ADVERTISING DISCLOSURE
ADVERTISING DISCLOSURE:
Credit-Land.com is an independent, advertising-supported web site. Credit-Land.com receives compensation from most issuers whose offers appear on our site. Compensation from our advertising partners impacts how and where their products appear on our site, including, for example, the order in which they may appear within review lists. Credit-Land.com has not reviewed all available credit card offers in the marketplace.

5 Tips on How to Improve Bad Credit

The content is accurate at the time of publication and is subject to change.

Building credit is very much like losing weight - getting there takes a lot of time and work. Quick solutions may lead you into a trap and leave you worse off than you were before. But if you are worried about your credit situation, that's a start - a lot of Americans aren't even aware that they are in trouble until they have to apply for a mortgage or get a car loan. But if you are determined to make things right, you'll eventually succeed, and the process is not that complicated. If you follow these 5 simple tips, you may get from bad credit to excellent credit in due time.

1. Check Your Credit Report

First things first - you need to know where you are now in terms of your credit score. Start by checking your credit reports and credit scores with the three major credit reporting agencies - TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You are entitled to one free credit report from each of these three credit bureaus every year.

When you receive the copies of your credit reports, take note of the things that hurt your credit score such as late payments, delinquencies, debts in collection, accounts you do not recognize and other suspicious records. Be attentive - a credit report is not flawless, it just contains data used to calculate your credit score and it may contain errors. There even may be errors in your personal information. If you see an error, dispute it with credit bureaus and/or your issuing bank.

Analyze all negatives that hurt your credit score. Bear in mind that your credit score consists of several things that affect it to a different degree. Some things have more weight than the others. In this pie chart, you can see which things have the most impact.

2. Get Rid of Your Debt

If you've studied the chart thoroughly, you've probably noticed that credit utilization makes up a large portion of your credit score - specifically, 30%. It's almost a third of the whole thing! Credit utilization ratio is the amount of your balance divided by your credit limit. In other words, it's how much you owe. The more debt you have, the less likely you have a good credit score. The perfect utilization ratio should not be over 30%. So, how do you remove debt?

Pay more than the minimum payment. Paying the bare minimum each month lets you shake off the thought of your debt for another month without consuming a lot of resources, so in the short run it may seem like a good way. However, as the APR takes effect, the interest is added to your balance, enlarging it drastically. As a result, your balance grows like a snowball each month, and one day the interest may exceed your initial balance. However, you may easily prevent this if you pay more than the minimum each month and don't let the interest grow.

Pay off your worst credit card first.As we already established, your credit utilization is a proportion. So if you take out the most affecting part of this proportion, it'll change for the better. Try get the credit card with the most debt out of the way first, and your overall debt-to-credit ratio will lower. Besides, a large debt is likely to collect more interest.

3. Get a Secured Credit Card

With a bad credit score, you're likely to face a dilemma: you need a credit card to build credit, but banks won't approve you for a regular credit card with a bad credit score. But there's a way around that. Secured credit cards are meant for building credit and are very easy to use. For a secured card you'll need to pay a security deposit that is usually equal to your line of credit. That is, if you need to pay upfront $200, you'll have a credit limit of $200, but once you close the card, you may get your deposit back. Some secured credit cards can even be upgraded to an unsecured account. Not very attractive? Consider this not a real credit card, but a tool to improve your credit. Below you can see and compare a range of secured credit cards and choose the one for you.

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
22.24% (V)
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Annual Fee
$25 for the first year, after that $35 annually
  • Start Building Your Credit with as Little as $100
  • Pay a Deposit (as Little as $100! Or up to $2000)
  • Quick and Easy Online Application
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required!
  • Get a Platinum Mastercard (Bank Account Required)
  • Reports to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus
  • Credit Reporting Starts Immediately when your Account is Opened
  • *Just pay your bill on time to continue establishing your credit
  • First Latitude Mastercard is Accepted Nationwide and Online
  • Make 6-months of on-time payments & you’ll be invited to apply for an unsecured First Digital Mastercard!

our choice

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

Secured Credit Card

Build Credit

Use this card everywhere Mastercard cards are accepted (subject to available credit)

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
18.89% (variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Annual Fee
$35
  • No credit check to apply and find out instantly if you are approved.
  • OpenSky gives everyone an opportunity to improve their credit with an 85% average approval rate for the past 5 years
  • Get considered for a credit line increase after 6 months, with no additional deposit required
  • You could be eligible for the OpenSky Gold Unsecured Card after as few as 6 months
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus monthly, unlike a prepaid or debit card
  • View your FICO® Score through your OpenSky account, an easy way to stay on top of your credit
  • Nearly half of OpenSky cardholders who make on-time payments improve their FICO score 30+ points in the first 3 months
  • Your refundable* deposit, as low as $200, becomes your OpenSky Visa credit limit
  • Easy application, apply in less than 5 minutes right from your mobile device
  • Offer flexible payment due dates which allow you to choose any available due date that fits your payment schedule
  • *View the cardholder agreement

our choice

Instant Response

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

No Credit Check

Secured Credit Card

Apply for PCB Secured Visa® Credit Card - Credit-Land.com

Rating 3.2

APPLY

Good/Limited Credit

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
18.90% (fixed)*
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Annual Fee
$39*
  • Upon credit approval, the collateral deposit you provide becomes the credit limit on your Visa® card. Choose between $200 and $1,000.
  • A minimum collateral deposit of $200 is required to open this account.
  • After the first year, you can request to increase the credit limit up to a maximum of $5,000 (subject to credit approval and additional collateral deposits).
  • This card is perfect for people new to credit as well as people looking to rebuild their credit.
  • Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus.
  • Build or rebuild your credit by keeping your balances low and paying all creditors on time every month.
  • 24/7 online account center.
  • This card is issued by Plains Commerce Bank pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A., Inc.

our choice

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

Secured Credit Card

Build Credit

Use this card everywhere Visa cards are accepted

Apply for Surge Secured Mastercard® - Credit-Land.com

Rating 4.0

APPLY

All Credit Types Welcome to Apply

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
19.99% Variable
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Annual Fee
$69
  • Initial refundable deposit of $300 becomes your credit limit
  • 1% Cash Back rewards on every purchase
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 Score from Experian (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Use your card at locations everywhere Mastercard is accepted
  • Mastercard Zero Liability Protection (subject to Mastercard guidelines)
  • Checking Account Required

our choice

Rewards

1% Cash Back rewards on every purchase

Instant Response

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

Secured Credit Card

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
9.99% Fixed
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Annual Fee
$48
  • Better than Prepaid…Go with a Secured Card! Load One Time - Keep On Using
  • Absolutely No Credit Check or Minimum Credit Score Required
  • Automatic Reporting to All Three National Credit Bureaus
  • 9.99% Low Fixed APR - Your Rate Won’t Go Up Even if You Are Late
  • Activate Today with a $200 Minimum Deposit - Maximum $1,000.
  • Increase Your Credit Limit up to $5,000 by Adding Additional Deposits Anytime

our choice

Instant Response

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

No Credit Check

Secured Credit Card

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
22.99% (V)
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Annual Fee
$29
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 -- $2,000 Submitted with Application
  • Just Pay Off Your Balance and Receive Your Deposit Back at Any Time
  • 24/7 Online Access to Your Account
  • Nationwide program; available in all 50 US states *See Card Terms.
  • Get a fresh start! A discharged bankruptcy still in your credit bureau file will not cause you to be declined.
  • ¡Hablamos Español! Nuestros representantes de servicio al cliente hablan Español con fluidez para su conveniencia.
  • Make 6-months of on-time payments & you’ll be invited to apply for an unsecured First Digital Mastercard!

our choice

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

No Credit Check

Secured Credit Card

Build Credit

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
16.99% (V)
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Annual Fee
$39
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
  • Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
  • Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 -- $2,000 Submitted with Application
  • Just Pay Off Your Balance and Receive Your Deposit Back at Any Time
  • 24/7 Online Access to Your Account
  • Nationwide program; available in all 50 US states *See Card Terms.
  • Get a fresh start! A discharged bankruptcy still in your credit bureau file will not cause you to be declined.
  • ¡Hablamos Español! Nuestros representantes de servicio al cliente hablan Español con fluidez para su conveniencia.
  • Make 6-months of on-time payments & you’ll be invited to apply for an unsecured First Digital Mastercard!

our choice

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

No Credit Check

Secured Credit Card

Build Credit

4. Avoid carrying balance

Remember the pie chart? The second thing that affects your credit severely is your payment history. It takes 35% of the whole. Payment history is the information on how you pay all your bills and if you pay them on time. Until you reach at least fair credit, consider all your credit cards just means of showing credit bureaus and credit card issuers that you are a responsible consumer. You need to lead an exemplary financial life without any mistakes.

The most important thing is once you've dealt with the old debt, don't accrue the new one. Never carry a balance on any of your credit cards. Pay off all of the balance by the due date each month. Never be late with your payments, because that way you'll lose a lot of points and bring a late payment fee on yourself. To make things easier for yourself, you may just charge a small amount each month and pay it off at once. Try to carry this style into your future life - even when you improve your credit you'll gain a lot from your habit of not carrying your balance from month to month and escape a lot of problems. And while your credit is far from perfect, this is crucial.

5. Upgrade to an Unsecured Card

As soon as you are free of your debt and have improved your credit score, you can breathe a sigh of relief and move on to better opportunities. If you have a secured card of one of major banks, you may ask for an upgrade to a regular card. Or you can just choose another regular card for bad credit that won't make you pay a deposit. Here are some of our picks:

Apply for Surge Mastercard® - Credit-Land.com

Rating 3.7

APPLY

See website for Details*

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
See website for Details*
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
See website for Details*
Regular APR
24.99% - 29.99% (Variable)
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Annual Fee
See website for Details*
  • Up to $1,000 credit limit doubles up to $2,000! (Simply make your first 6 monthly minimum payments on time)
  • All credit types welcome to apply!
  • Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score From Experian* (When you sign up for e-statements)
  • Initial Credit Limit of $300 – $1,000* (subject to available credit)
  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus
  • See if you’re Pre-Qualified without impacting your credit score
  • Fast and easy application process; results in seconds
  • Free online account access 24/7
  • Checking Account Required

our choice

Instant Response

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

Unsecured Credit Card

Build Credit

Apply for Group One Freedom Card - Credit-Land.com

Rating 3.5

APPLY

Bad Credit

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
n/a
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
n/a
Regular APR
0.00%
Balance Transfer Fee
See terms
Annual Fee
See terms
  • Bad Credit, Low Score? No Problem!
  • Managing your credit is key! TRY US RISK-FREE FOR 7 DAYS!
  • Receive a $750 Credit Line*
  • Easy Application with Immediate Results
  • No Credit Check
  • *usable only at theHorizonOutlet.com

our choice

0% APR on Purchases

Intro APR on Purchases:
n/a

Ongoing APR on Purchases:
0.00%

Instant Response

No Credit Check

Build Credit

our choice

Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Intro APR on Balance Transfer
N/A
Regular APR
See Terms
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Annual Fee
See Terms
  • Reporting monthly to all three major credit reporting agencies
  • Perfect credit not required for approval; we may approve you when others won’t
  • Easy and secure online application
  • $300 credit limit (subject to available credit)
  • Receive your card more quickly with optional Expedited Processing (additional fee applies)
  • Get a result in as little as 60 seconds upon completion of the online application
  • Online Customer Center available 24 x 7
  • Checking account required
  • The First Access Visa Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc.

our choice

Instant Response

Reporting to the Major Consumer Reporting Agencies

Unsecured Credit Card

Build Credit

Yes

must read FEATURED NEWS
AND RELATED RESEARCH

News: Two new Marriott credit cards with welcome offers of 125,000 bonus points - Credit-Land.com
Sep 27, 2022

Two new Marriott credit cards with welcome offers of 125,000 bonus points

Marriott Bonvoy® and its partners American Express and Chase introduced two new credit cards: the...

Priority Pass Review: Maximize Your Membership

Priority Pass Review: Maximize Your Membership

Airport lounges can be an absolute necessity when you have an 18-hour layover or a 6-hour delay....

EXPLORE
MORE CREDIT CARDS BY CATEGORIES

Cash Back
Travel
Balance Transfer
Low Interest
Fair Credit

questionsABOUT
CREDIT CARDS

My credit score is poor. Which credit card will raise my credit scores quickly?

First of all, note that improving your credit score is not a quick process. It may take up to a couple of years to turn bad credit into good credit. But if you want to improve your credit score faster, keep your credit...

Read more
What is a secured credit card?

A secured credit card requires a security deposit to act as collateral for the line of credit. They are designed for people with limited or damaged credit who want to rebuild their credit history. Benefits of secured...

Read more
How can I improve my credit score?

The good news is that if you have a bad credit score there are a lot of things that you can to fix it. Even if your score is fair but you are interested in bumping it up to the next category there are proactive steps...

Read more
See all questions

NOT SURE WHICH CARD
TO CHOOSE?

Ask our Experts and get free advice to your email!

ASK QUESTION

comments ABOUT
CREDIT CARDS🜂

Disclaimer: This editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer(s). Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the credit card issuer(s), and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer(s). Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate information, however all information is presented without warranty. Consult a card's issuing bank for the terms & conditions. All rates and fees, and other terms and conditions of the products mentioned in this article/post are actual as of the last update date but are subject to change. See the current products' Terms & Conditions on the issuing banks' websites.

WHAT IS YOUR QUESTION?

Please enter your question and contact information so that we could send our answer to you by e-mail. Note: Please do not include personal information such as your SSN#, credit or debit account numbers.

EXTRA QUESTIONS TO DESCRIBE YOUR SITUATION IN MORE DETAILS:

* - required fields

By submitting your question, you agree to the following:*

Here at Credit-Land.com we will answer all questions to the best of our knowledge and understanding, but we are not legally accredited professionals. We assume no liability for actions resulting from our advice and cannot guarantee the accuracy of information in all cases. Please seek appropriate professional or legal advice when needed.

Questions submitted to Credit-Land.com may be posted to our website with your first name, and may be edited for length and clarity. Please do not submit your Social Security number, credit or debit card number, or bank account number to us - though we will never share your name or email with anyone, sensitive information should never be posted to an FAQ form. We are not a bank or a credit card issuer, and we do not have access to your account information.

Thank You, Your Question Has Been Successfully Sent!
YOU'VE SUCCESSFULLY SUBSCRIBED!
PLEASE SPECIFY THE FOLLOWING:
All these fields are optional
your credit history
Excellent (750-850)
Good (700-749)
Fair (640-699)
Bad (350-639)
No Credit History
OR ENTER YOUR EXACT CREDIT SCORE
THEMES YOU ARE INTERESTED IN:
Traveling with Credit Cards: how to Save and Earn Rewards
How to Take Advantage of Credit Card Rewards
Credit Cards for Building Credit
Business Credit Card Offers
How to Save with Balance Transfer Credit Cards
Special Credit Card Offers for Students
Credit Cards with Low Interest Rates
Benefits of Credit Cards with No Annual Fee
Best Credit Card Offers with 0% Intro APR
By providing this information you help us make our news letters more useful and informative. Thank you!