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The best unsecured credit cards: Bad credit? No worries

What's the best unsecured credit card for 2022? If you have bad credit, the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit is the best unsecured credit card. Secure your future, even with a low credit score.
lena-borrelli-author.jpg
Written by Lena Borrelli, Contributing Writer on
Reviewed by Marc Wojno

Sometimes, our credit can take a dive, despite our best intentions. It can affect your ability to get one of the top credit cards, but the good news is that you could still be able to obtain a line of credit with the best unsecured credit card for you without paying a security deposit.

When you have bad or no credit, many credit card companies will require that you pay a deposit before extending a line of credit. These are known as secured credit cards. However, there are some credit cards that do not require a deposit called unsecured credit cards. Our editorial team has done the work to find the top offers based on factors like APR, card requirements, rewards, introductory offers, automatic reviews, and more.

If you're looking for credit cards for bad credit, these are the best unsecured credit cards of 2022.

Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR25.49% Variable
Recommended CreditBad Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 1% cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV services. Terms apply.
Annual Fee$75 for the first year. After that, $99 annually ($8.25 per month)
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Rewards & Redemption Details

You can receive Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit flat 1% cashback rewards on your everyday purchases, including gas and groceries. You can also receive extra cashback when you use your card to pay for your mobile phone and internet, as well as cable and satellite TV services. These rewards accompany an APR of 24.74%, which is a couple points lower than cards like the Petal 2 and QuicksilverOne credit card. 

Credit One will periodically review your account to check for timely payment history, and it could lead to credit line increases, giving you more freedom to spend. You have the option to set your own payment date to best fit your schedule so you can help ensure on-time payments that will help boost your credit score over time. You will need to pay an annual fee, although it is discounted in the first year from $99 to $75. 

Pros 

  • Accepts bad credit
  • No deposit required
  • Cash back rewards

Cons

  • Very high advance fee
  • Foreign transaction fee
  • High APR
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR26.99% (Variable)
Recommended CreditAverage, Fair, Limited
Reward Rates N/A
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details

The Capital One Platinum credit card comes with no annual fee to save you a few hundred dollars when compared to other cards like those from American Express. Interest is high with a variable APR of 26.99%, but Capital One will also automatically review your credit line as soon as six months to reevaluate your account terms. You will likely need fair credit for approval.

To help you improve your credit, you have free access to Capital One's CreditWise program that you can use to monitor your credit score. There is also $0 Fraud Liability included with your card membership.

Pros 

  • Fair credit needed
  • No annual fee or foreign transaction fees
  • No balance transfer fees

Cons 

  • High interest
  • No introductory offer
  • A limited line of credit
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR26.99% (Variable)
Recommended CreditAverage, Fair, Limited
Reward Rates
  • Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day
Annual Fee$39
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards credit card comes with unlimited rewards that give you 1.5% cashback on all purchases you make. There are no restrictions or rotating categories, so you can buy what you want when you want with rewards that are issued as statement credits. The variable APR is high at 26.99%, but this is largely attributed to the fact that this card is unsecured and does not require a deposit. There is an annual fee, but it costs less than $40, a rarity among most cards with fees.

Like the Platinum card, Capital One offers an automatic account review usually within six months to assess your payment history and determine whether you are due for an increase in credit line. There is also free access to CreditWise for credit monitoring and a $0 Fraud Liability program should your card ever become lost or stolen.

Pros 

  • Unlimited rewards
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Fair credit needed

Cons 

  • High APR
  • No rewards
  • No intro APR
Card Highlights
Intro BonusIntro Offer: Unlimited Cashback Match - only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year! So you could turn $50 cash back into $100. Or turn $100 into $200. There's no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
APR14.49% - 23.49% Variable
Recommended CreditFair/New to Credit
Reward Rates
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate.
  • Earn 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APR0% for 6 months
Additional Details
Rewards & Redemption Details

With the Discover It Student Cash Back, a 0% introductory purchase APR makes it easier to save money on those big purchases in your first six months of having the card. Discover is flexible with its requirements because this is a card designed for young adults that have not yet fully established their credit. Because of this, there is no annual fee and no credit score necessary to apply. 

Despite the fact that this is a great starter credit for those with no credit, there are still rewards with 5% cashback on a quarterly rotating basis for categories like dining, groceries, gas, and Amazon and PayPal purchases. The rotating categories are present upfront; from July through September, for example, it's 5% cashback at restaurants and PayPal, and from October to December its 5% cashback at Amazon.com and for digital wallets. All other purchases receive 1% cashback automatically without a time limit. There is also Cashback Match, which gives unlimited dollar-for-dollar matching of your total first-year cashback earnings.

Pros 

  • Extra cashback
  • Introductory balance transfer fee
  • Introductory APR

Cons

  • A small line of credit
  • Rising transfer APR
  • Increasing transfer APR
Card Highlights
Intro BonusN/A
APR15.24% - 29.24% (Variable)
Recommended CreditLimited/Fair/Good/Excellent
Reward Rates
  • Up to 1.5% cash back on eligible purchases after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
  • 1% cash back on eligible purchases right away.
Annual Fee$0
Intro Purchase APRN/A
Rewards & Redemption Details

The Petal 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa credit card is issued by WebBank, a member FDIC, as a cashback rewards card for those with fair credit. Its APR starts low at 15.24% but can reach as high as 29.24%, depending on your total credit score. Credit lines begin at $300 and go all the way up to $10,000 total. However, what is most remarkable is the complete lack of fees that Petal 2 charges, skipping the typically high annual, balance transfer, and foreign transaction fees. 

There are also unlimited rewards with up to 1.5% cashback, so you do not have to track categories or spending. There is 1% cashback when you spend and up to 1.5% with timely payments, plus 2% to 10% off select merchants. The way you spend matters, too, with up to 1.5% cashback when you swipe your card. 

Pros 

  • No fees
  • Low starting APR
  • Cashback

Cons 

  • APR can run high
  • No intro offer
  • Confusing rewards structure

How did we choose these cards?

When shopping for the best unsecured credit card, there are several factors to consider. These are some of the ones we considered in our search for the best unsecured credit cards. 

  • APR: How much you pay in interest can have an enormous bearing on your financial state, especially since unsecured credit cards may have higher interest rates than credit cards for good credit.
  • Card requirements. Some credit card companies may require that you furnish other details to provide a financial overview without the need for a credit score.
  • Rewards. Many credit card issuers offer perks for credit cards, such as cashback, points, or miles that can all be redeemed with different programs and partners. 
  • Introductory offer. credit cards may also come with an introductory offer, such as one that skips the purchase or balance transfer APR for a certain period. 
  • Automatic review: Most credit card companies will complete an automatic review to assess your spending and payment history. If you show a history of responsible payments, you could receive a lower rate for your credit card.

Take the time to seriously consider your needs before shopping and comparing your options for the best unsecured credit card for you.  

What is the best unsecured credit card for bad credit?

The Capital One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit gets ZDNet's top pick for unsecured credit card for bad credit for 2022. In addition to receiving 1% cashback rewards on your everyday purchases, you can get extra cashback to pay mobile phone and internet, and cable and satellite TV services. What's more Credit One periodically reviews your account, and good payment history could lead to credit line increases. 

Credit card

APR

Annual fee

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit  

24.74%

$75 first year; $99 thereafter

Capital One Platinum Credit Card  

26.99% variable

$0

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card  

26.99% variable

$39

Discover it® Student Cash Back  

0% (first six months); then 14.49% to 23.49% variable

$0

Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card  

15.24% to 29.24% variable

$0

Which is the right card for you?

It can be overwhelming to sort between so many credit cards with all the different figures, percentages, and rewards. If you are looking for a new card, these are the ZDNet team's recommendations for the best unsecured credit cards of 2022.

Choose this card...

If...

Capital One Platinum

You want to give your credit a boost

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards 

You want cashback rewards that do not run out

Discover It Student Cash Back

You want student rewards

Petal 2 Cash Back, No Fees Visa

Do not have the credit for a credit card

Credit One Bank Platinum Visa 

Rebuilding credit is your goal

What is considered bad credit?

Bad credit is a FICO score that is 579 or lower. While this question is subjective, the standard credit score ranges are the following:

Exceptional

800+

Excellent

740 - 799

Good

670 - 739

Fair

580 - 669

Bad

579 and lower

What is FICO score?

While the FICO score is only one type of consumer credit score, the term is essentially synonymous with credit scores. The FICO score is derived from your credit reports sent to the three major credit bureaus. Factors such as bankruptcies, debt, and payment history are all taken into consideration. 

The three major credit bureaus are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. 

What is the difference between a secured and unsecured credit card?

A secured credit card is one that requires a deposit to fund your credit card. An unsecured card doesn't use a deposit but extends a line of credit that you repay over time.

What credit score do I need for the best unsecured credit card?

Generally, the better your credit, the better your interest rate. The best unsecured credit cards of 2022 look at all credit types, including bad credit, so check to see what type of credit score is needed for your favorite unsecured credit card.

What are the best unsecured credit cards for no credit?

We've compiled the best starter credit cards to help you grow or rebuild your credit.

The best unsecured credit cards include options from leading financial institutions, such as Capital One and Chase. Ultimately, the best unsecured credit card for no credit all depends on your specific needs and financial goals. 

Keep in mind that credit cards typically require credit to apply for them, but we all have to start somewhere. If you have no credit to show, you have options. 

Can I get an unsecured credit card with fair credit?

The short answer is yes, but secured credit cards are a better fit for people with fair credit. However, if you can't get approved for one, there are options for you with better odds.

If your FICO score is below 669 and you need to build credit, you can get an unsecured credit card for fair credit. Just know that you'll be subjected to higher interest rates and fees since they aren't backed by cash deposits. 

Are there alternative cards worth considering?

To find the best unsecured credit cards of 2022, we reviewed many different credit cards. In our search, we found several options that may be worth your consideration.

  • Avant Credit Card: A great alternative for bad credit 
  • Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card: Excellent for miles
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® Credit Card: Travel rewards
  • Citi® Double Cash Card: Cashback 

To help round out your search, consider our picks for the best bankruptcy credit card, the best crypto credit card, and the best small business credit card for 2022.

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