Having bad credit can hold you back from so much. It can make it difficult to get approved for credit to cover a financial emergency or finance a major purchase as well as rent an apartment, lower your car insurance premiums, and even get a job. If you’re ready to do something about your credit, a guaranteed approval credit card is a good choice. Here’s a guide to understanding what guaranteed credit really means, what you can expect, and the best-guaranteed approval cards to look for.

What Does “Guaranteed Credit” Mean?

Every credit card has certain qualifications, sometimes as simple as having a Social Security number, having more income than debt each month, or creditworthiness. Any credit card you choose will also require that you formally complete an application to open your account. While no credit card can really guarantee approval in every case, a guaranteed approval credit card has minimal requirements to meet.

Many guaranteed approval credit cards require that you put down a refundable security deposit that secures your credit limit. This type of card called a secured credit card is as close as you can get to truly guaranteed credit approval as the deposit becomes your spending limit and prevents you from spending beyond your ability to repay to protect the credit card company from risk. There are some traditional or unsecured credit cards that do not require a deposit and still have very low requirements to meet to get approved.

As a general rule, you can get qualified for some type of credit card even if your credit score is in the 300s if you are willing to put down a refundable deposit. With an unsecured card, you can expect the credit limit to be very low but you can still get approved. No matter which type of card you choose, you will likely still need to show you have some type of income that exceeds your debt payments each month.

Also, be aware that even secured credit cards can have approval requirements you cannot meet. Some companies like Discover reject applicants with a recent bankruptcy or an open tax lien. This doesn’t mean another credit card company won’t approve of you.

What Kind of Interest Rates Can I Expect?

All credit cards designed for bad credit and building credit have higher interest rates than those for borrowers with good to excellent credit. This high-interest rate helps protect the card issuer from risk. Note that interest rate is different than Average Percentage Rate (APR) which describes how much interest you will accrue on your balance over a year, but the terms are often used interchangeably.

With an excellent credit score, you can expect an average interest rate of 14.41%, according to WalletHub. With good credit, the average rate increases to 20.31%. Secured credit cards have an average interest rate of 18.81%. This rate is lower than the rate for people with average credit because the security deposit offers excellent protection for the credit card issuer against default. With an unsecured credit card for bad credit, your interest rate may be between 25% and 29.99%.

What Kind of Credit Limits Will I Get?

The credit limit you receive with a new credit card depends on your income and creditworthiness. With bad credit, your credit limit will certainly be lower than the limit for someone with excellent credit. With an unsecured credit card with bad credit, your credit limit will likely be $300 to $1,000 unless you have substantial income and/or low debt, in which case it’s possible to get a credit limit of up to $2,500. Still, you shouldn’t count on getting a very high limit.

If you choose a secured credit card, the credit limit is up to you. With secured cards, the credit limit is typically equal to the deposit. If you put down a deposit of $1,500, your limit is $1,500. If you put down $3,000, your limit will be $3,000.

How to Rebuild Your Credit with a Guaranteed Credit Card

To improve your credit with any type of credit card, you need to make sure it reports your payment history to all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Most credit cards do, but it’s worth double-checking with secured cards and guaranteed approval credit cards which don’t necessarily report your payment history.

The purpose of your new credit card is building a positive payment history on your credit reports. To do this, it’s absolutely essential that you make on-time payments. Even a single late payment can do further damage to your credit score as the more recent the late payment, the worse the impact. It’s also a good idea to keep your balance under 20-30% of your credit limit and pay your balance in full each month. Don’t max out your credit card as your credit utilization ratio or the amount you owe accounts for 30% of your credit score, the second-most important factor after payment history (35%).

8 Best Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards

Ready to start rebuilding your credit with a credit card? Here are the 8 best-guaranteed approval credit cards to help you break out of the cycle of bad debt.

#1. Green Dot primor Visa Gold

The Green Dot primor card is unique among bad credit secured credit cards. While it has an annual fee, it’s lower than many competitors and it reports payments to all three credit scores. It’s also very easy to qualify for: all credit scores are considered.

  • Secured credit limits from $200 to $5,000
  • No minimum credit score
  • No application or processing fees
  • Fixed 9.99% interest rate
  • $49 annual fee

#2. First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard secured credit card is a good choice if you have bad marks on your credit that bar you from other secured cards like a recent bankruptcy because it requires no minimum credit score or credit history at all. It reports your payments to all three bureaus with a fully refundable deposit.

  • Secured credit limits from $200 to $2,000
  • No minimum credit score or credit history necessary
  • Reports to all 3 bureaus
  • Online account access
  • Not available in AR, IA, NY, or WI
  • No one-time fees
  • $49 annual fee

#3. OpenSky Secured Visa

No matter how low your score, you can still be approved for the OpenSky Secured Visa. This card, issued by Capital Bank, has no credit check at all with few approval requirements. This is one of the few credit cards, including secured credit cards, that doe not require a credit check so you can be approved even with a recent tax lien or bankruptcy on your file. To get approved, you need to be at least 18 with sufficient income to afford your payments and security deposit. The OpenSky card even offers a very low annual fee for a credit card with a security deposit and it has no hidden fees.

  • No credit check necessary
  • Fully refundable $200+ security deposit is necessary
  • Low $35 annual fee
  • No one-time fees
  • Reports to all 3 credit bureaus

#4. First National Bank of Omaha Secured Visa

This secured card is a good choice for rebuilding your credit because it has no annual fee and no hidden or one-time fees. The First National Bank of Omaha Secured card makes it easy to improve your credit with a deposit that can be refunded within a year as long as you make monthly payments on time. You can even get a higher credit limit just by demonstrating responsible credit use.

  • Secured credit limit of $300 to $5,000
  • Get your deposit back automatically after as few as 11 on-time payments
  • Qualify for credit limit increases without new deposits with good payment history
  • View your FICO score for free
  • Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
  • Includes additional cardholder benefits like auto rental insurance and fraud protection
  • Only available in CO, IL, IA, KS, NE, TX, and SD

#5. UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card

This secured credit card has a lot going for it that you won’t find with other guaranteed approval credit cards. The UNITY Visa Secured card is designed to actually help you improve your credit and break away from the consequences of bad credit. The card comes with a How to Rebuild Credit program with interesting perks like a competitive, fixed APR and a low-interest balance transfer offer to help you pay down your debt and save money plus a low annual fee.

  • $39 annual fee
  • How to Rebuild Credit program
  • Fixed 17.99% APR
  • 9.95% APR on balance transfers for 6 months
  • Secured credit limit of $250 to $10,000
  • Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
  • No penalty interest rate or application fees
  • Low fees of $10 for late payments and $10 to increase your credit limit

#6. Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

This credit card is an unsecured card that does not require a deposit and it’s designed for people with bad to good credit who want to improve their credit history. The Credit One Bank card comes with an initial credit limit of at least $300 with an annual fee that can range from $0 to $99 depending on your credit history. You won’t know your annual fee until you apply for the card, unfortunately. If you do get the $99 annual fee, you will probably be better off with a secured credit card that does not have an annual fee or charges a lower amount. This card also offers a rarity among credit rebuilding cards: 1% cashback on certain purchases.

  • Unsecured credit card with no deposit necessary
  • Designed for rebuilding bad credit
  • Credit limit of at least $300
  • Annual fee ranges from $0 to $99
  • 1% cash back on spending
  • Credit limit increases available as your credit score improves
  • Reports to all 3 credit bureaus

#7. Capital One Secured Mastercard

If you qualify, the Capital One Secured Mastercard is one of the top secured cards for bad credit. This card is backed by a giant in the credit card industry and it comes with no annual fee at all — a rarity in secured cards. Even better, the deposit can be only partially secured if you qualify. You can get a credit limit to start of $200 with a refundable deposit of $49, $99, or $200 plus your credit limit will increase after just 5 on-time payments. Initial credit limit of $200 with the minimum security deposit of $49, $99, or $200

  • No annual fee or one-time fees
  • Access a higher credit limit automatically after five on-time payments
  • Choose your own due date
  • Discharged bankruptcy is OK

#8. Fingerhut Credit Card

The Fingerhut credit card isn’t really a guaranteed approval credit card but it offers very easy access to credit and all credit scores are considered. Store credit cards — or credit cards that can only be used at one store rather than anywhere — are typically the easiest credit cards to qualify for, and the Fingerhut card is even easier to get with looser requirements. The Fingerhut credit card reports to all three credit bureaus and your credit line can be used at Fingerhut.com and on orders through the Fingerhut catalog.

  • Instant credit decision
  • All credit scores considered
  • No annual fee or activation fees
  • Can only be used at Fingerhut

Steven Millstein

Editor & Credit Repair Industry Analyst at CreditRepairExpert
Steven joined in June 2016 as the Editor to continue his mission of making a difference in the world. Every day, Steven speaks with individuals and families in the online credit repair community to answers questions and offer help people on their journey to repair their credit rating. If you have a story idea for Steven or you would like help with credit repair, please email him at hello@creditrepairexpert.org.
Steven Millstein

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