If you've never borrowed before or you have a poor credit history, a credit building credit card could help you improve your credit score.
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If you’ve got poor credit or no credit, it can be difficult to borrow money cheaply. But specially designed credit cards for bad credit, or no credit, are designed for people just like you.
There’s a whole market dedicated to credit cards for bad credit - and by using them regularly, and paying them off on time, you can quickly improve your credit score to help you get the best deals when you apply for other products.
Sometimes people call them ‘bad credit cards’ or ‘poor credit cards’. They are also more commonly known as credit building credit cards.
Credit building credit cards are for those trying to improve their credit score, They can also be useful for those who are unable to qualify for the best deals in the market.
Some reasons for that could be:
You've declared bankruptcy in the past
You've had a county court judgement (CCJ) against your name
You have no history of borrowing or have never had a credit card
You have a record of missed payments
You're not registered on the electoral roll
Some credit cards for very bad credit even accept people who’ve been bankrupt or had a County Court Judgment against them.
Credit building credit cards can be a good way to rebuild your credit record if you have poor credit history. But you'll have to make your repayments on time and not miss any payments. They are also just as useful in building your credit score if you have no credit history and are applying for your first credit card.
If you use a credit builder card carefully, you could improve your credit record. By making repayments on time and staying within your credit limit for several months - typically about six months - you'll soon start making a difference.
Paying back what you borrow on time looks good to banks and providers, even if you’ve had debt problems in the past. Credit builder cards are a good way of proving you can pay back what you borrow. Then you might get a better credit score next time your finances are looked into.
Having one of these credit cards to build credit should make it easier for you to get accepted for credit cards, mortgages and loans in future. You’ll also have more options open to you, so you’ll have a better chance of being able to get the best ones on the market.
Read more about how to improve your credit score
Credit cards for people with bad credit usually have:
Higher interest rates than other types of credit cards
Lower credit limits, usually from £100 up to £1,000
Lower barriers to a successful application
Try to see your credit builder card purely as a way to build your credit, rather than using it to make large purchases.
It's a way to establish good borrowing practices and show lenders that you can be responsible with credit. So if you use it for general expenses and pay off the balance in full every month, you won't pay any interest and the low credit limit won't matter.
With low credit credit cards, you’re more likely to rebuild your credit record if you can show that you’re a reliable borrower.
You can do this by:
Always paying back what you spend each month in full
Staying in your credit limit by keeping track of your spending through online banking
Avoiding cash withdrawals on your credit card
If possible, don't use more than 30% of your credit limit each month, as lenders see lower use as a good sign.
You’ll need to be patient as it can take a while for your credit score to increase.
Here’s how to use your credit card so you can avoid fees, and not increase your debt.
Even the best credit cards for bad credit have a higher APR than normal credit cards. You’ll have to pay interest if you don’t repay your bill in full every month. So choose a credit card to build credit which has as low an APR as possible to keep your costs down.
Credit building cards should be seen purely as tools to improve your credit. Using them for daily expenses and paying off the balance in full is the best way to get the most of out them. ”Salman Haqqi, Personal Finance Editor
When it comes to finding credit cards for really bad credit, there are a few simple tips you should remember:
Don’t apply for cards you’re not likely to get, and don’t make multiple applications
Use our eligibility checker before you apply
Compare credit cards for bad credit using our table
Check the APR and try to choose a lower one
Use credit builder cards carefully – pay them off in full and make repayments on time
Be patient – a good credit score can take time to build or rebuild.
No credit check credit cards don’t exist in the UK. Any lender will want to do a credit check to find out your history. But there are lots of cards available for people with poor or no credit history. You’re better off looking at credit building credit cards and trying to improve your credit score than trying to bypass a credit check.
Our comparison tables include providers we have commercial arrangements with. The number of listings in our tables can vary depending on the terms of those arrangements, as well as other market developments. They are all from lenders regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Here is more information about how our website works.
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Last updated: 7 December, 2021