16 Best Last-Chance Unsecured Credit Cards (2019)

16 Best Last-Chance Unsecured Credit Cards (2019)

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: August 13, 2019
Opinions expressed here are ours alone, and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by any issuer. Our articles follow strict editorial guidelines and are updated regularly.

Every mutual fund prospectus or investment disclosure includes a disclaimer at the bottom that proclaims “past performance is no guarantee of future results.” That disclaimer also applies in the credit card world.

That’s because we all make mistakes. But past mistakes don’t condemn you to a lifetime of rejection from lenders. Even if you’ve run through your second, third, and maybe your fourth chance, there’s still hope to turn the corner with a credit card that’s designed to help you make the best of your “last” chance.

Bad Credit | No Credit | No Fees | Retail | Secured | FAQs

Last-Chance Cards for Bad Credit

If previous attempts at building credit have left you with a credit score that falls in the “bad” territory (a FICO score between 300 and 579), there’s still hope for another chance. You may even qualify for an unsecured card — like those listed below — that won’t require an upfront security deposit to get you started.

Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands
  • Take advantage of low monthly payments if you apply and are accepted for a Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank, who determines eligibility and qualifications for the terms of credit
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit

The Fingerhut Credit Account isn’t a traditional credit card, but you can still use it to shop online at Fingerhut and all of its merchant partners to purchase name-brand merchandise at discounted prices. Fingerhut reports all of your payment activity to the three major credit reporting bureaus, so you can use this account to build, or rebuild, your credit rating with responsible use.

Total Visa® Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

3.5/5.0
  • Checking Account Required
  • Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
  • A genuine Visa credit card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
  • Manageable monthly payments
  • If approved, simply pay a Program 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

Approved Total Visa® Card applicants start with a $300 credit limit, but that limit can increase with responsible use and on-time payments. Just be mindful of the one-time program fee and the annual fee charged to your account when you activate your card. These fees will take away from your initial available balance until you pay them off.

Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

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.
  • *Dependent on credit worthiness
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.9%
$35 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

The Milestone® Mastercard® offers a pre-qualifying application that doesn’t place a potentially damaging hard inquiry on your credit report. The application lets you know which of the five Milestone® credit cards you may qualify for. The Milestone® Mastercard® also charges a variable annual fee that’s based on your credit history.

First Access Solid Black VISA Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.3

OVERALL RATING

3.5/5.0
  • Get the security and convenience of a full-feature, unsecured Visa® Credit Card – accepted at millions of merchant and ATM locations nationwide and online
  • Reporting monthly to all three major credit reporting agencies
  • Perfect credit not required for approval; we may approve you when others won’t
  • Easy and secure online application
  • If approved, pay a Program Fee and you can access the $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Receive your card more quickly with optional Expedited Processing (additional fee applies)
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Terms
See Terms
Bad Credit

The First Access Solid Black VISA Credit Card accepts a wide range of credit scores and histories. A one-time setup fee and an annual fee will decrease your initial available balance until you make a payment. This card tends to charge slightly higher interest rates, so be sure to pay your balance in full each month if you decide to add it to your wallet.

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® for Rebuilding Credit Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • Find out if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
  • Eligible purchases earn 1% cash back rewards automatically, terms apply
  • Get a credit line between $300 and $3,000 based on your credit history
  • Accounts are automatically reviewed for credit line increase opportunities
  • Choose your monthly payment due date for added convenience, terms apply
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.24%-26.24% Variable
$0 - $99
Bad Credit

The Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® offers qualified applicants perks that you won’t typically find in a subprime credit card. Start with 1% cash back, and add in monthly access to your Experian credit score, and this card could be one of the more lucrative subprime offerings on this list. Just make sure that you pay your balance in full each month because the higher-than-average interest rates will quickly offset any cash back earnings you may accrue.

Last-Chance Cards for No Credit

There’s a big difference between having bad credit and having no credit. Bad credit means you may have a few past mistakes on your credit profile. No credit means your profile is too thin to even generate a reliable credit score.

Though many credit card issuers clump these two types of consumers together, you can sometimes find better offers, like those below, if you haven’t yet built a credit score.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pay no annual fee
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Fraud coverage if your card is lost or stolen
  • Use online banking to access your account, even from your smartphone, with our mobile app
  • Pay by check, online or at a local branch, all with no fee - and pick the monthly due date that works best for you
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.96% (Variable)
$0
Average, Fair, Limited

The Capital One® Platinum Credit Card typically starts new cardholders off with a credit limit between $300 and $500 — but the absence of an annual fee makes more of your credit available right away. Capital One® will also automatically provide a credit limit increase after five months of on-time payments. Some cardholders report getting credit limit increases in less time without asking for one.

NO/LIMITED CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

4.5/5.0
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
  • Earn cash rewards without signing up for rotating categories
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time
  • Monitor your credit profile with the CreditWise® app, free for everyone
  • $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen
  • No limit to how much cash back you can earn, and cash back doesn't expire for the life of the account
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.96% (Variable)
$39
Average, Fair, Limited

With the Capital One® QuicksilverOne® Cash Rewards Credit Card, you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make. Your rewards don’t expire as long as your account remains open and you pay the $39 annual fee. The card’s Credit Step Program automatically evaluates your account to see if you’re eligible for a higher credit limit after you make your first five monthly payments on time.

Last-Chance Cards with No Annual Fee or Processing Fee

While many consumers search for credit cards with rich rewards or fun extra perks, they often don’t realize that those additions come with a price — often an annual fee or other charge that offsets the costs of providing the perks. With the cards below, you won’t have to worry about those charges.

Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands
  • Take advantage of low monthly payments if you apply and are accepted for a Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank, who determines eligibility and qualifications for the terms of credit
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit

You can only use your Fingerhut Credit Account at Fingerhut and its online retail partners. But if you’re in need of name-brand merchandise, this account will allow you to make your purchases and pay them off over time.

Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

3.8/5.0
  • Pre-qualify for a card today and it will not impact your credit score
  • Less than perfect credit is okay
  • 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
24.9%
$0 - $99
Bad, Poor Credit

New Indigo® Mastercard® applicants pay no annual, membership, or security fees to open their account. That’s a big perk if you’re looking for a last-chance credit card that won’t require large up-front money. New cardholders typically start with a $300 credit limit, though some consumers with above-average credit scores report receiving slightly higher starting limits.

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® Review

at Credit One'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.3

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • Seeing if you Pre-Qualify is fast, easy, and secure
  • Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchase, terms apply
  • Rewards post automatically to your account each month
  • Automatic reviews for credit line increase opportunities
  • With $0 Fraud Liability, you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Pick a card that fits your style. Multiple card designs are available, a fee may apply
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.24%-26.24% Variable
$0 - $99
Poor

The Credit One Bank® Unsecured Platinum Visa® offers a pre-qualifying application that lets you know if you’re likely to qualify for the card without placing a potentially harmful hard inquiry on your credit report. While the card does have an annual fee, qualified applicants can get approval for a no-fee account that can save you as much as $99 every year.

Last-Chance Retail Cards

If you’re struggling to qualify for an unsecured credit card for more general use, you may want to consider a retail card. While you can typically only use these cards at the stated retailer and its partner stores, you can still find great utility with them if you’re a regular shopper.

Just be sure to read the fine print before applying. Some retail cards come with higher interest rates than traditional credit cards — but they also typically sport more flexible approval standards.

Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Easy application! Get a credit decision in seconds.
  • Build your credit history – Fingerhut reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • Use your line of credit to shop thousands of items from great brands
  • Take advantage of low monthly payments if you apply and are accepted for a Fingerhut Credit Account issued by WebBank, who determines eligibility and qualifications for the terms of credit
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit

You can use the Fingerhut Credit Account to shop online at Fingerhut or any of its digital retail partners. While the account may limit where you can use it, Fingerhut has no shortage of useful merchandise to replace old or damaged items or stock a new home.

12. Amazon Store Card

The Amazon Store Card allows you to stretch out the payments for your purchases over time. Most purchases can qualify for 6-, 12-, or 24-month special financing offers while also potentially earning 5% cash back.

Amazon.com Store Card

  • Join Prime and earn 5% back every day
  • Instant credit decision in as little as 15 seconds
  • $60 Amazon.com Gift Card credited upon approval
  • No annual fee

If you’re an Amazon Prime member ($149 annually or $12.99 monthly), you can earn even more perks — including free shipping and access to thousands of free TV shows, movies, books, and music choices.

13. Target REDcard

You can use the Target REDcard online or at any of the more than 1,800 Target locations around the world. Every purchase you make with the card earns you an instant 5% discount, whether in-store or online.

Target REDcard

  • Save an extra 5% at Target and Target.com
  • Free 2-day shipping on most items at Target.com
  • Extended 30-day return window for items purchased with your REDcard

The Target REDcard comes in both debit and credit options, depending on your credit history. The debit card links directly to your checking account and pays for purchases from the linked account. Just remember that only the credit card reports your payment history to the reporting bureaus to help build your credit score.

Last-Chance Secured Cards

If an unsecured card is out of the question for you, several secured options are available that can make your last-chance credit card feel like a new start. While these cards will require a refundable security deposit to establish your card, you can earn rewards and benefit from the security add-ons that many big bank issuers provide.

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.9

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is our top secured credit card — mostly because it doesn’t act like a typical secured credit card. With this offering, you may not have to place a full cash deposit to match your credit limit (for example, a $500 deposit nets you a $500 credit limit).

Instead, the card caps limits for new cardholders at an initial $200. But, depending on your credit history, you will have to place a refundable deposit of either $49, $99, or $200 to get started. You can potentially increase your credit line with no additional deposit after making your first five monthly payments on time. Capital One refunds all deposits as long as you close the card with no remaining balance.

Discover it® Secured Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.5

OVERALL RATING

3.7/5.0
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% for 6 months
25.24% Variable
$0
N/A

Discover it® Secured cardholders can earn cash back rewards for every purchase they make using the card. This includes 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter. Plus, you can earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. A refundable security deposit between $200 and $2,500 establishes your credit line after approval.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

2.9/5.0
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search "OpenSky Card" in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.64% (variable)
$35
No credit check

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn’t require a credit check for approval and sets your credit limit equal to your refundable deposit. Minimum deposits start at $200 with a competitive interest rate and annual fee.

What Credit Score Do You Need for an Unsecured Credit Card?

You don’t need to meet a minimum credit score to be approved for an unsecured credit card. That’s because issuers rarely divulge their acceptance criteria, and, with so many credit cards on the market, there are literally dozens of options for any credit score range.

Should You Get an Unsecured or Secured Card?For example, a consumer with a credit score in the “good” range (FICO 670-739) might have their choice of several dozen credit cards. But that same consumer would likely not qualify for a credit card that’s designed for consumers with excellent credit (FICO 800-850).

Likewise, a consumer with a credit score in the “fair” range (FICO 580-669) has options, but not as many as the consumer with good credit.

Instead of focusing on minimums or maximums, your best bet is to pull your free annual credit report to get a better understanding of the state of your credit profile. Just note that the free report will not give you your actual credit score (you have to pay for that).

Once you’ve examined your report, you can get a better idea of the range of cards you may qualify for. That’s when you should start researching each option to find the one that best suits your needs.

Remember that every card you apply for also leaves a hard inquiry on your credit report. Too many of these inquiries (usually more than three in a two-year span) can lower your credit score.

If you want to avoid this, you can look for credit cards with pre-qualifying applications. While these forms can’t guarantee approval, they can give you an idea of your chances of approval — without putting a hard inquiry on your credit file.

Can I Get an Unsecured Credit card with No Credit?

Some consumers don’t understand the term no credit. This doesn’t mean that you don’t currently have a credit card, but rather that you’ve never had one. People with no credit have so little history on their files that they can’t yet generate a credit score.

This doesn’t disqualify you from getting an unsecured credit card, but it can make the process a little trickier.

Your credit score determines your financial reputation and likelihood of your paying back any loan you receive. Without that score, lenders have nothing to go on when deciding your creditworthiness.

That means you have to show other hard evidence that you can definitely pay off your debts. This can include providing proof of a healthy income, showing a history of on-time payments for non-credit items (think rent or utilities) or finding a co-signer to boost your application.

Image of a Person Signing a Form

People who use co-signers to gain access to credit can put their friends and family at risk if they don’t pay it back in a timely manner.

Keep in mind that having a co-signer comes with great responsibility. The person added to your application trusts that you’re going to pay your monthly bill on time. If you don’t, your credit and theirs will take the hit.

So, before you consider seeking a co-signer, you’re better served by researching the best credit cards for consumers with no or limited credit.

There’s an entire industry set up for consumers who need to build their credit profile — and the process doesn’t take as long as you may think.

With on-time payments, you can begin to generate a credit score in as little as six months. Your score will continue to increase with responsible credit usage. As that happens, you’ll find that you may qualify for better, and more lucrative, credit cards.

Does an Unsecured Credit Card Build Credit?

Absolutely! Issuers design unsecured credit cards for consumers with all kinds of credit histories. These cardholders often want to improve their credit scores in hopes of maintaining their current status, or upgrading to bigger and better credit cards.

Most unsecured credit card issuers report your payment activity to the three credit reporting bureaus. That means your on-time payments help to improve your score each month. And since negative items lose some of their importance as they age out of your report, which can take up to two years, the newer items will replace older negative items to strengthen your credit profile.

Just remember that monthly credit reporting works both ways. While positive payment histories can strengthen your score over time, negative reports can give you an instant bad hit.

One single payment that’s more than 30 days late can lower your credit score by as much as 100 points. It will take many, many months of on-time payments to make up those lost points. That late payment will remain on your credit report for up to two years, which is why it’s vital that you make all of your payments before the due date.

Some card issuers, including Discover and Capital One®, regularly check cardholder accounts for potential card upgrades. If you have a positive payment history, a strong income, and keep a low balance on your card, you could receive credit line increases or upgraded cards over time.

Credit Card Utilization

Keeping balances low on credit cards is an important factor in your credit since utilization ratio makes up 30% of your score.

In addition to making on-time payments, another thing that helps build credit is maintaining low overall balances on your cards. Credit utilization accounts for approximately 30% of your credit score. You can calculate your utilization ratio by dividing your current balance by your overall credit limit.

For example, a credit card with a $1,000 limit and a $250 balance has a 25% utilization rate. The higher your rate, the less likely issuers are to approve your application. That’s because they view your high balances as a sign that you’re struggling with debt and may need another card to stay afloat.

Likewise, a low utilization rate improves your credit score and shows that you’re responsible with credit and likely won’t go overboard in the future.

There’s No Such Thing as a Last Chance

If past performance is no guarantee of future results, then credit card companies should understand that previous mistakes don’t necessarily foreshadow future financial errors.

This is true whether you’re looking to rebuild your credit history or if you’re just beginning your credit journey.

Thankfully, there are dozens of credit cards on the market that banks design to help consumers reach their credit goals. This means that even after your fourth or fifth chance, you still have options available to get a fresh start.

With the right mindset, a little research, and a whole lot of discipline, you can make your next chance your last chance — and be on your way to a healthier financial life.