If you have a credit score between 400 and 550, don't rule yourself out of being able to own a good credit card. Instead, consider applying for an unsecured credit card that will help you build a better credit history. In this article, we highlight the top seven unsecured credit cards for credit scores in the 400 to 550 range. To make an informed decision, you'll also learn about the interest rates, fees, and credit limits that these cards can offer you.
What We'll Cover
- What Is an Unsecured Credit Card?
- The 5 Best Credit Cards for a 400-550 Credit Score
- Citi® Secured Mastercard®
- Chime Credit Builder Visa
- Citi Custom Cashsm Card
- Applied Bank® Unsecured Classic Visa® Card
- Fit Mastercard® Credit Card
- Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit
- Surge Mastercard® Credit Card
- First Digital Mastercard®
- Final Thoughts
What Is an Unsecured Credit Card?
An unsecured credit card is exactly what comes to mind when you think of a typical credit card. This is because it's the most common type. In essence, unsecured credit cards come with a credit line that is not protected by a refundable security deposit—unlike secured credit cards. Choosing between an unsecured credit card and a secured credit card is usually based on your credit score. People with limited or poor credit history benefit the most from secured credit cards because secured credit cards often offer them better terms and interest rates (an average of 16%). However, if you have a lower credit score and prefer to have an unsecured credit card, there are still good options to choose from that will set you on the right track to improving your credit.
What Are the Important Factors to Consider When Picking a Credit Card?
Whether you are a student or an entrepreneur looking to expand your business, you can find an unsecured credit card that meets your needs for building credit. There are various types of unsecured credit cards that offer different benefits and terms. Finding the right one for you is a matter of comparing and analyzing the possible offers based on important factors, such as the:
- Required security deposit
- Interest rate
- Annual, monthly, and one-time fees
- Credit limit
- Minimum monthly payments
- Rewards system
Some unsecured credit cards reward users for making their payments on time through a point system. In turn, card holders can use these points to redeem free items or discounts on food, airlines, or hotels. Other credit cards offer low introductory APRs and don't require that you pay an annual fee. It's even possible to find an unsecured credit card that doesn't require a credit check. But, it's important to note that credit cards that don't require credit checks have large interest rates. To be safe, you should always familiarize yourself with the terms of credit cards.
Even though you will be able to get approved for a credit card, a low credit score will affect the terms of the unsecured credit card, including a lower credit limit, higher annual fees, and larger a APR rate.
The 5 Best Credit Cards for a 400-550 Credit Score
Based on our research, the following seven options are the best unsecured credit cards for a credit score between 400 and 550. This table provides quick details on each card, including the annual, monthly, and one-time fees, as well as the interest rate (APR) and credit limit. Because these credit cards are for people with little-to-no credit history, the fees and interest rates are high, and the credit limits are low—compared to other unsecured credit cards.
|Credit Card||Annual Fee||Monthly Fee||One-time Fee||Regular APR||Credit Limit|
|Citi® Secured Mastercard®||None||None||None||26.99% (Variable)||
Minimum of $200
|Chime Credit Builder Visa||None||None||None||22.49% (Variable)||$5,000|
|Citi Custom Cashsm Card||None||None||None||13.99%-23.99% (Variable)||$500|
|Applied Bank® Unsecured Classic Visa® Card||First year: $75
Subsequent years: $45
|First year: None
Subsequent years: $6.25
|Fit Mastercard® Credit Card||$99||First year: None
Subsequent years: $6.25
|Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit||$0-$99||None||None||24.9%||$300|
|Surge Mastercard® Credit Card||$75-$99||First year: None
Subsequent years: $10
|None||25.9%-29.99% (Variable)||Up to $750|
|First Digital Mastercard®||First year: $75
Subsequent years: $48
|First year: None
Subsequent years: $6.25
|$95||35.99%||Minimum of $300|
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Although we've titled this article The Top Secured Cards for people with low credit scores, I thought it'd be helpful to mention a couple of secured options that can quickly increase your credit score so that you can make the switch from secure to unsecured as fast as possible and rebuild your credit. The two secured credit card options we'd like to mention are the Citi Secured Mastercard and the Chime Credit Builder Visa.
The Citi Secured Mastercard offers credit limits between $200 - $2500. Once available Citi also gives you free access to your FICO score online, and it reports to all 3 credit bureaus.
Chime Credit Builder Visa
The Chime credit builder visa is currently one of the best ways to quickly rebuild your credit. On their website they say their card can increase your credit score by an average of 30 points. It’s also a no brainer from a cost perspective because the card has no annual fee, no interest, no minimum security deposit, and there is no credit check to apply.
Citi Custom Cashsm Card
The Citi Custom Cash credit may be a good option for people with not so high FICO scores. We've read reports of some people getting approved with scores in the high 500s. It offers amazing benefits for a card in this class with up to 5% cash back in certain categories and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Applied Bank® Unsecured Classic Visa® Card
By using the Applied Bank® Unsecured Classic Visa® Card responsibly, those with bad credit can steadily improve their credit score. To open this unsecured credit card, you will have to pay several non-refundable fees, including a one-time fee of $89. Additionally, the annual fee starts at $75 and lowers to $45 in the second year. However, you can enjoy your entire first year with the card free of monthly charges. In the second year, this monthly charge then increases to $6.25 and continues on for all subsequent years. Even though the fees are steep, this card does not require a security deposit.
Monthly Credit Reports Help You Build Credit Quickly
At 29.99%, this unsecured credit card has one of the highest interest rates of the top seven top choices. This means that in order to save money on interest, you should try to make full payments each month, as opposed to the minimum payment. This card is a winner if you want to build your credit fast because it automatically sends your information to three different credit bureaus each month. However, some of the cons to this unsecured credit card include the low credit limit of $300, no grace period, and lack of a rewards program.
Fit Mastercard® Credit Card
With its easy application process, you can get approved for the Fit Mastercard® Credit Card quickly. However, you must first prove that you have a checking account. You will also need to pay a rather high one-time fee of $89. Although the card does not require you to pay monthly fees in the first year, you will have to pay an $99 annual fee every year that you have the card. One of this card’s benefits is its 25-day grace period. This means that you have 25 days to make a payment before interest builds. Additionally, your credit information will be analyzed monthly, giving you the opportunity to consistently improve your history.
This Card Offers You a $400 Credit Limit
You can use this unsecured credit card at any location that accepts Mastercard. Although this card does not offer rewards for purchases, it offers you a credit limit of $400, which is higher than most other credit cards for low credit scores. With this extra credit limit, you can have extra flexibility to make emergency purchases. Still, it’s important to note that the interest rate, like the other credit cards on this list, is high. At 29.99%, this credit card offers a variable interest rate, meaning the rate can change over time based on the interest rates of the market. This card has a maximum late fee of $40.
Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit
The Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit offers great benefits. One of the best features of this card is its option to pre-qualify. This means that without affecting your credit score, you can inquire about the likelihood of approval before actually submitting an application. Additionally, depending on your credit history, you may be exempt from having to pay a recurring annual fee. However, the potential maximum annual fee for this card is $99. Although this is a hefty annual fee, it’s the only recurring fee that you will have to keep in mind. The Indigo® Mastercard® for Less than Perfect Credit does not have a one-time or monthly fee, which will help you save money to focus on building your credit.
With its $300 credit limit, this car doesn't give you extra room for emergency purchases. But, it does offer a 25-day grace period and an interest rate of 24.9%, which is the lowest interest rate of all the unsecured credit cards on this list. Additionally, with this credit card, you will have 24/7 online access to your account so that you can responsibly monitor your spending. In the event of a lost or stolen credit card, which can negatively affect your credit, you will receive protection against fraud.
Surge Mastercard® Credit Card
The Surge Mastercard® Credit Card offers a high maximum credit limit of $750, but this depends on your creditworthiness. This high credit limit comes at a high price, however. This card is rather expensive, with an annual fee that ranges from $75 to $99. The monthly fee of $10 starts in the second year, but you may be eligible to waive the fee if you get approved for a $750 credit limit. This credit card also allows you to get pre-approved. Although this doesn’t guarantee approval, it will allow you to get a good idea without making a negative impact on your credit score. Additionally, before you can open this card, you must prove that you have a checking account.
The Grace Period of 25 Days Will Help You Keep Interest Down
Other expenses that you will have to keep in mind with this credit card include the variable interest rate of 25.99% to 29.99%. This is a high interest rate that will require you to make purchases responsibly if you need to keep an eye on your spending. But, the Surge Mastercard® Credit Card will offer you a grace period of 25 days, which gives you a bit of leeway to make your payments before this high interest rate is applied.
First Digital Mastercard®
The First Digital Mastercard®, when used responsibly, will help you improve your credit. Without requiring a security deposit, you can receive a minimum credit limit of $300. However, you must keep in mind that the annual fee for this credit card is $75 in your first year. This annual fee will be immediately applied to your credit limit. This means that initially, you will only have $225 to spend. In the second year, the annual fee will drop to $48, but the monthly fee will activate at $6.25.
There are downsides to this credit card, however. The First Digital Mastercard® has an interest rate of 35.99%, which is much higher than the average interest rate of an unsecured credit card. Additionally, unlike other unsecured credit cards for bad credit that are easy to get, this credit card requires a credit check before you can get approved.
Having a credit score between 400 and 550 doesn't mean that you are ineligible to get approved for an unsecured credit card. Today, there are plenty of credit cards that you can choose from that will help you improve your credit history, but you must use them responsibly and be aware of high interest rates. The seven unsecured credit cards mentioned in this article will give you this opportunity. Although they have high recurring fees and low credit limits, they can help you until you are ready to be approved for a different credit card with less expenses and more financial freedom.