5 of the best credit cards after bankruptcy

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In a Nutshell

Getting a credit card after bankruptcy can feel like a Catch-22 — you need good credit to get approved for many types of credit cards, but it can be hard to establish good credit without a credit card. To help, we’ve uncovered five of the best credit cards after bankruptcy. Whether you’re looking for a flexible security deposit, a higher credit limit or an unsecured credit card, one of these options may help you put your credit back on track.

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This offer is no longer available on our site: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

This offer is no longer available on our site: Discover it® Secured.

Bankruptcy can cause a big hit to your credit scores, which can make it more difficult to get approved for many credit cards and loans in the future. But by using the right card responsibly after bankruptcy, you can start to get your credit back on the right track.

Here are five cards that may help, depending on your situation and needs.

Best for cash back rewards: Discover it® Secured 

Here’s why: Everyone could use a little extra cash, especially after bankruptcy. The Discover it® Secured credit card offers 2% cash back on combined gas station and restaurant purchases on up to $1,000 each quarter (then 1%).

You’ll also earn 1% cash back on all other purchases, and there’s no annual fee. As an added bonus, Discover will match all of your earned cash back at the end of your first account year.

Though this card features several perks, it comes with a pretty big asterisk: If you don’t pay your purchases on time and in full, you’ll be faced with a high variable purchase APR of 22.99%.

It’s important to note this is a secured card that requires a refundable security deposit equal to the credit line you’re approved for with the card. After eight months, Discover will review your account. If you’ve been making on-time payments and otherwise using the card responsibly, Discover may return your security deposit and upgrade your account to an unsecured line of credit.

Read more: How do secured credit cards work?

For more information, check out our editorial review of the Discover it® Secured credit card.

Best for a flexible security deposit: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

From our partner

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

From cardholders in the last year

Here’s why: This card offers flexible terms and several perks, all for no annual fee.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard® users can make a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 to qualify for a credit limit that starts at $200.

After making five monthly payments on time, you can get access to a higher credit limit.

Keep in mind that Capital One won’t consider applications for people with unresolved bankruptcies, so make sure your bankruptcy is discharged before applying for the card.

What is a bankruptcy discharge?

Otherwise, there’s no annual fee and no foreign transaction fee.

Take a look at our editorial review of the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® for more details on its terms.

Best for military members and their families: Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards® Secured Credit Card

Here’s why: Military members, veterans and their families emerging from a bankruptcy can take advantage of the card’s low variable APR (18%) on purchases and balance transfers, plus a few bells and whistles that elevate this card above the rest.

Here’s an important note before we get into the benefits — the eligibility requirements to apply for nRewards® Secured Credit Card are strict. You’ll need to be a member of Navy Federal Credit Union, which is open to all branches of the U.S. armed forces, veterans, Department of Defense officials and their families.

Cardholders earn one point per $1 spent on purchases. Points can be redeemed for cash back, statement credits, gift cards and merchandise. There are no annual fees or foreign transaction fees, too. Plus cell phone protection and a rental car collision damage waiver also come standard.

After six months, Navy Federal will review your account activity and may upgrade you to an unsecured credit card and return your deposit.

Learn more about the best credit cards for active-duty military personnel.

Best for avoiding a credit check: OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card

From our partner

OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Here’s why: There’s no credit check necessary for the OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card application process. Instead, your credit limit is determined based on your refundable security deposit, starting at $200. For those focused on credit building after bankruptcy, this benefit is especially enticing, because a hard credit check can ding your credit a bit.

You’ll have to pay an annual fee of $35 for the card. Also, while OpenSky may raise your credit limit even if you don’t make an additional deposit, it won’t upgrade your account to unsecured.

Read our review of the OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card for more thoughts on this option.

Best for unsecured credit: Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards

From our partner
See Details, Rates & Fees

Here’s why: The Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards is an unsecured card, so there’s no need to put down a security deposit.

Cardholders can also receive automatic reviews for a credit limit increase, although a fee may apply. Based on their credit history, cardholders can also earn 1% cash back on select purchases or all purchases. Plus you can see if you prequalify without affecting your credit.

Take note, you may have to pay an annual fee, which will be charged to your account, reducing your initial credit limit. The annual fee is $0 - $99.

Read our full editorial review of the Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® with Cash Back Rewards.

How we picked these cards

A bankruptcy usually has a strong negative effect on credit scores, so we focused our research on options that remain accessible to people who may have serious derogatory marks on their credit reports. We also wanted to select cards that have features that can help you rebuild credit once you start using them responsibly.

It may be tough to qualify for a standard unsecured credit card after bankruptcy. For that reason, we primarily picked secured cards, and the one unsecured card we chose offers pre-qualification. It’s typically easier to be approved for a secured card, so the secured cards listed can be valuable to people dealing with the effects of bankruptcy who are also trying to rebuild their credit.

We wanted to highlight features that could help you to rebuild credit effectively. The basic structure of secured cards makes them useful tools after a bankruptcy. But it’s the possibility of an increased credit limit (and so, a potentially lower credit utilization rate — the amount of money you borrow compared to your total credit limit), or a change from secured to an unsecured credit line, that can help you build a credit history that appeals to lenders.

How to make the most of your credit cards after bankruptcy

Using your new credit card responsibly — most importantly, by making on-time payments and not using too much of your credit — can help you start restoring your credit after bankruptcy. If you can pay off the card on time and in full each month, then you’ll steer clear of interest charges.

Read more: 5 ways to build credit after a bankruptcy

Planning for financial emergencies can also help keep you out of credit card debt. If you created a budget during a pre-bankruptcy credit-counseling session, that could be a good place to start. Then consider opening a savings account, so that you have funds to cover unexpected costs. And get into the habit of regularly reviewing your credit reports to monitor your improvement and check for any errors.

Improving your credit after bankruptcy may take some time. But with the right card and financial know-how, you can get the process started — and with enough positive information added to your credit history over a long enough period of time, your credit scores should start to improve.