When you apply for a credit card with bad credit, you have fewer cards to choose from than you would if your credit were in top shape. These cards are usually more expensive than the products offered to people with better credit. Still, there are good reasons to get a credit card if you think you can afford the payments and fees. Credit cards are widely accepted by retailers and are more convenient than cash. Additionally, using a credit card allows you to build your credit back up as long as you are on time with payments.
Here are some potential solutions if you decide to get a credit card with bad credit.
First, what if your credit is too low for credit card companies to agree to lend to you? In this case, you can get a prepaid card. A prepaid card requires you to deposit money with the card company and limits your spending to the amount you have deposited. Thus, it’s not a credit card in the sense that you don’t borrow money and it doesn’t affect your borrowing history.
The benefits to a prepaid card are that it’s accepted everywhere the major credit cards are and you’re not at risk of taking on more debt with it. A downside is that you may pay higher fees than you would for a traditional debit card that comes with a checking account, as Bankrate notes.
Secured Credit Cards
If you have enough credit to borrow some money, you may qualify for a secured credit card. With this type of card, you give the company a deposit but you then borrow with the card, as Business Insider explains. The card issuer decides how much to deposit and how much more than the deposit amount you’re allowed to borrow; these decisions are based on your credit history.
As a benefit, many of these cards report your payments to the credit bureaus so that you can begin repairing your credit score. However, you still need to watch out for fees and be careful not to sign up for unneeded products like credit insurance policies that are sold along with the card.
Unsecured Credit Cards
If your credit is a little better or if you consistently pay off a secured card on time, you may be able to get an unsecured credit card. This is what people usually think of when they think “credit card.” You don’t have to put any money down, and you borrow to make purchases, as explained by Forbes. The amount you can borrow will be limited until your credit improves.
The right card for you depends on your personal financial situation and credit history. Keep in mind that information about credit cards changes frequently and varies by state. Make sure you read the current terms and conditions before you choose a card.