Compare the Top UK Credit Cards for People with a Bad Credit History


Before you choose, discover what advantages a bad credit credit card can offer you.

About Bad Credit

Find out what the most common issues are that can cause you to have a bad credit rating.


As with all forms of credit, there are drawbacks that you should be aware of before applying.

Things to Consider:

credit limits


interest rates


soft checks


credit rating




We are not credit experts. The information on this site is only our opinion and should not to be used as a guide when applying for credit of any kind.

The site was created to simply give you a quick run-down of things to consider when applying for a credit card. Seeking professional advice is recommended.

Top Tips

If you are rejected for credit, it's usually best to wait before applying again. Checking your credit file for errors and problems is usually the best way to go.

Always compare the market before you apply for a credit card. The first one you find is rarely the best option.

Always read the terms and conditions in full before you commit yourself.


In this guide we will discuss what having a bad credit rating means and what you can do to improve it. We will also take a look at ways in which you can get credit whilst your score is still lower than average. This will include credit cards, loans, catalogues, secured cards, and more.

We will then go over the pros and cons of using bad credit credit cards, also known as credit builder credit cards, including ways in which to make the most of them and how to minimise the associated drawbacks. If you have any questions at any point feel free to drop us a message here.

Why do I have a Bad Credit Rating?

Many of you will have found this site because in the past you may have been refused a credit line or been told that you have a bad credit score. To determine for sure if you have a less than average, or bad credit score you will need to take out your credit file. This can be done for free on sites such as Experian and Equifax.

Whilst many of these sites will try to sign you up for a yearly contract, you can simply sign up for the free trial and cancel within 30 days.

The average credit score is around 650, whilst anything below 500 is considered as very bad credit. So you can use that as a guideline for determining if you have a bad credit score or not.

Once you know if your credit rating is actually bad or not you can take a look at what is causing it. In a few cases you might find that it's simply an error which can be easily rectified. Usually, the reason is more complicated and will take time to repair. The following are the most common culprits for causing your credit score to drop.

1Not being on the Electoral Role

Many lenders won't even look twice at you if you're not on the electoral role, and it's very simple to do. So if you're not on it, apply online now!

If you can't get on the Electoral Role for one reason or another, i.e. you're not originally from the UK, then sending some proof of residency (utility bills, driving licence, etc) to the main 3 credit agencies could help increase your chances of a successful application.

2Missing a Credit Repayment

Arguably the most obvious but usually the most common cause of a low credit score. Setting up a direct debit to insure you always pay at least the minimum is the number one way in which to avoid making this mistake.

If you're certain that you can't make a payment then contact the lender and let them know. They might be able to find a solution for you.

3Applying too often

Applying for multiple lines of credit (phone contract, credit card, loan, mortgage, etc) in a short space of time will be shown on your credit report and is usually a sign that you're in desperate need of credit.

Even if you've never been rejected, the lender will calculate how much potential debt you could get yourself in. So, cancelling unused credit and store cards and prioritising when you apply can help boost your chances of getting accepted.

Benefits of Credit Cards for Bad Credit

The following information lays out the benefits of credit cards and more specifically those cards catered towards people with a bad credit rating.

1 Consumer Protection

As with all credit cards, you're payments are somewhat protected by the credit card provider. For example, if you buy something online and it never gets delivered, you can get your money back.

2 Transferring Debt

Transferring your debt from a credit card or loan to a new credit card can actually work in your favour. There are numerous credit cards that offer 0% interest for over 12 months so transferring a negative balance to a new interest free credit card can save you paying a bucket load of interest.

Unfortunately, if you have a poor credit rating, the chance of you getting accepted for one of these 0% interest cards is very small.

3 Credit Builders

By repaying back what you borrow on time you will begin to repair you credit history thus, in the future, improving your chances of getting approved for a better credit card.

4 Better than ...

In most cases, a bad credit credit card is a better option than a payday loan or unauthorised use of your overdraft. However, this is always worth checking before making any rash decisions.

Whilst there are quite a few benefits of using credit cards, even those for people with poor credit, it's important to read about the drawbacks before you apply! Keep reading.

Negatives of Bad Credit, Credit Cards

Here we discuss the obvious and not so obvious disadvantages of appling for and using credit cards for those of us who have a bad credit score.

1 Credit Rating

As with all forms of credit, when you owe someone else money you must insure that all repayments are made on time otherwise you're credit rating is going to be negatively affected.

2 Interest Rates

Bad credit credit cards usually charge higher interest rates than normal credit cards, and interest free periods are not usually offered. Best practise is to repay what you borrow within 30 days. At the very least you should insure you make the minimum payment.

3 Hidden Costs

Interest charges are not the only cost you might face with a credit card. If you miss a payment or exceed your credit limit you may find yourself being charge a fee. It's a good idea to always check what these costs are before appling for a credit card.

What is a Soft Check?

When applying for credit, the lender will credit check you. If you get refused and then apply again, the new lender will see that someone else has recently checked your file. This is a big negative indicator for the new lender and it's how many people get stuck in a "rejection spiral".

Before appling for a credit card you can do what's called a soft check using an Eligibility Tool. The benefit here is that it doesn't place a mark on your credit file so it can't harm your chances of getting approved. However, it's important to note that even if the Eligibility tool says you've got a good chance of getting accepted, it does not guarantee that a lender will approve you.

Alternatives to Credit Cards

Having bad credit means that some of you will not be able to get accepted for a credit card, full stop. In almost all cases it is best to check your credit file and try to resolve your bad credit problem.

However, for some of you, there may not be a quick fix. As such, we have found some alternatives, all of which should be researched thoroughly before going ahead with them.

1 Secured and Prepaid Cards

Some of these cards can actually allow you to rebuild your credit history, however they are not really credit cards so aren't really useful if you need to borrow immediately.

2 Catalogues

If you're in desperate need of cash because you need a new fridge or washing machine then catalogues could be a viable option. There are quite a few bad credit catalogues too that do tend to have better acceptance rates than credit cards

Again, always double check the interest rates before you apply as some catalogues charge up to 100% APR!

3 Loans

Payday and Guarantor loans are one of the final options you could look at but it's very very rarely a good idea. However, new regulations should make them less of debt-trap than they were before. Checking out your local credit union or grants from your local council are worth looking into first. Or even tring to extend your overdraft, or borrowing off long-lost family members are a safer option!