: It’s important to monitor your credit report so you can quickly correct any errors that might show up.
  • Reporting to major credit bureaus: Using a credit card that reports to the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) helps to show that you are on the right track.
  • Always make your payments on time: Late or missed payments are not good for your credit score, so aim to always make your payments on time.
  • Limit credit card applications: While you may need to open a new credit card to start repairing your credit, be sure to limit the number of applications. Each time you apply for credit, a hard credit inquiry may be performed, which can affect your credit score.
  • Maintain a low credit utilization rate: Aim to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30%. Credit utilization is one variable that goes into calculating your credit score. Keeping it low indicates that you can manage your credit. You can keep your rate low by making frequent payments.
  • Use a secured credit card: If you don’t have great credit and you want to improve your score, a secured credit card is a good tool to help you do that. A secured card is backed by a cash deposit, which usually represents the card’s credit limit.

What Is Bad Credit?

Bad credit is generally defined in terms of a person’s credit score. The most widely used credit score is the FICO score. FICO scores range between 300 and 850. Bad credit is generally considered anything at 579 or lower. Fair credit is 580 to 669.  Bad credit is often caused by things like failing to pay your bills on time or defaulting on a loan. Having bad credit can make it more difficult to get a credit card or obtain a loan.

What Causes Bad Credit?

Bad credit can be caused by several factors, including:

  • Maxing out your credit cards
  • Late bill payments
  • Missed payments
  • Defaulting on a loan
  • Having account go to collections
  • Foreclosure of your home
  • Filing for bankruptcy

How Do You Know You Have Bad Credit?

The only way to know for sure whether you have bad credit is to check your credit score. There are free sources for checking your score online that only require the last four digits of your Social Security number. One indicator of bad credit is a FICO score between 300 to 579. This score is considered by FICO to be very poor. A score between 580 to 669 is considered to be fair. If you don’t know your current credit score, you can visit AnnualCreditReport.com for a free credit report. Checking your credit score won’t affect your credit.

What Happens When You Have Bad Credit?

Having bad credit means that you will have significantly less access to any type of credit, and any loans or credit cards you do qualify for will be much more expensive in terms of interest rates and fees. Other credit card features that are commonly offered to people with better credit, such as rewards and promotional APR offers, will likely not be available.

Credit scores also serve as a proxy for trustworthiness in our society and are sometimes used by employers, landlords, cell phone providers, and insurance companies to determine how much of a risk you represent. They may set their prices accordingly or decline to do business with you altogether.

How Can You Recover From Bad Credit?

Regardless of how bad your credit is, there is almost always a path to move things in a better direction. Building a positive credit history can take time, but it is certainly possible with responsible credit behavior and some patience. Simply avoiding the behaviors that cause bad credit can go a long way. Other things you can do to recover from bad credit include:

  • Review your credit report: Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for a free credit report. Spend some time reviewing your report to see if there is any incorrect information or fraudulent activity. If there is, these mistakes can be corrected by contacting the lender or card issuers. The positive impact on your credit score should show up quickly.
  • Build credit: If you can’t get a regular credit card look into a secured credit card. If you demonstrate that you can pay your bill on time for a prolonged duration, the issuer may upgrade you to a regular card and return your security deposit.
  • Use credit responsibly: Once you have a credit card, you can begin repairing your credit score but using the card, keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30%, and always paying your bill on time (and in full, if possible).

What Kinds of Credit Cards Are Easiest to Get Approved For?

Card issuers never promise to approve anyone’s application, regardless of their credit score. That said, issuers have designed card products for different segments of the market, and that includes the subprime market for people with bad (or no) credit. As mentioned above, secured cards can be a good place to start if you have some cash to deposit with the card issuer. These cards typically report to all three major credit bureaus, which can help you build a solid credit history.

Another option, which doesn’t require a security deposit, is to apply for one or more store credit cards from national retailers like Sears, Target, Kohl’s, or Best Buy. These types of cards can only be used with those respective retailers, unlike cards issued by banks that carry the Visa or Mastercard logo or that are issued directly through Discover or American Express, which can be used anywhere that accepts those credit cards. Store credit cards should only be considered a stepping stone to build credit, however, as they tend to have very small credit lines and charge high interest rates.

While there are numerous unsecured Visa and Mastercard options targeting people with bad credit, they can be a needlessly expensive option. These types of cards tend to have limited credit lines, very high interest rates, and numerous fees. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act of 2009, also known as the CARD Act, sought to reign in these abusive products (sometimes referred to as “fee harvester” cards) by outlawing any annual fee that exceeds 25% of the credit line. However, issuers have gotten around that by exploiting a loophole that allows them to charge “processing” fees that are as bad or worse than the previously predatory annual fees. So, buyer beware with these types of subprime cards. As mentioned, secured cards from major issuers like Discover or Citi can be a much less expensive option until your credit score rises above the 600 mark and better, unsecured options become available to you.

Can I Still Get a Credit Card If I Have Bad Credit?

Yes, you can still get a credit card if you have bad credit. While your credit card options will be more limited, there are still plenty of cards to choose from. Credit cards for bad credit are cards that are typically easy to qualify for and can be used to help you rebuild your credit. Some of the credit cards you can apply for if you have bad credit include:

  • Secured credit cards: A secured credit card is one that is backed by a cash deposit that is required when you open the account. The deposit is held as collateral until the account is closed. Secured credit cards are a good choice for those looking to rebuild or repair their credit because payments are reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Unsecured credit cards: An unsecured credit card is a form of unsecured debt. It does not require a cash security deposit. Most regular credit cards are unsecured credit cards. You still have access to some unsecured credit cards with bad debt, but they often come with higher fees and can be more difficult to get approved for than a secured credit card.
  • Store credit card: A store credit card is a credit card that can only be used in a specific store or group of related stores. Store credit cards can be good for people who are looking to build or repair their credit because they usually come with no annual fees and accept those with lower credit scores.

What Do I Do If My Application Is Denied?

Your credit card application can be denied for a number of reasons. For instance, if you have too much debt, if you have no or limited credit history, or if your credit score is too low to qualify you for that particular card.

If you apply for a credit card and your application is denied, there are a few things you can do:

  • Read your letter of denial: This will provide you with the reason that your application was denied.
  • Review your credit report: If you haven’t already reviewed your credit report, now is the time to do so. This can give you some insight into why your application was denied. Perhaps there is a mistake on your credit report that requires correction.
  • Work to repair your credit: Look into fixing errors, make sure you are paying all other debt payments on time, and keep your credit utilization low.
  • Give it some time: If you are denied, don’t reapply the next day. Take some time to understand why you were denied and to work on repairing your credit so you have a better chance of approval moving forward.
  • Apply for a different card: Depending on why you were denied, you can probably apply for a different card that is better suited to your credit score.

Can You Transfer Balances With Bad Credit?

Unfortunately, few, if any, credit cards designed for people with bad credit allow balance transfers, especially at interest rates that would prove advantageous. If you find one that does, it might make sense to transfer your balance if your current card is charging penalty rates of 36%, for example, and you can move the funds to a card that charges a rate in the mid-20% range. While that rate would still be high, it could save you money in interest charges (not accounting for likely transfer fees of 5%), if the new issuer can provide a large enough credit line to absorb the transfer. Before you consider a balance transfer, however, it would be worth contacting your current card issuer to see if you can simply negotiate a lower rate.


How Long Does It Take to Rebuild Credit?

Correcting errors on your credit report can pay off within a matter of months. Other credit behaviors, like paying your bills on time, can take longer to improve your score. What’s more, some aspects of your credit history, such as any bankruptcies or charge-offs, can take up to a decade to disappear from your report. According to Experian, the following actions can have an impact on credit scores in these general time frames.

Time Requirement Activity
1-3 Months Corrected credit report mistakes
Repaying outstanding credit card and loan balances
1-2 Years Hard credit inquiries (full credit checks following application for new credit)
7-10 Years Late payments
Charged-off accounts
Foreclosures
Chapter 7 and 13 bankruptcy

Source: Experian Information Solutions


Methodology

To arrive at our list of best credit cards for bad credit, we filtered our list of nearly 300 credit cards for cards that consider applications from people with credit scores below 600. From this list, we then objectively chose the best cards in each subcategory based on their star ratings and feature quality. A weighted algorithm was used to determine which cards would be included in our final list.

When choosing the best credit cards for bad credit we considered variables including the card fees, if it charged a reasonable interest rate, and if the card offered any rewards. We also looked into the card security and whether or not the card issuer provided solid customer service. Part of our methodology also included continuous monitoring of data for credit card issuers to ensure we provide the most up-to-date rankings.

MEET OUR CREDIT CARDS EXPERT

Ben Woolsey is Investopedia’s Associate Editorial Director of financial products and services, including credit cards. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, including marketing for banking and financial institutions such as Associates First Capital and Bank One. Prior to Investopedia, he managed credit card content for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com.


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