How to Get a Credit Card With Poor Credit

(May 2024)

How to Get a Credit Card With Poor Credit

In This Article

To get a credit card with poor credit, brace yourself for a challenging and thorough application process. On top of that, your credit score may suffer a 5-10 point drop if you don’t immediately get the credit card you applied for.

Tough road ahead, right?

Well, not necessarily.

You can get the credit card you need if you follow the tips and tricks featured in this article.

To get a credit card with a bad FICO score:

  • Understand what a poor credit score is
  • Review your credit score
  • Seek financial institutions that issue credit cards for poor credit
  • Use pre-approval
  • Gather relevant paperwork and apply

Let’s dive right in!

1. Understand What a Poor Credit Score Is

To get a credit card with poor credit, understand what a bad FICO score means in the first place. The poorer your credit score, the lower your chances of securing the credit card you so want. You can always improve your credit score if you take specific steps. 

A FICO credit score generally ranges from 300 to 850—anything below 580 is considered poor. If your score moves in the 580-669 range, then you have fair credit. 

2. Review Your Credit Score

To get a credit card with a less-than-stellar FICO score, review your credit report to ensure everything is accurate. A credit card application often involves a hard inquiry, which can lower your credit score further. Therefore, be sure your credit score is accurate before you apply.

To check out your credit score, request a free copy of your credit report from one of these credit report agencies—Experian, TransUnion, Equifax—or once a year through

Keep in mind your credit score tells a lot about your financial situation—a good credit score tells your lender your level of creditworthiness. Sometimes, lenders or credit card issuers can make errors while filling out these reports. Reviewing your credit score helps you to fish out these errors and have your card issuer set the record straight. 

If you’re looking for credit improvement tips, then you could try out the 609 dispute letter. A 609 dispute letter is billed as a legal loophole or credit repair secret that compels credit reporting agencies to remove the wrong information from your credit report. You can also contact the data furnisher if there are disputes on your credit report you need to sort out.

3. Search for Financial Institutions that Issue Credit Cards for Poor Credit

To get a credit card with a poor FICO, search for financial institutions that issue this type of credit card. Search for credit unions, credit card companies, banks, fintech companies, and other financial institutions that offer the best APR rates.

Your options for credit cards with poor credit may be limited. Nonetheless, with a poor credit score, you can be eligible for secured cards and cards with rewards programs—where you get cash back on every purchase you make.

4. Use Pre-Approval

To find a credit card with poor credit, seek pre-approval. When you apply for a credit card, your card issuer conducts a “hard inquiry” to determine your creditworthiness. Hard inquiries reduce points off your credit score.

To avoid losing points off your credit score, your card issuer offers you a pre-approval process, which lets your issuer run a soft-inquiry through your credit information to determine what credit card you qualify for as well as your approval odds.

Pre-approval happens online or via regular mail (when a card issuer contacts you directly). To get pre-approval for a credit card:

  • Go to your card issuer(s) websites to see if you pre-qualify. This should be after you find financial institutions that issue credit cards with poor credit.
  • Provide your annual income and a means of identification including your name, address, phone number, and the last four digits of your SSN. Your lender will run through your data and offer you a personalized offer based on your issuer’s findings

Bear in mind though, pre-approval does not do an in-depth search of your credit history. Neither is it a guarantee for credit card approval

Pros and Cons of Credit Card Pre-Approval

Credit Card Issuers That Offer Pre-approval

Here are a few credit card issuers that offer pre-approval without hard pull:

  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card
  • Avant Credit Card
  • Blue Cash Everyday Card from American Express
  • Apple Card
  • HMBradley Credit Card

5. Gather Relevant Paperwork and Apply

To get a credit card with poor credit, gather your paperwork and apply. Application documents include a government-issued form of identification—passport, driver’s license, citizenship, and residence. 

Also provide your social security number, proof of your income, employment status, address and telephone bill.

How to Apply

After gathering the relevant paperwork, apply through the below channels:

  • In-Person: You can apply in person at the local branch of your prospective card issuer. It’s always best to apply in person as you can inquire about the credit card details directly from your issuer(s).
  • Your issuer’s website: Fill out the application form online on your issuer’s website. Remember to also upload relevant documents. 
  • Email: Fill out the forms and send them to your issuer’s work mail. Remember to attach the required documents to the application forms.
  • Over the phone: Call customer service numbers when you want to apply for a credit card. They will direct you on how best to go about it.

Depending on the card issuer and the channel through which you apply, you get early or late feedback from your credit card issuer. 


To get a credit card with poor credit, review your credit score to be sure everything is accurate. Applying for a credit card with a poor credit score can further knock off some points from your credit score, so you need to be sure your credit report is intact.

Next, search for financial institutions that issue credit cards for poor credit. Look out for credit unions and other financial institutions that offer the best APR rates. Seek preapproval when you find financial institutions you wish to apply to. After that, gather relevant paperwork and apply.

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