Home Best 5 Credit Cards For Bad Credit in 2020
Vidal Arias

Credit Cards are seen by many as a necessary evil, even after the CARD act of 2009 which regulated access to credit cards in the US, it is still incredibly easy for almost anyone to get their hands on a traditional credit card. The problem relies on the fact that most individuals are not prepared for the responsibility of dealing with a credit line and they usually overspent or simply put themselves in a bad position for not repaying their card on time….. or at all!

If you are reading this article it is very probable that you’ve had a credit card before and that your current credit score is holding you back from being able to acquire other credit products. It is important for any individual to understand that their credit score is a living organism that can change and mutate based on the situation and also on how you take care of it. Even if you have a damaged score with many scratches and dents, it will always be possible to aim for a better score if you start following a responsible and smart track.

One of the most common ways individuals aim to improve their score is by getting credit and taking care of it. The problem with this is that in reality, it is easier said than done, mostly because not many institutions will be willing to risk their money by lending it to you. One of the most straightforward ways on which you can get a credit card if your credit score has been damaged is by getting a secured card, this type of card will be covered with a collateral deposit of the card’s limit. This model allows financial institutions to de-risk and to allow individuals to gain access to credit cards again since the overall risk has been minimized to almost zero.

Keep in mind that there other options like unsecured cards with small limits under $500 that can allow you to get a card without a security deposit, but it would require at least a relatively better credit score.

“One of the greatest disservices you can do to a man is to lend him money that he can’t pay back.” Jesse H. Jones

There are many different reasons that can make any individual interested in a credit card besides improving their credit score, in this article we will be covering the best options available to anyone with a bad credit score. Please be aware that if your intentions are to use the card to improve your score, you should treat it just like a traditional card as it can otherwise damage your credit score even more.


What is a Secured Credit Card?

If you have had problems with your credit score over the years, it is very probable that most institutions will reject your application for any type of credit lines and especially credit cards. The core reason for this is that if you have had previous encounters with defaults and other negative situations, it is highly probable that you will fall for them once again.

Building up a credit score is not easy and it will take time and effort. A pretty common practice used to improve a credit score is to apply for a secured credit card, this type of card will allow almost all individuals to get a credit card. The main difference of this type of card is that in order to apply you will have to deposit cash as security for the total amount of your credit line. Many experts and advisors usually fight about this topic since many of them do not consider secured cards as real credit lines.

Best Credit Cards For...

The money deposited will act as collateral and the last resort to cover all the charges and expenses of your credit card. It is extremely important to mention that even though there is money acting as collateral, you should treat these cards as if they were traditional credit cards. If you encounter problems repaying your card, you would be damaging your credit score to the point of no return. Even though it is a great way to recover a damaged score, it is key for any individual looking at it as an option, to truly respect it.

Another point worth mentioning is that in order to improve your credit score you should not only make sure to cover all the payments in time, but you should also avoid at all cost to exceed in the usage of your card. Most secured credit cards usually have a pretty tight and small limit, it is extremely important to avoid utilizing more than 30% of your max available balance at any time. This will ensure you the best path towards improving your score.
There are many reasons why an individual might be interested in getting a secured card these are some of the most common

Pros and Cons about this type of credit card


  • Low Credit Scores can be considered: Nothing will close you more doors in life than a bad credit score, if you are standing in this situation then this might be your best option to obtain some sort of credit line. While it is not certain that you will get approved for a secured card, the odds are considerably slimmer than with a traditional credit card where your score would be key.
  • Opportunity to Improve and Build your Credit Score: A credit card will help you prove that you are trustworthy with credit and that you are capable on building and following healthy habits when it comes to your personal finances. Being to access credit will help you boost your credit score faster than with most other methods. Keep in mind that there are many details used by credit companies in order to analyze how a credit card affects individuals and its credit, it is important for you to do your own research to make sure you are in compliance with all of them.
  • Access to rewards and miles: If getting your credit score back on the right track is not enough for you, then accessing miles and rewards programs might be. Most financial institutions offer secured cards under their most common denomination, this will allow participating in most programs and even to get higher status like platinum cards.
  • Cap on spending: If you are an individual that cant follow a budget, getting a secured credit might help you as it will ensure you won’t exceed your weekly or monthly limit. Just keep in mind that maxing any type of credit card is always a bad idea from a credit score perspective.
  • The chance of achieving an unsecured card over time: This is not certain but it is common to see financial institutions rewarding their clients with fully unsecured credit cards after they’ve improved their credit score but most important when they’ve proven to be capable of managing their finances. If you are planning on ever getting your credit again you should truly consider a secured credit card as your starting point.


  • High-Interest Rates and Fees: Financial institutions are here to earn money and earn money alone. You should keep this in mind if you are an individual with a low credit score as you will often find yourself having to deal with extremely expensive fees and obscenely high-interest rates. Even with collateral responding for your debt, if you incur in any type of refinance in the account you will most likely regret to have taken the new card in the first place. You should always be honest with yourself in terms of being able to afford the cost of any type of refinancing as it can result in you losing your security deposit and giving the coup the grâce to your credit score.
  • You can finish destroying your Credit Score: Even if you are using your money as collateral, that does not mean you are free of not paying your cards on time. If you don’t have the capacity of paying on a constant basis for your credit cards, then chances are you should stay with cash and you should focus on improving your credit score any other way. While technically you can default on a secured card, not paying it and having the financial institution reclaim your security deposit will be just as bad to your credit score as not paying for any other traditional credit line.
  • Access to Security Deposit: Your security deposit will remain out of your reach until the account has been fully closed. Keep in mind that if you are in need of getting access to your cash in the mid-term future, you might be better off staying away from secured cards. The main reason for this is that they usually take about 5 to 10 days to fully recover the funds even if the account has been fully closed. Even though this may differ from bank to bank, it is usually the standard in the market.
  • Tight Limits: As mentioned before, a Secured Card will require a security deposit that will act as the collateral for the credit card balance. Even if you have $100,000 to deposit in order to get more credit room, it is important to keep mind that most institutions will have tight limits on their cards. This continues to prove the dislike of providing any type of credit to individuals with low credit scores. If you are still in need of finance a major purchase, I would recommend aiming for a secured loan (same logic but it will allow for a larger limit).
  • Credit Bureau Reporting: Let’s say you’ve been approved for a secured credit card, the idea behind obtaining the card is to improve your score to apply for a more formal type of loan (Mortgage). Over a period of 2 years you’ve been taken excellent care of your card usage and your payments, this might have made your credit score rise but it is not over yet. You should always make sure to understand how this type of cards are reported to the credit agencies, the reason behind this is that a Secured CreditCard might become in a red flag for certain types of loans. Even though it is not the norm, certain institutions report secured cards with a notation where it specifies the nature of the card.


Best Credit Card For Individuals With Bad Credit Score

1. Discover – it | Overall Best Credit Card for Bad Credit

One of the most common misconceptions about secured cards is that people believe they are less than a traditional credit card. While this might be the case for certain providers, it is definitely not the situation for Discover as it presents even more benefits than most traditional credit cards.

Discover started as a payment company and has grown to become one of the most important card providers and online banks in the US. If you lean towards utilizing a Discover card you can be certain that it will probably be the overall Best Credit Card of the Market, because of their personal service and also their privileges.

If your personal goal is to improve your credit score then you should consider Discover, not only you would be able to improve your score but you will do so while enjoying from cash back on all your purchases and also great discounts. The firm understands that most individuals interested in a secured card are interested in rebuilding their credit, for this reason, it will automatically recalculate your score to let you know once you become eligible for unsecured products. The idea behind this is to allow individuals to remain under the brand of Discover, even after they’ve improved their credit enough to apply for the products of other firms.

Chances are you might want to get a card from another payment network like Visa or Mastercard, but it is important to keep in mind that Discover is without a doubt one of the very best providers and firms currently available in the US.

Additional Information

APR: Variable 25.24%

Intro APR 10.99% (6 months)

Credit Card Type: ***Secured***

Minimum Credit Score: Poor FICO (350 at least)

Annual Fee: $0.

Our Rating

  • CashBack: Many cards offer access to cashback on purchases but in reality, the fine print tells a different story. With Discovery you will be able to take advantage of 1% cashback on all purchases and also a 2% on certain transactions like buying Gas or Restaurants. The whole process is automatic and the returned money will be deposited in your account right after the payment.
  • Credit Bureaus Reporting: Many institutions offer secured cards as a method to improve credit scores but when it comes to reporting the cards to the credit bureaus and agencies they actually report them with a notation of the nature of the card. If the reason to get the card in the first place is to improve your score, then you should take extra measures to make sure that the chosen card will be reported as a traditional credit card with no annotations. Discovery will make sure to report your cards with no notes, this will be taken as if it was a regular credit card and it is the main reason why it will help boost your score.
  • Initial Payment: The main problem with Discover is that even though they are a considerably large online bank, the firm still has to deal with the problem of how individuals can deposit their money in order to open an account. In order to get your card, you will have to deal with the hassle of utilizing an existing bank account with the firm in order to make the deposit if you are not an account holder of Discover you might find the entire process too complicated.

2. Capital One – Mastercard – Best for Low-Security Deposits

Before talking about the credit card it is important to understand the issuer, in this case, Capital One is a well known online bank in the US. As part of their online business model, the firm offers its services to all states in the country, making it the go-to option for many individuals.

The Capital One Mastercard Secured Card is one of the best options in the market, as you already know a secured card would require a security deposit of the full amount of the card’s limit, Capital One does things a little bit different as they only charge a deposit of $49 for $200 of limit. Compared to other options in the market this credit card is a great choice for anyone truly interested in improving their credit score and also to leverage their limit.

Keep in mind that in order to unlock a higher limit you will have to wait a certain period of time. Depending on how damaged your credit score is, it might take you up to six months to prove the bank that you are indeed taking care of your credit before they allow for further credit.

If part of your plan is to apply for an unsecured card down the road, then Capital One might be your best option as the firm promotes a program to “rehabilitate Credit”.

Additional Information

APR: Variable 26.99%

Credit Card Type: ***Secured***

Minimum Credit Score: Poor FICO (350 at least)

Annual Fee: $0.

Our Rating

  • Leverage: The firm allows for secure payments to be as low as 25% of the card limit, this is not a common practice and it is key for individuals not to try to take advantage of it. The idea behind getting a card back is to avoid putting yourself in the worst position and to improve your credit situation. As mentioned before, if you are not ready to face the responsibility of utilizing a credit card you might be better off with cash until your situation improves.
  • Bankruptcy: Even though the firm allows individuals with a very damaged credit score to apply for certain services, there are exceptions that will automatically get you a rejection letter. If you have previously filed for bankruptcy it is very likely that you would not get accepted and that you will have to wait for the 10 years minimum for it to disappear from your credit score.

3. Total – Visa | Last Resort to get a Credit Card

Total is the credit card brand of the Bank of Missouri which is a relatively small bank with assets of under $1.5 billion as of December of 2018.

It is important to understand that if your plan is to get a credit card simply to improve your credit, this might be one of the only possible options where an unsecured card will be given to low credit score individuals.

You won’t be doing business with a name like Chase or Citi, and this is something you have to keep in mind as the overall service cannot be compared. You want to have access to some of the most rudimentary tools that most banks offer in the country and the reason for this is the actual size of the bank. The overall service might not be bad, but it is simply basic and plain.

After doing some research it was easy to find that almost 92% of all applications are accepted, but the approval rating and the overall review was terrible. Most individuals had problems with their cards since the very beginning. Even though the firm uses a Visa membership, it has become known for scammers that this type of cards do not have high-security mechanisms and are usually targeted for that same reason.

Additional Information

APR: Variable 34.99%

Credit Card Type:***Unsecured***

Minimum Credit Score: Poor FICO (500 at least)

Annual Fee: $75 Additional

Fees: One Time Program Fee $89

Our Rating

  • Security Deposit: Since the Total card is an Unsecured credit card you won’t have to do a security deposit to act as collateral for the credit line. If you are low on cash this might be a great option to access a credit card without incurring in extra deposits.
  • Limit Increase: If you get to complete six billing cycles without incurring in any problem you will be able to apply for a higher limit. Take into consideration that credit bureaus take into account the amount of credit available and the usage.
  • Credit Reporting: Total will report the credit card as a traditional card, this will ensure that even if not used you will be able to improve your credit score. It is understandable that you might feel afraid of utilizing your card, especially if you’ve had bad experiences with credit cards in the past. Having said so it is important for you to use it as the repayment is what will help improve your score. The best advice I can give you is to try to use your card for one or two small payment and then pay it back. This will ensure that you will no have a carrying balance and that all payments will always be on time.
  • Fees…Fees…and more Fees: The worst problem with this type of card is that the firm will charge you fees for everything, and I’m seriously not exaggerating! It will only take 5 minutes to read their prospects to understand all the charges that you will encounter with this card, from one of the highest annual fees in the market to simply a first-time membership program of $89 dollars paid directly with the balance of your card.
  • APR (High Fees): If you ever find yourself carrying a balance on your card you can can easily end up paying more than triple of the average interest rate of any other credit car. This makes Total one of the most expensive options when it comes to financing.

4. Open Sky – Visa |Best Card for Credit Building

OpenSky is not as famous as some of the brands from this list, but it is important to understand that this is a firm that takes pride in giving individuals a second chance to help their credit score. This might be one of the only places where you would be able to get a credit card without even a credit check, the reason for this is that all individuals will be considered as if they had the worst possible credit score.

It’s important to mention that this is a company that will report directly to the top 3 major credit bureaus and not simply to FICO as some others do. The firm understands deeply that their business is not only to lend credit but to allow for individuals to change their credit score and with it their lives.

Additional Information

APR: Variable 19.64%

Credit Card Type: ***Secured***

Minimum Credit Score: Poor FICO (350 at least)

Annual Fee: $35

Our Rating

  • No Credit Check: Chances are that life hasn’t been easy for you and your credit score is full of holes and dents, having to apply for a credit card or any type of credit line knowing that your odds are against you is not only stressing but heartbreaking. With Opensky even individuals with big stains like bankruptcy would be able to get a credit card. Keep in mind that while credit score won’t be a showstopper to apply, you will have to prove that you meet the income standards for your card limit.
  • Annual Fee: This is a very straightforward card and service, there aren’t many cons with the product but it is important to understand that the card will charge a $35 annual fee for the Visa membership.
It is important to mention that OpenSky focuses on delivering a very average and simple product, their service might not be as good as the one offered by other big names but it certainly won’t disappoint. If you are focus on improving your credit score it should be more than enough to start.

5. Deserve – MasterCard | Best For International Students

Deserve offers credit cards for individuals that otherwise would have a hard time getting one. The main target of the company are individuals with either a relatively low credit score or simply an unexisting one, hence why these cards are so popular for international students living in the US.

This is a firm that will help you build credit if you don’t have one, and will also improve yours if it has been previous damage. The core of the company is to provide a service very similar to what Discovery offers but without even having to request a Social Security Number.

Since the firm will report directly to the 3 major credit bureaus in the US, this might be your best option to start building credit if you have recently moved to the Country.

Additional Information

APR: Variable 24.99%

Credit Card Type: ***Unsecured***

Minimum Credit Score: Fair FICO (650 at least)

Annual Fee: $39

Our Rating

  • High Cashback: This is one of the only cards available in the market that will offer a cashback of more than 3% on certain types of expenses like travel and entertainment. The firm will cover up to $500 worth of cashback on every billing cycle.
  • No Credit History Required: Even for a secured card most companies will require an individual to have an existing credit record (even if it is bad), the idea of this is for financial institutions to understand better who they are doing business with and also to know the risk associated with the individual. Deserve does it differently by allowing individuals without a credit history to apply for an unsecured credit card to $5000 in the limit. The idea behind this is to provide newcomers with the opportunity of building their track record while having access to a credit line.
  • Besides having to pay a relatively high Annual Fee there aren’t many drawbacks of this card. In synthesis, they are not offering anything new or anything special besides giving cards to individuals that would be rejected in any other institution. Keep in mind that this is not a card you would want to keep as you the only card since there are better options once your credit has been built. Don’t forget that having old credit lines with years of existence provides a good reference to credit bureaus. Even if it means having to pay the $39 a year to keep the card, it is not a bad an idea to do so in order to have a long time reference already working.



Even though certain individuals might want to get secured cards in order to get access to the benefits of a credit card without the full responsibility, it is imperative to treat them just like any unsecured card. The reason for this is that when it comes to credit bureaus, it will affect your credit score just as much as a regular credit card would.

While getting a card sounds like a good option to improve your credit score, it is not the only path. Disregarding how bad or how great your score is, there are many ways one can choose to improve a credit score. The best advice I can give you is to take your time and analyze your current situation, including your finances and also any type of debt you might be still holding in order to make any desition based on the whole picture.

Having a bad credit score might be your presentation card when it comes to a financial institution but it should not define who you are an individual. Never forget that just like you can change your life if wanted, you can do a lot to improve your credit score and get a fresh start. This process might not be easy and fast, but it certainly is full of benefits if you have what it takes to embark in the journey.


Glossary of Loan Terms


1. Is it possible to improve a credit score by using a secured credit card?

2. How much are the deposits to request a secured credit card?

3. How can I get my deposit back?

4. What’s the minimum credit score for an unsecured credit card?

5. How does APR works on secured credit cards?


Vidal Arias

Vidal Arias

Vidal is an experienced Strategist and Portfolio Manager with a keen interest and passion for the financial markets and also writing. During his career, he has developed excellent market timing skills, focusing mainly on the macro analysis of the US Equity Market and the overall US Financial Market. He started his career as a financial analyst for a major American bank and continued his way into the trading desk as a Sr. Trader and later as a Portfolio Manager for an Offshore Hedgefund in Europe. Linkedin: vidalarias Email: [email protected]