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What Are The Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit of 2017?

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We reviewed hundreds of offers to track down the best credit cards for bad credit. If you have a FICO score below 600, or no credit whatsoever, these are some of the best offers that will be available to you. We broke out the cards into various categories that should fit a variety of consumer needs – everything from cash back to low interest rates.

Credit Cards for Bad Credit...

Best Bad Credit Credit Card for Cash Back Rewards: Discover it® Secured Card ­- No Annual Fee

The Discover it® Secured Card ­- No Annual Fee is best for individuals with bad credit who want to work on improving their credit score while earning cash back along the way. The card earns users cash back on everyday purchases, just like credit cards available to individuals with average or better credit scores. Cardholders receive 2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and an unlimited 1% otherwise. After your account has been opened for 8 months, it will be considered for an upgrade to one of the other Discover products - some of which are the most attractive cash back credit cards on the market. As long as you continue to make all your payments on time, and keep credit utilization low, your credit score will increase over time. Keep in mind this is not a credit card that you want to carry a balance on. It has an extremely high APR, so you should always pay off your bill in full.

Highlights
Annual FeeNone
APR23.74%
Minimum Deposit$200
Credit LimitEqual to security deposit

Best Credit Card for Bad Credit with Low Interest: State Department EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card

The State Department EMV Secured card is a good option for anyone who happens to have a credit score below 600 and needs to carry a balance month-to-month. With a minimum APR of 7.24% APR, this card has one of the lowest interest rates we’ve seen on a secured card. Even when you compare it against ordinary cards, interest rates below 10% are a rare sight to behold. Credit cards for people with bad credit have an average APR of around 16%, so you save a little more than 50% on interest charges compared to the typical card of this type. The EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum doesn't charge its users an annual fee, allowing cardholders to put that bit of extra cash towards the security deposit, paying down a balance, or simply keeping a few extra bucks in their pocket. Best of all, you don't need to be a State Department employee to qualify; a membership with the American Consumer Council makes you eligible.

Highlights
Annual FeeNone
APR6.99%
Minimum Deposit$250
Credit Limit$250, equal to deposit

Best Credit Card for Students With Thin/No Credit (No Deposit Needed): Discover it® for Students

This card is excellent for people with little to no credit, like students, who want to build their credit score. The Discover it® for Students provides 5% cash back in rotating categories each quarter like Amazon.com, restaurants, ground transportation and more, up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. Outside of that, you get 1% back on everything else. Currently, new cardmembers get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back they’ve earned at the end of your first year. That makes this card all-the-more powerful during those first 12 months.

Because this is a student credit card, and not a secured card like others on this list, users don't need to put down a security deposit. You can read more about the Discover it® for Students in our review.

Highlights
Annual Fee$0
Variable APR13.74% - 22.74% Variable
Minimum DepositNone (not a secured card)
Credit LimitVaries

Best Credit Card for Bad Credit With High Credit Limits: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is great for individuals who wish to have a high credit limit, without having to put up too much money up front. With this card, your security deposit gets you extra bang for the buck. Depositing more than the minimum can get you higher credit limits. This is considerably better than some other secured cards, like the EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum card, which awards just a $250 credit limit in turn for a $250 security deposit. On top of offering a higher credit line, Capital One provides cardmembers with the ability to monitor their credit score free of charge. This is a vital tool for anyone looking to rebuild their credit history as it allows one to see exactly how their spending/payments habits impact their credit score.

Highlights
Annual Fee$0
Variable APR24.99%
Minimum Deposit$49
Credit Limit$200+

Best Credit Card for Bad Credit for Earning Miles: AeroMexico Visa Secured Card

Individuals who have no trouble paying off their monthly credit balance, and have a firm handle on their finances should use the AeroMexico Visa Secured to earn miles. This card comes with an annual $99 companion certificate, which acts as a ‘buy 1 get 1 for $99” on AeroMexico airline tickets. Cardholders also get 5,000 bonus One Club Premier Miles the first time they use their card. By all standards, the AeroMexico Visa Secured card is structured like a regular travel rewards credit card, with a fairly decent rewards rate – it can range between 1.3% to 2.8% depending on how you redeem your flights, or twice that if you spend exclusively on gas and groceries.

Highlights
Annual Fee$25
Variable APR22.9%
Minimum Deposit$300
Credit Limit$300+

Comparison Tool

Custom fitting a credit card reward's program requires a lot of math and calculations. Our tool does all the heavy lifting for you - simply enter your estimated monthly spending into the categories, and we will figure out which credit cards will provide you with the highest yield.

Edit Monthly Spend: $1,430
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Card Annual Fee 2-yr Net Rewards Rate

The Net Rewards Rate is equal to the Rewards Value over two years divided by the total spending. The total spending is equal to the values entered into the tool and multiplied by 24 months. See the Rewards Value note to see details on how it is calculated.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Bonus Value

The bonus field shows our estimate for the value of the card’s sign-up bonus. If the bonus is point or mile based, we multiply the total bonus points/miles by our estimate for their value to arrive at a dollar equivalent. We display $0 if there is no bonus or if the user doesn’t qualify for the bonus based on the current spending entered into the tool.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

2-yr Rewards Value

The Rewards Value is calculated by adding together the rewards earned from charging purchases to the card over two years and any sign-up bonuses (if applicable). They are then multiplied by our estimated point/mile value, with any annual fees (if applicable) subtracted. All values are based on our own estimates for the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using a card.

The estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone. They are not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Discover it® for Students
$0 1.43%
$171
Discover gives a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. (New cardmembers only)
$514
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $0
APR 13.99% - 22.99% Variable

Card Details

  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • Earn 5% cash back at Amazon.com and Target now through December 2017, on up to $1,500 in purchases when you activate. Plus, 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Good Grades Rewards: $20 cash back each school year your GPA is 3.0 or higher for up to the next 5 years.
  • No annual fee. No late fee on first late payment. No APR change for paying late.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Freeze It® on/off switch for your account that prevents new purchases, cash advances & balance transfers in seconds.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • 0% intro APR on purchases for 6 months, then the standard variable purchase APR of 13.99% - 22.99%.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
171 x $1 = $171
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 514
Discover it® Secured Card ­- No Annual Fee
$0 1.43%
$171
Discover gives a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. (New cardmembers only)
$514
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee $0
APR 23.99% Variable

Card Details

  • No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
  • Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
  • We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at restaurants & gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, 1% cash back on all your other purchases.
  • Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
  • New! Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 343 x $1 = $343
Bonuses
171 x $1 = $171
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 514
AeroMexico Visa Secured Card
$0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $25 1.38%
$50
5,000 First Use Bonus Miles plus Complimentary Companion Certificate
$495
Graph Card More Details
Annual Fee $0 Intro Annual Fee for the first year then $25
APR 22.99%

Card Details

  • 5,000 First Use Bonus Miles plus Complimentary Companion Certificate
  • 1 Club Premier Mile per $1 spent
  • 2 miles per $1 spent on Gas & Groceries
  • Complimentary Baggage

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 47,040 x $0.01 = $470
Bonuses
5,000 x $0.01 = $50
Less Annual Fees -$25
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 495
Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card
No Annual Fee 0.95%
$0
$343
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 6.99%

Card Details

  • Earn 1 Flexpoint reward for each dollar you spend
  • Flexpoints can be earned on any net purchases at the rate of 1 per dollar

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.01 = $343
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 343
Navy Federal nRewards Secured Credit Card
No Annual Fee 0.48%
$0
$172
Graph Card More Details
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 8.99%

Card Details

  • Earn 1 nRewards point for each dollar you spend
  • nRewards can be earned on any net purchases at the rate of 1 per dollar

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 34,320 x $0.005 = $172
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 172
DCU Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card
No Annual Fee 0.00%
$0
$0
Graph Card More Details
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 11.5%

Card Details

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 0
US Bank College Visa® Card
No Annual Fee 0.00%
$0
$0
Graph Card More Details
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 11.99% - 20.99% Variable

Card Details

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 0
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
No Annual Fee 0.00%
$0
$0
Graph Card Read Review More Details
Annual Fee No Annual Fee
APR 21.99%

Card Details

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months 0
U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card
$35 -0.19%
$0
$-70
Graph Card More Details
Annual Fee $35
APR 20.99%

Card Details

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Less Annual Fees -$70
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months -70
BankAmericard Secured Credit Card
Image of BankAmericard Secured Credit Card $39 -0.22%
$0
$-78
Graph Card More Details
Annual Fee $39
APR 20.24%

Card Details

Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months

Card Rewards Estimated Rewards Value Dollars*
Spending Rewards 0 - $0
Less Annual Fees -$78
Total Net Estimated Rewards Through 24 Months -78

Summary 2017's Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

For those who want a quick recap of the best credit cards for bad credit, you can find the most relevant information in the table below.

Card

Best Bad Credit Credit Card for…
Discover it® Secured Card ­- No Annual FeeCash Back
Savings Secured Visa Platinum CardLow Interest
Discover it® for StudentsThin Credit Files/Students
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®Flexible Line of Credit
AeroMexico Visa Secured CardTravel Miles

What You Should Do If You Have Bad Credit

Whatever your financial situation is, if you have a bad credit score, your number one priority should be rebuilding it. We recommend that consumers practice these simple for a positive impact on their credit score.

Pay your credit card balance in full and on time each month. Paying off your debts is a surefire way of showing credit agencies that you are a responsible spender – meaning you don’t take on loans you can’t pay off. Do what it takes, from setting up a monthly reminder on your cell phone or your calendar, or start a recurring monthly payment from your checking account so that it doesn't slip your mind. While it may be tempting to just pay the minimum, and not worry about some of your balance, there are even more negatives to it other than the damage to your credit score. Most bad credit credit cards have unfortunately high interest rates, which means your interest costs will be greater - unless you have the EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card.

Don’t spend beyond your credit limit. Most experts agree that using more than 60% of your total available credit limit has a negative impact on your credit score. With the typical secured credit cards starting off with minimum balances of $250 you do not have much room for error. While issuers do give you a certain amount of credit, they like to think that you don’t rely on it completely – the closer you are to your limit, the more desperate you appear to a reporting agency.

Find someone to co-sign your credit card with you. If you have a family member or close friend with a good credit score, see if they are willing to co-sign on your new credit card. They will be taking on a share of your responsibility, if you are unable to pay back your debt. In return you will effectively be boosting your credit score for that credit application – resulting in being qualified for better credit cards that can ultimately end up saving you more money.

How to Avoid Hurting Your Credit Score

One of the few things that can turn a bad situation worse is not understanding why you are in a bad situation in the first place. It can be frustrating being told that you have bad credit, when you don’t know what got you there. Below we explain three of some of the most common pitfalls consumers make that lead them to having a bad credit score.

Avoid late payments. One of the biggest culprits behind ruining credit scores is paying your credit card bill late. Consumers tend to think that outside of paying a late fee, there are no other consequences associated with a late payment. First and foremost, being late on your payment will have a direct impact on your FICO score. The later you are, the greater the damage. On top of hurting your credit score directly, being late on a payment can raise your APR. That means, if you carry a balance, you will pay a higher interest rate on it. If you are not ready to pay more, you will likely carry an even greater balance and the effects of this can easily snowball out of one’s control.

Don’t apply for many credit cards in a short period of time. Part of what determines your FICO score is appearances. Companies who look at your financial habits like to see you act as though credit is a nice perk, which you don’t necessarily need. Each time you submit an application for a credit card, loan or anything of this sort an inquiry is made into your credit card. When multiple inquiries are made within a short period of time, credit-reporting agencies perceive this as you needing credit desperately – something that does not bode well for your ability to pay it back. When this happens, your credit score can lower and you may be denied your applications.

Don’t defaulting on a loan or declare bankruptcy. While throwing in the towel may save one headache in the present, defaulting on a loan or declaring bankruptcy should always be a last resort. If you ever do either of these two things, it will become part of your permanent record. Having declared bankruptcy digs a very deep hole in one’s credit history – one that will take multiple years to dig out in the future.

Comments and Questions

* See the online credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the "Apply Now" button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the issuer's website.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through the credit card issuer Affiliate Program. 

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Advertiser Disclosure: Some of the offers that appear on this website are from companies which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). The site does not review or include all companies or all available products. For more information please see our Advertiser Disclosure.