The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Tuesday, May 17, 2022

2022’s List of Subprime Credit Cards

List Of Subprime Credit Cards

credit card advice

Brittney Mayer

Written by: Brittney Mayer

Brittney Mayer

Brittney is a Credit Strategist and Finance Expert who has spent years honing her knowledge of the credit industry both personally and professionally. Brittney applies her more than a decade of research experience to crafting in-depth consumer guides designed to help CardRates readers make better, more informed financial decisions.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian is a Content Editor who brings her journalism experience in business and consumer finance to ensure CardRates news articles and reports have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. Her primary goal is to assure editorial content meets the highest level of quality and precision.

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Without knowing another single thing about a product, most people would likely select the “prime” choice over the one labeled “subprime.” After all, everyone knows that prime things are simply better, right? We want prime meat, Prime shipping, and Optimus Prime.

While it’s not always so cut and dry in finance, prime credit scores still outrank subprime scores for most credit card issuers. But you’re not totally out of luck if you have a subprime score and need a card.

A number of credit card issuers specialize in offering cards to consumers with less-than-prime credit scores. Read on for experts’ list of subprime credit cards, which includes unsecured cards and secured cards, as well as some other options for you to consider. These subprime credit cards tend to charge more and offer less, but, when used responsibly, they may help you improve your credit so you can start enjoying a prime lifestyle.

Unsecured Issuers | Secured Issuers | Other Options

List of the Best Unsecured Cards from Subprime Issuers

In the world of prime credit cards, most options are unsecured, meaning they don’t require a deposit or any other form of collateral. But consumers with low credit scores are seen as high credit risk, making most mainstream issuers wary of offering unsecured credit.

However, subprime credit card issuers are more than happy to offer unsecured credit to a range of credit types (for a fee).

While consumers with a subprime credit score don’t have quite as many unsecured options as their better-credit brethren, you should still compare your options before making a choice. This includes researching each issuer, as few are commonly known outside the subprime world.

WebBank/Fingerhut | Credit One Bank | First PREMIER Bank | Bank of Missouri | Genesis FS

WebBank/Fingerhut

Rebuilding your credit score can feel like reinventing your finances, as they’ll likely look entirely different when you’re done. Fingerhut knows all about reinventing, as what is now a massive online retailer actually started out as a duo selling seat covers for cars.

Today, Fingerhut is used by thousands of consumers who want to build credit while purchasing the things they use every day with responsible use of a WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account.

Fingerhut Credit Account Review

at Fingerhut'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.3
OVERALL RATING
  • 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 like Samsung, KitchenAid, and DeWalt
  • Not an access card
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Issuers Website
$0
Poor Credit

While the Fingerhut Credit Account is the provider’s main advertised financing product, Fingerhut actually offers two main types of credit accounts, one revolving and one installment.

The WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account is the revolving option, and it operates very similarly to a typical store card. It can only be used to make purchases at Fingerhut.com, and it has a fairly high APR. However, it has no annual fee and it offers a standard new-purchase grace period.

Consumers who don’t qualify for a WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account will be automatically considered for the installment option, the WebBank/Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan.

With the WebBank/Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan, approved applicants make a minimum $50 purchase with a $30 down payment. The remaining balance is paid off via six equal monthly payments.

Once you’ve paid off your WebBank/Fingerhut FreshStart Installment Loan, Fingerhut may upgrade you to the revolving WebBank/Fingerhut Advantage Credit Account.

Credit One Bank

Although Credit One is expanding its card options to include a number of fair-credit card options, the bank still issues a range of credit cards for consumers with poor credit.

Credit One is popular among subprime consumers for its flexible credit requirements, but also for its credit card purchase rewards. While your exact rewards program will vary by card and offer, most qualified applicants can earn at least 1% cash back on eligible purchases. Please read current terms carefully before applying:

Credit One Bank® Visa® with Free Credit Score Access

This card is currently not available.

Bad Credit Rating
★★★★★
N/A
OVERALL RATING
N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

This card is currently not available.

Bad Credit Rating
★★★★★
N/A
OVERALL RATING
N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card

This card is currently not available.

Bad Credit Rating
★★★★★
N/A
OVERALL RATING
N/A
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A

Most aspects of your Credit One credit card offer will vary depending on your credit profile. The annual fee, APR, and other specifics may vary depending on your creditworthiness.

First PREMIER Bank

First PREMIER has been in business for decades, offering a range of credit cards designed and marketed for consumers with poor credit scores. Though several card variations exist, the main difference seems to be the card art, rather than the cards’ terms.

First PREMIER’s cards are some of the most expensive subprime options out there — in fact, they have some of the highest APRs on the market — as well as pretty hefty fees.

The one-time program fee must be paid before you can open your account and start using your First PREMIER credit card. After that, you’ll be charged an annual fee. Consumers are also charged a monthly fee after the first year.

If approved, your minimum credit limit will be $300, but you could be approved for a credit limit of up to $500, depending on your credit profile. A higher credit limit will mean paying a higher annual and/or monthly fee.

Bank of Missouri

Technically issued by the Bank of Missouri, these credit cards don’t look like the bank’s other cards. They don’t carry any of the bank’s branding or logos, instead showcasing their own brands.

Regardless, the features they offer are the same. Besides having very flexible credit requirements, the cards also have a pretty standard APR — compared to other subprime cards, that is — and a decent new-purchase grace period.

Total Visa® Card Review

at Total Card'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.3
OVERALL RATING
  • 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
  • $300 credit limit (subject to 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
First Access Visa® Card Review

at First Access Visa®'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.2
OVERALL RATING
  • Checking Account Required
  • 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
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • The First Access Visa Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Terms
See Terms
Bad Credit

One card perk less common among subprime cards is the ability to choose your credit card’s design. Cardholders can select from six different design options for each card, with everything from flowers to patriotic flag-inspired art.

Genesis Financial Services

While most credit cards are issued by banks that also offer other traditional bank products, such as checking or savings accounts, Genesis Financial Services doesn’t have the typical offerings.

Rather than bank accounts and mortgages, Genesis deals in private-label merchant solutions, as well as offering two direct-to-consumer credit card products. Both cards offer remarkably low APRs for subprime cards, while still maintaining a healthy grace period.

Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered Review

at Milestone Mastercard®'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.3
OVERALL RATING
  • 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
Poor/Bad
Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit Review

at Indigo® Mastercard®'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING
★★★★
4.3
OVERALL RATING
  • 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

While the cards have a very reasonable APR standards, that only holds so long as you pay your bill on time and as agreed each month. If you make a late payment, you could be subject to a much higher penalty APR, which could be applied indefinitely.

All approved cardholders will start with the same APR, but the annual fee will vary based on your credit profile. Some applicants may also be required to pay an account opening fee to activate their account.

List of the Best Secured Cards from Subprime Issuers

Unsecured credit cards are often alluring to consumers with poor credit because many of these consumers are also on limited budgets. But, while the idea of forking over a $300 deposit can be intimidating, it may make mathematical sense.

The biggest thing that secured subprime credit cards have over their unsecured counterparts is the fees. Most unsecured subprime cards charge large annual fees, and many also charge processing or account opening fees, the combination of which can add up to $150 or more — nonrefundable.

The deposit required for your secured credit card, on the other hand, is entirely refundable so long as you don’t default on your balance. And while many secured subprime cards still charge annual fees, the fees are typically much smaller than those charged by unsecured subprime cards.

Synovus Bank | Capital Bank N.A.

Synovus Bank

Synovus Bank keeps its subprime credit cards separate from its main banking products — so separate, in fact, that the First Progress credit cards below have none of Synovus Bank’s branding, instead sporting only the First Progress name and logo on the front of the card.

First Progress secured cards don’t have any credit history or minimum credit score requirements for approval, making them accessible to nearly all credit types:

The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★
3.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
20.24% (V)
$29
Poor/Limited/No Credit
First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★
3.9
OVERALL RATING
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
10.24% (V)
$49
Bad / No Credit
First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★
3.8
OVERALL RATING
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
14.24% (V)
$39
Poor/Limited/No Credit

The size of your credit line will be equal to the size of your deposit, meaning approved applicants who meet the minimum deposit requirement will start out with a $200 credit limit. Note: The initial limit will be minus the annual fee, which is charged when you open your account. Approved cardholders may be able to increase the size of their credit limit by making a larger deposit.

Eligible cardholders can also choose to pay a smaller annual fee in exchange for a higher APR. Since you should always pay off your full credit card balance each month, especially when building credit, opting for a higher APR and lower annual fee can be a good way to save.

Capital Bank N.A.

Formally issued by Capital Bank — which also offers online banking, savings accounts, and home loans — the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card maintains its own branding across all of its assets, including the card itself, the online banking platform, and the mobile apps.

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card can be a good option for any credit type, as it is one of the few cards on the market that doesn’t require a credit check to apply. But while it doesn’t need a credit check for approval, it will still report to the three major credit bureaus.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank N.A.'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
  • No credit check to apply and find out instantly if you are approved.
  • OpenSky gives everyone an opportunity to improve their credit with an 85% average approval rate for the past 5 years
  • Get considered for a credit line increase after 6 months, with no additional deposit required
  • You could be eligible for the OpenSky Gold Unsecured Card after as few as 6 months
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus monthly, unlike a prepaid or debit card
  • Nearly half of OpenSky cardholders who make on-time payments improve their FICO score 30+ points in the first 3 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.64% (variable)
$35
Poor

The card requires a minimum deposit of $200 to open the account, and the credit line you receive will be based on the size of your deposit. The $35 annual fee is competitive with similar cards — and significantly lower than that charged by most unsecured subprime cards.

Cards for Bad Credit from Mainstream Issuers

The current credit card market is full of options, even for consumers with subprime credit scores. But, simply having a low credit score doesn’t necessarily limit you to subprime credit card issuers, especially if you’re willing to make a deposit for a secured credit card.

In general, you’ll likely have the best chances of finding a prime card issuer with flexible credit requirements by checking your local credit union or community bank. These issuers may even have an entry-level unsecured card with reasonable fees, depending on your credit.

That said, If you have your heart set on a card from a mainstream bank, you’re most likely looking at a secured credit card. On the plus side, secured cards from non-subprime issuers tend to have lower fees, and some may even offer perks like purchase rewards.

Discover | Capital One | Bank of America | Citi

Discover

Not only is Discover one of the top U.S. credit card issuers, but the company also does double duty as its own credit card network, processing billions of dollars in transactions around the world each year.

Although all of Discover’s credit card products are designed for consumers with fair or average credit and better, a subprime credit score is likely a bit too low for anything but the issuer’s secured product. Thankfully, it’s a great secured card.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.5
OVERALL RATING
  • No credit score required to apply.*
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Using your secured credit card helps build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can’t do that.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. That means a $200 deposit for a $200 credit line. Or a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit, and the security deposit equals your credit limit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.*
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
23.24% Variable APR
$0
New/Rebuilding

This card is one of the few secured credit cards available to consumers with low credit scores that comes with purchase rewards. This makes the Discover it® Secured Credit Card an easy standout from the secured-card crowd.

What’s more, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card is upgradable. Discover will periodically evaluate your credit card use and credit-building progress to see if you qualify for an automatic upgrade to an unsecured Discover credit card.

If you’re upgraded — or if you close your account in good standing — your security deposit will be completely refunded. The card requires a small minimum deposit, though a larger deposit will unlock a larger credit line.

Capital One

In business for only a few decades, Capital One is a young bank compared to many of its mainstream competitors. Despite that fact, however, Capital One quickly became a household name — and not just for its humorous Visigoths or A-list celebs.

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is a solid choice for consumers who need to build credit quickly:

SECURED RATING
★★★★★
4.7
OVERALL RATING
4.0/5.0
  • 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
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

Cardholders who make their first five payments on time can unlock a credit limit increase, no additional deposit required. If you’d like a higher credit limit without waiting, you can make a larger-than-required deposit when you open the account.

Bank of America

In business for over a century, Bank of America is the second-largest bank in the US with more than $2.3 trillion in assets. It’s also one of the top 10 largest credit card issuers.

Among the bank’s many offerings is the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card, which is designed to help cardholders build credit with responsible use. See how this card’s current offer details stack up to other cards on your short list:

BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • A secured credit card designed to help establish, strengthen or rebuild credit
  • A minimum refundable security deposit of $300 (maximum of $4,900) is required to open this account
  • Access your FICO Score updated monthly for free within your Mobile Banking app or in Online Banking
  • Your account will periodically be reviewed, and, based on your overall credit history (including other credit cards and loans), you may qualify to have your security deposit returned. Not all customers will qualify.
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.24% Variable
$0
Bad/Limited

Similar to other secured cards from mainstream banks, this card has the ability to be automatically upgraded to an unsecured product with sufficient credit score improvement. Upgrades are at the discretion of Bank of America.

Citibank

With a pedigree that stretches back more than 200 years, Citi — or, more completely, Citibank, the consumer division of Citigroup — has a long history of helping consumers meet their financial goals. For example, the bank has a broad array of credit cards, with options for nearly any credit type.

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is the issuer’s solution for consumers who need to build (or rebuild) credit. Read our expert review and see how the card compares with competing offers:

CITI® RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

  • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
  • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
  • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
  • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
  • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
  • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 23.24%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.24% (Variable)
$0
Limited History, No Credit, New-to-Credit

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

Subprime Credit Doesn’t Have to Last Forever

Even if you didn’t know what subprime credit is, you probably wouldn’t want it, as just the word subprime makes it sound less-than-great. And, once you know what it means, well, having subprime credit can feel like a struggle. Just finding a good subprime credit card can be a challenge.

But subprime credit doesn’t have to haunt you forever.

All it takes to move from subprime territory into the prime credit arena is a little hard work and some time. It all starts with an honest evaluation of your credit reports and scores, using FICO’s five basic factors as your guide.

  1. Payment History (35%)
  2. Amounts Owed & Utilization (30%)
  3. Credit History Length & Average Account Age (15%)
  4. New Accounts & Hard Inquiries (10%)
  5. Credit Account Diversity (10%)

The best path toward a prime credit score will depend on your individual credit profile. In general, however, you can build credit by ensuring all of your debts are paid on time and as agreed, by maintaining low credit balances, and by being conscientious about the number and frequency of new credit accounts.

Additionally, when it comes to building credit, time can be your ally. Establishing a credit profile early — and managing it responsibly — can help you build your credit history length. Having a long, robust credit history can help offset small mistakes along the way.

Time can also help with more serious negative items and accounts, such as previously missed payments. That’s because credit scoring models give more weight to your recent activities, which means older accounts have less impact on your credit scores than newer accounts.

Chart of Time Negative Items Can Stay on Credit Reports

Furthermore, most negative items can only remain on your credit reports for up to seven years (10 years for certain bankruptcies), after which point they should no longer impact your credit scores.

Once you’ve raised your score out of the subprime trenches, be sure to maintain those responsible credit habits to keep boosting your score. Before too long, you could find yourself with excellent credit, opening doors and making your financial life infinitely better.

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