Best Unsecured Credit Card After Bankruptcy?

Posted by CreditCardGuru

newspaper headline for bankruptcyQ: How soon can you get an unsecured credit card after bankruptcy? I’m a few months out and want to rebuild my credit and get one that’s unsecured as soon as possible.

A:Obtaining an unsecured credit card after a bankruptcy is definitely an uphill battle, but it’s not impossible. There are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t randomly apply, instead use this strategy
    Every time you apply for credit (of any form) something called an “inquiry” is recorded on your credit report, information maintained with the credit rating agencies. Having too many of those inquiries can negatively affect your score (until 12 months later, when they are no longer counted in FICO’s scoring model). So, to minimize the number of inquiries made you need to be strategic and NOT randomly apply for cards. Your best best is to check first if you are matched for any offers. There is only one issuer that I’m aware of that let’s you do this.
  • Be realistic with your expectations in today’s credit environment
    Yes, it’s been a while since “the great recession” but that doesn’t mean banks went back to doing business like they used to (giving credit to anyone with a pulse). Creditworthiness has to be proven now more than ever. An unsecured credit card after bankruptcy discharge probably won’t happen immediately. You’ll likely have to start with a secured card for at least a little while, but some are a lot better than others (which we’ll discuss in a moment).
  • Avoid borrowers that were part of your bankruptcy
    Example: If a Bank of America credit card was part of your chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy filing and they lost out on thousands of dollars, the last thing you want to do blindly apply an unsecured credit card afterward (or at least not for quite some time). As a general rule, when you’re in the early stages of rebuilding your credit it’s probably best to stick with banks that were not left holding the bag in your bankruptcy filing. For example, I’ve heard American Express won’t ever give you another card if you failed to pay them back in the past and sought protection through bankruptcy.
  • Don’t use a high percentage of your credit limit
    Whether you end up getting a secured or unsecured credit card, don’t use a high percentage of your credit limit. Why? Because a part of your FICO score is the credit utilization ratio (what percentage of your credit limits you use). Most people wrongly assume that the more they spend, the better… that’s not how it works.No one knows the magic ratio since that information is FICO’s secret, but the consensus is that using more than 10 percent to 30 percent of your credit limit at any given time will negatively impact your score. So spending above 30 percent of your credit limit should be avoided. Keep in mind that even if you pay your balance in full every single month, the amount reported to the credit bureaus is the balance listed when your billing cycle closes (before your payment is made).

How to get an unsecured credit card?
As mentioned, getting one right after a bankruptcy discharge probably won’t happen. You will likely have to start out with a secured card and then transition to an unsecured card.

  • If you are less than 18 months out it’s going to be difficult to get an unsecured account. And if you’re at this stage, you don’t want to just randomly start applying for unsecured cards and hoping for the best, because each credit application results in a hard pull inquiry (a credit check) which can adversely impact your score for up to 12 months. Being that you’re already at the bottom, the negative effect on your score may seem trivial. But still, it’s best to avoid that, right? This is why I recommend you check out this affordable secured card if you fall under this category.
  • If you are more than 18 months out, your chances of getting approved for a basic unsecured account are better (although you may have to wait until approximately 24 months have passed since your filing). When I say “basic” I’m talking about a no-frills credit card without a rewards program (and you don’t see a lot of those nowadays). You can view the best ones here.

Something to keep in mind: If you get an unsecured card… great! If you get a secured card… that’s also great! Either type will work just fine credit building purposes, assuming you use it responsibly and the account reports to all three credit bureaus. Once you start building your credit back new and better card opportunities will open up.

This article was written or last updated January 2015

Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

57 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. CCAnonymous February 22, 2015 at 6:19AM

    Initially filed BK13; then after 2 years was able to convert it to Chapter 7. One month after discharge, i was approved for a Capital One CC at $1000. Applied again with Capital One 6 months later and received another one for $2,000. Applied for Barclaycard and got a $2,500 cc. Desparately needed a new car, so I was approved for a very high car loan with Capital One. Thanks Capital One! Then around Christmas, I got frantic because I had no extra cash for my kids Christmas and began applying again (as if what I already had wasn’t enough). I was approved for Paypal ($300), Walmart ($300), Fingerhut ($500), and Kohl’s ($300). I’ve been denied by the following: JCP, CreditOne, Sam’s Club, ToysRUS, Macy’s, ValueCity Furniture, and have had no luck whatsoever on applying for a personal loan to consolidate all my new bills. So my plan now is to pay off my credit cards, periodically use them, keep low balances on them, and pray that my credit score will increase so I can eventually buy a house. Barclaycard and Capital one are wonderful cards! Good luck everyone!

    • CCAnonymous February 22, 2015 at 6:23AM

      Btw, all of these cards are unsecured…

  2. sterling December 17, 2014 at 9:02AM

    does anyone know any unsecured credit cards other than Capital One?

    • Kirsten December 17, 2014 at 3:14PM

      Barclay’s rewards mastercard

    • OHIO2PHX February 9, 2015 at 5:16PM

      My BK was discharged Nov, 11th 2013 I purchased a car Dec 23rd 2013 a little over a month after I was discharged. The rate was High but I new this buying the car and I was on a Path to start bulding my credit again after my Ex killed my credit.

      After I seen my credit jump almost overnight from the discharge and 6 months of payments on time with GM Financial I applied for a Secured credit card. Capital one only gave me 200 dollar limit. I used this card regularly as if it were cash If I bought a pack of gum I would go online and make a payment I was paying on this card 4 to 5 times a month leaving no balance to carry over. I also added an extra 100.00 dollars of my own money and raised my limit to 300.00 I paid on this everytime I used it never having a balance.

      I used this for the rest of 2014 my score went to 648 a my true credit score. I recently applied for a US Airways rewards card with Barclays and was instantly approved with a 5000.00 limit 50k bouns miles 2 $99.00 companion tickets and 1 mile for every dollar spent.

      Soon as I seen that my credit was getting better I went to my bank and applied to have my car refinanced. They also approved me on the spot in the office. I went from 17.99% from GM Financial to 9.01 percent with them taking the payment auto out of my account its only a .25% more if you dont want to auto pay. The bank also gave me my score while i was there and they used my transunion score which was 690.

      I dont write much but I seen some people talking about you will never get credit again, so I feel I had to let people know that there is a way to get back on your feet after a BK I did it and so can you. The first time I payed that $49.00 for that capital one secured credit card and they only gave me a 200.00 limit I was crapped out… I thought I was going to get at lease a 1000.00 or two. You will need to work for it and build that trust.

      My next goal is a another house. And after my 24 months after discharge. hopfully Im at a 750 by Nov.2015 I know my score will jump once My bank ajust and the GM Financial loan is paid and shows paid and full.

      Good Luck!

  3. chacha October 9, 2014 at 1:31PM

    Ok so I have 3 months left in chpt 13. Four months ago I was given permisson from B/R court to purchase a vehicle. I was told by the finance mgr @ the dealership that my B/R was showing cleared in their system and therefore the approval letter from the court was not needed. So is it safe to apply for a credit card now or should I wait until my B/R has been officaly cleared in January of “15″ ?

    • SheRo November 15, 2014 at 10:23AM

      I say go for it. I had my Credit One card well over a year before I was DC from BK.

  4. SheRo October 5, 2014 at 10:56PM

    First off, I absolutely hate when people come on the forums to kick people when they are down. Not everyone who files BK was irresponsible with their credit. I’m exactly 1 month post d/c Ch 13. I filed for Credit One a year before it was even DC and approved for $350. I was a bit emotional as I thought I would never be able to get credit. I did have to pay a Annual fee of $75 and I didn’t mind. Immediately CL was increased to 500. A couple months of using responsibly and paying in full each month on time, increased to $750. Then they offered me a second line MasterCard with a $500 CL. I accepted because I’m 30 and I want the opportunity to build my credit back to how it was before tragedy struck and I filed BK. So I pay them both off in full and alternate the cards. I use them for my “Pamper Days or Gas” Only an amount that I’ll be able to pay off within a week or so only if I have the case to pay so that I can immediately pay off without a huge finance charge. Then went to Target and the woman “accidentally” signed me up for a target CC when she was only supposed to be doing a RedCard account. Was approved and given a low CL of $300. I was about to cut it up, but I chose to keep it since I shop in target at least 1-2 times a week. So i pulled my credit for the first time in years and was pleasantly surprised. My BK will fall off around 1/2016. Also my CL with the Credit One has been increased to $1000 as of a week ago. Don’t lose hope. There are companies who will extend offers,although it’ll be costly. Be patient and when they give you a chance, don’t mess it up. I wish everyone on this forum the best! And to all the jerks who come around to make people feel bad, go hug a land mine:-)

    • KEN CASEY January 2, 2015 at 8:46PM


  5. CP September 19, 2014 at 9:39AM

    Cap one option is doable within CH.13, I am still within CH.13 and 2 years left to go and got approved for 3k credit limit.

    They asked if I was late on a student loan for the last 3 months or if I have default in the last 3 month on any other bill. The answer was no. It was the Platinum CC.

  6. Kim September 10, 2014 at 4:23PM

    OMG so in reading the comments I’m like let me see Nd applied for capital one and got a 2k limit my bk just discharged a month ago :) I’m shocked

    • Mwende September 19, 2014 at 8:25PM

      I was given a Capital One card and received it on a Saturday. I activated the card and by Monday I logged into my account only to find the account was restricted. I was told that it was because of the bankrupt. I was also told by Capital one that they will not allow credit until after 5 years. I was also told by a supervisor that although one may initially qualify for a card, the card will be rescinded b/c capital one does a 2nd credit report which was the case with my card. It may be a small start but Finger Hut will give credit and that is a great but small way to start.

  7. Kris August 23, 2014 at 10:47AM

    I was discharged from 7 on June 9 and just was declined by Cap One. Current credit score is 660

  8. KATY July 31, 2014 at 9:39AM

    My bankruptcy was discharged in the spring of this year and I applied for a Capital One card today 7/29/14 and was approved right away for 2000. and I filed a card from Capital on my bankruptcy.

  9. rachel2classy July 21, 2014 at 7:50AM

    well i got a discharge notice on 7/9 an jus applied an was denied and im totally upset that no one will give me a crdit card????????????????? help

    • veri007 July 23, 2014 at 5:51PM

      Get used to it!!! You will NOT get ANY credit in next 7-10 years. You were bankrupt and insolvent, you are deemed HIGH RISK and NO ONE will ever lend you a money again.

      • LA July 29, 2014 at 9:15PM

        Our Chapter 7 BK was discharged on 7-15. Both my wife and I Just applied for cap 1 quicksilver today and were both approved for $500 cl.

      • John August 5, 2014 at 3:17PM

        You have no idea what you are talking about.

        Credit can be rebuilt quickly once a BK is completed.
        One can buy a car at a good rate within the first year with a good down payment.

        Unsecured credit cards can be obtained within the first year after BK.
        It is possible to be in the 700s within 24 months of BK.
        Many people have a better score the day after BK than they did before they filed.

        Get your facts straight before making silly statements designed to scare the desperate.

      • ILLEST August 5, 2014 at 7:04PM

        TO verI007

      • Only human October 3, 2014 at 2:23PM


      • NicNak October 9, 2014 at 10:47PM

        TOTALLY NOT TRUE, I filed bankrupcy and got cards 6 months after I filed and ended up with 12 of them within 5 years after I filed with high limits, and most of them I filed bankruptcy on. Also got a nice car 1 year after I filed with 7% interest. I might have filed bankruptcy but my credit score was over 650, and before I filed NONE of my credit cards were late!

      • Angel January 15, 2015 at 5:20PM

        You veri007 obviously don’t know what you are talking about. Do your research then make a statement. This person is just trying to scare people. Give it a bit of time. You can get a car after bankruptcy, you can build credit. Eventually by a home.

    • JenCon July 29, 2014 at 8:21PM

      Try credit one bank. I was discharged on 7/22 and they just approved me

    • donnajazzy November 24, 2014 at 4:59PM

      I know the feeling. Went thru a bad divorcee. Had co-signed on loan and got stuck paying them. Hurt my credit. Had to bite the bullet and get a first premier card. Costly but 9 months into good payments and excellent reporting to the credit bureaus. Has helped. Just received approval for fingerhut. Costly, but then again, a credit builder. Just now trying to decide whether or not to apply for CapOne Quicksilver. But don’t want a hard hit on credit. It is awful when someone says I am sorry we can not approve you because you have no credit, but yet no one will give you the credit. Round and round you go…..

    • Kirsten December 12, 2014 at 9:26AM

      Hi Rachel,

      I got my discharge letter 7/2014 as well. I first applied for Open Sky Secured Card (no hard pull) $500 and opened a Savings builder loan $1000 through my credit union. Once those reported and posted on my credit report I applied for Discover it & got approved for secured version $300. I then waited and applied for capital one journey and quicksilver one unsecured and got approved for $500 & $300. Now I will just sit and wait having 3 new inquiries on my report.

  10. Sheneneh Jenkins, Cosmopologist, Detroit, MI June 19, 2014 at 4:25PM

    I be filed Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in November 2013, and since then, I now be have these cards:

    + Debit card with a national bank
    + American Express Card
    + MasterCard with my Detroit credit Union
    + Capital 1 MasterCard, with 3000 limit, unsecured

    PS ~ STAY AWAY FROM FIRST PREMIER BANK AND CREDIT ONE BANK. These are two of the worst credit cards out there. Also, Credit One Bank used to be called “First National Bank of Marin” — they changed their name to deceive customers. Google First National Bank of Marin name changed to Credit One Bank. This is a scam bank and will rip you off ! So will First Priemer.

  11. AlmostDischarged April 19, 2014 at 8:49PM

    Hello everybody. Love this site. Im about to be discharged any day now. I received an offer for “Credit One” Unsecured credit card. Its expensive and i read bad reviews about it but im afraid that i wont get approved for Capitol One card since i put them in with my bkch7. My question is. Is it better for your credit to have an expensive UNSECURED cc or have a cheap SECURED card? I heard having an unsecured cc boosts your chances of building back your credit.

    • Eric N April 28, 2014 at 10:15PM

      I was approved with Credit One, received a $1500 limit right out of the gate. The main things you need to be aware of are first, that there is a $75 annual fee and that it is billed right away, so it is immediately on your balance. Second, your interest accrues from time of purchase. There is no grace period. Third, interest will be around 22%.
      That being said, and myself having previously had Prime plus zero on two cards totaling nearly 40K, I find it reasonable. They use the high interest rate to mitigate risk, and annual fees are not that unusual. There are a bunch of cards out there that do take advantage of you after bankruptcy. Many offer a $300 limit, then charge you a $95.00 processing fee and an annual fee. That is total B.S. Good luck. So far I am happy with credit one.

  12. Matt April 2, 2014 at 12:51PM

    I was discharged from Bankruptcy March 19, 2014, was approved for a Capital One Platinum MasterCard, $500.00 Credit limit 0 % interest for a year on purchases and no fees! Crazy! However, I am excited to get my credit back in line for I had an 800 credit score up till about a year ago.

    • Mwende September 20, 2014 at 9:17AM

      Matt I am interested to know if Capital One allowed you to keep the card after you received it. I am trying to see if it is worth it apply with them They gave me a card only to rescind the card b/c of a bankrupt.

  13. Linsey March 31, 2014 at 9:40PM

    When we go to court after filing bankruptcy,does that mean we can start applying for credit cards right away?

    • Don September 23, 2014 at 2:27PM

      Absolutely not. Do not apply for credit until you receive your discharge papers or your attorney tell you it is okay. If you do not wait the courts will find out and they will not discharge your case, because they do a final check of your credit, and no new credit lines should be open. Please wait until your discharge, you do not want to have to pay your attorney more money for re opening your case and re-filing it with the courts and make your case harder, because you may not get a discharge at all and you will have to wait 180 days before you can refile.

  14. TJ March 29, 2014 at 11:22AM

    Been discharged (ch 7) for roughly 2 wks, and just got approved for a $500 unsecured card through Capital One. They were also a creditor included in my bk.

    • CapitalOne Customer AGAIN After filing on them with bk April 14, 2014 at 11:40PM

      I had also included capital one in my bk in jan 2014 and they’ve already approved me for 300 unsecured platinum MasterCard no annual fee

  15. Gwen March 24, 2014 at 9:10PM

    I received a 1000 limit from capital one after being discharge 3 weeks ago

  16. Cathey March 16, 2014 at 5:34PM

    We have been discharged 3 years this Oct and I got a cc with $1500 credit line and no secured loan attached I have made payments as they said payments build Your credit so
    I now with my tax refund paid it off $900 so now I feel my credit score
    Of 700 plus is a great plus for us getting our own home again .. What’s your thoughts own this ?

  17. Sandra January 23, 2014 at 3:50PM

    After weeks of wondering if I should apply for a credit card, I decided to take a leap of faith and applied. I have been out of Chapter 7 discharge for 2 months and just tried to apply for a credit card (Capital One Quicksilver) and was declined. I will wait at least 6 months again before re-applying or perhaps wait for pre-qual offers. Pretty bummed out.

    • Tony February 25, 2014 at 7:05PM

      You should try Credit One. They approve me one week after Chapter 7 D/C. It’s expensive, $75 intro annual fee, 24.99% APR, daily interest rate…but it’s UNsecured and came with a $500 CL. I plan to use no more than 30% of CL and pay in full each month for the next year. This should improve my credit score so I can get some reputable offers for a better credit card. Good Luck!

    • Mwende September 19, 2014 at 8:59PM


      Be encouraged !! Even if they give you a card, they turn around a rescind the card. It happened to me. I spoke with them and they said that they do 2 credit checks one before giving you the card and one after the card is activated. In other words, if they missed something the first time they catch it the next time.I was told by them they do not give credit until after 5 years. I know many are saying that they received a card from Capital One but what some are not saying is that the card was rescinded not long after. I paid the debt that owed to them in hopes that in the future they may reconsider.

  18. Andrew January 4, 2014 at 8:49AM

    Has anyone filed bk and included capital one in there filing, and still been approved for a card months after discharge?

    • Chandler January 11, 2014 at 2:49AM

      I am wondering the same because I did this and my bk was discharged in October.

    • Stacie January 24, 2014 at 3:55PM

      Discharge was 1/16, got approved for unsecured cap one on 1/22

    • Larry Ashby January 27, 2014 at 10:24PM

      Andrew I have been approved for capital one Platinum card with a 3000 dollar credit limit. I was discharged on December the 9th of 2013 and I applied for it on January the 24th 2014

    • Dani February 24, 2014 at 9:59PM

      Yes, I filed Chp 7 (including a Capital One card) following a divorce. It was discharged in November 2013 and today I was approved for $2000 credit limit on an unsecured card.

    • Eric N April 28, 2014 at 10:16PM

      Yes. Didn’t try Capital One because they were in the wifes BK, but I got a pre approval offer from Credit One, applied and got the card. I was a bit surprised actually.

  19. ChaeChae December 20, 2013 at 7:54AM

    I received Chapter 7 discharge papers on 12/8 or 12/9…Today is 12/20 and I have been approved for Capital one platinum $300.00 unsecured that just came in the mail, Capital One Quicksilver $500.00 unsecured and First Premier 300.00 unsecured (don’t think im going to take because of all the fees). My FICO is 576 right now

    • Ty March 26, 2014 at 1:06AM

      Thanks Chae Chae, I saw this post and decided to apply for a Capital One card and got an instant approval for $500… credit score is 581 up 80 points since pre BK and several on time car payments. Chapter 7 discharged on 01/27. Interest rate is high but perhaps I can refinance after on-time payments. Thanks

  20. APPROVED December 11, 2013 at 10:16AM

    Received my discharge papers 3 days ago. Just was approved for for Capital One $300 limit. I am happy. It is a start!

  21. rodney December 19, 2012 at 7:30AM

    I am really trying to rebuild my credit please help

    • dawn May 24, 2013 at 3:45PM

      Rodney, I applied for secured card from capital one and unsecured from credit one bank. approved. They are more willing to work with you

  22. MJA December 13, 2012 at 2:38PM

    I agree about having realistic expectations. Is it really any wonder why banks won’t give someone a good unsecured card with rewards shortly after a BK? You have to start at the bottom with a low-end unsecured card and work your way up!

  23. Gee October 8, 2012 at 11:28AM

    I filed Chapter 7 in May 30 of 2012, discharged Sept. 11,2012… I got letter from First Premier, $700 credit limit, $25 processing fee n $150 annual but get back at end of year. I’m pissed but happy. I want a better card who has it? I had good credit prior but do to child cancer incurred hella medical bills had to file.

  24. SCRWDAGAIN July 30, 2012 at 11:58AM

    orchard gave me pre-approvals on two different occasions and still denied me. I don’t think bankruptcies show on the soft approvals.. At least that’s my theory because even with an active Chapter 13 plan (2.5 out of 5 years) going, my fico is still 670. I get the soft approval then pick my card only to get kicked in the nuts by them. I can’t even get a secured card approved by anybody.. I am just trying to get a head start on rebuilding my once perfect credit. (Before you judge, our dual income household was devastated by a surprise bankruptcy and closure.)

  25. Kevin P July 22, 2012 at 4:28PM

    Orchard Bank was acquired by Capital One. Try either Capital One and/or Credit One bank.

  26. roseiris June 23, 2012 at 4:20PM

    I had a bankruptcy and finished my last pymt 5 years ago. I now have a 740 credit score. What unsecured credit card would be good for me other then Capital One? Thank you.

  27. russ November 14, 2011 at 6:23AM

    Will applying for an Orchard park credit card lower my fico score? I’ve heard that bank inquires sometimes have a negative effect on your score.

    • CreditCardGuru November 15, 2011 at 9:43AM

      The nice thing about Orchard Bank is that when you check your pre-qualification, only a soft credit check is done (which doesn’t affect your score). After that if you choose to apply for an offer you are pre-qualified for, there may or may not be a hard pull- I’ve heard both scenarios.

      Either way, a hard credit inquiry will probably have little to not effect on someone with a low score. It’s those with average to excellent credit that will feel the ding more.

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