The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, June 15, 2024

9 Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards For Bad Credit

Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards
Mike Randall

Written by: Mike Randall

Mike Randall
Mike Randall

Mike Randall is an expert in the areas of credit scores and credit cards, having written on those topics for national publications for more than a decade. He graduated from California State University with a degree in English literature, and he has an extensive background in personal finance studies. Aside from credit cards and scores, Mike enjoys writing about changes in the subprime market and how they directly impact financial decisions.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro
Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience to the CardRates team. She has written and edited for major news organizations, including The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the New York Times, and she previously served as an adjunct journalism instructor at the University of Florida. Today, Lillian edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Reviewed by: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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Advertiser Disclosure

While “guaranteed approval” may sound like the answer to your credit card woes, the fact is that all credit cards come with some basic requirements before a company will issue you a card. 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 600 is considered bad credit. But some card issuers will consider consumers with poor credit for an unsecured credit card. We explore credit cards that may be valuable to those with less-than-stellar credit, those who are rebuilding credit, and those establishing a credit history.

Secured Cards | Unsecured Cards | Prepaid Cards | Alternatives

Secured Cards With Approval Upon Deposit

Most guaranteed approval credit cards 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.

An advantage to a secured credit card is that even someone with bad credit can usually get one. And because issuers of these cards report to the three major credit bureaus, paying your bill on time and keeping a low balance can help improve your credit score over time.

Here are several secured credit cards to start your search:

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
29.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card may require a deposit amount less than the line of credit you’re offered, depending on your credit history. The card charges no annual fee and reports to all the major credit bureaus, making it an excellent choice for those with bad credit.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank N.A.'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • New feature! Earn up to 10% cash back* on everyday purchases
  • No credit check to apply. Zero credit risk to apply!
  • Looking to build or rebuild your credit? 2 out of 3 OpenSky cardholders increase their credit score by an average of 41 points in just 3 months
  • Get free monthly access to your FICO score in our mobile application
  • Build your credit history across 3 major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
  • Add to your mobile wallet and make purchases using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay
  • Fund your card with a low $200 refundable security deposit to get a $200 credit line
  • Apply in less than 5 minutes with our mobile first application
  • Choose the due date that fits your schedule with flexible payment dates
  • Fund your security deposit over 60 days with the option to make partial payments
  • Over 1.4 Million Cardholders Have Used OpenSky Secured Credit Card To Improve Their Credit
  • *See Rewards Terms and Conditions for more information
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
25.64% (variable)
$35
Poor

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card requires no credit history and there is no credit check for approval. That makes the OpenSky secured Visa card ideal for someone with really poor credit. Your card activity is reported to all three credit reporting agencies to help you build credit. This secured visa credit card has even popped up in a few business credit card reviews we’ve seen for business owners with bad credit.

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Better than Prepaid...Go with a Secured Card! Load One Time - Keep On Using
  • Absolutely No Credit Check or Minimum Credit Score Required
  • Automatic Reporting to All Three National Credit Bureaus
  • 9.99% Low Fixed APR - Your Rate Won’t Go Up Even if You Are Late
  • Activate Today with a $200 Minimum Deposit - Maximum $1,000.
  • Increase Your Credit Limit up to $5,000 by Adding Additional Deposits Anytime
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
9.99% Fixed
$48
Poor/Fair/Limited/Damaged

The Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card will approve you for a card when you put down a security deposit. The minimum security deposit amount is $200. It offers a low, fixed APR, but it doesn’t offer an interest-free grace period as other credit cards do. That means your purchases begin accruing interest the day they’re made.

+See More Secured Cards for Bad Credit

Unsecured Cards With Easy Approval

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. But if used responsibly, they can help you rebuild credit and lead to you getting an unsecured card with more favorable terms.

Here are some of our top-rated unsecured cards with minimal approval requirements for you to consider:

Surge® Platinum Mastercard® Review

at Continental Finance'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Monthly Credit Score – Sign up for electronic statements, and get your Vantage 3.0 Score Credit Score From Experian
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000 (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
See website for Details
See website for Details
35.90% Fixed
$75 - $125
See website for Details*

The Surge® Platinum Mastercard® offers a high initial credit limit to those who qualify. Your payment activity will be reported to each major credit bureau, which can help you rebuild credit over time with responsible use, i.e, paying your bill on time and maintaining a low balance.

Reflex® Platinum Mastercard® Review

at Continental Finance'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified with no impact to your credit score
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Experian (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000 (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
35.90% Fixed
$75 - $125
Bad, Fair, or No Credit

The Reflex® Platinum Mastercard® is a bad-credit friendly option for those who’ve experienced credit struggles in the past. You can prequalify for the card without hurting your credit and see if you’re a good candidate for the card. This card will report to the bureaus so you can improve your credit score over time with responsible use.

FIT™ Platinum Mastercard® Review

at Continental Finance'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • $400 credit limit doubles to $800! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Initial Credit Limit of $400.00 (Subject to available credit)
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere Mastercard® is accepted
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
35.90% Fixed
$99 introductory fee for the first year, then $125 thereafter
Fair/Poor/Bad

The FIT™ Platinum Mastercard® offers a fast and easy application process and all credit types are encouraged to apply. The card requires no security deposit and is very welcoming to those with poor credit. The card can be used everywhere Mastercard is accepted, subject to available credit.

+See More Unsecured Cards for Bad Credit

Prepaid Cards With Guaranteed Approval

If you’re one of those individuals who likes the convenience of using a card but doesn’t like the idea of dealing with credit or the potential for interest fees, a prepaid Visa or Mastercard may be right for you. Prepaid cards don’t require a credit check to qualify, but your card account won’t be reported to the credit bureaus — which means prepaid cards can’t help you with building credit.

A prepaid card can be used in place of a credit card for most transactions, including making purchases both in-store and online. Unlike a credit card, however, prepaid cards aren’t attached to credit lines; instead, the card uses pre-loaded funds to pay for purchases, just like a debit card attached to a bank account.

Prepaid cards can be reloaded as needed, sometimes for a very modest fee, or even for free. Here are a few of our top prepaid recommendations:

Brink’s Armored™ Account Review

at Netspend'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Brink’s knows Security! 24/7 access to a suite of security benefits to help keep your account armored.
  • Get access to over 100,000 Brink’s Money ATMs.
  • Get paid faster than a paper check with direct deposit.
  • Add funds to your Brink’s Armored Account and use Brinks Armored debit card anywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Account opening is subject to registration and ID verification. Terms & fees Apply. Deposit Account is established by Pathward®, N.A., Member FDIC.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fees
Not applicable

While you won’t receive credit bureau reporting with the Brink’s Armored™ Account, you can still make purchases everywhere Mastercard is accepted. Other than verifying your identity, there are no credit checks and income requirements to get approved for this card, which makes it about as guaranteed approval as you can get.

PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® Review

at The Bancorp Bank'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Move money from your PayPal account to fund your prepaid card account.
  • Earn cash back and personalized offers, just for using your card.
  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • Card issued by The Bancorp Bank, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Debit Mastercard is accepted.
  • Click PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® for additional features & program details, and to request a Card.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fee
Not applicable

The PayPal Prepaid Mastercard® is an ideal choice for anyone who has a PayPal account. You can easily transfer money between your account and your prepaid Mastercard (among other reload options) so you can make purchases in stores or at online shops that don’t use PayPal but do accept Mastercard.

NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card Review

at NetSpend'ssecure website

EXPERT'S RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • With Direct Deposit, you can get paid faster than a paper check.
  • No late fees or interest charges because this is not a credit card.
  • Use the Netspend Mobile App to manage your Card Account on the go and enroll to get text messages or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply).
  • Card use is subject to activation and ID verification. Terms and Costs apply.
  • Card issued by Pathward N.A., Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Visa debit card is accepted.
  • See additional NetSpend® Prepaid Visa® details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fee
Not applicable

The NetSpend® Visa® Prepaid Card has no activation fee, no minimum balance requirement, and no credit check required to get a card. Prepaid cards do generally come with a host of other fees, including a monthly or per-transaction fee, so be sure to read the cardholder agreement before deciding to order one.

+ See More Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards provide a great way to experience the convenience of plastic, without the potential of going into debt or the hassle of jumping through credit hoops. However, the fact that prepaid cards don’t report to the credit bureaus can be a double-edged sword, because while you don’t have to worry about your card affecting your credit report and score, you also can’t use a prepaid card to establish or improve your credit profile.

In other words, prepaid cards can be a good option for consumers who want to make convenient, cash-free purchases, but it isn’t a good option for people looking to improve their credit history or credit scores.

Alternatives to Guaranteed Credit Cards

If you’re more in need of money than a method of payment, consider applying for a bad credit loan. You can prequalify with a lending network without hurting your credit score.

The prequalification step will attempt to match you with a direct lender. You’ll be presented with the loan’s rates and terms so you can decide whether you wish to move forward with an application. Upon approval, the loan funds will be deposited into your bank account within one business day.

Our top-rated lending network is MoneyMutual, which can match you with a bad credit loan offer of up to $5,000 — far more than the initial credit limit you’d receive on a credit card.

  • Short-term loans up to $5,000
  • Online marketplace of lenders
  • Funds available in as few as 24 hours
  • Simple online form takes less than 5 minutes
  • Trusted by more than 2 million customers
  • Not available in NY or CT
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.8
  • Loans from $500 to $10,000
  • All credit types accepted
  • Receive a loan decision in minutes
  • Get funds directly to your bank account
  • Use the loan for any purpose
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.7
  • Quick loans of up to $5,000
  • Submit one form to receive multiple options without harming your credit score
  • All credit ratings welcome to apply
  • Requires a driver's license, bank account, and SSN
  • Get your funds as soon as tomorrow
Overall Rating
★★★★★
4.7

Another option is cash advance apps, which can spot you a short-term loan — with no interest! — based on your earnings. You must be employed and have a bank account to qualify.

You may also be able to get a closed-loop store credit card from your favorite retailer. Most stores offer their own credit card, and they usually offer two options — one that operates on the Visa, Mastercard, or Amex payment network and can be used everywhere, and another that can only be used at that store. The option that can only be used at the store is generally reserved for applicants with bad credit.

While a store card won’t help you pay for things outside of the store, it will help you build credit because the account will appear on your credit report.

Finally, Payday Alternative Loans are issued by credit unions and are easy to qualify for. They come with friendly interest rates and terms, but you must be a member of the credit union to qualify. You can use this tool from the National Credit Union Administration to help you locate one near you.

What Are Instant Approval Credit Cards?

Instant approval credit cards refer to any credit card that gives you a quick approval decision after submitting the application. Most major credit cards offer a near-instant approval decision, whether that decision is approved or denied.

An instant approval credit card is not a guaranteed approval credit card. Aside from one secured card — the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card and prepaid cards — no credit card offers guaranteed approval for everyone.

No Unsecured Card Can Offer Guaranteed Approval

There will always be a few requirements you must meet before a credit card company will extend you a line of credit, that is unless you opt for a secured card. A few secured cards don’t require a credit check for approval, but you must have the cash available to make a security deposit, which will be refunded to you after a period of responsible card use.

You will likely receive an instant approval decision after you submit an application. If you are approved, your card will be mailed to you and you should receive it within seven to 10 business days. If you are denied, you will receive an Adverse Action Notice in the mail that outlines the reasons you were denied.

You can use these reasons as a roadmap to help you improve your credit score over time. And, in the hopefully not-so-distant future, you may find yourself qualifying for the best cash rewards credit card or premium travel card available.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.