Credit Cards, Insights

My Credit Sucks. What Credit Card Can I Get With Bad Credit?

flik eco finance personal what credit card can i get with bad credit

If you’ve ever found yourself Googling “what credit card can I get with bad credit?” then this article is for you. Remember - a bad credit score won’t prevent you from getting a credit card, but it complicates the process. 

Do you have bad credit? If so, you know that it’s hard to get a credit card. But it’s not impossible! There are still ways to apply for a credit card, even if you have bad credit. Before you know it, the lenders will trust you again and you can hire cars, book plane tickets, and qualify for better interest rates. I mean, you know you’re responsible - you have a dog! But can you handle a credit card?

Thankfully, there are cards available in the UK for people with bad credit histories. They’re sometimes called ‘builder cards,’ and they’re designed to help you build a better credit score. You should only consider these cards if you already have a bad credit rating because they tend to have low spending limits and high-interest rates. That said, they’re really handy for helping you get better cards in the future.

Check out this article to find out which credit cards you can get with a bad credit score.

What Credit Card Can I Get With Bad Credit Table of Content

What Is A Bad Credit Score?

Can I Get A Credit Card With Bad Credit?

How To Get A Credit Card If You Have Bad Credit

5 Tips To Quickly Improve Your Credit Score

The Top 5 Credit Cards For People With Bad Credit

What Happens If You Don’t Qualify For A Credit Card?

What Is A Bad Credit Score?

Before we figure out what credit cards you can get with a low credit score, we need to understand exactly what a credit score is.

Your credit eligibility is measured by a ‘score.’ Lenders look at this score to decide whether they want to loan you money. The score is made up of information from different credit agencies, who look at your payment history.

Here are some common reasons you might have a bad credit score:

  • You missed payments (also known as defaulting)
  • You were late on payments
  • You moved house without closing household bill accounts
  • You defaulted on a loan
  • You applied (and were denied) for credit too often
  • You regularly go over your credit limit
  • Your partner has bad credit
  • You have no credit history
  • You have an individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), a county court judgement (CCJ), or you’ve claimed bankruptcy in the past

So, who are these credit reference agencies? The three most common in the UK are 

Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. All of their credit scoring systems are slightly different. 

  • Experian scores from 0 to 999. A ‘poor’ score is 720 or lower. 
  • Equifax scores from 0 to 1,000. A ‘poor’ score is 438 or lower.
  • TransUnion scores from 0 to 710. A ‘poor’ score is 565 or lower.

Did you know that you can check your credit score with any credit agency for free? Just get in touch on their websites.

Can I Get A Credit Card With Bad Credit?

So, is it actually possible to get a credit card even if you have bad credit? The short answer is yes. The long answer is “it’s complicated.”

While it’s usually possible to get a credit card even when you have terrible credit, it really does depend on your financial situation and credit history.

Of course, you also need to think about whether you should get one. After all, if you struggle to make your payments and go a bit wild when you have credit to spend, you probably need to sort out your mindset before taking on debt. On the other hand, if you think you can handle making payments on time every month, it’s time to start researching the best credit cards for people with bad credit (we have more on that below). 

Just remember that you probably won’t be eligible for typical credit cards. Instead, you’re likely to only qualify for ‘builder’ cards that can help you build up your credit score over time. (Pssst - want to learn more about different types of credit cards? Check out this link.)

Your credit card will probably:

  • Have a higher interest rate than standard cards
  • Have a lower credit limit than standard cards
  • May have an annual fee
  • Not have any of the perks offered with standard cards, including travel insurance, airline miles, or cash back

How To Get A Credit Card If You Have Bad Credit

Maybe you’ve applied for a builder credit card and been declined, or maybe you want the perks of a better credit card. In that case, it’s smart to spend a few months building up your credit score before you apply for a credit card. If you have a higher credit score, you’ll be eligible for more kinds of cards. 

It’s also a good idea to limit the number of applications you make. That’s because applying for a credit card requires a hard credit check, which makes a mark on your credit score. The more applications you make in a short period, the more damage you’re doing to your credit. Yikes! You should only make an application when you’re reasonably sure you’ll be approved.

Use an eligibility checker so you don’t mess up your score unnecessarily. It will tell you which cards you’re most likely to be accepted for, removing the guesswork. Finally, if you’ve already got a credit card, use your existing card to build up your credit. Pay it down as much as you can, and then use it to make small purchases and pay them off every month.

If you work on building your credit score, you’ll notice big improvements within just a few months’ time. 

5 Tips To Quickly Improve Your Credit Score

Now that you’re almost ready to apply, here are five more tips that can help you quickly improve your credit score. 

  1. Make your payments on time, every time - This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s super important that you make all of your payments on time, every time. That includes your mobile bill, utilities, loans, and other credit. 
  2. Scour your credit report for unpaid bills or past-due amounts - Have a look at your credit reports from all three main agencies. Pay close attention to any old unpaid bills or past-due amounts you may have forgotten about, and then pay those off asap! You should also look out for errors or mistakes and get those sorted.
  3. Register on the electoral roll - Your local council keeps a record of who lives there for voting purposes. So it’s smart to register on the electoral roll, as it shows lenders you’re a reliable community member. 
  4. Try not to move house too often - Believe it or not, moving around too often (more than once every few years) can lower your credit score. It shows lenders that you might lead an unstable life, and you could be hard to track down in the future. If you’re about to apply for a new credit card, try to do so before any upcoming moves.
  5. Can you get an instant score boost? Experian and the other major credit agencies offer instant credit rating boosts, but you do need to ask for a review. They’ll look at your responsible financial behaviours, such as paying Council Tax and even Netflix on time. If they like what they see, you could gain 50+ points instantly. 

The Top 5 Credit Cards For People With Bad Credit

Check out these types of credit cards for people with bad credit. You can also learn more about different credit card perks here.

Chrome Credit Card (29.3%)

This card has a minimum credit limit of £250, which is a great place to start if you want to build your credit. The maximum is £1500, which is a good goal to work towards.

Capital One Platinum Card (34.9%)

Here’s another builder credit card with a nice low minimum credit limit of £200. The maximum is £1500, so just make sure you don’t get in over your head. Only spend what you can afford to pay off every month. Just watch out for that high-interest rate - 34.9%!

Virgin Money Balance Transfer Credit Card (29.9%) (12 months)

This card can help you transfer your debts to a single card, making payments simple. Remember - you’re not really meant to use this card for new spending, so a different card is likely better if that’s your intention. Virgin also offers this card in a 16-month option, which might work better for your needs. The minimum and maximum lending amounts are subject to review.

Aqua Classic Card (32.9%)

Another solid option for a builder card, the Aqua has a minimum credit limit of £250, which is a great way to build up your credit. The maximum depends on your status. Again, with a 32.9% interest rate, you don’t want to rack up too much spending on this card. Carrying a balance at 32.9% is not a good idea!

Vanquis Classic Credit Card (39.9%)

The Vanquis Classic is a good starter option, with a £150 minimum credit limit. This can help you slowly build your credit score over time. Just watch out for this super high-interest rate! You don’t want to carry a balance at this interest rate.

What Happens If You Don’t Qualify For A Credit Card?

Ok, so you’ve applied for a builder credit card and been declined - it’s a bummer. But don’t despair - take some more time to work on your credit score (follow those tips listed above).

Whatever you do, don’t apply for another credit card too soon. If you start applying for loads of credit cards in a short period of time, you’ll affect your chances of getting approved in the future. 

In this case, slow and steady wins the race. Keep your head down and focus on getting your debts paid off. Keep making your payments on time - you can do it!


Know someone with bad credit who is looking for a credit card? Share this article and help them out. 


About Jermaine Hagan (The Plantsman)

Jermaine Hagan, also known as The Plantsman is the Founder of Flik Eco. Jermaine is the perfect hybrid of personal finance expert and nemophilist. On a mission to make personal finance simple and accessible, Jermaine uses his inside knowledge to help the average Joe, Kwame or Sarah to improve their lives. Before founding Flik Eco, Jermaine managed teams across several large financial companies, including Equifax, Admiral Plc, New Wave Capital & HSBC. He has been featured in several large publications including BBC, The Guardian & The Times.

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