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Credit-builder cards

Boost your credit score with the right credit-builder card

  • Representative 34.9% APR

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MoneySuperMarket is a credit broker not a lender. You must be 18 or over and a UK resident.

Compare credit-builder cards from across the market

We'll do the hard part, so you don't have to. We work with a range of leading credit card providers to make managing your money simple

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What are credit-builder cards?

A credit-builder credit card allows you to spend on credit and can be one of the best ways to boost your credit score.

Credit-builder cards work in the same way as regular credit cards, but you’re likely to be given a lower credit limit and interest rates can be higher.

The advantage is that those with poor credit ratings are more likely to be accepted for credit-builder cards.

What’s more, as long as you pay the balance off at the end of each month your credit score should rise over a period of four to six months.

Build better credit with this Aqua credit card

What are credit-builder cards for?

Credit-builder cards are designed for people who have bad credit scores, or little-to-no credit history.

Your credit score is a record of your financial history – which lenders use to help decide whether you’re reliable enough to be given a line of credit.

  • Bad credit history

    Credit-builder cards suit people who’ve had problems with debt in the past, such as unpaid bills, county court judgments (CCJs) or bankruptcy. Careful use of a credit-builder card can show lenders that you’re on top of your finances and represent a lower risk.

  • No credit history

    Some people who apply for loans or credit cards find that they’re being turned down, or missing out on better deals, because they don’t have any credit history. This usually affects students and young people taking out a credit card for the first time, or people who’ve recently moved to the UK.

  • Practise responsible spending

    Credit-builder cards typically come with lower credit limits so you won’t be able to stretch your finances as far as you could with other types of borrowing. This can make them a good option for those looking to practise responsible spending and make sure they clear what they owe every month.

Choosing your first credit card

Credit-builder credit cards are popular among 18-24 year olds, typically as a best first credit card to be used as a way of building up a credit history and rating.

They can be ideal first credit cards because they offer a low borrowing limit – so you can keep your spending in check. They’re also more likely to accept younger borrowers – those with a low or no credit history, for example.

Four in ten enquiries for credit cards made by young people on MoneySuperMarket are for credit-builder cards.

They can be an excellent first step into credit. Use the card sensibly, by paying off the balance in full each month, and you can build your credit score – opening the door to better credit card deals.

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With a pre-approved credit card, the deal you see is what you get

Our Eligibility Checker shows you the credit cards you're most likely to be accepted for, protecting your credit by showing you only the cards that are right for you.

  • Accurate results

    We’ll ask you a set of questions to rate your chance of aprroval out of a score of 10 for each card 

  • Apply with confidence

    You’ll be shown your eligibility before you apply, so you know if you have a high chance of acceptance

  • Guaranteed rates

    You’ll see which cards you’re most likely to get and what the APR will be so you won’t have any nasty surprises down the line

Advantages and disadvantages of credit-builder cards

Credit-builder cards work like any other credit card: you can use them to borrow money to pay for goods and services up to an agreed limit. However, they are also quite specialised products and aren’t suitable for everyone. This is what you need to know:

  • Tick

    Improve your credit score

    By borrowing small amounts you know you can pay back on time each month

  • Tick

    More likely to be accepted

    Credit-builder cards have lower application criteria so you're more likely to be approved

  • Tick

    Your purchases are protected

    Card purchases between £100 and £30,000 are covered under the Consumer Credit Act 

  • Cross

    Lower credit limit

    You can borrow less than with other credit cards, as you're building trust with lenders 

  • Cross

    Higher APRs

    Interest rates will be higher than standard credit cards

  • Cross

    Risk of more debt

    If you have trouble repaying what you owe your credit score could fall further

Will I be eligible for a credit-builder card?

Most credit cards have fairly strict application criteria, but credit-builder cards are designed for people who’ve had problems with debt in the past including falling behind on bills, defaulting on payments and receiving CCJs. 

This means that people with a lower credit score are more likely to be accepted for a credit-builder card.

You can check your credit score for free with our free Credit Monitor tool. This uses a soft search of your file, so it won’t show up on your record and your score won’t be penalised.

However when you apply for a credit card, the lender will perform a hard search on your credit file. Being rejected could negatively affect your credit score, especially if you make several applications at once.

Representative 34.9% APR

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Jo Thornhill

Our expert says

"

Credit-builder cards can be an incredibly helpful way of building up trust with financial institutions for those who have a low credit score. But like any form of borrowing, they need to be used responsibly. Only spend what you’ll be able to repay and set up a direct debit to clear the balance every month.

"

- Jo Thornhill, Money expert

How to compare credit cards with MoneySuperMarket

If you feel that a credit-builder card could be right for you, the next step is to use the MoneySuperMarket Eligibility Checker to see what cards are available and your chances of being approved.

  • Tell us about yourself

    We’ll ask you a handful of simple questions about you and your financial circumstances, and what you need from a credit card

  • We browse the market

    We’ll sift through dozens of credit card offers from across the market, and then show you the cards we think will suit you best

  • Pick the card you want

    You’ll be shown a range of credit cards, which you’ll then be able to sort according to APR, features and your chances of being approved

Deciding whether a credit-builder card is worth it is dependent on your personal circumstances and financial situation. Provided you use the credit-builder card carefully, by spending below your credit limit and paying off your balance in full each month, it should help your credit score increase over time.

There’s no way to improve your credit score quickly. If you have a low score, it’s usually because your financial history shows you as having struggled with debt in the past. The best way to improve your credit score is to demonstrate better patterns of borrowing behaviour over significant periods of time. You’ll be able to borrow more money and get better rates of interest as you improve.

When you’re applying for your first credit card, you’re likely to have a limited or non-existent credit report. This can make you appear as a high-risk borrower as there is little or no evidence that you’ve responsibly borrowed money in the past.

Fortunately, there are still options open to you, but you might have less choice about the type of credit card you apply for.

There are low-income credit cards available, but none are available for people who have no money coming in whatsoever. While there is no legal minimum income for a credit card, card issuers are required to lend money responsibly, which means they all set a minimum income. They consider that someone with zero income will be unable to pay back the money they borrow.

It will be hard to get a credit-builder card without first having a bank account. Credit card providers will want to be confident you have the funds and means to pay off any credit you build up before approving your application.

A wide range of traditional high street banks and challenger banks offer credit-builder cards to customers, giving you plenty of choice to compare available deals before making your application.

A credit-builder card can help over time if you have bad credit. By using the card responsibly, staying within your credit limit and paying back what you owe in full every month, it shows you can handle borrowing. This gives credit card providers the confidence that they can offer you better deals in the future.

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate and it represents how much it’ll cost to borrow money on a particular credit card. It’s calculated by taking into account:

  • Your interest rate

  • Additional fees and charges.

However, you might see the term ‘representative APR’ on adverts for credit cards – this means that the interest rate quoted only has to be offered to at least 51% of successful applicants, so it may not be the actual rate you get when you apply.

Credit card providers can change interest rates at any time, so it’s always a good idea to stay on top of your credit balance. If you have a 0% offer on your credit card, this will only be for a set number of months so you should make sure you clear your balance before it ends, or transfer your remaining balance to another 0% card.

You can apply for credit cards online, either using MoneySuperMarket or going directly to the provider, or by calling them up or through the post. You can also stop by your bank or building society branch and apply in person.

First consider what you want to use the credit card for – cards come with different features that are useful for different purposes.

If you have a large purchase coming up, you might want to spread the cost with a 0% purchase card, if you fly a lot you might want an airmiles card, and if you want to transfer a balance to avoid interest payments, a balance transfer card could be ideal.

By comparing on MoneySuperMarket, you’ll be able to see a list of credit cards, so you can browse at will and choose which one suits you best.

You’ll get a cooling off period of two weeks from when you receive your card, and you’ll have 30 days to pay off your balance. You can cancel by contacting your provider, either by post, phone, online, or in-branch.

However, if you want to cancel your credit card after the cooling off period, your account balance generally must be zero.

Your credit score is a number that represents your creditworthiness to credit lenders, based on an analysis of your credit history (your history of borrowing and paying back credit).

The higher your score, the more likely you are to be accepted for future credit applications. If your score is low, there are ways to improve it. MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor lets you check your credit score for free and gives you tips on how to improve it.

A soft credit search is a way of finding out which credit cards you’re most likely to be accepted for without your credit score being affected. This is usually done via a website such as MoneySuperMarket.

A hard search on your credit report is a mark left by a lender who has assessed your credit rating after you have applied for a credit card. Too many hard searches (often through multiple applications) may make lenders think you are desperate for credit so it’s best to limit your applications for credit in a short space of time.

If you have a bad credit rating or you don’t have a credit history because you’ve never borrowed before, you might not qualify for the very best credit card deals. However, some credit cards are designed specifically for those who need to build up their credit score. Just be aware they often come with low credit limits and high interest rates.

However, if you use this type of card sensibly and always pay off your balance in full, you can improve your credit score so you’ll eventually be eligible for better credit cards.

If you miss a repayment on your credit card balance, you likely have to pay a penalty fee. What’s more, if you have any type of promotional offer with your card, such as an interest-free deal, this may be cancelled, and a missed payment may have a negative effect on your credit score.

If you get rejected for a credit card, this will leave a mark on your credit report and could lead to further rejections in the future. It’s a good idea to use MoneySuperMarket’s Eligibility Checker to see how likely you are to be accepted for a card before applying to get it, and it won’t affect your credit score.

You might be able to get more credit from your provider if you prove yourself to be a responsible borrower by repaying on time and never missing payments. Once you’ve established a good credit history, you might be successful when asking for a higher credit limit.

Unlike many loans and mortgages, you generally won’t be charged for making early repayments on your credit card – which means it’s a good way to get ahead of your balance.

You can’t get joint credit cards in the same way as bank accounts and mortgages, but you can add additional users to your own credit cards. However, you should remember that it’s still the primary cardholder’s responsibility to pay off the balance.

The Consumer Credit Act was established in 1974, and under Section 75 the credit card lender is jointly responsible with the retailer or supplier for any goods or services you purchase with your credit card.

This means if those products are faulty, or if there was any contract breach or misrepresentation on the retailer’s part, you can claim from your credit card company as well as the retailer.

However, you can’t recover money from both sides, so it’s useful for when the retailer has gone bust or they won’t respond to your communication. You should be aware the purchase value must be more than £100 and not more than £30,000 for you to be able to claim.

You can cancel your credit card by contacting your lender, by phone, email, online, post, or in person if they have a local branch.