For people with bad credit scores, getting approved for a credit card without putting down a security deposit is nigh on impossible.
And even when they decide to go the secured card route, the security deposit is usually the same as their card's limit, which means they're not really getting any credit loaned to them at all!
Fortunately, there's a credit card company who's willing to actually offer credit cards to people with less-than-stellar credit scores.
Seven million people across the United States have already taken advantage of Credit One's unsecured credit cards, and a lot of them started with low credit scores.
With an annual revenue of over $450 million in 2016, Credit One is successfully meeting the needs of people who would typically be rejected by most credit card companies.
Another thing people with lousy credit scores usually don't expect to have is the ability to earn cash back on their purchases.
For those who qualify, Credit One even offers cardholders the chance to earn cash back on their spending.
Credit One offers three different card options, and we are taking a good look at each one so you can compare their upsides and downsides before making your choice.
We dug deep to find out how three of Credit One's credit cards stack up against one another and we'll also take a look at what existing customers have to say about the quality of their service.
After you've checked out the perks of each card and the things you need to watch out for, you should be able to make an informed choice on which Credit One card is best for you.
If you've had problems with your credit and you need an unsecured credit card with the opportunity to earn some cash back, Credit One might just have the card for you.
Making unsecured cards available to people with bad credit
Way back in 1984, Credit One was started in California as the First National Bank of Marin.
FNBM was a a full service bank offering a wide range of products like bank accounts, loans, and credit cards.
A little over 10 years later, in 1995, the leaders of the bank realized its most successful products were secured credit cards, so that's what they started focusing on.
Found a home in Vegas. The bank moved from California to Las Vegas in 1998, and officially changed its name to Credit One in 2006.
Credit One has become a prominent member of the Las Vegas business community, and was a founding partner for the NHL's Vegas Golden Knights in their first season.
Low credit score lender. Today, Credit One focuses on providing unsecured credit cards to the subprime market, which means people with damaged credit scores.
FICO credit scores range from 300 at the lowest end, to 850 at the highest.
People with "Fair" (under 700), "Bad" (below 650), or "Very Bad" (below 560) credit scores have typically had very limited options when it comes to credit cards.
Secure a card and rebuild your credit. Usually, their only choice is to put down a security deposit and get a card with a credit limit equal to the amount of the deposit.
Of course, this isn't really getting a line of credit at all, but at least they can start rebuilding their credit score by using their credit responsibly.
Cash back is rare for subprime cards. Since people in low credit score situations are glad to have a credit card at all, the cards they qualify for usually don't bother to offer the opportunity to earn cash back.
Credit One has changed the game. These unwritten rules have been thrown out the window by Credit One.
By offering unsecured cards with cash back earnings to people with low credit scores, Credit One is making credit cards more accessible to those who were excluded in the past.
Credit One has three types of cards, all of which we will look at in detail here:
- Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
- See if you Pre-Qualify in less than 60 seconds
- Receive 1% cash back on eligible purchases, terms apply
- Enjoy more buying power with credit line increase opportunities, a fee may apply
- Choose your monthly payment due date for added convenience, terms apply
- View updates to your Experian credit score with free online access, terms apply
- Intro APRN/A
- Regular APR17.49% - 25.49% Variable
- Annual fee$0 - $99
- Credit levelFair Credit or higher
Popular for those working back from a damaged credit score
Credit One's Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit is exactly what its name suggests.
People with hurting credit scores can apply for the card and get approved, then use it responsibly to start improving their score.
The first step to rebuilding credit. One customer testimonial describes how the Credit One Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit worked for them.
After a messy divorce, the woman found herself suffocating in debt, and lost her home.
She filed for bankruptcy and had no idea where to start rebuilding her credit.
Six months later, she successfully applied for the Credit One Platinum Visa as the first step in her journey to rebuild her credit.
Several years later, she is back on her feet and remarried, with a son about to attend college.
She finishes her testimonial by saying:
Thanks to Credit One, I believe the American Dream is possible and I am excited to see what the future holds.
No security deposit required. Like all of Credit One's credit cards, the Platinum Visa is an unsecured card, so there is no need to put down a deposit to get one.
If you've been declined by other credit card companies due to your poor credit rating, and you need a line of credit to prove your creditworthiness, this card could be for you.
Enjoy a reduced annual fee in year one. Although there isn't a requirement to put down a security deposit, in general, an annual fee is charged for using the Credit One Platinum Visa.
Although the company states the annual fee in the first year is $0–$75, it pays to note that the $0 offer is actually reserved for people with "Excellent" credit.
People with high credit scores have a ton of credit card options, many of them with better terms like higher rewards earnings or big introductory bonus offers.
So, it's not likely there are going to be many people with high credit scores applying for a Credit One card (unless they confuse it with Capital One, which happens all the time!).
Low credit limit for starters. Customers frequently report getting a $300 credit limit, and some complain when the $75 annual fee is taken off automatically when they start.
$300 turns into $225 in actual available funds when $75 is taken off immediately.
Credit limits increase upon qualification. Credit One promises its customers they'll be automatically considered for higher credit limits and will raise their credit limit as soon as the customer qualifies.
Most credit card companies have similar policies to offer a higher credit limit when you qualify for it.
The annual fee increases after year one. After the first year, the annual fee is $0–$99 (so far none of the customer reviews we've come across have mentioned being charged anything less than the $99 amount).
For many accounts, the $99 annual fee is automatically charged to the account in monthly installments of $8.25 each.
There are several credit cards out there with no annual fee. But, as you may have guessed, it's not easy to qualify for them if you're still trying to build up a low score.
In effect, the considerable annual fee is the price Credit One cardholders have to pay for the privilege of having an unsecured card to access credit and rebuild their tattered credit scores.
Free credit score checking lets you see your progress. For people who are using the card to rebuild their scores, another handy feature is a free monthly credit score report.
You can always check the status of your credit score, and watch it rise each month as your credit habits start to improve.
Credit One Platinum Visa holders can earn cash back at 1%
The chance to earn cash back is generally not an option offered to people with low credit scores.
Although the card's earning rate is only average, being able to earn any points at all is a privilege for most cardholders who were issued a card despite their bad credit.
Cash back for low credit. People with the Platinum Visa from Credit One receive 1% cash back on eligible purchases.
The purchases eligible for the 1% offer include gas and groceries, as well as cell phone, internet, cable, and satellite TV expenses.
For people who qualify (presumably due to a high credit rating, which again will be a rare case), 1% cash back on all purchases can be made available with the Platinum Visa.
Customers are racking up the cash back. On its website, Credit One has a live ticker calculating the total cash back paid out to its card members to date.
Currently, it is above $50 million dollars (and counting!).
The cash back shows up each month as a statement credit.
When does Credit One start charging interest on purchases?
Unlike most other credit cards, Credit One often doesn't provide a grace period for paying off your balance.
You'll be charged interest from the moment you purchase, rather than when you carry an unpaid balance into the next billing cycle.
Delays in processing payments. Even if you submit your payment on the day of the purchase, customers say it still takes 5–7 days to process, and you'll be charged interest on those days.
To fast-track a payment and have it processed the next day, customers complain it costs a fee of $9.95.
High APR is a problem when you can't avoid it. For most cards, a cardholder won't have to pay any interest at all by just paying the full balance at the end of every month.
With APRs ranging 19.15–25.24%, Credit One credit cards can be expensive to use, even if you don't carry a balance into the next billing cycle.
Choose your own payment date. Once every six months, you can change the due date of your payment, up to six days before or after the regular date.
Consider a secured card before signing up for the Credit One Platinum Visa
If your priority is to repair your credit score, you may want to consider a secured credit card as a cheaper alternative to a Credit One card.
Rather than paying the big annual fee, you can find a secured card with no fee (or a lower fee) and put a deposit down.
Build your score and get your money back. Continue to use your secured card responsibly and before you know it, your score will be lifted out of the subprime range.
When you graduate to an unsecured card (hopefully with no annual fee), you can get your deposit back.
If you want to improve that credit score of yours to qualify faster to get your security deposit back, a small personal loan just might help.
- Apply Now for a New Credit Card
- Compare Cards for All Credit Ranges
- Qualified applicants will receive exclusive benefits such as 1% cash back rewards on all purchases, no annual fee, and a competitive APR. Terms apply.
- Get double cash back rewards at the NASCAR.com Superstore, terms apply.
- Find out if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score. It's fast, easy, and secure.
- Zero Fraud Liability ensures that your account is protected against unauthorized charges.
- Enjoy more buying power with credit line increase opportunities, a fee may apply.
- Take advantage of free online access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary. Terms apply.
- Intro APRN/A
- Regular APR17.49% - 25.49% Variable
- Annual fee$0 - $99
- Credit levelBad Credit or higher
A card that helps auto racing fans with low credit scores get in the driver's seat
Credit One has a partnership with the popular car racing circuit known as NASCAR (the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing).
In addition to partnering on a credit card with NASCAR, Credit One has also sponsored cars and drivers: The Credit One logo has been blazoned on a car in over a dozen races.
The Official NASCAR Visa is also an unsecured card offered to people with lower credit scores.
This one is specially for NASCAR fans who buy a lot of official NASCAR merchandise.
Patriotic NASCAR fans can choose between a design sporting the red-white-and-blue of the American flag flying high, or one with a Credit One branded car in the race lead.
Earn double cash back when spending at NASCAR.com
NASCAR has an online superstore where its loyal fans can purchase gear, like t-shirts, hats, model cars, and tailgating supplies featuring their favorite drivers.
If they go online and use their Official NASCAR Visa, the cash back rewards are doubled from the regular 1% rate.
Like the Platinum Visa, the NASCAR Visa offers 1% cash back as a statement credit on eligible purchases.
More limited earning categories. Unlike the Platinum Visa, the eligible purchases are only for gas and automotive purchases.
People who qualify could get 1% cash back on absolutely everything they purchase.
Since there will be people with good credit specifically interested due to the NASCAR perks, there will probably be more who would qualify for 1% on everything, versus those with Credit One Platinum Visas for Rebuilding Credit.
Does the NASCAR Visa have the same terms as the Platinum Visa?
The lowest APR is lower. Perhaps because Credit One wants to attract people with better credit ratings to apply for the NASCAR Visa, it is possible to qualify for an APR as low as 17.24%.
It's close to two full percentage points lower than the lowest APR available for the Platinum Visa (19.15%).
The highest APR offered by both cards is identical, at 25.24%.
Pay the same annual fees. Credit One also charges the same $0–$99 annual fee for the NASCAR Visa, with the $0–$75 reduced rate for year one.
There are no balance transfers available for any of Credit One's credit cards, so balance transfer fees do not apply.
If you're looking for a good card for balance transfers, there are a number of cards designed to let you transfer a balance and pay it off during their 0% APR intro period.
Other fees are quite high. For all of Credit One's cards, late payments are charged up to $37 and returned payments can be $35.
Depending on the offer you get, a cash advance can cost either $5 (or 8%, whichever is greater), or $10 (or 3%, whichever is greater).
Adding a second authorized user to a Credit One card will cost $19 a year.
Look closely at your offer when you apply
When you apply for a Credit One card, you'll be offered one of six cash back earning packages.
For the NASCAR card, there are two possibilities.
You could be offered the package where you earn double at the NASCAR store and 1% on all other purchases.
Or, you could be offered 1% on only gas and automotive purchases and 2% on NASCAR purchases through the NASCAR store.
Difficult to recoup the annual fee with cash back. There's a big difference between these two options when it comes to your ability to earn points—especially considering you have to spend $10,000 at the 1% earning rate to recoup your $99 annual fee.
The Cash Back Rewards Visa
- See if you Pre-Qualify in less than 60 seconds—without affecting your credit score. It's fast, easy, and secure.
- Get 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases including gas, groceries, and services such as mobile phone, internet, cable and satellite TV. Terms apply.
- This is a fully functional, unsecured credit card—not a debit card, prepaid card, or secured credit card with deposit requirements.
- Credit One Bank automatically monitors every account for credit line increase opportunities each month. We'll notify you as soon as you're eligible for a higher credit line. A fee may apply.
- Take advantage of free online access to your Experian credit score and credit report summary so you can track the key factors impacting your credit health. Terms apply.
- Zero Fraud Liability protects you if your card is ever lost or stolen. Rest easy knowing you won't be held responsible for unauthorized charges.
- Make payments, see recent transactions, and update your account preferences all from the palm of your hand with the Credit One Bank mobile app
- Carry a card that makes you smile by choosing from over 20 unique card designs in Credit One Bank's card gallery. A fee may apply.
- Intro APRN/A
- Regular APR17.49% - 25.49% Variable
- Annual fee$0 - $99
- Credit levelBad Credit or higher
The best for earning cash back for people with slightly better credit scores
The credit score you'll need to qualify for the Credit One Cash Back Rewards Visa is a bit higher than the "Fair" and "Bad" scores qualifying for the previous cards.
You'll need a "Good" credit score (700 or higher) to get approved for this one.
If your credit score doesn't qualify you for the Cash Back version of the Credit One Visa, you can start with the Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit and build your score.
Once your score is high enough, you can request an upgrade to the Cash Back Rewards Visa.
Earn 1% on everything, not just limited eligible expenses
Everyone who gets approved for the Credit One Cash Back Rewards card gets the same cash back offer, which is the one where people earn 1% cash back on all purchases.
As with the other cards, you'll have to spend at least $10,000 to make back the $99 annual fee at the 1% rate.
It will be a lot easier when you're not restricted to earning cash back when you spend on a limited number of expense categories.
But compared to other cash back cards, it's still difficult to rack up a lot of points with the Cash Back Rewards card.
Do Credit One cards like the Cash Back Rewards Visa have security features?
Since all of Credit One's credit cards (including the Cash Back Rewards card) are Visa cards, they all come with the security features Visa is known for.
You're covered for fraud. There is a $0 fraud liability coverage included with the cards in case someone makes unauthorized purchases.
Feel protected when you travel. If you book travel expenses on a Credit One Visa, you get travel accident coverage and waiver insurance in case you get in an accident with a rented car.
Prequalify for the Credit One Cash Rewards Visa
If you're considering signing up for the Credit One Cash Rewards Visa, you can find out if you qualify without taking a hit on your credit score.
The online application to prequalify asks for information, like your income and your social security number.
Offers on hand in just a minute. According to the website, in less than 60 seconds you'll find out if you're approved and the card terms Credit One is offering.
You'll know whether or not you qualify for the Cash Back Rewards Visa or if you have to settle for the Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit.
When you choose the best card you're offered, you'll be able to go through the full online application process.
Check the mail for a pre-approved offer. Many people who sign up for a Credit One credit card start by receiving a pre-approval offer in the mail.
When you get a pre-approved mail offer, go to the "Accept Pre-approved Offer" page on the Credit One website.
Enter the code found on your offer and your social security number and you'll get the list of cards you qualify for.
For customers with low credit scores, a Credit One Visa could help you rebound
Since 1998, I've been providing consumers tools and solutions to effectively manage their financial woes, and I've also been listening to a lot of them talk about the ups and downs they've had with various banks and institutions.
That's why I know for a fact that being denied the privilege of using a credit card can be extremely frustrating.
When you suffer from a low credit score, your options are seriously limited.
That's why Credit One should be applauded for offering credit card options to low-credit-score applicants without requiring a deposit.
The cash back earning rates with Credit One Visas can be modest.
But when you consider the fact that many of their customers normally wouldn't even qualify for a credit card at all, it's easy to understand.
Seven million Americans have signed up for a Credit One Visa, and together they've already earned over $50 million in cash back.
Thanks to Credit One, low-credit-score individuals who were left out in the past can now get the credit they need.
More than that, now they can repair their scores while earning some cash back each time they shop or pay.
Do you have a Credit One Card?
How has the company worked out for you so far?
Any great tips (or stories) to share with the rest of us?
Let us know in the comments below!