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What is a bad credit score?|

A bad credit score is a credit score below 670, according to FICO® Score ranges. If your credit score falls within this range, consider looking for credit cards designed for bad credit applicants.

~What causes bad credit?|

Bad credit will happen if you do not repay your debts within the borrowing agreements. Actions that can cause bad credit include:

  • Missing payments
  • Maxing out credit cards
  • Defaulting on debts
  • Having unpaid debts sent to collections
  • Filing for bankruptcy
  • Foreclosure
  • Reposession

~Can I get a credit card if I have bad credit?|

Yes, you can get a credit card if you have bad credit. Many credit card companies have cards specifically designed for people that have bad credit and are looking to rebuild their credit. While these cards won't be the most robust, you can work toward improving your credit and qualifying for better cards in the future.

~What's the difference between a secured and unsecured credit card?|

In terms of how you use the card, secured and unsecured cards are identical in many ways. The main difference is that you need to provide the card issuer a security deposit to get a secured card; unsecured cards don't require a security deposit.

There's generally a minimum deposit requirement for secured cards, such as $200, and your card's credit limit will often be based on your security deposit. You may be able to provide a larger deposit if you want a higher limit. Just keep in mind that you might not get the security deposit back until you close the account or the card issuer upgrades you to an unsecured card (not all cards have this option).

~Can I only get secured credit cards if I have bad credit?|

No, secured cards are not your only option if you have bad credit, however, they are generally your best option available. Often times when card issuers offer unsecured cards to people with bad credit they will have high fees, making them not worth it. Make sure you review the terms of any credit card you apply for to make sure it won't cost you more than you can afford.

~What should I look for in a credit card for people with bad credit?|

When looking for a credit card for bad credit you will want one that will report to the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). You also should look for a credit card that has low fees or no fees at all. If you want to think more long term, look for a credit card that you can possibly upgrade in the future once you have improved your credit score. This will allow you to keep that account open while getting your security deposit back.

~What to do if you're denied for a credit card|

If your credit card application is denied, the card issuer will send you an adverse action letter explaining why. You have the right to get a free copy of your credit report to get a better understanding of why you were denied. You may also want to call the issuer and ask why your application was denied. In some cases, the decision can be reversed. But often, you may need to improve your creditworthiness before trying again later—or try to get a different credit card if you want one now.

If you initially applied for an unsecured card, you could apply for a secured card instead. You can also try to get prequalified for a credit card, which will tell you if you're likely to get approved or denied without impacting your credit scores.

~How to improve your credit before applying for a credit card|

There are different steps you can take to improve your credit before applying for a new credit card. Depending on why you have bad or poor credit in the first place, it could take some time to move into a new credit score range (such as fair or good). However, here are some actions that can help:

  • Pay down current credit card debt.
  • Open a credit-builder loan and make on-time monthly payments.
  • Rehabilitate defaulted federal student loans.
  • Use Experian Boost®ø® to add on-time phone, utility and streaming service payments to your Experian credit report.
  • Review your credit reports for erroneous negative marks. Disputing errors could get the negative marks corrected or deleted, which could help your credit scores.