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Easily compare cards and find one for you. Choose the options you want and then sort and review your cards by rewards, APR, annual fee, credit score, and more. Want to learn more about credit cards? Get helpful tips & advice from our experts.

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When you are struggling with bad credit, finding a credit card can be difficult and frustrating. It can also be a catch-22. One of the best ways to improve your credit is through the responsible use of a credit card, but if you can't get a credit card because of bad credit, then you probably feel stuck. Luckily, there are some options.

Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit

There are a number of credit cards designed specifically for people with bad credit. One such card is called a secured credit card. A secured credit card operates like a normal credit card with one important difference: You are required to make a cash deposit that is treated like a security deposit in exchange for access to a line of credit. You still have to pay your credit card balance on time at the end of each billing period, and if you are late or carry a balance you will be subject to fees, and interest will be applied. The upside, however, is that if you use your secured credit card responsibly for a period time, you will improve your credit, and ultimately graduate to an unsecured -- or regular -- credit card. Back to top.

Secured Cards vs. Prepaid Cards

Prepaid debit cards are another option for people with bad credit, because they provide users the convenience of plastic without having any credit requirements. Prepaid debit cards do not provide access to lines of credit, so good credit isn't required to get one. You just need the cash to load on to the card. (Be sure to pay attention to the fees!) It's important to remember, however, that prepaid debit cards do not help users build credit. So if you have bad credit and are looking for a tool to help improve your standing, a prepaid card is not the right tool for that. Back to top.

Strategies to Consider When Applying for Credit Cards with Bad Credit

If you are able to get an unsecured credit card, you'll want to make sure you apply for a card that is appropriate for your credit standing. Generally, there are five credit groups based on credit scores. (There are lots of credit scoring models out there, but most use a scale of 300 to 850). They are:

  • Excellent Credit (750+)
  • Good Credit (700-749)
  • Fair Credit (650-699)
  • Poor Credit (600-649)
  • Bad Credit (below 599)

When you're ready, you should apply for a credit card that is geared toward people with credit scores similar to yours. If you apply for cards you don't qualify for, you'll likely be rejected, and if you apply for too many cards during a short period of time, your credit score could suffer. Also keep in mind, the lower your credit score, the more you are likely to pay in interest for any balance you carry on the card.

If you don't know your credit scores or anything much about your credit standing in general, you can use Credit.com's free Credit Report Card for an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit history, along with your free credit scores. If something doesn't look right, you can check your actual credit report. You are entitled to a free copy of your three credit reports from the major credit reporting agencies once a year. If you find inaccuracies, you should ask the credit bureaus to correct them. Back to top.

Given the sheer number of options out there, picking a credit card can seem like an incredibly daunting task. There are so many different types of credit cards, geared to different types of consumers, knowing where the decision making process can be a real challenge. The truth is that if you keep a few important principles in mind, choosing a credit card doesn't have to be stressful ... nor does it have to be a crapshoot. So let's get started.

Know Your Credit Score Before You Apply for a
Credit Card **

Knowing your credit score before you apply for a credit card is important, because particular credit cards are developed for consumers who fall within a particular credit score range. Here are the five generally accepted credit score ranges.

  • Excellent Credit (750+)
  • Good Credit (700-749)
  • Fair Credit (650-699)
  • Poor Credit (600-649)
  • Bad Credit (below 599)

What this means is that someone with a credit score of 640 shouldn't be applying for credit cards meant for people with excellent credit, because he or she will likely be denied, and if you apply for too many credit cards at the same time, your credit score could suffer. Back to top.

How to Compare Credit Cards

In order to effectively compare credit cards you'll want to use a tool, like the credit card comparison tool on Credit.com, but you'll also need to know what to look for. There are a couple of key indicators.

  • APR - This stands for Annual Percentage Rate and it represents how much you'll be charged for carrying a balance on your credit card. If you carry a balance of $100 for a year, and your interest rate is 10%, then you'll be charged $10. These rates vary based on your credit score. The better your score, the lower your rate is likely to be.
  • Fees - Credit cards may have a number of types of fees associated with them. Annual fees, late fees, over-limit fees and loyalty fees are just a few. You'll want to make sure you understand which fees, if any, apply
  • Rewards - There are lots of kinds of rewards credit cards available - cash-back rewards, mileage rewards, travel rewards and more. It's important to play close attention to the terms of the rewards programs, so you can compare them accurately.

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Tips to Consider When Applying for Credit Cards

If you're not sure what your credit looks like, and, as a result, what kind of credit cards you should be applying, you can use Credit.com's free Credit Report Card for an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit history, along with your free credit scores. If you see something that doesn't seem quite right, you are entitled to a free copy of each of your three credit reports once a year, and you can check them for inaccuracies, and ask the credit bureaus to correct them. Back to top.

*For complete information, see the terms and conditions on the credit card issuer’s website. Once you click apply for this card, you will be directed to the issuer’s website where you may review the terms and conditions of the card before applying. While Credit.com always strives to present the most accurate information, we show a summary to help you choose a product, not the full legal terms - and before applying you should understand the full terms of products as stated by the issuer itself.

** FICO scores and credit scores are used to represent the creditworthiness of a person and may be one indicator to the credit type you are eligible for. However, credit score alone does not guarantee or imply approval for any credit card offer.

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