The Best Credit Cards for People Who Are Bad With Money

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Some people just aren’t cut out for having credit cards. If you’re a shopaholic with a penchant for overcharging, or if you routinely skip your bill payments, then a new card is the last thing you want to add to your wallet. Missing bills or maxing out your credit cards will only tank your credit score and drain your finances further.

But if you’re determined to change your ways, a new credit card could help you slash your debt, rebuild your credit, save money on fees, or stockpile rewards.

Here are some of the best credit cards available to people who need a little extra help revamping their bad financial habits:

For People Who Keep Paying Late

The Citi Simplicity Card: If your finances are so disorganized that you keep accidentally missing bill payments by a few days or more, the Citi Simplicity card could help you avoid steep late charges and an unaffordable APR. Unlike most credit cards, the Citi Simplicity card doesn’t charge a late fee when you repeatedly pay late. It also doesn’t charge a penalty rate, making it a much safer choice for cardholders who are at risk of losing or forgetting a bill. Many cards, by contrast, charge penalty rates as high as 29 percent or more. You need to have good credit to qualify, though, so if you’ve repeatedly missed loan payments by 30 days or more, you may not be approved.

Runners Up:

  • For cardholders who qualify, the PenFed Promise Visa from Pentagon Federal Credit Union is even more forgiving. It doesn’t charge a late fee, a returned payment fee, or any other kind of fee, nor does it charge a penalty rate. The only problem? The PenFed card is only available to a select group. To qualify, you or a family member must be a member of the military, work for the U.S. government or be a member of a participating organization.
  • Discover also waives late fees on all of its credit cards, including the Discover It card and the Discover Miles Card... But only the first time you pay late. You’ll have to pay up to $37 per bill if you repeatedly miss payments.

For People With Too Much Debt

The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard: For cardholders looking to shave down a pile of debt, the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard offers one of the best balance transfer deals around.

It makes it easier to quickly pare down debt by waiving a balance transfer fee on every transferred balance. Depending on how much you owe, that could potentially save you hundreds of dollars in fees. Most cards, by contrast, charge balance transfer fees as high as 3 to 5 percent. The Ring MasterCard also gives you up to 15 months to chip away at a transferred balance before the card’s standard rate kicks in.  

Runners Up:

The Chase Slate card and the BankAmericard MasterCard also temporarily waive their balance transfer fees, but the waivers are just one-time promotions. Both Slate and BankAmericard cardholders have just 60 days after opening their accounts to transfer their balances, fee free.

For People Who Need an Incentive to Be Good

The Citi Double Cash Card: If you usually revolve your balances from month to month, you not only have to pay interest on your purchases, you also run the risk of accumulating more debt than you can afford especially if you only pay the minimum amount due. The Citi Double Cash card helps cardholders break that expensive habit by offering 2 percent cash back on every purchase that’s paid in full. Purchases that haven’t been paid off, by contrast, earn just 1 percent cash back.

Runner Up:

The Journey Student Rewards credit card from Capital One also rewards good behavior by offering up to 1.25 percent cash back on purchases when you pay your monthly bill on time. The student card also offers a higher credit limit after just five on-time payments.

For People Rebounding From Bad Credit

The Discover it secured credit card: Bad credit doesn’t mean you have to leave credit card rewards behind. The Discover it secured card offers cardholders who are building or rebuilding credit a competitive rewards program that’s just as generous as the rewards programs offered to cardholders with higher scores. Secured cardholders are awarded up to 2 percent cash-back on restaurant and gas station purchases and 1 percent cash-back on everything else. The Discover it secured card also offers a one-time 100 percent match of rewards earnings after the first year.

Runners Up:

  • Unlike most secured cards, the Capital One Secured MasterCard doesn’t make you pay a huge deposit upfront. Instead, you could pay a deposit as low as $49 (depending on your credit history) and be awarded an initial credit limit of $200. It also offers a higher credit limit after just five on-time payments.
  • If you don’t want to bother with a secured credit card, Credit One offers one of the only unsecured subprime cards available without excessive fees. The Credit One Platinum card charges up to $99 in annual fees, but it doesn’t charge monthly maintenance or program fees. It also charges a comparatively low APR, ranging from 16.15 percent to 24.65 percent.