The 8 Best Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit
A great guaranteed approval credit card allows you to get approved for a card with a less-than-stellar score, while allowing you to rebuild your credit in the process.
Choosing the best guaranteed approval credit card isn’t always an easy task, so we analyzed dozens of options with potential for rebuilding your credit score and getting your credit back on track.
Best unsecured cards (no deposit required)
An unsecured credit card doesn't require a security deposit for approval and the companies that issue these cards typically have stricter approval criteria than secured cards, but there are some that are much easier to qualify for than others.
Here are our favorites.
#1. Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa®
#2. Total Visa® Card
Total Visa® Card
#3. Indigo® Mastercard®
#4. Milestone® Mastercard®
Best secured credit cards (deposit required)
A secured credit card is a card backed by a deposit, which acts as a collateral to ensure the lender that they have something to collect if you should fail to pay your bills.
Most companies require a minimum deposit amount, which is usually $200, and this amount is equal to your credit limit.
Annual fees are common with secured cards, but they usually don’t require setup fees to open your accounts—this is probably the main benefit of a secured card over a low-credit unsecured card.
#1. Discover it® Secured
Discover it® Secured
#2. OpenSky® Secured Visa®
OpenSky® Secured Visa®
#3. First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard®
First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard®
#4. Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic
Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic
What does "guaranteed credit" mean?
The term “guaranteed credit” can be a little misleading, but it's just the best way for these companies to market their subprime cards.
Basically, "guaranteed credit" just lets the consumer know they have an almost guaranteed chance of qualifying.
It’s important to know that most of these cards do have minimal requirements. For example, some require that you have a checking account. And some require a minimum credit score.
While these minimums are usually very low, they can certainly take a few people off the “guaranteed” list.
Unsecured credit cards, of course, usually have even fewer requirements than secured cards.
But, keep in mind, if you're unable to make a deposit equal to or greater than their minimum, you will not be able to get the card.
What kind of interest rates can I expect?
Interest rates vary greatly between companies and types of cards, but the average rate for people with bad credit is about 25.33%.
What we recommend when using high-interest credit cards is to pay all or most of your balance during the grace period (usually 21 days).
This way, you can avoid excessive fees and keep yourself from getting further into debt.
What kind of credit limits will I get?
Most unsecured “guaranteed approval” cards start out with a credit limit of $300, which can be higher for people with higher credit scores.
Secured cards typically start with a minimum limit of $200, and can be as high as you’d like up to their credit line ceiling, provided you can make the deposit.
For example, the Green Dot primor Visa Classic will allow you to deposit up to $5,000, but many cards limit this amount to $3,000 or less.
What you need to know about "grace periods"
The grace period on a credit card is the amount of time you're allowed to pay your balance without incurring interest.
And all credit card companies are required by law to have them and clearly disclose them to their customers.
The law also mandates that the grace period must be at least 21 days, though this typically only applies to new purchases, not for transfers or cash advances.
Either way, it's important to be informed and find out the specifics of your particular card ahead of time.
How to rebuild your credit with a guaranteed credit card
A guaranteed credit card can help rebuild your credit because it can help you establish a positive payment history and increase your credit limit.
Why are these two things important?
Well, there are several factors used to calculate your credit score: credit utilization, new credit, length of credit history, payment history, and credit mix.
Each of these account for a different percentage of your score, but payment history and credit utilization (how much of your available credit that you're currently using) are the two most important factors.
In other words, if you can work to improve your performance in these two areas, you can quickly and significantly improve your score!
And this is where guaranteed credit cards come into play.
First, there's credit utilization.
With a guaranteed credit card, approval is easy. And if you go with a secured card, you can make your credit limit almost as high as you’d like.
And by increasing your credit limit, you are instantly lowering your credit utilization—and if you can get your utilization to below 30%, you should see your score rise quickly.
The other thing these cards can help you do is establish a solid payment history.
This may take a little time to do if you’ve had a lot of late payments, but it will show creditors you're acting more responsibly with your finances.
And after several months of you making on-time payments, your credit score will definitely improve.
Guaranteed approval credit cards are not for everyone. If you have a credit score above 600, with less than a few negative items on your report, you’ll likely qualify for a traditional card.
However, if you’re reading this article, you’re probably like many of the rest of us who have suffered some impact to our scores.
If so, a guaranteed approval card is an excellent way to start over, build a more solid credit history, and start improving your score.
About the Author
Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in Investopedia, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.