Credit cards for poor credit are just like normal credit cards. But they're a good option for people with bad, or no credit, history as they are less likely to reject you because of your bad credit.

What is a bad credit score?

A credit score is a metric used by loans and credit card providers to judge whether you’re suitable for them to offer credit to. Your credit score helps the lender decide whether to give you a credit card and with what conditions.

If you want a credit card, bad credit can be problematic. When you apply for credit cards, bad credit affects whether you'll be offered credit, how much and at what interest.

Your credit score is based on your record of paying bills and making debt payments. If you’ve got a bad credit score, it’s likely you’ve got a history of missing or late payments, bankruptcy, or mortgage arrears. But your score is not just based on your credit report. It’s also based on your employment status and how much you earn.

If your credit score is low due to your borrowing history, you might need to look at bad credit credit cards. These are designed for people in your position.

How to find out if your credit score is bad

Credit card providers will use one or all three of the main credit reference agencies in the UK: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You can use the below table to find out what these agencies consider to be a low or high credit score.

Credit agency

Very poor/poor

Fair

Good/very good

Excellent

Experian

0-720 721-880 881-960 961-999

TransUnion

0-565 566-603 604-627 628-710

Equifax

0-438 439-530 531-810 811-1000

 

How to find out your credit score

You can sign up to check what is on your credit record with a credit reference agency such as:

What if I have no credit history?

A credit builder card could be a good option for you. Credit cards to build credit offer a way to improve your credit score over time. They may not offer huge tangible benefits to you straight away, but what they will do is demonstrate to credit providers that you can responsibly use credit – you can be given it, and you will pay it back on time. This will lead to a credit provider trusting you with more lucrative credit cards in the future.

Who should get a credit card for bad credit?

If your credit score’s low and you need a credit card, you should think about looking at a credit card for bad credit, specifically.

There are lots of credit cards for bad credit. A bad credit credit card is ideal if you:

  • haven't borrowed money before

  • have previously missed payments on their borrowing

  • have a history of late payments on their borrowing

  • are unemployed

  • have had county court judgments (CCJs) against them

  • have been bankrupt.

What are the pros and cons of bad credit credit cards?

Credit cards for poor credit are great in some ways, but not so great in others. The main benefits are:

  • you’re more likely to be accepted regardless of past financial troubles

  • they’re a good way to improve your credit score

  • you’ll get good protection on purchase you make

  • you can buy larger items that you couldn’t otherwise afford, and spread the payments.

The main downsides are:

  • you’ll have to pay higher interest rates than with other credit cards

  • you’ll be offered a lower credit limit than someone with a good credit score

  • you run the risk of getting into even more debt.

How to get bad credit credit cards

If you're going to apply for credit cards for poor credit, research your options carefully before you choose which to go for.

Here's a step-by-step guide on how to get a credit card for bad credit.

  1. Check the price comparison table at the top of this page, which includes all our best bad credit credit cards

  2. Filter the table according to your needs. For example, you can tick to say if you're unemployed. You can also tick to say you've missed credit repayments, or that you’ve got County Court Judgments (CCJs) against you. It's important to make sure you meet the requirement criteria for a card before you apply. If you apply and are rejected because you didn’t meet the criteria, it can harm your credit score further. It's also really important to be honest in your application - its not worth being sneaky about your situation just to try and get your application over the line.

  3. Decide which are the best credit cards for bad credit for you.

  4. Click the link on the right-hand side to find out more and apply.

Check your eligibility for credit cards for poor credit

Credit cards for poor credit, UK wide, all have their own lending criteria that you’ll need to meet to get approved. You should try to avoid applying for credit cards for poor credit that might reject you. This is because if you have lots of credit searches on your credit report, it can make it even harder to get accepted in the future.

Our eligibility checker can help you find the cards most likely to accept you. You can also use the comparison table of credit cards for bad credit to see if you meet the criteria of each.

How to improve your credit score

There are a few steps you can take to improve your credit score over time, even if you currently have an adverse credit history. For example:

  • sign up to the electoral role

  • use bad credit building credit cards

  • don’t miss any repayments on your debts – pay on time and in full

  • don’t use more than half of your credit limit

  • check for credit record mistakes

  • avoid payday loans

  • avoid unauthorised overdrafts

  • close your unused credit accounts

  • don’t make too many credit applications.

What if you get rejected?

You should not reapply straight away, as it could damage your credit record. If you need to borrow, you could try to get a loan with bad credit.

Before you make another application, check your credit record and see what you can do to improve it.

You should be able to get a credit building prepaid card instead because some providers do not run credit checks.