The 8 Best Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Updated: Apr. 4, 2019 


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®

  • Cash back rewards. This is one of the only cards of its kind that offers rewards, as eligible purchases receive 1% cash-back.
  • Variable annual fee. You don’t automatically pay the maximum fee: it's between $0-$75 the first year, depending on your creditworthiness when you apply. The second year, it is $0-$99. But if your credit has improved, it’s possible to get your fee lowered from the year before.
  • Variable interest rate. Credit One’s interest rate works the same as the annual fee. Your creditworthiness determines the amount you’ll pay, ranging from 20.24% to 26.24%.
  • Credit line increases. The minimum credit line you’ll receive is $300, but you’re eligible for increases with good credit performance. They don’t specifically state how often they review accounts for credit line increases, but most companies will do so after 6 months of on-time payments.
  • Free credit score. Credit One gives you free access to your Experian credit scores and credit report summary every month, which is a nice perk.

#2. Total Visa® Card

Total Visa® Card

  • $300 credit line. The initial credit line for this card is $300, but you are eligible for an increase after 12 months. At that time, you can request a review.
  • Checking account required. Total Visa requires that you have a checking account in order to be approved for the card. This is where they will draft your fees and set up automatic monthly payments. 
  • 34.99% APR. Their annual interest rate is a little higher than some of the other cards. But they do advise their customers to pay their balances within 21 days of the billing cycle to avoid it.
  • $89 setup fee. This $89 setup fee is a one-time expense. However, you may have to pay an additional fee when they increase your credit line.
  • Free cash advances first year. This is a big advantage, as almost no card in this class offers fee-free cash advances. But the fee does go up to 5% (or $5, whichever is greater) after that.
  • Decreasing annual fee. Their annual fee is actually pretty low compared to some of the others. It’s $75 the first year, but then it decreases to $48.

#3. Indigo® Mastercard®

Indigo® Mastercard®

  • Pre-qualify without hurting your credit. You can pre-qualify with a soft inquiry that won’t ding your credit score. This way you know ahead of time whether or not you should apply.
  • $75 annual fee. $75 is about the average annual fee for these types of cards. But this one increases to $99 after the first year.
  • 23.95 APR. 23.9% is not the highest interest rate we’ve seen for these cards and is pretty much right in line with the average.
  • $0 cash advance fee first year. It’s always a perk to get fee-free cash advances. It does go up to either $5 or 5% (whichever is greater) after the first year, however. 
  • Roadside assistance. Indigo card members get free roadside assistance, which is a nice perk you don’t see with every credit card.

#4. Milestone® Mastercard®

Milestone® Mastercard®

  • 23.9% APR. Another fairly decent and typical interest rate for subprime cards such as this one.
  • $0 setup fee. In most cases, there is no setup fee. But in cases of applicants with extremely low credit scores, they might be required to pay a $50 opening fee.
  • $75 annual fee. $75 is a typical annual fee the first year. It then goes up to $99 after that.
  • $0 cash advance fee first year. It’s always a perk to get fee-free cash advances. It does go up to either $5 or 5% (whichever is greater) after the first year, however. 
  • Fee-free cash advance the first year. You’ll pay no transaction fees the first year. After that, you’ll have to pay $5 or 5% (whichever is higher).

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

  • No annual fee. Not having to pay an annual fee is a big bonus for a credit card company in the subprime market.
  • $200-$2,500 opening deposit. Once you’re approved, you can deposit any amount from $200 to $2,500, and your credit limit will be determined by that amount.
  • 25.25% interest. Not the best interest rate we've seen, but pretty typical for these types of cards.
  • Automatic credit line increases. Every 8 months, Discover automatically reviews your account for potential credit line increases.
  • Cash back rewards. This is where Discover really stands out. Not many cards in this class offer cash back rewards, but this one offers the same ones to all its customers. You can earn 2% at gas stations and restaurants, and 1% on everything else. What’s more is that Discover matches these earnings at the end of your first year.
  • Free FICO score. Discover offers its customers a free FICO score from TransUnion. 

#2. OpenSky® Secured Visa®

OpenSky® Secured Visa®

  • No credit check. No credit check for this card makes it perfect for people with no credit or severely damaged credit.
  • $200-$3,000 credit limit. You can deposit as much or as little as you want within this range. Your credit limit is equal to your deposit.
  • FDIC insured deposit. Not all secured card companies have this protection, making this a nice little perk.
  • 19.64% APR. This is actually one of the lowest interest rates on the market for subprime credit cards.
  • $35 annual fee. The $35 annual fee is also on the low spectrum for this type of card.

#3. First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard®

First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard®

  • 10.74% APR. This is First Progress’s main selling point—it does vary according to the Prime Rate, but it shouldn’t get much higher than this.
  • $49 annual fee. The $49 annual fee is a little lower than average for subprime cards.
  • No minimum credit score. Unlike some other cards in this category, there is no minimum credit score required. 
  • No credit history required. This makes it a great starter card for high school graduates.

#4. Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic

Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic

  • 13.99% APR. This card has the second lowest interest rate we’ve found in subprime cards.
  • $39 annual fee. The $39 annual fee is certainly one of, if not the lowest, fees we’ve seen for a subprime card.
  • $200-$5,000 credit line. A nice credit limit range, your deposit is equal to your limit. 
  • No minimum credit score. No minimum score requirements means almost anyone can qualify.

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.

Final thoughts

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 Pearson

Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in Investopedia,, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.

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