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Guaranteed acceptance credit cards

If you have bad credit, a guaranteed acceptance credit card may seem like the perfect answer. But do guaranteed credit cards actually exist?

Our guide will bust a few myths on guaranteed credit cards, and what you can do if you’re worried about having a poor credit rating.

If you have bad credit, a guaranteed acceptance credit card may seem like the perfect answer. But do guaranteed credit cards actually exist?

Our guide will bust a few myths on guaranteed credit cards, and what you can do if you’re worried about having a poor credit rating.

Written by
Alex Hasty
Insurance comparison and finance expert
Last Updated
6 JANUARY 2023
5 min read
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Does a guaranteed credit card mean ‘guaranteed acceptance’?

The short answer is ‘no’. That can seem confusing, especially if you see providers advertising ‘guaranteed credit cards’ or ‘guaranteed acceptance credit cards’. But typically what they mean is that a card issuer is definitely going to consider your application – not that you’re guaranteed to be accepted. All credit card providers will check your ‘credit card eligibility’ by reviewing your borrowing history before they decide on whether to accept your credit card application.

How do providers decide who to accept for a credit card?

Before offering you credit, lenders will want the assurance that you can pay back what you owe. They will look at your bill-paying history, how much you earn, your current debts and how you manage your finances. Much of this information they’ll find by doing a hard search of your credit report.

Not only will this information be a deciding factor for lenders, but it will also help them work out what interest rate to charge and what credit limit to give you if they do accept your application.

Comparethemarket Limited acts as a credit broker, not a lender. To apply you must be a UK resident and aged 18 or over. Credit is subject to status and eligibility.


Top tip

Avoid making multiple credit applications over a short period of time – they tend to suggest you’re desperate for money. It’s a major red flag for lenders as they’ll see how many times you’ve applied for credit on your credit report.

What can I do if I have a poor credit history?

The fact is, even when you apply for a ‘guaranteed credit card’, a poor credit history will likely mean your application is refused. It may take time, but it’s worth taking steps to improve your credit rating before you apply.

Rather than a ‘guaranteed credit card’, you might be better off with a credit builder card. These are designed for people with poor credit histories (or no credit history at all).

Okay, so credit builder cards usually come with higher interest rates than other credit cards, and you might have a low credit limit to begin with. But if you show you can use this type of card responsibly, the provider may increase that limit in time, and this could help you improve your credit score.

You’ll also help your credit rating by:

  • Paying all your bills on time
  • Getting on the electoral roll
  • Not maxing your credit limit
  • Checking your credit report is accurate and up to date.

Once you’ve built up your credit score, you’ll have more chance of being accepted for a wider range of credit cards. A higher credit rating will also give your access to better interest rates and higher credit limits.

Find out more ways to build your credit score.

How can I check my credit report?

You can get a credit report free of charge from one of the three main credit reference agencies: Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. This contains basic information about you – things like credit accounts in your name, if you’re on the electoral roll, current outstanding credit balances and details about any late or missed payments.

Did you know?

One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve your credit score is by registering to vote. If you’re on the electoral roll, it will show up on your credit report. Credit card providers will then use this information to confirm your identity and address.

What are the alternatives to a credit card?

  • Pre-paid cards can be a useful alternative to credit cards. They allow you to load cash on to them, which you can then spend however you want. Most pre-paid cards are provided by Visa or MasterCard, so can be used in all the same shops and restaurants as other cards. They’re also a useful alternative to carrying cash around.
  • A debit card is linked to your current account and can be used in the same way as a credit card. The difference is that payment comes directly from money available in your bank account, so you’ll pay for things straight away rather than later.
  • An arranged overdraft on your current account could be a useful alternative if you need to borrow money in the short term. But unless you can find a bank that offers 0% interest, the charges for using an overdraft can be hefty. If you’re looking to borrow long term, a credit card might work out cheaper.
  • A personal loan could help you spread your payments at a fixed rate over a longer period. But again, there’s no guarantee you’ll be accepted and the advertised interest rates are usually reserved for those with the best credit scores.

Where can I compare credit cards?

If you have a poor credit history or no credit history at all, you can still use our site to compare credit building credit cards.

Use our eligibility checker to see which credit cards you may be eligible for, giving you a better chance of being approved.

Compare credit cards quickly and easily

Frequently asked questions

What should I do if I’m rejected?

Even if the card is advertised as ‘guaranteed acceptance’, there’s a chance your application will be rejected, especially if your credit score is low. If this happens, don’t immediately apply for another card as this is likely to damage your credit score even more. Take time to build up your credit score, monitor your credit rating, then re-apply after a few months.

What does pre-approved mean?

Some credit card companies directly target customers with offers of a ‘pre-approved’ application. While this doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be approved, it’s generally the best indication that you’ll be accepted for a card. If you take up the offer and apply for the deal, they’ll carry out a hard credit check to get full access to your credit history.

What does an instant decision mean?

In today’s digital world, most credit card applications are done online. This means that some lenders can give you an ‘instant’ decision, sometimes within minutes.

However, much like guaranteed acceptance cards, there’s no actual guarantee you’ll be accepted, no matter how long it takes to review your application.

Also remember that if you are approved quickly, it can still take a few days for your card to arrive.

What does a guaranteed APR mean?

When you apply for a credit card, you’ll be offered an APR (Annual Percentage Rate). This is basically how much your credit card will cost you to use over the course of a year.

Most credit cards are advertised with a ‘representative’ APR – the best rate providers must offer to 51% of their customers; typically those with the highest credit ratings.

If a credit card is advertised with a ‘guaranteed’ APR, that will be the actual interest rate you’ll be charged if your application is accepted.

How does the credit card eligibility checker work?

Our credit card eligibility checker gives you an indication of which cards you’re likely to be accepted for based on your credit information and the lender’s acceptance criteria. 

It doesn’t guarantee your application will be approved.

Looking for a credit card?

Compare credit cards quickly and easily. Use our eligibility checker to find out which cards you’re likely to be accepted for without affecting your credit score.

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