7 Best Unsecured Credit Cards (For Bad Credit)

7 Best Unsecured Credit Cards (For Bad Credit)

credit card advice

Toby Sembower
By: Toby Sembower
Posted: December 1, 2016
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Site may be compensated through the issuer affiliate programs.

While having a poor credit history can severely impact your ability to get a mortgage, a car loan, and sometimes even a job, it doesn’t necessarily preclude you from obtaining a new credit card.

In fact, a couple of major issuers — Genesis, and Credit One in particular specialize in providing credit card accounts to those with imperfect credit, offering such cardholders a sustainable credit line and an opportunity to rebuild their credit ratings by using credit responsibly. Others, like Emporium, offer high spending limits to those with poor credit histories, as long as they have a valid checking account and verifiable income.

These credit card providers, commonly referred to as “subprime” issuers, typically offer two different types of cards:

  • Secured credit cards: These types of cards require that the cardholder fully “secure” their credit line by depositing a large amount of money with the issuer’s bank. For instance, you may be required to deposit $2,000 in order to secure a $2,000 credit line. You would then get that amount refunded to you once you either closed your secured account or upgraded it to an unsecured account.
  • Unsecured credit cards: These cards do not require that you secure the credit line with a large deposit. Instead, the issuer allows you to make purchases on a card, up to a certain total balance, because it trusts that you will pay back that balance over time.

Unsecured credit cards are typically the most desirable of the two options, as they do not require a large cash outlay by the cardholder. Here are a couple of the top subprime credit card issuers and their most desirable unsecured card offers:

1. Emporium – 1 Unsecured Card for Poor Credit

While the Emporium card doesn’t report to the major credit bureaus and thus won’t help you rebuild your credit, one thing is hard to ignore: a marketing-leading $5,000 spending limit. Add to that a quick and easy approval process, and you can see why the card is exploding in popularity. Here’s a complete breakdown of the offer, along with a link to its online application:

Emporium Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Up to $5,000 Spending Limit in Less than 60 Seconds! Shop from over 100,000 brand name products such as Apple, Samsung, Sony, Gucci, Prada and much more with low easy payments.
  • Less than Perfect Credit Accepted. Approval is quick and easy. Must be 18 years or older, have a valid checking account and a verifiable source of income.
  • Up To 12 Months Same As Cash
  • 50% Early Payoff Discount
  • No Hidden Fees
  • Return at any Time
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See website for Details
N/A
Poor, Fair, Limited, or Damaged Credit

2. Genesis Bankcard – 2 Unsecured Cards for Poor Credit

Genesis cards report your payments to the three major credit bureaus, which can help you build or rebuild your credit if you pay on time and keep balances below their limits. These cards offer much smaller spending limits than Emporium, but are a great choice for those who want credit-reporting benefits.  Here are the top unsecured cards offered by Genesis:

Milestone® MasterCard® - Bad Credit Considered Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.3

OVERALL RATING

3.9/5.0
  • Prequalify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Protection from fraud if your card is stolen
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.9%
$35 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit
Indigo® MasterCard® for Less than Perfect Credit Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pre-qualify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • All credit histories considered
  • Mobile account access at any time
  • Fraud protection for stolen or lost cards
  • Account history is reported to the three major credit bureaus in the U.S.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.9%
$0 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

3. Credit One Bank – 2 Unsecured Cards for Poor Credit

Credit One Bank is a well-known issuer with a reputation for offering the only cash-back cards available to subprime consumers. However, be aware that their approval requirements are much more stringent than Emporium and Genesis, so if you have really bad credit, you may want to apply elsewhere.  Here are our favorite subprime offers from Credit One:

Credit One Bank® - Earn More Credit Fast Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • Find out if you Pre-Qualify without affecting your credit score
  • This is a fully unsecured credit card with no deposit requirement
  • Automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities
  • Free online monthly credit score tracking included
  • 1% cash back on gas & groceries, terms apply
  • Zero fraud liability protects you from unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.65% - 24.15% Variable
$0 - $99
Poor Credit
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • This is a fully unsecured credit card with no deposit requirement
  • Automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities
  • See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Earn 1% cash back on gas and grocery purchases, terms apply
  • Flexible payment date to assist you in making your payments on time
  • Free online monthly credit score tracking included
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
15.65% - 24.15% Variable
$0 - $99
Poor Credit

4. Additional Unsecured Cards for Poor Credit

Besides the major issuers above, you’ll also find occasional offerings from lesser-known banks. We will attempt to update this list as more offers come available:

Total Visa® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.3

OVERALL RATING

3.5/5.0
  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine VISA card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a Processing Fee to open your account and access your available credit
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Terms
See Terms
Fair, Bad Credit
Surge MasterCard® Review

at Celtic Bank'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.2

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Initial credit limit of $500.00* (subject to available credit)
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere that MasterCard® is accepted
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking account required
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
29.99%
$125 for the first year
Bad, Poor Credit

+ See all cards for poor credit

 

The Bottom Line

As you can see, having a bad credit rating is certainly not a life sentence when it comes to obtaining an unsecured credit card. Plenty of issuers are willing to give subprime applicants a second chance at credit — and, more importantly, an opportunity to rebuild their credit rating with responsible credit card usage.