Choose is provided to you as a completely free service, however we may receive a commission from some of the companies we list.

independent comparison

We are independent of all of the products and services we compare.

fair comparison

We order our comparison tables by price or feature and never by referral revenue.

charity donations and climate positive

We donate at least 5% of our profits to charity, and we have a climate positive workforce.

How to find a credit card for a poor score

What is a credit builder credit card?

Credit builder credit cards are designed to rebuild a poor credit score or as a first step for people lacking a credit history. These cards offer credit to those who aren't likely to be accepted for other deals, including: people on low incomes; those who've recently moved to the UK; or those who aren't on the electoral roll. Some are also available to people who've been previously declared bankrupt. To build a good credit history using a credit builder credit card, it's important to never miss repayments and stay within the credit limit.

To reflect the greater risk to providers, credit builder credit cards typically offer high APRs. Paying off spending in full before the end of each month will prevent interest being charged and can help to fix a bad credit rating. Our full guide here has more information on rebuilding a poor credit history and what to look out for when using a credit card.

How to get the best deal

The main purpose for credit builder credit cards is to help people start to improve a credit score. Most have very high APRs so the aim should be to keep debt low and repay in full every month to avoid being charged interest altogether.

APRs and credit limits will vary depending on individual circumstances and some people can expect APRs of over 40%. Some cards offer the opportunity to reduce APRs over time if certain criteria are met including keeping debt within the credit limit and never missing payments.

Proving responsible money management

A credit builder credit card can be the first step to proving responsible money management. Careful money management is necessary to ensure payments can be met and it's important to avoid the temptation to overspend. Meeting all repayments and never going over the credit limit could build up a credit rating over time.

But mismanagement can harm a credit rating further and put people in a worse position than before taking out the credit builder credit card, so it's necessary to check the affordability of repayments before making any purchases.

Paying off borrowing each month

The amount of debt will influence whether it can be paid off before the end of each month. If it's unlikely the debt will be paid off in time, it may be better to reconsider spending on a credit card or to use a lower interest way of borrowing. In order to decide, it's best to work out how long it will take to pay off the debt and which route means paying less interest overall.

0% on purchases for limited credit history

Some providers offer 0% on purchases for a short length of time, but spending on these deals - particularly when trying to rebuild credit - should be approached with caution. The interest-free period is meant to provide a break from extra debt from interest building up and may be a better alternative to borrowing on extremely high interest payday loans for example.

But 0% purchase deals still require a minimum monthly repayment even during the interest-free period. And at the end of the deal, any remaining debt will be charged at a higher APR and minimum repayments will increase. So before spending on 0% interest deals, it's important to calculate how much will need to be paid monthly if repaying the debt in full before the higher APR is introduced. If it's likely debts will roll over beyond the interest free period, it may be better to spend less, use a lower interest credit card for spending, or to use a lower interest way of borrowing.

Compare credit building credit cards