Nobody builds a bad credit score intentionally – an impulse buy here, a missed payment there and the problem just snowballs out of control. Before you even know it, you could be staring at a mountain of debt than you can’t possibly return on time, pulling your score down to dangerously low levels. Once you get there, it can take a long time before you recover and regain your financial stability once again. It’s a vicious circle and only a systematic, disciplined effort can turn the tides.
Of course, people with bad credit still need a way to finance their ongoing expenses and respond to emergencies. The easiest way to handle such financial matters is through a credit card, but getting the card approved might prove difficult if your credit history is less than sparkling. Finding a credit card company willing to issue you a new card is just as difficult as picking an option that won’t make your long-term debt situation even more untenable.
To help you make sense of all the available options, here is a brief overview of credit cards most commonly used by those who have some black spots in their credit history. And by the way, we have no affiliation with any of these credit card companies nor will we benefit in any way if you obtain one of their cards. Our suggestions here are completely unbiased and listed in no particular order.
TOTAL VISA UNSECURED CREDIT CARD
Advantages of having a VISA card are obvious – it is accepted almost everywhere in America and abroad, as well as online. That’s why many people with shaky credit scores decide on this card, which can be obtained very quickly through a simple online application process. As an unsecured card, it provides the user with a degree of financial freedom, while the financing comes in monthly installments that shouldn’t be too hard to meet. It is not without its limitations – a checking account at the issuing bank is required, and a processing fee must be paid upon approval before the card can be activated. While you are using this card, regular reports will be sent to credit monitoring institutions to keep track of your punctuality with due payments. In other words, this card can help you get out of trouble but it must be used very carefully to avoid further debt accumulation.
INDIGO PLATINUM MASTERCARD
Simplicity and availability are the main reasons for picking Indigo Platinum card to be your primary source of credit. If you are interested in getting this card, it won’t take you long to find out whether you are eligible, since the prequalification process is automated on the company website. Previous bankruptcy is tolerated and there is an opportunity to gradually rebuild your score by using this card in a responsible manner for a while. Don’t forget this is a MasterCard product, so you can pay with it practically anywhere you happen to be at the moment. In case you need to control your account from a mobile phone, that’s going to be easy with this card regardless of the time and day of the week, and you won’t have to pay any hidden charges to do it.
MILESTONE GOLD MASTERCARD
Another widely accepted card that can be easily obtained even after you sustain a bankruptcy, Milestone Gold MasterCard could be the right solution for the most sensitive transition period. Prequalification process is very expedient and bears no impact on the credit score, with applicants receiving the response almost immediately. Fraud protection is provided in case the card gets stolen, while funds can be accessed online without having to pay a fee for the privilege. There is a variable annual fee that ranges from $35 to $99, and regular APR is set at 23.95%, close or slightly above the industry average. To complement practical advantages with an aesthetic touch, card design can be customized at user’s request – and this service comes with no extra charge.
CAPITAL ONE SECURED MASTERCARD
People looking to build up their credit score often choose secured cards like this one, but Capital One MasterCard offers some unique benefits. It comes with no annual fee, which helps a bit when your revenues are tight. However, this is not a pre-paid card and it brings you full benefits with the credit bureau if you meet your obligations on time. The card allows for online and mobile access to funds, so you’ll be fully covered if you need to pay for something electronically. The initial credit line is limited to $200 and can be approved only with deposit, but the limit can be lifted after five months with no additional deposits if the payments are made on time. On the negative side, this card has a comparatively high interest rate (24.99% APR), and like many other secured cards it doesn’t include a rewards program for loyal customers. In this case, financial freedom comes at a price.
NAVY FEDERAL nREWARDS SECURED
Best suited for members of the military, this card delivers some excellent advantages that might be very useful at times of financial distress. In addition to active and retired soldiers, other employees of the Department of Defense, as well as their family members, also qualify for this unique financial instrument. This is a secured card that comes with no annual fees and features a variable APR in the range from 9.24% to 18% – much better than most other cards on this list. There is also a strong loyalty program in place, with 1 point won for every 1$ spent with the card, which can yield significant savings in the long run. When you consider that your repayments on this card count towards your credit history, it looks like the best choice for anyone who meets the eligibility criteria.
FIRST PREMIER BANK CREDIT CARD
This is another product belonging to the MasterCard family, with all the associated convenience of a globally accepted credit card. Having an account with the First PREMIER Bank is a precondition to get it, but the procedure is minimal and bad credit rating shouldn’t present a problem. If you manage to take out this card, your regular payments can have a positive impact on your credit score, gradually returning you to good financial health. 24/7 online access is a part of the deal, with the possibility to follow your current credit score on the company website. Overall, this is a solid choice for people looking to rebound after a bankruptcy, since it allows all the essentials without too many conditions.
USAA SECURED CARD AMERICAN EXPRESS
In order to apply for this card, you have to open a deposit account with USAA and put up some funds. Like with other secured credit cards, the limit approved directly depends on the deposited amount, with a $250 minimum and a $5000 maximum. Additional deposits can be made at any time, providing the user with a chance to expand the credit line when his financial picture improves. Since it is issued by the United States Automobile Association, this card also grants the holder some rather unmatched benefits when travelling, with no extra fees for foreign transactions and collision damage coverage for private and rented vehicles. The card is protected against identity theft, and you can count on company assistance to cancel unauthorized bills charged from it.
FINGERHUT CREDIT ACCOUNT
Issued by WebBank, this convenient card can be obtained through a simple online application process. The response is typically received very quickly, as the bank runs its checks and determines your eligibility automatically. Bad credit rating is usually not a reason to be turned down, so this option is open to almost anybody in need of a new financial instrument to pay the bills. There are no annual fees and debt is paid off in monthly installments, while the credit limit can be gradually raised if you don’t miss any payments. The card allows you to buy items from a shopping list that includes over 700.000 products, although it makes most sense to limit your purchases to necessary things if your priority goal is to boost your credit score back to respectability.
As you’ve seen, a low credit score doesn’t have to be an obstacle that would prevent you from getting a new credit card. There are plenty of options you can apply for, and some of them are coming with full benefits that traditional card holders can count on. By finding one that’s well suited to your personal circumstances, you can regain your normal financial capacity and solve ongoing problems without jeopardizing your long term solvency.
No matter which credit card you choose, you absolutely need to be on your best behavior if you are serious about rebuilding your credit score. Keep in mind that most cards available to people with bad credit rating have relatively high APR’s, and plan your expenses with full realization how much you will end up paying and how much revenues you are likely to receive in the same period. It is also wise to avoid temptations and use the funds only for things that can’t be delayed, or otherwise you might end up stuck in a cycle of perpetual debt.