Bad credit is a term that describes a record of past failures to keep up with payments on your credit agreements. This could mean that you made late payments or missed them entirely.
These get included in your credit report where Credit Reporting Agencies (CRA) compile your history as a borrower. The kind of information your credit report is based on includes:
Details of your bank accounts and borrowing history
Your employment status, including if you are employed, part time or self employed
How much you earn, including your basic salary and any other earnings
If your credit record puts off most lenders, then you have bad credit. It can also affect the interest rate and credit limit you get.
The following can harm your credit record:
Missed or late payments
Exceeding your overdraft
Going over your credit limit
County Court Judgments (CCJs)
Previous rejections for credit
You can find out more about how your credit record works, and how to check it, here.
Yes, but it depends on your financial circumstances.
Some providers offer credit cards designed for those with bad credit. These are usually known as credit building cards. They work the same as other cards but are less likely to reject you based on your credit history.
If you keep applying for cards that reject you, this can further harm your credit record, so it is important to look for cards that are more likely to accept you.
You can check how likely a card is to accept you before you apply. This stops you wasting your time or damaging your credit record with rejected applications.
They may come with:
Higher interest rates than other credit cards, often around 30% and above
Lower credit limits, which set the total amount you can owe on your card at any time
Fewer perks than the best cards, like balance transfers, cashback and rewards
You can keep the cost down by paying off the full balance every month so you will not need to pay any interest. You can find out more about how credit card charges work.
Choose a card that is more likely to accept you by using our comparison of credit cards for bad credit.
Check each card before you apply because they will specify a minimum age (usually 18 but sometimes more) and income.
Here is how you can help make sure you get accepted for a credit card.
Use our eligibility checker to find the cards most likely to accept you.
Once you have worked out which cards you can apply for, choose the one with the lowest interest rate, because this will affect how much you have to repay each month.
Using any type of credit card sensibly can help strengthen your credit history, which could give you a wider choice of credit cards to apply for in the future. To do this, make sure you:
Pay off your statement in full and on time each month because this will show on your credit record and tells lenders you are a reliable borrower.
Stay within your credit limit by keeping track of what you spend through your online banking service or text message alerts.
Avoid cash withdrawals on your credit card because they are expensive and can harm your credit record.
Some cards increase your credit limit or reduce your interest rate if you repay on time and stay in the credit limit for several months.
Do not reapply straight away, because 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.
Find the best credit card for you, whether you're looking for 0% card for balance transfers or purchases or day to day spending and rewards