Do you have a low credit score but still need a credit card to help you manage your finances? The good news is that you still have plenty of options depending on what you need. These are the best credit cards for bad credit.
In case you didn’t know, every Canadian has a credit score assigned to them that falls between 300 and 900. The higher your number, the better your credit score. Having a good credit score is important not only to get a credit card or but also if you’ll want to get a loan in the future.  Generally speaking, if your credit score is at 660 or above, you won’t have any issues getting approved for more credit. However, once your credit score falls below 650, then that’s where you may start getting denied. Keep in mind that your credit score can affect anything from financing a vehicle to renting an apartment, so it’s in your best interest to increase your credit score by using one of the best credit cards for bad credit in Canada.

Summary of Canada’s Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit 

Credit CardBest ForTypeCard FeaturesAnnual FeeMore Info
Refresh Financial Secured CardImproving credit scoreSecuredNo credit check or co-signer required$48.95Learn More
RBC Visa Classic Low Rate OptionLow interestUnsecuredFuel savings at Petro Canada, extended warranty insurance, 12.99% APR$20Learn More
Capital One® Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard®Guaranteed approvalUnsecuredGuaranteed approval, $300-$7,000 credit limit, 14.9% APR$79Learn More
Home Trust Secured VisaHigh credit limitSecuredHigh approval rate, $5,000 to $10,000 credit limit, 19.99% APR$0Learn More
Capital One® Guaranteed Secured Mastercard®Best overall secured credit cardSecuredGuaranteed approval, $300-$7,000 credit limit, 19.8% APR$59Learn More

Best Card for Improving Credit Score

Winner: Refresh Financial Secured Card

Apply Now

The Refresh Financial Secured Card is a solid option if you have no credit history or a bad credit score. It doesn’t require a credit check or a co-signer, meaning getting approved is essentially guaranteed. While you have to be the age of majority in your province/territory to apply, there’s also no minimum income or credit score required. You’ll need to secure the credit card with your own funds, but once you’ve done that, you can choose a credit limit that suits your financial situation. The credit limit ranges between $200 to $10,000, and the interest rate on purchases is 17.99% — considerably lower than other credit cards. Even better, you can work towards boosting your credit score by having this card in your wallet. Refresh Financial makes monthly reports to the TransUnion and Equifax, so if used responsibly, you could see your numbers increase in as little as 30 days.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $48.95 ($12.95/annual fee + $3/month)
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: None
  • Credit Score Required: Bad to Poor
  • Welcome Offer: None
  • Additional Perks: None
  • Other Card Info: Purchase APR: 17.99%
Learn more about the Refresh Financial Secured Card

*This card is owned and issued by DirectCash Bank pursuant to license by Visa International. The Visa Brand is a registered trademark of Visa International.

Best Low-Interest Unsecured Credit Card 

Winner: RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Card

Apply Now

If you know you’re going to be carrying a balance, you should apply for the RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option since it has an interest rate of 12.99%. This rate is lower than all the other unsecured and secured credit cards on our list but note that 12.99% is still a fair amount of interest to be paying. More importantly, if you’re carrying a balance, you could run into cash flow issues if an emergency arises – which is why it’s recommended to always pay off your bill in full every month.

With RBC, you may not qualify for the card if you have a low credit score, but they claim to look at your overall financial picture (e.g. your savings, income to debt ratio and more) when deciding on whether to approve you for the card or not. If you are approved, you get benefits like purchase protection, zero fraud liability, and 3¢ off each litre of gas plus 20% extra Petro Points at Petro-Canada gas stations.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $20
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: $15,000
  • Credit Score Required: Fair-Good
  • Welcome Offer: None
  • Additional Perks: Purchase protection, zero fraud liability, gas discount and extra Petro Points at Petro-Canada gas stations
  • Other Card Info: Purchase APR: 12.99% | Cash Advance APR: 12.99%
Learn more about RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option

Best Guaranteed Unsecured Credit Card for Bad Credit

Winner: The Capital One® Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard®

Apply Now

Capital One has always strived to help Canadians improve their credit score, which is why the Capital One® Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard® is such a popular option. In fact, it’s our top choice for the best credit card for guaranteed unsecured credit card approval. As the name implies, you’re guaranteed to be approved as long as:

  • You can provide $75-$300 in security funds
  • Be at least the age of majority in your province or territory of residence
  • Not applied for another Capital One product more than once in the last 30 days
  • Not had an existing account, pending application or Capital One account that was in good standing in the last year

Once approved, Capital One will let you know how much you need to deposit in security funds and they’ll assign you a credit limit. As you make your payments on time, Capital One will report that to a credit bureau. If your account is in good standing, your credit score will slowly increase.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $79
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: None
  • Credit Score Required: Bad to Poor
  • Welcome Offer: None
  • Additional Perks: None
  • Other Card Info: Purchase APR: 14.90% | Cash Advance APR: 19.80% | Balance Transfer APR: 14.90%
Learn more about The Capital One® Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard®

Best High Credit Limit Secured Credit Card for Bad Credit

Winner: Home Trust Secured Visa

Apply Now

If you don’t qualify for any of the unsecured cards or the Capital One® Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard®, then the Home Trust Secured Visa may be your last choice. This isn’t a bad thing, as this card typically has a high approval rating.

Since this is a secured card, you do need to deposit some funds to be able to use it. The good news is that your credit limit can range anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 so this could be a good option for you if you plan on making a large purchase in the near future.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $0
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: None
  • Credit Score Required: Bad to Poor
  • Welcome Offer: None
  • Additional Perks: None
  • Other Card Info: Purchase APR: 19.99% | Cash Advance APR: 19.99%
Learn more about The Home Trust Secured Visa

* This credit card product is not available in Quebec


Best Overall: Guaranteed Approval Secured Credit Card for Bad Credit

Winner: Capital One® Guaranteed Secured Mastercard®

Apply Now

The Capital One® Guaranteed Secured Mastercard® is the best overall secured credit card because of its brand. As mentioned, Capital One has always made it a point to help Canadians with their credit and this card is designed for people with lower credit scores.

Assuming you meet the conditions, you’re guaranteed to be approved. As you increase your security funds with this card, your credit limit will increase too. This is a great way to help you become more comfortable with how you use your credit card.

The Details:

  • Annual Fee: $59
  • Minimum Income Eligibility: None
  • Credit Score Required: Bad to Poor
  • Welcome Offer: None
  • Additional Perks: None
  • Other Card Info: Purchase APR: 19.80% | Cash Advance APR: 19.80%
Learn more about The Capital One® Guaranteed Secured Mastercard®

Guaranteed Approval Credit Cards for Bad Credit in Canada

As you may have figured out by now, “guaranteed” can be a bit of a loose term. Credit card providers typically still have some criteria that you must meet. Although those conditions are easy to meet, one small thing could mean your application is denied.

You could try applying with other credit card providers, as every one of them looks at your creditworthiness with their own eyes. But don’t stress, you should be approved for at least one secured credit card.

If you’re not approved, you could still get a credit card such as KOHO, a free pre-paid, reloadable card and integrated app that gives real-time insights into your daily spending. Basically, you can only use what you’ve deposited on your card with KOHO. Since KOHO acts more like a debit card, your credit score won’t increase, but you will at least have access to the Visa network so you can make online purchases or wherever Visa is accepted. Also, you can earn cash back using your KOHO card!

Sign up for KOHO & get an additional 1% cash back for 90 days!

Why Carry a Credit Card If You Have Bad Credit?

Many people wonder if you should carry a credit card if you have bad credit. It’s a legit question since abusing your previous credit cards may have been the reason why you ended up with debt and a bad credit score to begin with. It’s best to abandon all credit cards and go cash, right?

Well, you could do that, but the problem is, you won’t improve your credit score by using cash. The credit monitoring agencies, Equifax and Transunion, can only determine your credit score based on how you use your credit. If you have a bad credit score now and stop using credit cards, then your credit score would never change.

The good news is that there are credit cards designed to help you improve your credit score. It won’t come with any points or many benefits, but your credit score will increase if you use these cards responsibly.

Applying for a Credit Card with a Bad Credit

When choosing the best credit cards for bad credit in Canada, it really comes down to two types of cards: secured and unsecured cards.

  • With a secured credit card for bad credit in Canada, you need to deposit security funds to your account. Since you have bad credit, credit card providers require these funds to show that you’re serious about improving your credit. Generally speaking, the amount you deposit typically corresponds with the credit limit you’re given. You can’t use those funds to pay down your balance, but they will be returned to you if you close your account.
  • Unsecured credit cards for bad credit in Canada are similar to regular credit cards in the sense that no collateral is required for you to use the card. Once approved, the credit card provider will assign you a credit limit that they believe is appropriate for your credit score. That limit may be low, to begin with, but you may qualify for an increased amount later.

If you’re ready to apply for a credit card and you know you have bad credit, start with one of the unsecured cards we have listed. These cards are designed for people who have lower credit scores so don’t bother trying to apply for a credit card that gives you a big welcome bonus. Remember, your goal here is to improve your credit score.

Now let’s say you’re not approved for any unsecured cards. It’s time to turn your attention to a secured credit card. These types of credit cards have a much higher approval record, but there are still a few things you should look out for. The most important thing is arguably the annual fee since you want to keep your costs down, but don’t ignore the interest rate, especially if you know you’re going to carry a balance.

You may not have a ton of options when it comes to the best credit cards for bad credit in Canada, but at least you’ll likely be approved for a card. Once you’ve increased your credit score, consider applying for one of the best credit cards in Canada that offers more benefits.

The Best Credit Cards by Category:

Article comments

2 comments
No name, please. says:

Why are some of these cards even on here? Isn’t this about rebuilding credit? If I had fair to good credit, like RBC’s and Scotiabank’s card requires, I wouldn’t be on this site. BTW, if RBC refuses credit, you’ll have to figure it out yourself. They don’t even bother to let you know you’ve been refused, let alone why. (I know why, but I’m angry at their lack of courtesy in telling me I was refused).

Lisa Jackson says:

Hi there,

I’m sorry you were refused a credit card. I don’t know your circumstances, so I can’t comment on why this happened. However, a good option is to get a secured credit card. By making regular payments, it can help rebuild your credit score. Check out the secured credit cards on our list.