Best Unsecured Credit Cards for Bad Credit – 2016

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Editor's Best Card Picks

Feb 25, 2016 | Updated Jul 13, 2016

The cards on this page have been chosen from the widest possible selection of cards that we could find when the page was last updated on July 13, 2016. Although Credit Card Insider does receive compensation from some card issuers as advertisers, this does not in any way influence our choice of cards or the order that cards appear on the page. We have attempted to determine the best cards in this category, regardless of our advertising relationship with the issuers.

Learn more about how we rate credit and charge cards.

If you have bad credit (a FICO Score of around 660 or less) you won’t be able to qualify for the best credit card offers on the market. Instead, you’ll usually need to settle for a card with higher interest rates and lesser rewards until you improve your credit.

You still have quite a few options available to you, however:

We’ll just take a look at those first two types of cards in this post: unsecured cards and store cards.

If you’re a student, you have access to special cards designed for young people who are just starting to build up their credit. Take a look at our picks for the Three Best Credit Cards for College Students.

Secured credit cards require a deposit when you open the account, which sets the credit limit for the card. If you’re interested in secured cards, learn more about them and see our picks for the best ones here: The Best Secured Credit Cards – 2016.

Insider Tip: If you’re not sure if you’ll be approved for a particular credit card, you can check to see if you’re pre-qualified without harming your credit score. This is a great way to shop around – you may find that you’re pre-approved for cards that you thought were out of your league!

Using a lower-end credit card is not a bad thing: as long as you use your card responsibly, your credit will improve and you’ll be able to qualify for cards with much better rewards.

Unsecured Credit Cards (No Deposit Required)

Although secured cards are usually the go-to option for people with poor credit, there are also some decent unsecured options out there. You may be able to qualify for some of these even if you have bad credit, because card issuers take several elements into account when deciding if you’ll be approved for a card or not.

Besides just looking at your credit, card issuers usually also want to know about your income, whether you’re a renter or a homeowner, and your employment status, among other factors.

So, don’t assume that you’ll be denied for a particular card just because of your credit score. Sometimes people are approved for cards that they didn’t expect to be, and sometimes people are denied when they thought their credit was good enough.

So, here are a few unsecured cards that are accessible for people with bad credit.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

The Quicksilver One Cash Rewards is the best of these three. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, a great find on a card for average credit. You’ll also pay $39 per year for the privilege.

Insider Tip: If you can’t get the Quicksilver One, the Capital One Platinum Card is another good option from the same issuer. This is a very simple card with no rewards or annual fee, but it comes with many of the same good features of the Quicksilver One, including a credit tracking service, a guaranteed credit limit increase after making the first 5 consecutive payments on time, and several Platinum MasterCard shopping and travel benefits.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Interest Rate: 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 0% intro APR for 9 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen

Indigo® Platinum MasterCard®

This next card is designed specifically for people with less-than-good credit. It has a fairly small annual fee and doesn’t offer rewards, but many people with bad credit have been approved and have used it to begin improving their credit score (even people who’ve had a bankruptcy).

Indigo® Platinum MasterCard®
Apply Now

Indigo® Platinum MasterCard®

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 - $99
  • Interest Rate: 23.90% (Fixed)
Quick Card Facts
  • Pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Previous bankruptcy OK
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Free online account access (mobile friendly)
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!

Credit One Bank® Cash Back Rewards

The third card pick is also designed for people with poor credit. It offers 1% cash back on gas and groceries, but watch out for the many fees and stipulations that come with this card.

Depending on your credit score and your particular financial situation, you might be able to qualify for one of these cards (or even a better one). Like we mentioned in the Insider Tip above, you can check your pre-qualification status to learn if you might be approved for one of these cards already.

Credit One Bank® Cash Back Rewards
Apply Now

Credit One Bank® Cash Back Rewards

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 - $99
  • Interest Rate: 15.65% - 24.15% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score.
  • This is a fully functional, unsecured credit card - not a debit, prepaid, or secured card. No need to load funds or tie up cash in deposits. There are no out-of-pocket costs to open your account.
  • All the bonus features you want in a credit card are included. Get 1% cash back on gas and grocery purchases (terms apply). Track your progress over time with free online monthly credit score tracking
  • And, you could receive credit line increase opportunities.

Store Credit Cards

Store cards are generally easier to get than regular credit cards, with lower credit requirements, but they also usually have higher interest rates and some different rules about how you can use them.

If you shop at a particular store very often and they offer a credit card, it could be a good idea to use that card. As long as you completely understand the terms and use it responsibly, you’ll build up your credit and can move on to better cards.

Take a moment to watch our video below on the pros and cons of store credit cards. If you decide that one is right for you, learn more about store credit cards and then check out our picks for the Best Store Cards for 2016.

3 Things You Should Know Before You Apply

Store credit cards can be a good way to improve your credit and get some rewards while shopping, as long as you’re sure to follow the terms and pay them off on time. In some cases, store cards have special financing deals that you need to pay very close attention to, or you can end up getting burned. If you’re not careful, not only will you end up paying more for interest, you can also do damage to your credit score.

So always use your cards responsibly, and keep an eye on your credit score too. In time, you’ll be able to qualify for some great credit cards.

Applying For An Unsecured Credit Card for Fair Credit

Want to apply for these cards or learn more? Just click the name below.

Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $39
  • Interest Rate: 23.24% *Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • 0% intro APR for 9 months on purchases and balance transfers
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is ever lost or stolen
Indigo® Platinum MasterCard®
Apply Now

Indigo® Platinum MasterCard®

For People with
Fair Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 - $99
  • Interest Rate: 23.90% (Fixed)
Quick Card Facts
  • Pre-qualification available with no impact to your credit score
  • Previous bankruptcy OK
  • Easy pre-qualification process with fast response
  • Free online account access (mobile friendly)
  • Protection from fraud, if your card happens to be lost or stolen
  • Accepted at over 35 Million Locations Worldwide!
Credit One Bank® Cash Back Rewards
Apply Now

Credit One Bank® Cash Back Rewards

For People with
Bad Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 - $99
  • Interest Rate: 15.65% - 24.15% Variable
Quick Card Facts
  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score.
  • This is a fully functional, unsecured credit card - not a debit, prepaid, or secured card. No need to load funds or tie up cash in deposits. There are no out-of-pocket costs to open your account.
  • All the bonus features you want in a credit card are included. Get 1% cash back on gas and grocery purchases (terms apply). Track your progress over time with free online monthly credit score tracking
  • And, you could receive credit line increase opportunities.

What credit cards do you use to build up your credit? Do you have a favorite, or are there any that you absolutely hate? Let us know in the comments below!

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