The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Thursday, September 29, 2022

2022’s Best Second-Chance Credit Cards

Second Chance Credit Cards

credit card advice

Adam West

Written by: Adam West

Adam West

Adam corresponds with finance experts to publish industry news coverage related to helping consumers achieve greater financial literacy and improved credit. He has more than 12 years of storytelling, editing, and design experience in print and online journalism and is most knowledgeable in the areas of credit scores, financial products and services, and the banking industry.

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Edited by: Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro

Lillian brings more than 30 years of editing and journalism experience. 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 instructor at the University of Florida. Today, she edits all CardRates content for clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement.

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Advertiser Disclosure

Alexander Pope once said, “To err is human; to forgive, divine.” That saying was true when it was written in 1711 and remains true today — though, in modern language, we’d probably say something less frilly, such as “Everyone deserves a second chance.”

That certainly rings true with credit cards. So many consumers lack proper financial education when they’re starting out, which often leads to mistakes with their first credit cards. But most of us learn from those mistakes and shouldn’t continue to be punished for them years later.

Thankfully, some credit cards can give you that second chance toward a fresh financial start. Keep reading for some of our expert selections for the best second chance credit cards on the market today, including picks for overall best as well as unsecured, secured, no-credit-check, and retail cards.

Overall | Unsecured | Secured | No Credit Check | Retail | FAQs

Best Overall Second-Chance Cards

If you’re looking for a second chance at building credit, look no further than the choices below. Our three top picks not only report your payment behavior to the three credit reporting bureaus to help you rebuild your credit profile, but there’s also a mix of low fee, rewards, and flexible payment options — which you don’t often find on credit cards designed for consumers with poor credit.

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★
4.0

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

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is our favorite second chance credit card for several reasons. This card’s biggest perk is that 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).

This card grants all new cardholders an initial $200 limit, but, depending on your credit history, you will have to pay a deposit of either $49, $99, or $200. You can qualify for a larger credit line with no additional deposit after making your first six monthly payments on time. Capital One refunds all deposits when you’re upgraded to an unsecured card or close the account with no remaining balance.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★★
4.0

OVERALL RATING

  • No credit score required to apply.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Establish your credit line 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
25.24% Variable APR
$0
New/Rebuilding

With the Discover it® Secured Credit Card, you can earn cash back rewards for every purchase you make using the card. You’ll also receive access to a free FICO score to help you keep track of your credit rebuilding journey. A refundable security deposit establishes your credit line after approval.

Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

This card is currently not available.

★★★★★
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

The Secured Sable ONE Credit Card offers one of the quickest paths to going unsecured — as soon as four months — when you reach a few set milestones. This card also happens to be one of the easiest to get because it doesn’t require a credit check for approval. You’ll earn cash back rewards on select purchases and enjoy one of the lowest APRs available.

Best Unsecured Second-Chance Cards

Damaged credit doesn’t have to be a life sentence. An unsecured credit card — which doesn’t require a security deposit to open — will come with lower credit limits and high APRs. But with responsible use, the cards below can help you build your credit without sacrificing convenience.

Total Visa® Card Review

at Total Card'ssecure website

BAD CREDIT RATING

★★★★
4.3

OVERALL RATING

  • Total Visa active cardholders get exclusive access to free Credit Monitoring powered by TransUnion!
  • 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)
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See Terms
See Terms
Fair, Bad Credit

The Total Visa® Card is an unsecured credit card, which means it doesn’t require a deposit for approval. But it does require a varying program enrollment fee that you must pay before using it. You may also have to pay an annual fee, which takes away from your initial available credit line — which typically starts at $300. A bank account is required for approval.

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

If you’re unsure whether you can qualify for the Milestone® Mastercard® – Less Than Perfect Credit Considered, the issuer offers a pre-qualifying application to ease your fears. This means you can find out whether you qualify for any of the cards Milestone® offers with one application. This helps limit the number of hard inquiries you receive on your credit report that can potentially damage your credit score.

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

Qualified Indigo® Mastercard® applicants pay no annual, membership, or security fees to open their account. That’s a big plus if you’re looking for a second-chance credit card that doesn’t require a lot of upfront money. The card’s credit limit typically starts at $300, though some consumers with above-average credit scores report receiving slightly higher starting limits.

Best Secured Second-Chance Cards

A secured credit card requires a refundable cash deposit for approval, but that’s usually the biggest hurdle for acceptance. Some secured cards don’t require credit checks and can help improve your credit score over time with responsible usage.

Some of the cards listed below will automatically upgrade you to an unsecured credit card if your credit history improves.

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

With the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, you pay a refundable security deposit of $49, $99, or $200 to establish your initial credit line of $200. The amount you pay depends on your credit history. New cardholders pay no annual fee, and, with responsible usage, you could, in time, receive an upgrade to an unsecured card.

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees, and you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Put down a refundable $200 security deposit to get a $200 initial credit line
  • Building your credit? Using a card like this responsibly could help
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • 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
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card offers cash back rewards and charges no annual fee, but the APR is a bit high for a secured card. However, if you pay your balance off each month, you’ll avoid the interest charges altogether. If you tend to carry a balance, consider another card instead.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card Review

at Discover Card'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

  • No credit score required to apply.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Establish your credit line 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.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
25.24% Variable APR
$0
New/Rebuilding

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card provides the easiest path toward upgrading to an unsecured credit card. That’s because Discover periodically begins checking cardholders’ accounts after an introductory period of card ownership and automatically upgrades them if they qualify. But in the meantime, the secured card lets you earn cash back on every purchase you make — that’s a pretty big deal in the secured credit card space.

Best Second-Chance Cards With No Credit Check

If your credit history is preventing you from getting approved for a credit card, you can try a secured or prepaid card — including the cards below — that don’t require a credit check at all. Instead, these cards depend on a refundable security deposit or monthly fee to secure your account against default or late payments.

Secured Sable ONE Credit Card

This card is currently not available.

Secured 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

The Secured Sable ONE Credit Card combats rising interest rates by offering one of the lowest APRs you can get. It doesn’t require a credit check or a Social Security number for approval. This secured Visa credit card even rewards you with a cash bonus for improving your credit score within a year of account opening.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank N.A.'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.5

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
  • View your FICO® Score through your OpenSky account, an easy way to stay on top of your credit
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
18.89% (variable)
$35
Poor

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card only requires a refundable security deposit to approve applicants. That means you won’t have to endure a credit check, inquiries on your credit report, and possible denials. This card is a top choice for second-chance credit if your first chance went poorly and your credit is very bad.

Brinks Prepaid Mastercard Review

at Republic Bank & Trust Company'ssecure website

PREPAID RATING

★★★★★
4.8

OVERALL RATING

  • Brink’s gives you the peace of mind you deserve. Securing cash and valuables since 1859.
  • With Brink’s 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 Brink’s Money Prepaid Mobile App to manage your account on the go and get text message or email alerts (Message & data rates may apply.)
  • *Card issued by Republic Bank & Trust Company, Member FDIC. Card may be used everywhere Mastercard Debit cards are accepted. “Apply Now” for full details.
  • See additional Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard® Details.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
N/A
Variable Monthly Fees
Not applicable

There’s no credit check required to get the Brink’s Prepaid Mastercard®. Because it is a prepaid card, it cannot help you build credit. But if you just need a card to help you make payments, this card fits the bill.

Best Second-Chance Retail Cards

Some retail credit cards have easy thresholds for approval, such as those below, but can only be used at a specific retailer. They often feature rewards for regular shoppers and can be a great credit-building tool — just watch out for the high APRs some of these cards carry.

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

With the Fingerhut Credit Account, you can shop at Fingerhut.com or any of its retail partners and purchase name-brand merchandise using your revolving credit account. You can reuse your credit line once you’ve paid off past purchases and monthly payments remain low for everything you buy. Fingerhut also reports your payment behaviors to the three major credit reporting bureaus, so responsible usage can improve your credit rating over time.

Target RedCard

You can use the Target RedCard online or at any Target location around the world. What’s even better, you can get 5% off all your purchases when you use the card 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 your credit score.

Amazon Store Card

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t shop at Amazon? With the Amazon Store Card, you can stretch out the payments for your purchases and possibly receive 6-, 12-, or 24-month special financing offers while also potentially earning 5% cash back on all of your online buys.

Amazon Store Card

  • No annual fee
  • 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

The Amazon Store Card increases its perks if you’re an Amazon Prime member — but keep in mind that membership includes a $149 annual, or $12.99 monthly, fee. But if you’re a regular shopper on the website, the membership fee pays for itself through free shipping and access to thousands of free TV shows, movies, books, and music choices.

Which Credit Cards Can I Get With a 500 Credit Score?

Secured credit cards are likely your best bet with a score in the 500s. That’s because a secured credit card requires a refundable cash deposit that often takes the place of a credit check for approval.

The amount of your deposit often matches the credit limit on your card, and you will receive your deposit back in the form of a check if you cancel your card in good standing with no balance.

Should You Get an Unsecured or Secured Card?

Other than the deposit, a secured credit card acts in many of the same ways as its unsecured sibling. You can use it at the same places as an unsecured card by the same issuer and some secured cards even offer cash back rewards.

And nearly every secured card issuer reports your payment history to the three major credit reporting bureaus, meaning responsible card use can improve your credit score over time and help you eventually upgrade to a traditional unsecured credit card.

Some secured cards, such as the Discover it® Secured Credit Card and the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card will automatically check in on your account from time to time after an introductory period of card ownership to see if you qualify for an unsecured offering.

In the case of Discover, your account will get an immediate upgrade if you qualify. When that happens, the bank refunds your security deposit and sends you a new card.

Which Unsecured Credit Card Is the Easiest to Get?

Every credit card issuer has different standards and expectations for qualified applicants. But not every issuer publishes its approval criteria for everyone to see.

That’s why it’s important you extensively research any card that interests you before you apply for it.

When you apply for multiple cards, you accrue multiple hard inquiries on your credit report. The more of those you get — and each one lives on your report for two years — the more desperate for credit you appear to lenders and credit card issuers.

Hard Credit Inquiry vs. Soft Credit Inquiry

While it may be difficult to get an unsecured card if you need a second chance at credit, you’ll improve your chances of approval by looking for pre-qualifying offers.

Some cards, including the Milestone® Mastercard® – Less Than Perfect Credit Considered, allow consumers to submit an application that only draws a soft inquiry that won’t harm their credit score. Using the information from that credit check, the bank can potentially match them to a card.

Prequalifying for a card indicates you have a good shot of being approved if you decide to officially apply, but it does not guarantee approval. When you decide to apply, the bank will pull your credit report — which will give you a hard inquiry — but only one instead of several that could come from multiple applications.

Keep in mind, though, that there’s a difference between being pre-qualified and pre-approved. Prequalification means your soft credit pull shows you meet the standards for approval, but the issuer can’t guarantee the card until you officially apply and submit all of your background financial information.

Preapproval means you’ve already been approved by the issuer and all you have to do is formally apply to get the card.

So even a pre-qualified applicant can still receive a rejection when he or she applies. But, in most cases, pre-qualifying means you’re likely to get the card.

How Can I Rebuild My Credit Fast?

While we’ve often heard everything that’s worthwhile takes time, not everyone has the time to wait on their credit score to organically increase.

Some negative marks on your credit report will take time and patience to resolve. These include the age of your credit accounts and the time it takes for late payments or other negatives to fall off of your report.

The good news, though, is that as negative items on your credit report get older, their impact on your credit score decreases — as long as you replace them with positive items.

So that late payment 14 months ago won’t be nearly as bad as a late payment two months ago. That means you can start rebuilding credit by making all of your payments on time, every month.

A few other things can be done to boost your score without having to wait years to see the benefit. Start by pulling your free annual credit reports to see the information on them. You can request one from each credit bureau – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

If you see incorrectly reported information, you can file a simple dispute to remove those items and improve your score almost instantly. But be sure to dispute the item with all three credit bureaus if it’s appearing on all three reports. Each credit bureau requires a unique dispute.

If you don’t qualify for a credit card, consider opening a credit builder loan from a local credit union. These “loans” are actually a payment you make to the credit union each month for a set period, usually between 12 and 24 months.

Your payments are reported to the credit bureaus to help you build credit, and when your loan term is over, the money you paid is returned to you. Credit builder loans provide a unique opportunity to build credit and save money.

Some people think closing credit cards with a zero balance will improve their credit score. This isn’t always the case. As much as 30% of your credit score relies on your total credit utilization.

To find your utilization, you divide your current balance on a credit card by the overall credit limit. For example, a card with a $1,000 credit limit, and a $200 balance, has utilized 20% of its available credit — or a 20% utilization ratio.

Credit card issuers want to see low credit utilization on an applicant’s credit report. A higher ratio means you’ve likely burned through your available credit and are looking for more — this sends a red flag to issuers, who generally prefer a credit utilization of 30% or less.

Credit Utilization Example

An example of credit utilization across three card accounts.

When you cancel a credit card with a zero balance, you remove that available credit from your overall utilization — which can cause a massive spike in your percentage and hurt your credit score instantly.

Instead of canceling the card, you should try contacting the issuer to ask for a credit line increase. If you’re approved, you will increase your available balance — and decrease your utilization — and see a quick boost to your credit score once the new credit limit is reported to the bureaus.

If you don’t currently have a credit card, adding one to your wallet will help improve your credit score as long as the balance on your card remains low and you make all of your monthly payments on time.

Get a Fresh Start on Your Credit Journey

Your credit score not only determines the likelihood of being approved for future credit cards, but it can also lower your insurance premiums and the rates you pay. But the effects of past credit mistakes can make things much harder and more expensive.

We all make mistakes, and thankfully, credit cards that specialize in second chances can offer you a fresh start on your credit journey. With responsible use, these cards can help you build up your credit score over time, and you’ll be on your way to a healthier credit profile.

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