How to Get a Credit Card if You Have a Low FICO Score

Written by , March 19, 2012

How to Get a Credit Card if You Have a Low FICO ScoreMany people view having a credit card as a requirement in order to function in today’s consumer economy. For example, you need a credit card to rent a car, shop online or reserve a hotel room (or be prepared for significant hassles and headaches if you try to do any of those things without a credit card).

But what do you do if you have a low FICO score? With a bad credit rating it can seem like it’s virtually impossible to get a credit card. While it’s not impossible, it will take some work and creativity on your part.

Here is some straightforward credit card advice for getting a credit card if you have a low FICO score.

  • Use a Secured Credit Card. If you aren’t able to get a traditional credit card, you might consider a secured credit card. A secured credit card is actually similar to a debit card because you can only use the card to purchase in amounts up to the amount you’ve previously put on deposit with the card company. So, for example, you might place $500 on deposit with that company, and you’ll be issued a card that lets you purchase up to $500. As you pay down the card balance you’ll be able to purchase again, up to that same $500 limit. These cards might not help you improve your low FICO score directly, but they can give you much of the convenience associated with traditional credit cards.
  • Get a Store Credit Card. In many cases it’s easier to obtain a store credit card then it is a bank issued Visa or MasterCard. Store credit cards are more limited, of course, because they only let you purchase at the issuing store and generally have a much lower credit limit compared to a bank card. But they do give you the flexibility to shop at that particular store on credit and, perhaps more importantly, store credit cards can help you rebuild your credit score so that you can get a bank issued credit cards later.
  • Get a Co-Signer. If a close friend or family member is willing to cosign with you on a credit card application, then their credit rating will be used together with yours when the application is being evaluated. Your cosigner is jointly liable for any debt you incurred, however, so if you have problems paying off the balance they’ll either be responsible for paying or suffer damage to their own credit rating.
  • Ask Again. If you’ve applied for a credit card but were rejected, you might also want to call the credit card company to discuss your application. If you believe that your application was adversely affected by one or two incidents that contributed to your low FICO score, you may be able to explain your situation and have your application reevaluated.
  • Finally, you should always be working to improve your FICO score. Make sure you don’t make any late payments on any financial obligations you have, and eventually you’ll be able to obtain your own credit card through the traditional application process.

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