Compare Our Top-Rated Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Updated: 29th July 2021

Getting a credit card can be challenging if you have bad credit or no credit, but it’s far from impossible. And using credit wisely has the potential to help build or rebuild your credit. To help save you time, we’ve compiled a list of our top-rated credit cards for bad credit to get you on the right track.

For each card below, we provide a rating, which takes into account features such as whether the card accepts people with low credit scores, the card’s APR and whether it offers rewards or 0% introductory periods.

Along with our list, you can also find more information about our ratings, how to compare cards, and how to improve your credit below.

Hero Tips: Must knows when using credit-builder cards

  1. Yes, you can still get a credit card

    Having poor credit doesn't necessarily mean you can't get a credit card. Credit-builder cards accept applicants that have lower credit scores.

  2. Be aware of high interest rates

    Credit-builder cards typically carry higher interest rates than standard credit cards. That means it's more important than ever to avoid carrying a balance on your card.

  3. Rebuilding credit is job no.1

    Rewards and perks are great, but few credit-builder cards include much in the way of perks. Instead, focus on using your card responsibly so you can repair your credit and qualify for a card that does include rewards and perks.

Here are MyWalletHero's top-rated credit cards for poor credit

Credit card offers from our affiliate partners appear first and are ordered from highest rating to lowest, followed by other top-rated offers. You can read more about our ratings and page sort here. Offers from affiliate partners are marked with a *.

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Great for: Lowering your APR while building credit
4.5 stars question mark

The Aqua Advance Credit Card includes many of the features that make other Aqua cards great for those looking to build or rebuild credit. As an added bonus though, users of the Advance Card that stay on time with their payments will see their APR go down by 5% per year. Over time, this could bring the APR down to 19.9%.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Stay on time with payments and APR reduces 5% per year
  • Keeping on time with payments could reduce APR to 19.9%
  • Free Aqua Credit Checker
  • No annual fee

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Interest rate for purchases 34.95% p.a. variable
Representative rate 34.9% APR variable
Based on borrowing £1,200 over 12 months

what we like

  • Stay on time with payments and APR reduces 5% per year
  • Keeping on time with payments could reduce APR to 19.9%
  • Free Aqua Credit Checker
  • No annual fee
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    34.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 4/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 4/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Stay on time with payments and APR reduces 5% per year
  • Keeping on time with payments could reduce APR to 19.9%
  • Free Aqua Credit Checker
  • No annual fee

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Interest rate for purchases 34.95% p.a. variable
Representative rate 34.9% APR variable
Based on borrowing £1,200 over 12 months
Great for: Just starting to build or re-build credit
3 stars question mark

Let’s face it: when you’re just starting to build or rebuild credit, getting approved for a credit card can be tough. The marbles Credit Card doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles. And the APRs start high and can be even higher for some applicants. But, it offers an opportunity to show good credit behaviour and could be a stepping stone to other cards.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee
  • Online eligibility checker
  • Spending alerts to help avoid missteps

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 34.9% APR (variable)

The APR applicable to your account will depend on assessment of your application.

what we like

  • No annual fee
  • Online eligibility checker
  • Spending alerts to help avoid missteps
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    34.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 1/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 3/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee
  • Online eligibility checker
  • Spending alerts to help avoid missteps

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 34.9% APR (variable)

The APR applicable to your account will depend on assessment of your application.

Great for: Building and rebuilding credit
3 stars question mark

If you are looking for a credit rebuilder card that offers you more than just access to credit, the Tesco Bank Foundation Card does just that. It offers free access to Noddle Premium services and Tesco Clubcard benefits, as well as a comparatively low APR and manageable credit limits.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee
  • Free service to help manage credit rating
  • Collect Tesco Clubcard points

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 27.5% APR (variable)
Interest rate on purchases 27.5% p.a. (variable)
Assumed credit limit £1,200

what we like

  • No annual fee
  • Free service to help manage credit rating
  • Collect Tesco Clubcard points
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    27.5%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 2/5 Perks
  • 2.5/5Fees
  • 4/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee
  • Free service to help manage credit rating
  • Collect Tesco Clubcard points

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 27.5% APR (variable)
Interest rate on purchases 27.5% p.a. (variable)
Assumed credit limit £1,200
Great for: Credit repair with a lower starting APR
3 stars question mark

Vanquis Bank’s Chrome Credit Card offers a comparably low representative APR of just 29.5% to those with a limited credit history or past problems. That can be a welcome sight, as APRs for most other credit cards for bad credit start at 35%. Credit limits start at a manageable level of up to £1,000, but can be built up to £4,000 over time.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Low APR compared to most other credit-building cards
  • Starting credit limit of £250 to £1,000
  • Possibility to build credit limit to £4,000
  • Managing your card well could lead to credit-rating improvements
  • Easy account management via online portal and mobile app

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 29.5% APR (variable)

Rates from 29.5% APR (variable) to 59.9% APR (variable) depending on individual circumstances.

what we like

  • Credit limit could increase to £4,000 over time
  • Comparably low starting APR
  • No annual fee
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    29.5%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    Starting credit limit of up to £1,000

KEY SCORES:

  • 2.5/5 Perks
  • 3/5Fees
  • 4/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Low APR compared to most other credit-building cards
  • Starting credit limit of £250 to £1,000
  • Possibility to build credit limit to £4,000
  • Managing your card well could lead to credit-rating improvements
  • Easy account management via online portal and mobile app

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative rate 29.5% APR (variable)

Rates from 29.5% APR (variable) to 59.9% APR (variable) depending on individual circumstances.

Great for: Building credit
2.5 stars question mark

The Aqua Classic credit card is one of the more straightforward credit cards for bad credit, open to those with a bad credit history, money problems in the past or on low incomes, as well as the self-employed. The maximum initial credit limit is £1,200, although if you handle your card sensibly Aqua may increase this pretty quickly. Extra features can also help you understand your credit score, and make every monthly payment.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee
  • Text reminders for payments

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Your interest rate for purchases is 37.95% p.a. variable
With a representative 37.9% APR variable
If you borrowed (over 12 months) £1,200

what we like

  • No annual fee
  • Text reminders for payments
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    37.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 1/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 2/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee
  • Text reminders for payments

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Your interest rate for purchases is 37.95% p.a. variable
With a representative 37.9% APR variable
If you borrowed (over 12 months) £1,200
Great for: Rebuilding credit
2.5 stars question mark

The Vanquis Classic Credit Card is a higher APR card without some of the features of other cards here. However, for those who qualify, this card can still be a great way to rebuild your credit score and use as a stepping stone to better cards in the future.

Read full review >

CREDIT RATING req:

  • Poor/No credit
  • Fair/Average
  • Good/Excellent

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee
  • Manageable starting credit limit between £150 and £1,000
  • You could get a credit limit increase after your fifth statement, up to £4,000 if you manage your account well
  • Online and SMS account management

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative 39.9% APR (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,000
Annual rate of interest 39.9% APR (variable)

Rates from 39.9% APR (variable) to 69.9% APR (variable) depending on individual circumstances.

what we like

  • No annual fee
  • You could get a credit limit increase after your fifth statement
  • ANNUAL FEE:

    £0
  • REPRESENTATIVE APR:

    39.9%
  • INTRO OFFER:

    N/A

KEY SCORES:

  • 1.5/5 Perks
  • 5/5Fees
  • 1/5APR

HIGHLIGHTS

  • No annual fee
  • Manageable starting credit limit between £150 and £1,000
  • You could get a credit limit increase after your fifth statement, up to £4,000 if you manage your account well
  • Online and SMS account management

REPRESENTATIVE EXAMPLE

Representative 39.9% APR (variable)
Based on borrowing £1,000
Annual rate of interest 39.9% APR (variable)

Rates from 39.9% APR (variable) to 69.9% APR (variable) depending on individual circumstances.


Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know if you have a bad credit history?

There are three main credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the UK: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can apply to check your credit score with all three. Some sites, like Clearscore (which uses Equifax’s data) offer services such as free access to your credit report for life. Alternatively, you can get free 30-day trials of more comprehensive credit-checking services from Experian and Equifax, which will include your full credit report.

What exactly is a 'poor' credit score?

Each CRA has a different way of scoring consumers. Experian defines a score of anything below 720 as ‘poor’, for Equifax ‘poor’ is 379 or below, and TransUnion uses the grades of number 2 (‘poor’) or number 1 (‘very poor’).

How is your credit score determined?

Your credit score is calculated from the following information.

  • Your full name and date of birth
  • Electoral roll information to confirm your current address and previous addresses
  • All loans, credit cards and mortgage accounts
  • Current account overdraft
  • Previous application searches and footprints
  • Joint accounts
  • Any missed repayments and how frequent they are
  • History of debt
  • Information about whether your identity has been used for fraud.

Can I still get a credit card with poor credit?

Yes, it is often still possible. But you need to carefully consider which card is right for your situation, and, if you do get approved, you need to be careful about how you use your card, so you don't harm your credit score further.

Are too many credit cards bad for your credit score?

It can be. Having many credit cards can make new lenders worried about the level of debt you could rack up very quickly. It can also be a temptation for you to overspend and build too much debt. But don't rush to close out accounts because of this, because having long-running accounts (in good standing!) show good credit behaviour over time. The percentage of your total credit that you utilise is also important for your score, and if you start closing down lots of accounts, that could make your credit utilisation rise.

Is it bad to apply for multiple credit cards?

It's generally not ideal. And if we were chatting at the pub, I might ask you, 'Why are you applying for multiple credit cards?' The problem is that this may make it look to lenders like you're desperate for credit, which isn't a good look! In most cases, you'd be better off choosing a few cards that look like a good fit for you, using an eligibility checker to see which ones you'll likely be approved for and then applying for one.

How can I improve my chances of getting a card if I have bad credit?

If you have bad credit, there are two main options you have to improve your chances of getting a credit card: only apply for cards you’re eligible for, and improve your credit score. Let’s look at these in more detail.

Applying for credit and being declined can knock your credit score even lower. Avoid this by only applying for cards you’re eligible for. Many lenders offer an eligibility checker on their website, so check before you apply. Credit builder (or rebuilder) cards are an easy way to get a credit card with bad credit—they’re designed for it. Unfortunately, with low limits and high interest rates, they can be a trap, so think carefully. Can you make your payments easily and in full every month? If not, then this type of card could make your situation worse. At the very least, when you apply for credit, don’t make life harder for yourself—ask the lender to do a soft search first. Soft searches don’t leave a record on your credit file, so they won't harm your score.

By far, the best way to improve your chances of getting a credit card is to improve your credit score. A credit builder card can help with that, as long as you make all your payments on time and keep your balance below 30% of your limit. Improving your credit score comes down to proving that you’re responsible with money, and you are who you say you are. Register for the electoral roll, pay your bills on time and (if you can) close joint accounts with people who have bad credit. If you rent your accommodation, ask your landlord to report your rent payments to The Rental Exchange Initiative or CreditLadder. As long as you’re consistent, your score will improve.

Should I get a credit card if I already have a lot of debt?

Whether you should get a credit card if you already have a lot of debt depends on several factors that should all be considered when you make this decision. One factor is what you want the credit card for. If you’re already in debt, getting a credit card so you can continue spending will make your situation worse. However, if you want to consolidate your debts or transfer your existing balance to a card with a lower interest rate, a credit card may be a good choice.

Many credit cards offer a balance transfer. This means you can transfer your existing debts from other credit or store cards to the new card at a better interest rate—for a fee. The lower interest rate means more of your repayments go towards paying off your debt. However, the fee is usually a percentage of the debt transferred, so use a balance transfer calculator first to help you find a good deal.

How fast can I expect my score to improve if I make payments on time?

Making payments on time will improve your credit score, but it’ll take a while. Exactly how long it takes depends on your situation. Do you have a bad score because of bankruptcy or a court judgement? Did you miss a few bill payments? Max out your credit card? Or are you starting with a blank slate? In any case, it takes up to three months for companies to send information to the credit rating agencies. Until the agencies have the new information, your score definitely won’t change.

You can improve your credit score by adding positive information to your file, or waiting for negative information to expire. In general, most things stay on your file for up to 7 years. The good news is, unless you have something serious like bankruptcy on file, most lenders only look at the last 2 or 3 years. If you’re consistent with your payments, building a credit history from scratch or repairing it after a small mistake usually takes 3 to 6 months. The exact time depends on the credit agency.

Will closing accounts improve my credit score?

Closing bank accounts won’t make a difference to your credit score, but credit accounts might. When you close credit accounts, it looks to the credit rating agencies as if you’re using more of your available credit, so your credit score will probably take a short-term hit. However, if you do it right, it could improve your credit score in the medium-to-long term.

To come out of it stronger, plan ahead. Hold onto the accounts that help your credit score, and close the rest. Old accounts and accounts with high credit limits and low balances help, so hold onto them. But if you have lots of accounts of the same type, cut back on those—they can hurt your score. And make sure you keep the total balance across your remaining cards below 30% of your credit limit.

Once you’ve decided which accounts to keep, don’t close them all at once—spread it out over a few months. Before you close an account, make sure you cancel any direct debits or standing orders. Afterwards, don’t forget to check with your bank or lender that the account really is closed! If you do it right, your credit score will bounce back quickly.

Should I wait for my score to improve or get a credit card for bad credit now?

As always, it depends on your situation. If you already have some credit accounts and you’re paying your bills on time, it might be worth waiting a few months for your score to improve. Alternatively, if you don’t have any way to start building a good credit history, a credit builder card could help you—but only if you use it properly!

Credit builder cards have low credit limits and high interest rates. If you want to use one to improve your credit score, you’ll need to keep your balance below 30% of the credit limit and pay it off in full every month. Be honest with yourself about whether you can do that; if you can’t, you’ll end up with more debt and an even worse credit score than when you started.

Learn more

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