[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
It may seem counterintuitive, but one of the best ways to improve below-average credit is to get a credit card. The right card can help you build credit without getting in over your head and may even help you earn rewards.
If you need to turn your credit around, here are three credit cards to check out.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 26.74% (Variable)
Why We Picked It: After a short period of timely payments, Capital One will increase your credit limit.
For Your Credit: This secured card requires a deposit of $49, $99, or $200, depending on the state of your credit, to secure an initial credit line of $200. After five months of timely payments, Capital One will give you a free credit limit increase, which can result in stronger credit.
Drawbacks: There are no rewards.
Rewards: 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $39
APR: 26.74% (Variable).
Why We Picked It: Consumers with fair credit can earn a competitive cash back rate.
For Your Credit: If your credit isn’t awful but still needs some work, this card is for you. It’s intended for those with fair credit but still earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase.
Drawbacks: There’s a $39 annual fee, but for the chance to build credit, that’s not too bad.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
- Build Your Credit fast with our monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus.
- Choose your credit line as low as $200 up to $3000, secured by a fully-refundable* security deposit.
- Security deposit needs to be submitted before the credit card can be issued.
- No credit check necessary and no checking account required; apply in less than 5 minutes.
- Extra credit when you need it, increase your credit line up to $5000
- Access to online financial education.
- *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card. Click the Apply Now button to get to the application page.
Card Details +
Sign-Up Bonus: None.
Why We Picked It: This secured card helps you build credit fast with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus.
For Your Credit: You can choose a security deposit of $200 to $3,000 to open an account. Your initial credit line will equal the amount that you’ve deposited. OpenSky reports monthly to all three credit bureaus to help you build credit. OpenSky won’t check your credit to issue you an account. And, with responsible use, you can get extra credit up to $5,000 when you need it.
Drawbacks: There is a $35 annual fee, but for the chance to build credit, that’s not too bad.
How to Choose a Card for Turning Your Credit Around
Improving your credit should be your main financial priority, and you should choose a card that will help you accomplish that goal. All other considerations, including rewards and perks, should come second. Make sure to pay close attention to the fees and APR costs associated with any card you’re evaluating.
You will need to decide whether a secured or unsecured card is best for you. While secured credit cards require an up-front investment and have low spending limits, they are offered by major credit card issuers and are usually optimized to help you build credit. Unsecured cards don’t require a deposit but might have higher fees and are harder to manage if you’re new to credit.
Some cards prey on people with bad credit by offering unfair terms and policies that actually make it harder to rebuild credit. Check out our list of red flags so you know how to spot a bad deal.
What Is Required for a Credit-Building Card?
Credit cards for people with poor credit are not as strict with credit requirements, but approval is never guaranteed and applicants can still be rejected. Before you apply, you should check your credit score. You can do that for free at Credit.com.
At publishing time, the Discover it Secured Card, the Capital One Secured Mastercard, and the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees, and terms for credit cards, loans, and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees, and terms with credit card issuers, banks, or other financial institutions directly.