While it’s possible to get a credit card under each of the situations you’ve described, you might have an easier time with a “no credit” situation than a “bad credit” situation. The “no credit” situation simply indicates that you haven’t had the opportunity to prove your credit-worthiness. The “bad credit” situation indicates that you’ve had the chance, and proved you weren’t credit worthy. Let’s look at each individually and see what you might be able to do.
When you’re trying to get a credit card for the first time there are a couple routes I’d suggest. First, you could apply with a co-signer who has good credit. Second, you could apply for a secured card.
To be clear, the co-signer route is risky business for the co-signer because if you mess up, their credit score is going to take the hit right along with yours. It’s for this very reason that I typically tell people not to co-sign for others, but you should know that when you’re trying to establish a credit history, it’s an option. Plus, for some people and families, it can work.
Even so, I personally like the secured card idea better because it doesn’t put anybody else at risk. Instead, you make a deposit with the issuing financial institution and they use your money as collateral for your credit card. If you don’t pay, they’ve already got your money so their risk is limited.
In truth, both of these approaches can work for the “bad credit” situation too. The main difference being, if you have a really bad credit history you’re more likely to get declined for a card than if you just have no credit history. Remember, credit card companies aren’t required to approve your request. If they think you’re too risky, they can decline you even if you have a co-signer or make a deposit on a secured card.
There’s one other big point I need to make regarding the “bad credit” situation. Though every situation is different and thus, blanket rules don’t apply, it might be in your best interest to try to clean up what you didn’t pay in the past. Bad marks will eventually drop off your credit history but I’ve heard numerous stories of collection agencies selling uncollected debts to new agencies, thereby keeping them alive (and negatively affecting the debtor’s credit score) longer than they thought. So even though paying off old debts won’t remove the bad mark from your history, doing so might shorten the amount of time they affect you.
Finally, keep in mind that when it comes to credit scores and their impact on your ability to get credit extended to you, there are very few certainties. Everyone’s credit profile and history are different and as a result similar actions of different people can have different results. And it sometimes won’t seem fair. What's your best approach to avoiding the stress of these situations? Don't make credit mistakes in the first place.
Thanks so much for your question. I hope this helps and I wish you all the best!