Best credit cards if you have a bad credit history


Colorful stack of credit cards and shopping gift cards.  Macro with extremely shallow dof.

If your credit rating is bad or non existent, which credit cards can you get your hands on?

Where do you get started with credit cards if you have a poor credit record, or even no record at all? How do you go about building, or repairing, your credit record? There are a number of credit cards which help you to do just that. Let's take a look at some, and how they work.

Barclaycard Initial Visa

The Initial Visa from Barclaycard is worth a look if you're after your first credit card or just want to improve your credit score.

Unusually for a credit builder card, the Initial comes with a 0% period on purchases of five months, an offer that can't be beaten unless you have a much more impressive credit rating.

The representative APR with the Initial is pretty steep at 34.9%, but it will be reviewed after 12 months. If you always pay on time and stick to your credit limit (you start with up to £1,200) that rate will be reduced.

Aqua Classic and Advance

Aqua is a credit card provider that specifically targets those with poor credit histories. It has a number of cards to choose from.

The first is the Classic, which comes with a representative APR of 29.7% - the lowest around for credit builder cards. However not everyone gets that rate. If your credit rating really is grim you may be offered a rate of 39.9%, 44.9% or 49.9%. You get an initial credit limit of £100-£1,600.

There's also the Advance. With this card you start with an APR of 34.9% but can cut it by 5% a year if you manage it properly.

The other bonus with Aqua cards is that you get access to its free Credit Checker service, giving you free, unlimited access to your credit report, as well as all sorts of money saving deals.

Capital One Classic Platinum

The Capital One Classic Platinum is a low-limit credit card, giving you a taste of how credit works. The credit limit will be from £200 to £1,500, to restrict the chances of you getting carried away on a credit binge. That limit is reviewed regularly, and you have the option of increasing it twice a year.

It comes with an APR of 29.8%.

One thing we really like with the Classic is that you can register to receive email alerts on the state of your balance, so that you are as informed as possible about your financial position, and don't get carried away.

In order to qualify for the card you need to be over 18 years of age and on the electoral roll. You also must not have been declared bankrupt in the last 12 months, and must not already have a Capital One

Vanquis Bank Aquis Visa

The Vanquis Bank Aquis Visa credit card is designed for borrowers who want to improve their credit rating, whether that's because they have no credit history or they have a poor history that they want to rebuild.

If you get the card you'll start with a credit limit between £150 and £1,000. Your limit will then be reviewed every four months and could go as high as £3,000.

The interest rate is 29.8% and will be even higher for some users.

Luma MasterCard

Finally, we have the Luma MasterCard credit card. With this card, you'll get a credit limit of up to £1,500. This card has a very high interest rate of 35.9%.

These are just some of the credit building cards available. If you prefer a different card, why not tell us about it, and why, in the Comment section below?

Monitoring your credit rating

If you have no idea what your credit rating looks like, or you want to monitor whether it is improving after making use of a card like those we've looked at, then why not try a free 30-day trial of your Experian credit report? Remember though, you will be charged once the trial period comes to an end, so if you don't want to keep up the membership, be sure to cancel.

Other steps to improve a bad credit rating

There are plenty of other things you can do to improve your credit rating beyond using a special credit card. Some are extremely simple, like ensuring you're on the electoral roll and closing unwanted accounts. For a comprehensive guide to getting your credit rating spotless, check out Six fixes for credit rating problems.

But be careful, there are plenty of mistake beliefs when it comes to credit records. Be sure to avoid falling for these astonishing myths about your credit rating.

Compare credit cards with AOL Money

How to dispute your credit record

How to dispute your credit record