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Having what is considered poor credit means some credit products are off the table, and you will generally pay higher interest rates for credit products that are available to you. With responsible use by you the right credit card can help put you on the path to a better score over time. Poor credit credit cards are designed for people who have a low score because of limited credit history or because of past credit mistakes. These cards tend to carry higher interest rates so it’s important to shop around and compare options.

About Poor Credit Cards

What is poor credit?

Bad credit and poor credit sound the same but for credit scoring purposes, they are slightly different. Ranges can vary based on the credit card issuer, but generally a score between 550 and 649 poor; bad credit is anything lower.

Poor credit card options

Having poor credit limits your credit card choices but there are card issuers who cater to individuals who have lower credit scores. Many of these cards are basic, no-frills cards, but some do offer rewards and other perks.
One of the most important considerations is the cost of owning the card. People with the low credit scores frequently pay the higher interest rates because the credit card issuer is assuming more risk by extending credit to a person who has not demonstrated responsible credit habits. These cards may also charge more in the form of annual fees and even maintenance fees.

Secured or unsecured? That is the question

Traditional credit cards are unsecured, and individuals with poor credit may not qualify. A secured card can be easier to get but requires a cash deposit as a security deposit from you (held by the credit card issuer) to open the account.
The credit line is usually equal to the amount of the cash deposit. But the deposit is not applied to purchases. Similar to a traditional card, you’ll still need to pay the bill each month. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on a secured card is usually higher in comparison to a traditional (unsecured) credit card. With responsible use by you a secured card can be a stepping stone to better credit and better credit products.

Dos and dont's of applying for a credit card with poor credit

Check your credit report and credit score before you apply for a new credit card so you know what you’re working with. If you apply for a card that is only available to individuals with better credit scores, chances are that you’ll take a hit to your credit score with nothing to show for it. In addition you will want to review the fee schedule carefully. There are some credit cards for individuals with poor credit that you may find that offer a low or no annual fee. Review the APR so that you know what you’ll pay if you carry a balance (but try not to carry a balance). If all else is equal, choose a card that offers rewards.
Don’t apply for several cards all at once because that is likely to hurt your score. Do take advantage of tools that, if properly utilized, can help you work towards increasing your credit score, such as free credit monitoring, credit education and due date reminders.
If your goal is to rebuild or build positive credit, make sure the card issuer reports your credit card activity to the three major credit bureaus. Once you use a card responsibly for six to 12 months, your credit standing is likely to improve and you can consider requesting a card that is not secured or one that has more features and perks.

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