The Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

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You may have heard that having a good credit score is something you should strive for, but what does that mean? Well, our credit score is a number between 300 and 900, the higher the number, the better our credit score is. This is important since we require a high credit score if we ever plan on getting a major loan in the future such as a mortgage or car financing. If you’re not sure what your credit score is, check it for free with Borrowell.

Having a low credit score will also mean that we won’t qualify for some of the best travel credit cards in Canada or the best cash back credit cards in Canada. In fact, we’ll likely have limited access to any type of credit which could be problematic. The good news is that if you want to rebuild your credit score, all you need to do is get one of the best credit cards for bad credit.

 Guaranteed approvalAnnual feeInterest rate
Home Trust Secured Visa Card95%+No19.99%
Scotiabank Value Visa CardNo$2912.99%
Refresh Financial Secured VisaYes$4917.99%
Capital One Guaranteed Secured MastercardYes$5919.80%

Home Trust Secured Visa Card

  • No annual fee
  • $500 minimum deposit
  • 19.99% interest rate
  • 95%+ approval rate

What’s appealing about the Home Trust Secured Visa Card is that it comes with no annual fee. There’s a $500 minimum deposit required, but having funds secured is typical for the best credit cards for bad credit in Canada. These security funds can’t be used to pay your monthly balance, but you would get that money back if you ever close your account.

As you make payments on a regular basis, your credit score will slowly go up. Don’t expect it to go from poor to excellent overnight, think of it more of a slow burn as you learn to use your credit responsibly. When applying for this card, there is a hard check done on your account, but your credit score is not the only factor in determining if you’re approved. This card has an approval rating over 95% so it’s a great choice if you’re looking to take control of your credit.

Scotiabank Value Visa Card

  • $29 annual fee
  • 12.99% interest rate
  • 0.99% interest rate on balance transfers for the first 6 months
  • Up to 25% off at participating Avis car rental locations

The Scotiabank Value Visa Card is meant for people who have a credit score in the fair to good range but are still struggling to be approved for higher tier cards. You don’t get many benefits, but you do have an optional balance transfer that comes with an interest rate of 0.99% for six months. Once the promotional period ends, you’ll be paying 12.99% interest which is still relatively low and one of the reasons why this card is one of the best balance transfer credit cards in Canada. As you can imagine, this is a great opportunity to eliminate any outstanding credit card debt you may have.

Even though the card comes with an annual fee, the only extra benefit you get is up to 25% off at participating Avis car rental locations which is nice, but nothing special. The Scotiabank Value Visa Card is arguably the best credit card to rebuild credit since there’s no security deposit so you’re forced to be better with your money.

Refresh Financial Secured Visa

  • $49 annual fee
  • $200 minimum deposit
  • 17.99% interest rate
  • Guaranteed approval

What’s interesting about the Refresh Financial Secured Visa is that it’s a no credit check credit card. Normally, a hard check is done whenever you apply for new credit which results in a 10 point drop in your credit score, but not with this card since you’re guaranteed approval.

Although the annual fee of $49 is higher compared to the Home Trust Secured Visa Card, the minimum deposit is much lower at $200 compared to $500. The interest rate is also slightly lower with this card at 17.99%. When you apply for this card, you also get access to Refresh f.i.t. which is an online course that will educate you on how to make smarter decisions with your money. Oh, you also get $100 for every referral.

Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard

  • $59 annual fee
  • $75 minimum deposit
  • 19.80% interest rate
  • Guaranteed approval

Capital One always strives to help Canadians rebuild their credit with their Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard. You’re guaranteed to get approved for this card and you only need $75 as a security deposit which is why it’s one of the best credit cards for bad credit. That said, you can increase your deposit to get access to additional credit. 

Even though the card is guaranteed, you do need to meet some basic conditions. You need to be at least the age of majority in your province or territory. You haven’t applied for a Capital One account more than once in the last 30 days or had a Capital One account that was not in good standing in the last year. You don’t have an existing or pending account with Capital One and you have the security funds available.


  • No annual fee
  • 1% cash back bonus for 90 days with CASHMONEY referral code
  • 0.5% cash-back on all purchases
  • Automated savings goals
  • Round up each purchase to the nearest $1, $5, or $10
  • Real-time spending insights

KOHO is an interesting choice as one of the credit cards for bad credit in Canada. Although it’s an excellent no fee credit card in Canada and it earns you cash back, you won’t be able to rebuild your credit with card. Why do you ask? Because KOHO is a prepaid credit card, it doesn’t report to any of the credit bureaus in Canada. It’s still a good choice as it’s easy to apply for and once you load up your funds, you can use them for any purchases where Visa is accepted. To be clear, with KOHO, you can spend any money that you’ve loaded onto the card. There’s no security deposit required.

Why credit cards for bad credit matter

The reality is that we don’t live in a cash only society. Having access to credit is vital to everyone even if they have a bad credit score. You can’t make an online purchase without a credit card. There are also many services such as hotels that require a credit card for temporary charges.

Just because you have a bad credit score doesn’t mean you don’t deserve access to a credit card. It definitely makes sense for credit card providers to ask for a security deposit or to give you a low limit. But, to cut you off completely doesn’t make sense. Many lenders want to work with you as they know a good customer experience can lead to future business.

How to rebuild your credit score

First off, check your credit score for free with Borrowell on a regular basis so you know how you’re doing. I don’t mean every day, but you want to check your progress. After checking your credit score, you should get one of the credit cards for bad credit because it’s the easiest way to improve your credit score.

Your credit score is a number between 300-900. The higher your number, the better your credit score is. The majority of your credit score is based on how you spend with your credit cards. By having one of the best credit cards to rebuild credit, you can slowly improve your credit score over time. There’s no set time of when your credit score will increase, but know that if you’re responsible with your spending, your credit score will go up. Check out my guide on building a good credit score for additional tips.

Final thoughts

Getting one of the best credit cards for bad credit makes perfect sense if you want to improve your credit score. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed if you’ve made money mistakes in the past. Recognizing that you need improvement is the start, now it’s time to get things back on track.

The Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

About Barry Choi

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who frequently makes media appearances. His blog Money We Have is one of Canada’s most trusted sources when it comes to money and travel. You can find him on Twitter:@barrychoi


  1. James Ingles on May 30, 2020 at 4:21 PM

    Does Canada have a card similar to the “Discover it” secured they have in the USA? The cashback on that card looks pretty awesome for a secured card.

    Discover it:

    • Barry.Choi on May 30, 2020 at 5:31 PM


      Nothing like that up here.

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