CREDIT CARDSCREDIT CARDSBEST CREDIT CARDS FOR A 600 CREDIT SCORE OF FEBRUARY 2024
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Best Credit Cards for a 600 Credit Score of February 2024


Feb 23, 2024
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NerdWallet's Best Credit Cards for a 600 Credit Score of February 2024

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Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

Our pick for

Rewards and upgrading

Our pick for

No credit check and easy account management

Our pick for

No-deposit option

Our pick for

No credit check or bank account required

Our pick for

No upfront deposit or credit check

FULL LIST OF EDITORIAL PICKS: BEST CREDIT CARDS FOR A 600 CREDIT SCORE

Confirm details on issuer's website before applying.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Our pick for: Rewards and upgrading

Like other secured credit cards for people building or rebuilding credit, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card requires a cash security deposit. Unlike most others, it offers rewards. But what really makes it stand out from the competition is its upgrade possibilities. The issuer has a process in place for automatically reviewing accounts for possible transition to an unsecured card. Read our review. 

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our pick for: Rewards and upgrading

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card offers an impressive combination of features for those with poor credit. A deposit is required, but in exchange you get a $0-annual-fee card that reports to all three credit bureaus (see see rates and fees); an automatic credit limit review after six months; and a possible upgrade path to an unsecured Capital One card. Oh, and 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, plus 1.5% back on all other purchases, which equals what you'd find on many unsecured cards. Read our review.

Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: No credit check and easy account management

This card has no minimum deposit requirement, charges neither an annual fee nor interest, and doesn't require a credit check, and you can automate your payments so you're never late. But to get it, you must be a Chime® banking customer, which is an extra hoop to jump through — and which comes with its own considerations when it comes to customer service. Read our review.

Chime says the following:

  • The secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is issued by The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. Please see the back of your card for its issuing bank.

  • To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.

  1. Based on a representative study conducted by Experian®, members who made their first purchase with Credit Builder between June 2020 and October 2020 observed an average FICO® Score 8 increase of 30 points after approximately 8 months. On-time payment history can have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score.

  2. On-time payment history may have a positive impact on your credit score. Late payment may negatively impact your credit score. Chime will report your activities to Transunion®, Experian®, and Equifax®. Impact on your credit may vary, as Credit scores are independently determined by credit bureaus based on a number of factors including the financial decisions you make with other financial services organizations.

  3. Money added to Credit Builder will be held in a secured account as collateral for your Credit Builder Visa card, which means you can spend up to this amount on your card. This is money you can use to pay off your charges at the end of every month.

  4. Out of network ATM withdrawal and over the counter advance fees may apply. See here for details: https://www.chime.com/chime-credit-builder-visa-credit-card-agreement/

Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: No-deposit option

The Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card could be a reasonable option for someone building or rebuilding credit who doesn't want to tie up money in a security deposit. Not everyone will qualify, but the issuer lets you see whether you do before you apply. Read our review.

OpenSky® Plus Secured Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: No credit check + no annual fee

Like the regular OpenSky card, the OpenSky® Plus Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn't require a credit check or a bank account. This card, however, charges an annual fee of $0 — at the cost of a higher minimum deposit and a higher interest rate. Read our review.

Self Visa® Secured Card

Our pick for: No upfront deposit or credit check

The Self Visa® Secured Card offers a unique path to building credit. Unlike typical secured cards, it doesn't require an upfront security deposit or a credit check. But it does make you jump through some hoops that other secured cards don't. You start by making payments on a secured loan, which become savings that you can use for your deposit. It's complicated, but for those struggling to establish a credit history, it can be efficient and effective. Read our review.

Grow Credit Mastercard

Our pick for: No credit check, annual fee, security deposit or APR

The Grow Credit Mastercard doesn’t require a security deposit or a credit check. It allows you to establish a credit history by paying for qualifying subscriptions like Netflix or Spotify, and it doesn’t charge any interest or fees. There's no APR because you cannot carry a balance on the card. Read our review.

• • •

UNSECURED CARDS FOR BAD CREDIT

Although there are some exceptions, such as the Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card, unsecured credit cards marketed to people with credit scores of 600 or lower generally charge high fees and high interest while offering low credit limits. The main advantages to such cards are that approval is usually pretty easy and that you don't have to provide an upfront security deposit. But the fees you're charged in the first couple of years can easily top the $200 minimum deposit on many secured cards. And unlike a security deposit, which you can get back if you upgrade the card or close it in good standing, these fees are gone for good once you pay them.

NerdWallet generally doesn't recommend high-fee unsecured cards, but the choice is ultimately yours. Here are some of the better-known unsecured cards for bad credit:

Card

Key details

More information

Reflex® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Annual fee: $75 - $125 intro first year, then $99 - $125

  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0 the first year; after that, $0-$120 annually (up to $10 billed monthly).

  • Credit limit: Initial credit limit of $300-$1,000. You can double your credit limit by making your first six monthly payments on time.

Revvi Visa® Credit Card

  • Program fee: $95, payable before you can begin using your card.

  • Annual fee: $75 for first year, then $48..

  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0 the first year; after that, $99 annually (billed at $8.25 a month).

  • Credit limit: Initial credit limit of $300. You can request an increase after one year, but a fee may apply.

  • Rewards: 1% cash back.

Surge® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Annual fee: $75 - $125 intro first year, then $99 - $125

  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0 the first year; after that, $0-$120 annually (up to $10 billed monthly).

  • Credit limit: Initial credit limit of $300-$1,000. You can double your credit limit by making your first six monthly payments on time.

Total Visa® Credit Card

  • Program fee: $95, payable before you can begin using your card.

  • Annual fee: $75 for first year, then $48..

  • Monthly maintenance fee: $0 the first year; after that, $99 annually (billed at $8.25 a month).

  • Credit limit: Initial credit limit of $300. You can request an increase after one year, but a fee may apply.

  • Rewards: 1% cash back.

HOW TO BUILD CREDIT WITH A CREDIT CARD

Getting approved for a card with a 600 credit score is the just the first step toward building credit to the point where you can qualify for better cards with richer rewards and lower rates and fees. Here's a quick guide to your next steps:

1. Fund the security deposit, if necessary

If you've been approved for a secured credit card, you must pay the security deposit before you can start using the card. Some cards include this step in the upfront application process, but others give you some time to fund the deposit — perhaps 30 days or so. Failure to fund the deposit will usually result in the issuer closing your account. If that happens, your credit-building journey may suffer a double setback: Not only do you not have a card, but the application process may have knocked some points off your score.

2. Use the card — but don't use it too much

Your credit score is essentially designed to answer one question: If you borrow money, can the lender count on you to pay it back as agreed? A major reason a credit card is so effective at building credit is that it allows you to demonstrate responsible borrowing habits on a monthly basis and in multiple ways:

  • If you have access to a line of credit, do you go wild and max out your card, or do you use it sparingly? One of the most important factors in credit scores is credit utilization ratio — how much of your available credit you're using. It's generally advised to keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit. If your credit limit is $300, for example, you'll want to stay under $90. For maximum credit score benefit, try to stay even lower, under 10%.

  • When you do put charges on the card, do you pay your bill on time every month, or do you pay late or miss payments entirely? Payment history is the No. 1 factor in credit scores. If you do nothing else, make sure that you pay your bill by the due date every month. Speaking of which ...

3. Pay your bill on time every month

To avoid a late fee, you must pay at least the minimum amount due (this will be indicated on your statement) by your due date. Payments that are more than 30 days late are reported to the credit bureaus, and this can do serious damage to your credit scores. Ideally, you'll be paying your bill in full, since you're only putting small amounts on the card (see above). And when you pay in full every month, you won't get charged interest.

🤓Nerdy Tip

While you do have to use your card to build credit, you do not have to carry debt from month to month to build credit. That's a pernicious myth. You get all the credit-building benefits just by using the card and paying it off in full each month.

4. Monitor your credit scores

You can get free access to a credit score in a lot of places nowadays. Your card issuer might give you access right from your online account portal. NerdWallet also offers free access to a credit score if you register. There are an array of credit scoring models, so the scores you see may differ from one source to another. But if you're doing what you need to do to improve your credit, you should see all of them moving upward.

5. Upgrade when the time is right

As your credit improves, you'll be able to qualify for better cards. If your scores have moved into the mid-600s, take a look at our best credit cards for fair or average credit. When you're above 700, you're in the range of good to excellent credit, and you can start looking at some of the best credit cards across all categories. Keep in mind also that some of the secured credit cards described on this page have a process to automatically upgrade you to a regular unsecured card after you demonstrate a pattern of responsible use. If your secured card doesn't have upgrade options, you'll have to close your account to get your deposit back.

Last updated on February 23, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet's Credit Cards team selects the best credit cards for a 600 credit score based on overall value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as suitability for specific kinds of consumers. Factors in our evaluation include annual and other fees, deposit requirements for secured cards (both the minimum and maximum allowed), interest rates, whether a card offers an option to upgrade to an unsecured account, the availability of free credit scores and other credit education and tools, reporting to credit bureaus, and other noteworthy features such as a rewards program or the ability to qualify without a credit check. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

About the author

Portrait of author

Paul Soucy

Paul has been the lead editor for NerdWallet's credit cards team since 2015 and for the travel rewards team since 2023. Previously, he worked at USA Today and the Des Moines Register, then built a freelance writing and editing business focused on personal finance topics. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and an MBA. Read more
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