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  • Orchard Bank® Classic MasterCards
  • Household Bank Rewards MasterCards

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our best credit cards page for updated offers.

Best HSBC Credit Cards: NerdWallet’s Picks

HSBC specializes in cards for low or no credit. If you struggle to qualify for most credit cards, HSBC can be a real lifesaver. With reasonable rates and rewards possibilities, HSBC credit cards will provide essential aid in your quest for better credit.

Best for the Worst Credit: the Orchard Bank Credit Card

This is a card for people with bad credit or a limited credit history. Unlike other cards of its class, the Orchard Bank credit card won’t send shivers down your spine. It’s offered both secured and unsecured, depending on your credit. The unsecured card is for bad credit, and the secured card is for really bad credit (for a detailed explanation of secured vs. unsecured credit cards, scroll down).

The Orchard Bank unsecured card has an annual fee of $59 with an introductory annual fee of $29 the first year plus a $39 processing fee. This is a little confusing, but it basically means you’ll pay $68 the first year and $59 after that. The secured card has a $35 annual fee (waived the first year) and no processing fee. As with any secured card, you have to make a refundable deposit that will determine your credit limit. In this case, the minimum deposit is $200.

Whether you go with the secured or unsecured card, you can rest assured your purchases will help to build your credit. Orchard reports to the 3 major credit bureaus, so your efforts won’t go unnoticed.

Best Rewards Card for Limited Credit: the Household Bank Credit Card

When you have bad credit, you don’t expect options that yield rewards. It just doesn’t happen. But with the Household Bank credit card, that’s exactly what you’ll get. More specifically, Household offers 2% cash back on everything you buy. It’s rare to find a cash back card with a flat 2% rate, and it’s near-impossible to find cash back for bad credit.

Like the Orchard Bank card, the Household is offered both secured and unsecured. Amazingly enough, both options give you that 2% cash back rate. Household’s rates are a little better, but the cards are a just a tad tougher to qualify for. The unsecured card has an annual fee of $39 (waived the first year) and a 0% introductory APR for the first 9 months. The secured card has a $35 (waived the first year) and a 0% introductory APR for the first 9 months. The minimum deposit for the secured is $200. Neither has a processing fee.

The Household Bank credit card is our favorite card for limited credit, partially because of its more-than-reasonable rates, but mostly because of its unprecedented rewards program. If you build your credit score while earning cash back every time you swipe your card, Household is the way to go.

Secured Vs. Unsecured

When you’re applying for credit cards for bad credit, it’s vital to know the difference between secured and unsecured credit cards. As the name infers, a secured card poses no risk to the issuer. This is because you are not actually borrowing money from anyone but yourself. Generally, applicants make a deposit and are granted a credit line for the deposit amount. If you deposit $200, you’ll be able to hold a balance of up to $200 on your card. Most secured cards allow you to continue adding money over time to increase your credit limit. When you eventually close your account, the deposit money is put back in your hands.

An unsecured credit card is any card that doesn’t require such a deposit. With an unsecured card, you are actually borrowing money that is not yours. If you can qualify for an unsecured card, it means the issuer trusts your credit score enough to expect you to pay off your debts.

In short, secured cards require a deposit and are for people with terrible credit. Unsecured cards do not require a deposit and are for people with better (though perhaps not impeccable) credit.