Top 5 Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Credit Card Credit Line
1 Credit One Bank Visa® Variable
2 Surge Mastercard® $500
3 Total Visa® Card $300
4 Milestone® Gold Mastercard® Variable
5 First Access Visa® $300
Last Updated – February 9, 2019.

These 5 credit cards were designed for people who have less than perfect credit and need to get their credit back on track.  The initial credit limits vary but are generally low (under $500).  In addition, they all report to at least 1 of the 3 major credit bureaus.

Are These Cards Good or Bad For Me and My Credit?

The short answer is that it’s up to you!  The benefits and potential risks of these cards to each individual are completely subjective.  Pencils don’t misspell words and spoons don’t make people fat.  Likewise, aside from the fees associated with these cards, they don’t offer any real threat or benefit.  They are merely financial tools.  They may offer you a path to better credit if used responsibly.  Conversely, if used irresponsibly they can further hurt your credit and become another painful financial obligation.

The Facts – Fees and Rates

Below we have compiled the latest data on these cards to the best of our ability but guarantee no degree of accurateness.  Please keep in mind that this data may change at any time so it’s important to read all terms and conditions located on each credit card issuers website before signing up.  In addition, please keep in mind that each card has its own underwriting for approval.  In other words, you may get approved by one card an denied by another.


1. Credit One Bank Visa®

Initial Credit Line: Varies based on creditworthiness

APRs

Intro APR: 17.49% to 25.49%
Ongoing APR:
17.49% to 25.49%
Penalty APR:
17.49% to 25.49%
Cash Advance APR:
19.40% to 25.49%

Fees

Annual Fee: $0-$75 for the first year/ $0-$99 thereafter
Monthly Fee: $0
Foreign Transaction Fee: Either $1 or 3% of each purchase in U.S. dollars, whichever is greater.
Penalty Fee: Up to $38
Cash Advance Fee: Either $5 or 8% of the amount of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater, or $10 or 3% of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater.

The Good

Fees and APRs for the Credit One Bank Visa® are the lowest among the cards reviewed here.  In addition, at the time of writing this, they have a rewards program that you may benefit from.

The Bad

Credit One Bank may have slightly higher credit criteria needed for approval.


2. Surge Mastercard® 

Initial Credit Line: $500

APRs

Intro APR: 29.99%
Ongoing APR: 29.99%
Penalty APR: 29.99%
Cash Advance APR: 29.99%

Fees

Annual Fee: $125 for the first year/ $96 thereafter
Monthly Fee: $10
Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars
Penalty Fee: Up to $38
Cash Advance Fee: Either $5.00 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater

The Good

The Surge Mastercard® has the highest stated credit limit of the cards reviewed here.   In addition the APRs are consistent and easy to understand.

The Bad

High annual fee and recurring monthly fees


3. Total Visa® Card

Initial Credit Line: $300

APRs

Intro APR: 29.99%
Ongoing APR: 29.99%
Penalty APR: 29.99%
Cash Advance APR: 29.99%

Fees

Annual Fee: $164 ($89 processing fee + $75 annual fee) for the first year/ $48 thereafter
Monthly Fee: $6.25
Foreign Transaction Fee: Foreign transactions are not allowed
Penalty Fee: Up to $38
Cash Advance Fee: None for first year (introductory). After that, either $5.00 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.

The Good

No cash advance fee for the first year and lower ongoing annual fees than other cards reviewed here

The Bad

Initial processing fee of $89 and no foreign transactions allowed


4. Milestone® Gold Mastercard®

Initial Credit Line: Varies based on creditworthiness

APRs

Intro APR: 23.90%
Ongoing APR: 23.90%
Penalty APR: 29.90%
Cash Advance APR: 29.90%

Fees

Annual Fee: $75 year 1/ $99 thereafter
Monthly Fee: $0
Foreign Transaction Fee: 1% of each transaction
Penalty Fee: Up to $38
Cash Advance Fee: $0 during the first year; after the first year, either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater (not to exceed $100).

The Good

No monthly fee and low foreign transaction fees make this a good card for those looking to venture outside the US.

The Bad

The penalty APR may prove to be costly if you don’t make on-time minimum monthly payments


5. First Access Visa®

Initial Credit Line: $300

APRs

Intro APR: 29.99%
Ongoing APR: 29.99%
Penalty APR: 29.99%
Cash Advance APR: 29.99%

Fees

Annual Fee: $164 ($89 processing fee + $75 annual fee) for the first year/ $48 thereafter
Monthly Fee: $6.25
Foreign Transaction Fee: Foreign transactions are not allowed
Penalty Fee: Up to $38
Cash Advance Fee: None for first year (introductory). After that, either $5.00 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater.

The Good

No cash advance fee for the first year and lower ongoing annual fees than other cards reviewed here

The Bad

No cash advance fee for the first year and lower ongoing annual fees than other cards reviewed here


 Which Card is Best for Me?

Making a determination like this is difficult as none of these cards, in our humble opinion, are really a great option.  That being said, they are options and if used responsibly, could be beneficial to you.  We have tried to include what we believe are the positive aspects of each card as well as the negative aspects.  The final determination will need to be made by you, the consumer.

Bottom Line

There are not a lot of credit products available for those with poor credit.  These credit cards were designed for those with less than perfect credit and the APR, fees and credit line are a reflection of that.  As always, we remind you that these credit products should be used as a tool to help build/rebuild your credit.  If you believe you can make on-time payments every month then give them a try.  If you don’t believe you have the discipline to make on-time monthly payments then stay far, far away.

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