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How to get a Credit Card with Bad Credit

How to get a Credit Card with Bad Credit

You don’t need to be a reality TV talent show contestant to know that rejection hurts. And when it comes to your finances, a refusal doesn’t just hurt your feelings. It can also hurt your credit score too, which in turn can lead to more rejection. And so the cycle continues.

If you’ve been irresponsible with borrowing in the past, but are now looking for ways to improve your credit score, you’re in the right place. While it’s undoubtedly harder to get a credit card if your credit history is checkered or you’ve not yet built a credit profile, there are still some options that may be open to you.

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Can I get a credit card with a bad credit rating?

You can still get a credit card even if you have a bad credit rating. Although the cards you can apply for are likely to be limited and have higher interest rates, it is still possible to have a successful credit card application. It’s also a good way to help repare your credit rating, as long as you keep up with repayments, in full and on time, which will put you in a much better position the next time you need to access credit.

It’s a good idea to fully understand your credit score and what lenders look at when checking to see if you are a suitable candidate for loaning money to. You may have mistakes on your file that can be rectififed, or some that will be on your report for a few years. Check out our guide on how long some of the more common financial slip ups will stay on your file. Once you’re up to speed in this area, you’ll be in a much better position to understand your situtation and find credit that works for your circumstances. Find out more about your credit rating in our article on understanding your credit score.

High risk borrower interest rates

Those with far less than perfect credit histories may still be able to get credit cards. In fact, there are specialists out there who will consider your application even if you’ve had CCJs or have been made bankrupt in the past. However, as a ‘high risk’ borrower, interest rates for borrowing are likely to be far higher and credit limits will be lower too.

How will that impact on your borrowing behaviour? Well, if you’ve had your fingers burned in the past by borrowing, starting out with a lower credit limit is no bad thing. And with higher interest rates to contend with, you certainly shouldn’t be using bad credit rating credit cards if you can’t afford to pay off the balance of the card in full every month. When you do this, the interest rate becomes somewhat irrelevant because you’ll never need to pay interest.

Responsible borrowing

While you won’t be able to access the most attractive deals with the top mainstream lenders, you may be able to open a card that rewards responsible borrowing behaviours. Some products give you access to better interest rates and limits over time, providing you’ve managed your card well. Make payments on time, never go over your credit limit and not only will you avoid the penalty fees that can hurt your credit rating, but you’ll hopefully make your way back to those more attractive deals in your financial future.

For more information, see our guides to understanding credit cards, which credit card is best for me or find alternatives to credit cards here.

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Compare credit cards for bad credit

If you’ve had a few hiccups in the past, you may be focussed on regaining access to credit but there are still lots of card features to look out for within the bad credit market. Sadly, the long term APR you’ll be looking at isn’t going to be low, but if you use your card to spend a little every month and pay it back, it won’t make an impact.

There are a few credit cards currently on the market that offer 0% purchase periods and even cashback options. The 0% periods are shorter than the best deals and the cashback at a lower percentage than the real showstoppers, but they might still be a great deal for you.

When you’re comparing cards, don’t forget that the headline rate isn’t what everyone ends up with. In fact, only 51% of people accepted for the card need to be awarded the advertised APR, so you might be offered a card with a different rate or in the case of a 0% purchase card, a shorter interest-free period.

Know what your credit card is for

Take the time to consider how you intend to use the card too – if you’re hoping to take a credit card on holiday, for example, features such as fee-free transactions abroad could prove useful. See our guide to overseas’ credit cards for more information. Lots of lenders also offer tools such as apps or SMS reminders to help you keep your credit card account on track. Consider whether you would benefit from extra steers such as this.

If you’re ready to seek out credit cards of all kinds, our moneymatcher will conjure up deals based on your requirements. It uses a soft search to show deals you’re more likely to be accepted for, so your credit file isn’t impacted. Plus, it breaks down important details such as APR, fees, rewards and features, so you can get a fuller picture of which product is right for you

If you find a line of credit isn’t open to you right now, or you’d prefer to avoid credit cards but need something you can use abroad or online, head over to our prepaid card guide where you can bestow upon yourself the wonders and wisdom of plastic loaded with your own cash for peace of mind.

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