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What kind of card do you need?
We are a credit broker, not a lender†
Credit cards for bad credit are designed for people who want to improve their credit score. They are often called credit builder cards. They tend to have low borrowing limits and high interest rates, as this helps the lender reduce the risk of you not paying them back.
It’s usually harder to get credit cards with high limits and low interest rates when you have bad credit. You may also struggle to get approved for cards with promotional features such as 0% purchase or reward cards. Lenders typically save their best offers for people with higher credit scores, as this helps them attract customers who’re more likely to pay them back. Your chances of approval may be better if you apply for cards designed for bad credit.
If you’ve been rejected by lenders in the past you may think you have bad credit. But remember, different lenders have different acceptance criteria. So some lenders may see you more positively than others.
What kind of card do you need?
We are a credit broker, not a lender†
However, there are some things that most lenders view negatively. These include:
Having little or no credit history can count against you too – this is a common issue if you’re new to the country or you haven’t taken out credit before.
All these factors will be reflected on your credit report. Lenders use information on your report – along with your application form and any other data they hold – to calculate your credit score. Your credit score gives lenders an idea of how you manage your finances and whether you’re a responsible borrower.
If your credit score is low, this suggests you’re a high-risk customer. Lenders will be less likely to offer you their best deals as a result.
You can get an idea of how lenders see you by getting your Experian Credit Score. It’s completely free and updates every 30 days if you log in.
It may be possible to get a credit card – but your chances of approval are low. This is because an Experian Credit Score of 560 or below is considered very poor. Also, remember that every credit application you make will temporarily reduce your score. So it’s wise to consider alternatives or take time to improve your score before you apply.
You may find it easier to get approved for a credit card for bad credit. But they’re not to be taken out lightly. They tend to have high interest rates – so you can quickly build up expensive debt if you don’t pay the card off in full each month.
A credit card for bad credit may also help improve your score if you manage it responsibly. Try to pay off the full amount every month on time. Carrying a big balance, missing payments or going over your credit limit can all damage your score. And remember, applying for any form of credit will lower your score temporarily. Your score should go up again if you look after it.
A credit card for bad credit may be useful for spreading small costs over a short period of time. But it’s not a solution to debt – and it could make your finances worse if you can’t afford to pay it off in full each month.
If you’re struggling to pay off your debts, remember help is available. Contact your lenders – they can provide advice and may be able to offer support, such as restructuring your debt or offering you a payment holiday. You can also get free advice and support from debt charities such as StepChange or National Debtline.
The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) helps you understand how much a credit card will cost you each year. It takes into account the interest rate, plus any standard charges (such as an annual fee).
The higher the APR, the more expensive the card will be (if you don’t repay it in full each month).
It’s important to remember that credit card providers only have to give their advertised APR to 51% of customers that apply. So, the rate you get could end up being higher. The APR you’re offered depends on your credit rating and how well you fit the lender’s criteria.
The good news is, if you search credit cards with Experian, we’ll flag any offers that have a ‘guaranteed APR’. With these offers, the rate you see is the rate you’ll get.
If you have a bad credit score lenders will probably offer you cards with a relatively high APR. But remember, you won’t be charged any interest if you make your repayments on time and pay the balance in full each month. Check the terms of your credit agreement to see if you’ll be charged any other fees.
The first thing to do is work out why you’ve been turned down for credit cards in the past. Is there something in your credit report that’s holding you back? Is your credit information up-to-date and accurate? You may be able to take action and improve your credit score, which can help increase your chances of getting the card you’re after.
It also pays to reconsider your requirements. Is a credit card really the best option for you, even if you have to accept a low limit and high rates? Remember, if you can’t afford to make the full repayments every month, you may get into debt. What’s more, frequently missing payments may lead to a default or county court judgment which will lower your score even further.
If you’ve decided a credit card is the right choice for you, it’s important to do your research. See what deals are on offer by comparing credit cards and pay close attention to the features and terms.
It’s also a good idea to check your eligibility for credit cards. By only applying for cards you’re eligible for, you can reduce your chances of being turned down, helping you save time and effort.
When you compare credit cards with us we’ll automatically calculate your eligibility to help you understand which deals you’re likely to be approved for. You can search deals from across the UK market without affecting your score.
Just remember, we’re a credit broker, not a lender†. This means we can help you find credit card deals, but we don’t provide credit or decide whether to approve you.
You can usually apply for a credit card online or in person at one of the lender’s branches. Make sure you have important information to hand such as your income and current debts. Check your application before you submit it, as errors may affect your chances of approval or cause problems further down the line. Remember, it’s illegal to lie on a credit application.
Want to increase your chances of acceptance? It’s worth trying to improve your credit score before you apply for a credit card with bad credit. You may be able to give your score an instant lift by sharing information about your everyday payments with Experian Boost (score increase subject to status).
If you’ve successfully taken out a credit card for bad credit, it’s important to look after your account. A well-managed credit card can improve your credit score over time, but missed or late payments will damage it further.
Here are our top tips for staying on top of your credit card account: