How to Get a Credit Card with Bad Credit

Don't fret if you have bad credit, there's still hope!

Laura Adams, MBA
1-minute read


Q. How can I get a credit card if I have bad credit?

A.  Having poor credit isn’t good for your personal finances, but it’s not the end of the world. Whether your credit has taken a hit due to a job loss, excessive medical debt, or poor money management, you always have the opportunity to raise your credit over time. Getting a credit card before your credit improves may be more challenging, but it isn’t impossible! Try out these four tips:

  1. Apply for a credit card at your bank or credit union. If you’ve established a relationship there, they may be willing to extend you credit.
  2. Add a statement to your credit reports at each of the three major bureaus--Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion--explaining each of your negative items. Companies that pull your report may be swayed by your honesty, especially if the circumstances were out of your control (such as a medical debt or divorce).
  3. Apply for a secured credit card that allows you to make a deposit that serves as your credit limit. Make sure the card company reports your transactions to the credit bureaus so you can build credit and graduate to a regular, unsecured card.
  4. Apply for a subprime credit card--but only as a last resort! These cards charge very high interest rates and fees, so you should always pay them off in full and on time each month. Responsible use of a subprime card can boost your credit and help you qualify for a less costly card.


Credit Cards image from Shutterstock

About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.