bad-credit credit cards

Almost Instant Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit


Improvement in technology and internet penetration has led to behavioral changes. People now expect things to get done fast, often with the click of a button. Speed and simplicity are the two most desired qualities in any process.

Credit cards are no different. People expect a simple and short application for their credit card, and they also expect to get approval quickly. They want the credit card in their hands by the end of the week or within a few days.

The expectations are the same for credit cards with bad credit. Even though a person with a low credit score tends to find it very difficult to get a credit card, he/she has some options on cards that are available to people with bad credit.

At the same time, the expectation of quick approval and simple application process holds true with even this segment of the consumer. And remember, this is a segment that has very few options when it comes to credit cards.

The reasons for wanting quick approval is not always behavioral. Sometimes, the person applying for the credit card is in an emergency. Perhaps some medical bills need to be paid or a vehicle breakdown has led to unexpected repair expenses that need to be paid in order to be able to drive to work.

There can be plenty of emergencies and other reasons for wanting quick approval and access to credit.

Near-instant approval of a credit card depends on two main factors, identity, and income. The credit card company has to be able to verify your identity and your income. If that part of the application is successful, then your credit card application is essentially being evaluated in real-time. You will most probably be able to see the approval (or denial) decision right away.

However, if the credit card company is not able to verify your identity for some reason, then it might take a few days and some additional documentation from your end to process the application.
The best way to increase your chances of almost instant approval is focusing on your credit score. Try to improve your credit score by as much as you can before applying.

To do so, you can pay off any small debts, pay existing and future bills on time, and clear any outstanding dues if possible. The higher your credit score, the faster the credit card approval.

Thus, keeping in mind the expectations and desires of customers, various credit card companies now offer credit cards for bad credit with fast or near instant approval. There are mainly two types of cards available to consumers with low credit scores, secured and unsecured cards.

There is a third option which is not really a credit card, but it is perhaps the quickest and simplest card to get. That card is the prepaid card. Let us look at each category more closely.

Secured cards

Secured card is great for someone with a low credit score because they have a high approval rate and are normally offered to a consumer who can pay a minimum security deposit.

It works on the principle of surrendering a fully refundable security deposit amount which sits in a protected savings account. This amount serves as collateral for your credit line.

So, while you are expected to pay your monthly bills, anything that does not get paid will be adjusted against the security deposit that you submit. As a result, secured credit cards are much easier to get than unsecured cards.

Capital One Secured Mastercard

Capital One offers a secured mastercard that is a bit different from a conventional credit card. Normally, the security deposit paid is the credit limit on the card.

However, Capital One’s secured mastercard has a variable deposit structure for the same amount of credit limit. For example, you could pay anything from $49 to $200 for a 200 credit limit. The amount you pay is decided by Capital One based on your credit profile and score.

Staying with credit limits, one can hope to see a potential increase in their Capital One Mastercard’s credit limits by making timely payments for at least 5 months. Good financial habits and timely payments can reward you with an increased credit limit.

There are no annual charges with the Capital One secured mastercard, so that is a relief and it lowers the cost of owning and holding the card. However, the APR rates are pretty high at 24.99%.

One important point about the approval process, it is fast and the application can be completed within minutes. There is no detailed credit check (i.e. hard check), so that quickens up the application and approval process.

One downside is the lack of a cashback or rewards program. This credit card is a no-nonsense card that has a fast approval process.

Discover It Secured Card

If cash backs and rewards are your thing, but you cannot get a conventional or an unsecured card because of bad credit, then Discover has “It” for you.

The Discover It card does not go into too much history and depth with your credit report. It also does not charge annual fees. So, easy to get approval and cheap enough to use, the Discover It secured card gives you the chance to build your credit score.

Refundable security deposit is $200 for a credit limit of $200. A high APR of 24.99% is charged when you use this card. So, the benefits do come with costs.

However, the most standout feature of this card is the 2% cashback at select gas station and restaurants. Additionally, a 1% cashback on other qualifying purchases completes an impressive rewards program for a card meant for people with low credit scores.

FICO credit score can be monitored for free while using this card. So, if pushing up your credit profile is the goal, then Discover makes it convenient for you.

Make regular and full payments for 8 months and Discover might just return your security deposit to you as a reward for the steady and constructive use of the credit card.

OpenSky Secured Visa Card

Since we are talking about almost instant approval credit cards, the OpenSky Secured Visa credit card is quite well-known for having a fast approval process. One big reason for the quick process is the fact that there is no credit check involved during the evaluation stage (soft check may be performed).

There is no need to stress out about negatives in your past showing up on your credit report and denying you a credit card. Not having to go through a hard credit check also means that there is no risk of your credit score getting lowered because of frequent credit checks.

The OpenSky secured visa card sends your account information to the three main credit bureaus of the country. Hence, it is no wonder that 99% of people who started using this card without a credit score got one within 6 months of using the card.

This card is excellent to build your credit or to improve a bad credit score. Do keep in mind that these benefits come at a cost as the OpenSky card is subject to an annual fee of $35.

The minimum security deposit to be submitted is $200. The APR rate is actually quite low (relatively) at only 19.14%. So, this card does well among its competition. Just like the Capital One mastercard, this one has no cashback rewards either.


Unsecured credit cards do not involve any security deposit. They are simple like a line of credit that the cardholder gets for a certain annual fee. Since there is no “safety” of a security deposit, the fees and interest rates tend to be a lot higher.

Hence, holding and using an unsecured credit card is more expensive. Additionally, the rates of approval for an unsecured card are not as high as those for a secured credit card.

Many people often start with a secured card and then once their credit has improved up to a certain point, they move on to unsecured cards because they can get back the deposit “float” money.

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa

This is an excellent unsecured credit card for bad credit profiles, it also is one of the lowest cost unsecured cards, and it is a card with a rewards program. Credit One Bank Platinum Visa seems to have it all.

The annual fee on this Credit One card ranges between $0 and $99, and that amount is deducted from your credit card limit. Normally, a $300 line of credit is offered initially. This card is great for someone looking to meet emergency expenses or has bad credit but wants an unsecured credit card.

Your creditworthiness decides the APR that you will pay on the Credit One bank platinum visa card. The range of APR is from 20% to 25%.

The attractive feature of cashback rewards offers you 1% cashback on qualifying purchases from vendors that participate in the program. The option of setting up email and text alerts allows you to seamlessly monitor your account.

Another handy feature is the free online access to Experian’s credit score information. You can check the positive impact of your credit card use on your credit score. Terms and conditions apply for this feature, so read the documentation.

The Credit One bank platinum visa card is a bit of an all-rounder. You can use it to meet short-term expenses and emergencies. You can build up your credit score, or you simply use this card because every other option was closed to you.

Total Visa Unsecured

The Total Visa Unsecured card, being a visa card, is accepted all over the world. It is a simple unsecured credit card with basic features. It will help you improve your bad credit and move on to something with more features and options.

The Total Visa Unsecured has a $75 annual fee during the first year and then $48 thereafter. The APR rate is one of the highest we have seen at 29.99%. There may also be a one-time $89 fee. You must be wondering why to bother going for this card with so many fees and expenses.

First of all, it has a quick approval process. The application is also quite simple. Secondly, this card offers a person with bad credit a chance to rebuild his/her credit score.

Even if you have had a bankruptcy, you may apply for this credit card. A $300 credit limit minus the annual fee is good enough to start creating a credible record of spending and repayment. Credit bureaus keep a copy of your account information. No cash backs and rewards.

This card is just a simple and hassle-free way to get an unsecured card and put your head down towards rebuilding your credit.

Prepaid cards

Prepaid cards  are different from credit cards. But they are cards that can be used for payment and more importantly, they are the quickest approval cards. All you need to do is load the card up with some credit by paying cash and you are good to go.

The credit limit is what’s pre-loaded onto the card. Simple and easy to use, if it has a visa or mastercard logo, then many merchants in the country will accept your prepaid card. Another bonus with prepaid cards is no credit checks at all! Soft checks may be performed. So whether you have good credit or bad, that aspect is simply not a factor in the approval decision.

Brinks Prepaid MasterCard

With a short application process of about 10 minutes, the Brinks Prepaid MasterCard is a decent option among prepaid cards. You can get paid from your work via direct deposit to this card, you can reload money onto this card via machines and ATMs, and you can use it at most places since it is a MasterCard.

There is even a cashback program and a $10 purchase cushion when you are low on balance.

Midnight Prepaid Visa RushCard

The midnight prepaid visa is another great option for a prepaid card. You can pay bills, manage your account online, and receive direct deposit payments with this card. Being a visa, it will be accepted widely across the country. Your loaded funds are insured by FDIC, so there is an added layer of security.

The application is also quite simple and takes about 10 minutes.

bad-credit credit cards

Secured Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Secured credit cards are a great option for someone with a not-so-good credit. They can provide a credit card option to that person when almost every conventional financial institution is rejecting his/her application because of a bad credit score.

They can also offer a way of improving the bad credit scores and eventually take them to a high enough level where getting a normal credit card becomes possible. Before we compare the various secured credit card options, let us first understand what options a person with bad credit has as far as credit cards are concerned.

Bad Credit

Bad credit is a challenging situation that a person may have because of many reasons. Either the person has gone through a medical emergency which led to unexpected expenses that could not be paid, or the person had faced bankruptcy in the near past, or perhaps there was a tax lien or a court order that required the affected person to pay a large sum of money which could not be afforded. Many times, bad financial habits also lead to a bad credit score. Not paying bills on time, defaulting on interest payments, etc. are some examples of financial mismanagement.

The reasons for bad credit could be plenty and its effects are also multifold. Getting loans becomes a challenge. Applying for credit cards is not so straightforward either. Getting a cell phone contract can be difficult as well. Credit cards, in particular, are a key area because many people in the United States use a credit card.

Significance of credit cards

Credit cards allow people to make purchases right away and make payments for those purchases after a few days or weeks. So, credit cards are almost a way of life. The financial infrastructure in the country is set up in a way that makes it very easy and convenient to use credit cards. Hence, not having a credit card becomes an issue.

Besides routine shopping and bill paying, credit cards also have another important use. It is used by people who face a financial emergency. An unexpected car breakdown leading to repair costs or unexpected medical expenses can be paid using a credit card if cash has run out. You get a few days of leeway by using credit cards, as you can pay off the outstanding dues when the next paycheck arrives.

So, given the importance of credit cards in shopping, bill payments, emergency funding, and a way to improve credit score, even a person with bad credit may want a credit card. Since getting a normal credit card from a conventional institution is not an issue, there are two options: secured cards and unsecured cards.

Unsecured credit cards

Unsecured credit cards are expensive and interest rates in such cards tend to be high. The user has to pay an annual fee and credit limits are generally around the $200 – $300 mark. Credit limits may increase, but that depends on your track record of timely bill payments once you start using the card. The possibility of a credit limit increase is not certain.

Additionally, as there is no collateral or security deposit, getting approval for such credit cards is not easy. This is because a person with bad credit is already a “risky” prospect. Add to that the fact that there is no security for the card issuer, it is logical to see why approval rates are low.

Unsecured cards are not recommended unless you have an urgent emergency and cannot get a secured credit card, which requires a security deposit.

Secured credit cards

Secured credit cards are the preferred option for people with bad credit. Their approval rates are a lot higher than unsecured credit cards. A successful applicant has to pay a security deposit to get a secured credit card. The deposit paid is also the credit limit of the card. So, there is some element of security for the card issuing company.

It can use money from the deposit if the user does not make the credit card bill payment. The interest rates and fees with secured cards are lower than with unsecured ones. So, it is more economical to hold on to a secured card rather than an unsecured card. Many of the secured credit card companies also send your account information to credit bureaus.

Thus, you can improve your credit score by using your secured credit card and creating a track record of timely payments.

Now let us look at some of the best secured credit cards that are available to a person who has bad credit and low credit scores (even as low as in the 300s):

  • Discover It Secured Card 

Discover is one of the top names in the secured card space. They have what is called the Discover It card. A minimum of $200 is required as a security deposit. With that amount, you get a credit limit of at least $200. Use the limit to pay expenses or build your credit.

Account details are passed on to credit bureaus, so you can use this card, make regular payments, and start improving your credit up to a point from where you can apply for regular credit cards.

The approval process is quite straightforward and Discover looks at a reasonable amount of past credit information. So, if there are any negative items in your credit report from the past, you probably do not have to worry too much unless the items were in the immediate past.

Another plus point is no annual fee on this card. Cashback rewards program is also included with the Discover It Secured card. You get 2% cashback at gas stations and some restaurants. You also get 1% cashback on a range of other purchases. Not any secured cards have the cashback program, so this one is a bonus.

Given all the benefits of the Discover It Secured card, there are some drawbacks too. Firstly, the APR on this card is pretty high at 24.99%. However, as a new customer, you get a reduced APR of 10.99% for the first six months of use.

  • Capital One Secured MasterCard

Capital One is another big name in the credit card business. They have a Secured MasterCard credit card which is suitable for a person with a low credit score. Depending on the applicant’s credit profile, a deposit of $49/$99/$200 is paid for a $200 initial credit line.

The interesting thing is that everyone gets a $200 credit line regardless of the deposit amount that they pay. Capital One evaluates the credit profile and then takes the call on what the deposit amount should be. This secured credit card is a great way to rebuild your damaged credit by making expenses and then paying the credit card bill on time.

Credit limit has scope for an increase from the initial $200 limit once you make regular and timely payments for 5 months. If you are responsible while using the Capital One Secured Mastercard, there are high chances of your credit limit going up after a few months. Just like the Discover It card reviewed above, Capital One goes only up to a limited length as far as credit history is concerned. So, you need not stress out on past bad credit events.

Annuals fees are not charges with the Capital One Secured Mastercard. Capital One also offers 27/4 seamless management of your credit card account with phone support and a mobile app. Coming to the drawbacks, first is the high APR.

This card has an APR of 24.99%. Another disappointment is the absence of a rewards and cashback program. This is a no nonsense no frills secured card where you can just put your head down and slowly rebuild your credit score before moving on to fancier credit cards with multiple options.

Wells Fargo Secured Credit Card

Wells Fargo has a secured credit card that offers some of the highest credit limits in the industry. You can get a credit limit of anywhere between $300 to $10,000. Since the starting limit is $300, that is also the minimum security deposit that has to be paid for obtaining a Wells Fargo secured credit card.

Another important distinction with the Wells Fargo credit card as compared to the Capital One and Discover cards reviewed above is the annual fee. While the previous two cards did not have any annual fees, the Well Fargo card has a $25 annual fee.

However, the APR is a lot lower than the Discover It and Capital One cards. It is only 20% which is decent enough considering that this card is for a person with bad credit.

Credit bureaus are kept updated with the account information of the Wells Fargo secured credit card. So, every instance of timely payment and responsible use gets reflected positively in your credit reports. You can use this card, just like the other secured cards, to improve and push up your credit score.

Approval rate on the Wells Fargo secured card is also understood to be high. So, you are encouraged to apply even if you do not have a good credit score.

There is no cashback program with this card, but useful benefits offered by Wells Fargo include travel assistance, roadside dispatch in case of a breakdown, emergency assistance, auto rental waiver for collision, and cell phone protection plan.

OpenSky Secured Visa Card

If fast approval and quick application processing is what you are looking for, have a look at the OpenSky Secured Visa credit card. No credit checks are performed with the OpenSky secured card application.

So, you need not stress out about major negative events in your past credit history affecting your application in a bad way, unless the event is too extreme. Without a hard credit check, even your credit score does not get pushed down.

Hard checks lower credit scores by a small amount.A minimum security deposit of $200 is necessary to open an account with OpenSky. APR rates are quite low at 19.14%, which is one of the lowest in the cards reviewed in this article.

This card reports all account information to three major credit bureaus. Thus, you can expect to see an improvement in your credit profile provided that you use the OpenSky Secured visa card responsibly and pay your bills on time.

The OpenSky secured visa card does not have any rewards or cashback program. It is simply a normal secured credit card that allows you to get out of your bad credit gradually until you can apply for cards with all sorts of benefits and features. The application process is fast and it does not go into your detailed credit history. For all these benefits, you do pay a $35 annual fee.

USAA Secured Platinum Visa Card

USAA cards are available to members of USAA, which means you need to be in the military or be a former military personnel to become a USAA member. This card will be of special interested to anyone with an armed forces background.

This card is slightly different from other secured cards because instead of paying a security deposit, you buy a certificate of deposit for 2 years. The amount can be anything between $250 to $5000 and the CD amount becomes your card limit.

This card does come with an annual fee of $35. However, APRs can be quite low. The normal range is from 11.65% to 21.65%. However, if you are currently in service and are deployed, then you get an APR of 4% for up to 12 months of deployment. That is one of the big draws for the USAA Secured Platinum Visa card.

Another feature worth noting with this USAA card is no foreign transaction fee. While most other cards charge 3%, this one charges nothing. Other benefits are rental collision waiver, travel and baggage insurance, and extended warranty on certain products purchased through the card.

Some things to keep in mind

Now that you have read details of four top quality secured credit cards, you will have a basic understanding of the main features that are offered with such cards and how you can compare different secured credit cards for bad credit. While you do your research, keep in mind the following points:

  • Keep an eye on the fees: There are various kinds of fees that credit cards charge, from monthly fees, one-time fees, to annual fees.

You want to read about these fees because it is essentially the cost of owning the secured credit card. You will have to pay those fees with your hard earned money.

  • Apply with the best possible credit score: While you cannot completely control your credit score before applying for a secured card, you can definitely try and put your best foot forward. Before you apply, try to clean up first.

Pay all the bills that are outstanding and that you can pay. Credit card bills, utility bills, etc. Close out any small loans of you can. The better your credit profile, the better it will be during the application process. Small actions can lead to significant gains.

  • No card or credit limit is guaranteed: Nothing in this world is guaranteed and secured credit cards are no different. Do not think that by applying for a high-approval rate secured card, you are certain to seal the deal.

It is completely possible that in spite of doing all the right things your application gets turned down. Similarly, credit limit increases are also not guaranteed. They depend completely on the call that the credit card company takes. You just have to keep trying and follow best practices.