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Credit cards for bad credit

Find the ‘bad credit’ credit cards most likely to accept you. Help repair your poor credit score and compare our best credit cards for bad credit.

How it works

  • 1
    Check eligibilityCheck your eligibility without impacting your credit score. Just answer a few questions.
  • 2
    Compare cardsCompare the credit card deals you're most eligible for.
  • 3
    Apply onlineApply for your chosen card online.
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Fair and free comparison

You'll find UK credit cards from major banks and credit card companies across the market, making it easy to find the one that's right for you.

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uSwitch Limited is a credit broker, not a lender, for consumer credit.

Our services are provided at no cost to you, but we may receive a commission from the companies we refer you to.

More about credit cards

Best credit cards for poor credit

Customers who have poor credit history shouldn't be dismayed when it comes to applying for a credit card. There are many credit cards for bad credit available.

There's no such thing as a best credit card, because what makes the best credit card for you will depend on your own financial situation.

But you can help improve your credit rating by using the right type of credit card in the right way.

Bad credit credit cards are specifically designed for people with poor credit ratings. Or who have little or no credit history.

But you need to make sure you're able to make your monthly repayments in full before taking out a credit card. If not, you could end up in debt, damaging your credit rating even more.

Bad credit credit card - if you've had credit problems in the past

Just because you've had problems with credit in the past, it does not mean that you'll never be able to get a credit card.

Problems with credit could include:

  • Late or missed repayments
  • County Court Judgements (CCJs)
  • Bankruptcy

A credit card for bad credit is a credit card specifically designed for people who have had problems with credit in the past.

Advantages of a bad credit credit card

Improve your credit rating

A credit card for bad credit can help you improve your credit rating if you pay off what you've borrowed in full and on time each month.

By making your repayments, you're proving to lenders that you're not a financial risk and you can be trusted to make your repayments.

Higher chance of getting the card

While there's no guranteed approval of credit cards for bad credit, bad credit credit card providers are more likely to accept your application compared to standard credit card providers. Even if you've been rejected in the past or you have a bad credit rating.

Disadvantages of a bad credit credit card

Higher APR

These credit cards usually come with a higher APR.

The annual percentage rate (APR) is the total cost of your borrowing over a year. It includes the interest rate you’ll pay on any remaining debt. And any other standard fees, including annual fees and arrangement fees.

You can avoid paying high interest rates by paying your balance off in full every month.

Low spending limit

These cards often come with a low spending limit. That's because the lender sees you as a higher risk borrower compared to someone with a higher credit rating.

If you go over your limit, this will negatively impact your credit score. Make sure you know what your limit is and do not go over it.

Credit building credit card - if you've never had credit before

If you've never had credit before, there's no way of lenders knowing whether you're a responsible borrower or not.

Credit builder cards can help you build up your credit score and create a positive repayment history. If paid off in full each month, you'll be showing lenders that you can successfully pay off a manageable debt each month.

But be careful of higher than usual APRs and low credit limits compared to standard credit cards.

Find out more about credit building credit cards

No credit check credit cards

There are no credit cards on the market you can get approval for without having a credit check.

All credit card providers will look to see what kind of borrowing history you have. They'll do this before deciding whether to accept or decline your credit card application.

If you're struggling to get a credit or bank account but still want to build your credit rating you might want to consider a prepaid card.

Prepaid cards can be useful alternative to credit cards

No credit check is needed with a prepaid card. They work by loading money onto the card, similar to topping up a pay-as-you-go mobile phone.

A prepaid card can help with budgeting and limiting your chances of getting into debt as you’re unable to spend more than you have loaded on the card.

Find out more about prepaid cards

Check your eligibility before you apply for a credit card

It's important to apply for the right credit card for your credit rating. Credit cards for bad credit are designed to help you improve your rating, so that in the future you can apply for the card other types of credit.

If you apply for a credit card that's not suited to your financial situation, the lender might reject your application.

If your application is rejected, this will negatively impact your credit score. And you'll reduce your chances of getting credit in the future.

You can check how likely you are to get a card before you apply using our eligibility checker.

The eligibility checker works by running a soft credit check. This means you can check your eligibility without impacting your credit rating.

Check your eligibility

Why was my credit card application declined?

If you have a poor credit history, or not enough of a credit history, credit providers are likely to reject your application.

When you apply for credit, either a credit card, loan or mortgage, your credit provider will run a credit check to check your history of repayments. They'll be looking for evidence that you're a responsible borrower who'll be able to make their repayments.

Any information is usually held for between 5 and 6 years. But items like court or bankruptcy rulings might stay on your file for longer.

Providers are generally unwilling to take risks on people who do not have proof of a good credit history.

There's several reasons you might have been refused credit.

You've missed repayments

The more missed repayments you have, the worse your credit rating. And the less likely you are to be offered credit.

If you've missed a repayment in the past, your credit provider will record this and report it to the credit reference agencies.

Next time you want to borrow money from another provider they'll run a credit check. The provider will see that you’ve missed a repayment. And will use that information to decide how likely you are to make your future repayments.

You're not registered on the electoral roll

When you're registered on the electoral roll, it tells your credit provider that you live where you say you do. It helps prove to them that you're not a fraudster.

If you're not on the electoral roll, in the eyes of the lender it increases the chance that your application is fraudulent.

You're financially tied to someone else who has bad credit

If you've ever taken out a joint credit product with someone else, like a joint bank account this could influence your own credit rating.

What to do if your credit card application has been declined

You should avoid immediately applying for another credit card if you're recently had a credit card application rejected.

Every time you apply for a credit card, the provider will run a credit check. Frequent checks over a short period of time will look bad to providers, and could negatively affect your credit rating.

But there are some things you can do now to help improve your chances of getting a credit card in the future.

Check your credit report for errors

Knowing what's on your credit report will help you see what credit card providers see when you apply for a credit card.

It will show you:

  • Address details
  • Credit history
  • Repayments, missed and late payments
  • Bankruptcy and CCJs
  • People who have a financial connection with you

Find out more in our credit report guide

Look for any information you think is wrong or out of date, including basic errors relating to your address or bank details. Or for anything that looks suspicious. If you find an error on your credit report, make any corrections as soon as possible.

Find out more about reporting an error on your credit report

Take steps to improve your credit rating

Improving your credit rating could help boost your chances of being approved for credit in the future.

Building up a strong credit rating can take time. But there are some things you can do now to start improving your rating.

Put direct debits in your name

Setting up direct debits to pay for things like household bills or mobile phone contracts shows lenders that you're capable of making regular repayments. Make sure you never miss a payment or this will negatively affect your credit rating

Register to vote

Add your details to the electoral roll by registering to vote. Credit card providers will use information on the electoral roll to confirm that you are who you say your are

Close accounts you no longer use

Credit card providers will look to see how much credit is already available to you. You can reduce this by closing accounts no longer in use

Find out more about how to improve your credit rating