Credit card approval can be the bane of a lot of people’s existence – it’s the gatekeeping step that stands between you and access to a credit card. If you have poor credit especially, this can be a string of constant rejections, and make obtaining a credit card extremely difficult. But let’s take a step back, and talk about what credit card approval actually is in terms of a process.
Credit card approval is the process that lenders take to issue a credit card to an applicant. It involves meeting various requirements depending on who your lender is. Every credit card approval has its own qualifications and requirements, though the main metric that defines credit card approval, in general, is the credit score. A low credit score can affect your credit card application and will also come in play when purchasing your car, house, seeking a loan, etc.
With the spotlight on low credit score, your rejection odds are fairly high for most traditional credit card approval processes. However, there is hope! Guaranteed approval credit cards and secured credit cards are geared to meet the problems of people with bad or no credit score. These work like normal credit cards, but have smaller credit limits, generally no rewards, and higher fees. They limit the risk of defaulting and are suitable for people with a bad credit score. For some applicants, they may be the only credit card available. Read on to learn more about guaranteed approval credit cards, and secured credit cards with guaranteed approval.
What are the Main Benefits of a Guaranteed Credit Card?
Generally, guaranteed credit cards are the best (and perhaps only) way to go if you have a bad credit score. That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t benefits to choosing a credit card with guaranteed approval over other options.
An Option for an Imperfect Credit Score and Building Credit Over Time
As stressed before, guaranteed credit cards are a great option if your credit score is less than ideal. This is the main reason why people choose this option anyway. And if you use your credit card responsibly, your credit card company will report that to the major three credit reporting bureaus. The data collected over time will raise your credit score if there are no setbacks whatsoever. That will enable you to access higher credit lines and different types of cards in the future. However, you should confirm that your credit card company reports data to the three major bureaus to ensure you benefit from building your credit score.
Zero Liability Policy
Even though guaranteed approval credit cards are uncommon, they still give much of the benefits of normal credit cards. This includes the zero liability policy. In brief, if there are any fraudulent activities on the card, such as if it is lost or stolen, you won’t be responsible to pay for those unauthorized transactions or uses.
Deposits and Spending May Earn Extra Cash
Depending on your guaranteed credit card company, you may earn interest on deposits made in a linked savings account. This is especially a common offer on secured credit cards with guaranteed approval that are backed by credit unions, where you get an annual percentage yield of up to 3%. Some secured credit card companies like Petal and Discover allow certain modest cash back as well on the amounts you spend at restaurants, gas stations, and similar retail locations.
Who Should Get a Guaranteed Credit Card?
As mentioned above, the ideal candidate for a guaranteed credit card approval situation is someone who has a poor credit score or limited or no credit history. Since credit scores depend on a lot of factors, and some of them are outside your direct control, it’s not surprising that the average credit score these days is not great. Minor mistakes and missed payments on bills can haunt you for years afterwards. Credit cards with guaranteed approval overlook those issues and allow you to access credit to use responsibly.
Another category of people who can greatly benefit from obtaining a guaranteed approval credit card is people who have previously declared bankruptcy. Even if your credit score has improved, prior bankruptcies are often a red flag for creditors, and may limit your access to credit. Often, that means unsecured credit cards are out the window, leaving you with the option of guaranteed approval cards and/or secured credit cards with guaranteed approval.
What Kind of Approval Can You Get for Your Credit Card?
Generally speaking, there are a few different types of credit cards that you may be able to obtain, even with bad credit.
- The basic guaranteed approval credit cards are easy to understand – they offer no frills or rewards. Typically, you have a small revolving credit line, with a minimum payment required at the end of each month or billing cycle.
- Reward credit cards offer rewards on purchases made with the credit card. The specific reward programs available will vary, but is usually based on points earned (to exchange for rewards), and/or a cash back program.
- Student credit cards are typically designed for college students, who naturally have little to no credit history and may find it difficult to qualify for a conventional unsecured credit card. First-time applicants who are qualifying students can usually get approved quite easily for one of these cards, which feature low interest rates on balance transfers, and also come with rewards.
- Secured credit cards are an alternative for people with lower credit scores, in which the credit line is “secured” against default with pledged collateral, such as a savings account with a minimum balance requirement.
- Subprime credit cards are designed for consumers with exceptionally bad credit history, and typically come with high interest rates and associated fees. Approval is quick and easy, but using them is also costly, so they’re really only meant for people who can’t get approved for any other kind of card.
- Merchant charge cards may fall into one or more of these categories, and their requirements and benefits will vary. They’re largely outside the scope of this guide.
So, What are the Best Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards?
The best guaranteed approval credit cards for bad credit for any particular individual definitely depends on factors like interest rate and whether or not they report to the three credit bureaus. So, always review the details and decide what the best card is for you. Below, we feature some of the best – but there are many more out there, so do your research!
Fingerhut Credit Account
This card has a 6 minute short application process and once approved, the lenders help you build credit history as they report to all three major credit bureaus. You can use the line of credit to shop from various brands and stores associated with Fingerhut. They have a reputation score of 9.0/10.
Total Visa Card
Their application process is 9 minutes long, and they provide an approval response in a matter of seconds. This card is accepted by most merchants across the USA and online. They require a checking account to be linked to the card, and once approved you pay a program fee to open your account. It comes with manageable monthly payments.
They advertise with a tagline that says less than perfect credit considered, thus all credit types are encouraged to apply. Their application process is fast and easy and requires no security deposit. The card is protected from fraud if lost or stolen and has mobile account access. They help you build credit scores as they report to the three major credit bureaus.
First Access Visa Card
The application process is 10 minutes; it’s an easy and secure online application. Perfect credit is not required for approval, and they will help you build your credit score as they report to all three major credit reporting agencies. It is a secure and convenient card with a reputation score of 8.0/10. After approval, you will pay a program fee and access a $300 credit limit, this number is subject to available credit and personal details.
Green Dot Premier Visa Gold Secured Credit Card
The application for this card is 8 minutes and there are no application or processing fees required. You choose the credit line you want and open a personal savings deposit account to secure your line. Credit lines are offered from $200 to $5,000, with low-interest rates at 9.99% on purchases. They don’t have a minimum credit score requirement and help you build your credit as they report to three national credit bureaus. They have a reputation score of 9.0/10.
Differences between Guaranteed Credit Cards and Secured Credit Cards
It’s important to understand the differences between the two major types of credit cards for those with bad credit – guaranteed approval credit cards and secured credit cards, which may or may not have guaranteed approval. Both are designed for applicants with low credit scores and/or limited credit history, and both are usually advertised as guaranteed approval cards. However, the approval process for secured credit cards is a bit different, because they impose a requirement for a security deposit or collateral account in order to receive the card. This can be a checking or savings account, or outright service fee at the account setup, depending on the company and their details. On the other hand, guaranteed credit cards themselves don’t require any deposit or accounts for approval.
Secured credit cards typically only provide you with a line of credit that is equal to the amount deposited (the security deposit or collateral account). The owner of a guaranteed approval credit card will be eligible to apply for a credit line of their choosing, depending on what they qualify for and what is offered by the lender. Guaranteed approval cards tend to communicate trust and leniency with their applicants, and give them a bit more direct control over their credit line.
Applicants with a damaged credit score should consider guaranteed approval credit cards when they are rebuilding their financial status. Secured credit cards and guaranteed credit cards both can help you the most while clearing and working to improve your credit history. They’re a great option if you have a low credit score or limited credit history. The reason for your poor score doesn’t matter – you can still take advantage of a credit card with guaranteed approval, or a secured credit card. Just be sure to research the details and offers available to you, so that you find one that meets your individual needs.