If you’ve been trying to get a credit card, but have bad credit, you may be wondering about the guaranteed approval card offers you’ve come across. Are they legitimate? And what does guaranteed approval really mean? While this term might sound like the answer to your credit card woes, the fact is that all credit cards come with some form of basic requirements before a company will issue one to you. A key factor in these so-called guaranteed approval credit cards is that the requirements to qualify are usually minimal.
Most issuers of this type of card will require you to have an active checking account and to show proof of income that exceeds a certain minimum amount. There is also the question of just how bad your credit is. Generally speaking, a credit score of between 300 (the lowest FICO score) and 650 is considered bad credit. However, some card issuers will consider scores of 550 to 650 as being simply poor credit and may consider you for an unsecured credit card.
Unsecured Cards with No Deposit Required
An unsecured credit card requires no security deposit and is a true line of credit from the card issuer. A drawback to these unsecured credit cards for bad credit, however, is that they typically come with high fees and a high interest rate or APR. But if used responsibly, they can help to rebuild credit and lead to you getting an unsecured card with more favorable terms.
Here are five unsecured cards for you to consider:
The Total Visa® Credit Card is another card requiring no security deposit and offers all the benefits of a full-service Visa card. This card requires applicants to have a valid checking account and also charges a one-time application fee of $89. The available credit line is based upon your actual credit score and creditworthiness.
The First Access Visa® Card offers a fast and easy application process and all credit types are encouraged to apply. You’ll receive an initial credit limit of up to $300, based on your credit score and creditworthiness. This card can be used everywhere Visa is accepted.
The Milestone® Gold Mastercard® issued by Genesis Bankcard is available to people with poor or even bad credit. This is a full-featured credit card with all of the Mastercard Gold card benefits.
The CreditOne Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® credit card requires no deposit and allows you to earn cash back on eligible purchases. There is no application fee, and the annual membership fee ranges from $0 to $99 for the first year, depending upon your actual credit score. The initial credit line and APR are based upon actual credit score and creditworthiness.
The Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit, issued by Genesis Bankcard, allows you to see if you’re pre-qualified through its CardConnection tool before applying, avoiding an inquiry on your credit report. You even get to choose your card design, and you’ll have 24/7 account access through your Indigo Platinum account, where you can check your statement, account balance, and pay your bill online.
Secured Cards with Approval Upon Deposit
One thing to consider with guaranteed approval credit cards is that many of them are secured credit cards. A secured credit card requires you to put down a security deposit, usually the amount of credit that will be extended to you — less processing fees, if any. This deposit is fully refundable if you keep your account in good standing, and may even earn a little interest in the process.
An advantage to a secured credit card is that even people with bad credit can usually get one. And because issuers of these cards report to the three major credit bureaus, their proper and responsible use can help to rebuild credit scores.
Here are four secured credit cards we recommend:
The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® is a secured card with a minimum deposit of $200 and allows up to $2,000. No credit check is required, making this an excellent choice for those with bad credit. This Prestige version of the card has an annual fee, but comes with a very competitive APR, which makes this a better choice for people who carry a balance from month to month. Use of this card is reported to all three credit reporting agencies.
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Card allows for a credit line of as little as $200 and up to $3,000, with a corresponding security deposit. Applying for this card requires no credit history, and there is no credit check. That makes the OpenSky secured Visa card ideal for someone with bad credit. Use of this card is reported to all three credit reporting agencies.
The First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® secured card has a minimum security deposit of $200, with up to $2,000 allowed. No minimum credit score is required, which makes this card a good choice for people with bad credit. There is a $39 annual fee, and the APR is reasonable. Cash advance fees are 3% of the transaction or $10.00, whichever is greater. Use of this card is reported to all three credit reporting agencies.
The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Card has among the lowest annual fees of any secured card. However, it does have a relatively high variable APR. Because of this, the First Progress Platinum Elite card is a good choice for those who don’t plan to carry a balance from month to month. The credit line is between $200 and $2,000 based on your security deposit. No credit history or minimum credit score is required for approval. Use of this card is reported to all three credit reporting agencies.
A Prepaid Visa® or Mastercard® is Another Option
If you’re one of those individuals who likes the convenience of using a card but doesn’t like the idea of paying interest, a prepaid Visa or Mastercard may be right for you.
A prepaid card works like any credit card but allows you to draw your own money from an account associated with the card. It can also be reloaded as it’s needed, sometimes for a very modest fee, or even for free.
Prepaid cards are a great way to experience the convenience of plastic, without the potential of going into debt. Just be aware that prepaid cards do not report to the credit bureaus, and will not have any effect on your credit.
Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.