While it’s possible to get a credit card under each of these situations, it might be easier 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 you’ve had the chance and proved you weren’t worthy. Let’s look at each individually and see what you might be able to do.
Though you could try just applying for a standard credit card, you’re probably not going to get a very positive response if you haven’t yet established credit. So instead, you might try one of these alternatives:
- Secured card
- Retail card
- Getting added as an authorized user on someone else’s credit card (if it gets reported to the credit bureaus)
Of these, I personally prefer the secured card because of the increased likelihood of getting approved and the fact that you’ll be standing on your own two credit feet. Here’s how they work: 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 and consequently you’re chances of getting approved are increased.
To be fair, there is also the option of getting someone to co-sign for you but I typically discourage that for both parties. The co-signer often gets exposed to more risk than they realize and it can really mess up relationships.
In truth, each of these ideas can work in the “bad credit” situation too. If your credit is really bad though, you’re more likely to get declined 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.
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, if you’ve got bad credit, 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!