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Key takeaways

  • Find easy-approval cards with minimum credit limits of $500+ and no security deposit.
  • Use your low limit credit card to build credit.
  • Access more spending power and better financial products with a higher score.

A $500 credit card limit gives you more than token buying power; it gives you a spending limit that can make a difference. Whether it’s for an emergency purchase, a small project, or to have as a safety net, a $500 credit card limit can be a lifeline.

$500 is still a modest limit, but when most unsecured cards for low scores start you off with only $200 or $300, a $500 credit limit can seem like you’ve hit the jackpot. It means you can spend so much more per month and gives you more flexibility in improving your credit score.

We’ve compiled a list of the best $500+ limit credit cards for poor scores so you can get an idea of what limits each company offers and what you can qualify for. Take a look at the list below and see if there’s a card for you.

Best unsecured cards $500+ limits

Financial institutions understand that mistakes happen, and not everyone has money lying around for a secured credit card, so many offer unsecured cards for poor scores. Most of these cards aim to improve your score, and a few even offer cash back rewards. Use your unsecured card responsibly, and you’ll qualify for one with an even higher limit.

Take a look at the cards below to find a $500 credit card limit for bad credit that suits your needs.

How to compare $500 credit cards for bad credit

When comparing $500 credit cards for bad credit, consider more than the initial credit limit. Take a look at the score requirements, fees, and interest rates to make sure you take the best offer.

Credit score requirements

Look for subprime cards specifically designed for applicants with poor scores. These cards require a lower minimum credit score, often below 600.

Fees and interest rates

How much the card costs is another important factor. Many credit cards for low scores come with a higher annual fee, monthly maintenance fee, or one-time processing fee. Plus, the standard foreign transaction fee and late payment fee. Compare the annual percentage rates (APRs) as well. Finding the lowest possible APR can save you money on carried balances.

Rewards and benefits

Even with a $500 credit line, some cards offer rewards and benefits. You may be able to earn cash back or receive free monthly credit score updates.

Security deposits

For secured credit cards, the security deposit is a key consideration. This deposit typically sets your limit, so if you want $500, you’ll have to put down a $500 deposit. Some secured card issuers will give you a higher credit line without additional deposits, based on your responsible usage, while others don’t require a security deposit at all.

By carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose the best $500 credit card for bad credit that fits your budget.

Is $500 a low credit limit?

$500 credit limit

For most people, a $500 limit credit card is considered very low. According to Experian, the average American has a cumulative credit limit of $28,930 across 4 different cards.

Now, this is an average. If you break it down by score range, those with higher scores have higher limits and those with lower scores have lower limits. If you fall into the subprime category, any score below 580, your average limit will only be $2,645. This is still a lot higher than $500.

An initial credit limit of $500 is fine. Everyone has to start somewhere. A lot of cards for low scores only give $200-$300 initial limits. It is very hard to improve your score and benefit from a minimum credit limit as low as $300. A $300 limit means you can only spend $90 a month.

A $500 limit gives you some wiggle room to buy groceries and cover unexpected expenses without overextending yourself. However, it would still be great to have a higher limit. Pay off your low balance credit card each month, and you should be able to get a limit increase.

Need money now and can’t wait?

Take a look at emergency loans for bad credit.

How much should you spend on a $500 credit limit?

A $500 limit gives you modest purchasing power – not a lot. So managing your spending is crucial. While you can choose to spend as much or as little as you like, there are important factors to keep in mind, especially if you aim to raise your rating.

First, a card can be a good way to cover unexpected expenses if you lack an emergency savings fund. If you max out your card, it won’t be available as a safety net when needed. Keeping some of your limit unused can help ensure you have access to funds in an emergency.

Secondly, experts recommend using only 30% or less of your limit, which amounts to $150 on a $500 card. Staying well below your limit shows lenders that you are a responsible borrower. A high credit card balance can negatively impact your score, as it suggests you may be over-reliant on borrowing.

One way to keep your usage low is to make payments throughout the month. If you spend $150 and then pay it off, your usage is back at 0%. The issuer only reports your utilization at the end of the month so you can spend, pay your bill, and bring it down again.

How can you raise your score with low limit credit cards?

Raising your rating with a $500 limit is perfectly doable. You just have to be disciplined and stay on top of your usage and payments.

The first thing to know is how your score is determined. The two major credit scoring models, FICO and VantageScore, both use similar factors. As 90% of lenders use FICO, so we’ll focus on this model. Your FICO score is calculated based on:

  • Payment history – 35%
  • Amount used – 30%
  • Length of credit history – 15%
  • Mix of account types – 10%
  • New inquiries – 10%

Improving your score with low limit credit cards is the same as with any other card. Your issuer will report your usage and payment history to the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion – each month. Make timely payments and keep a low card balance, and your score should go up.

Another tips is to keep old accounts open and active unless they have too many fees. This makes it easier to maintain a low utilization ratio and increases the amount of time you’ve had accounts.

Also, while it’s good to have a mix of account types – loans and cards – don’t go taking on debt you can’t afford. It’s a small factor.

Looking for a card that gives you more spending power?

Click here for $2,000 credit limit cards.

How can I get a 500 dollar credit card with no money down?

It is entirely possible to get a $500 credit card limit for bad credit with instant approval. Many credit card companies offer cards with a $500 limit that do not require a security deposit, and some even let you earn cash back rewards!

  1. Do your research
  2. Prequalify and compare offers
  3. Apply for the card you want

To qualify for a $500 credit card limit for bad credit, start by researching cards designed for people who have a low credit score. Read the terms and conditions carefully, as these cards often come with high interest rates and extra fees like annual fees or monthly maintenance fees.

Try to prequalify to see the minimum credit limit you’ll be offered, the APR (annual percentage rate), and any associated fees. Prequalification doesn’t give guaranteed approval but lets you assess your chances and compare offers without affecting your score.

Choose your card, then apply online. Although there’s no guaranteed approval, the cards listed here have more lenient requirements, and some even offer instant approval.

Once you’re approved, you’ll receive your card in the mail. This can take up to 10 business days. Many issuers give you your electronic card number instantly so you can start making purchases online right away.

Find even more card offers on MoneyFor.

Can I get a high-limit credit card with a poor score?

There are hundreds of card options for every score type. What your score determines is:

  • Initial limit
  • Interest rate
  • Annual fee
  • Additional fees

Financial institutions try to avoid risk. The lower your score, the higher the risk you are considered to be. Not without reason. Consumers with poor scores are much more likely to default than those with good to excellent scores. Not all banks will even work with people with low scores. The ones that do charge more for their financial products to offset the risk. Basically, they want to make money upfront.

Think about it this way: If you default on an unsecured credit card, the bank can do very little to get its money back. As a precaution, the bank charges applicants with low scores higher interest rates and more fees so that if you default, the bank won’t lose money.

Banks will also start high risk applicants off with low limits until they’ve proved themselves responsible. Defaulting on a $300 balance costs the bank a lot less than defaulting on a $10,000 one.

It’s tough to get a high limit if you have a poor score, but not impossible. Plenty of unsecured cards come with $500+ limits, up to $2,000. You have to demonstrate that you can pay your bills on time and keep your usage low to get a higher limit.

You can also get a secured credit card and set your own limit. Secured cards are easier to get since you have to put down a refundable security deposit. The deposit determines your limit and acts as collateral, reducing the issuer’s risk. Some secured cards even offer a higher limit with no deposit and no credit check!

What is the highest limit card you can get?

Limits vary widely based on your income, score, and the lender’s policies. For individuals with excellent scores and substantial income, some premium cards offer limits that can reach tens of thousands of dollars. These high limits are often accompanied by lucrative rewards and benefits.

The correlation between your score, income, and limit is straightforward: the higher your score and income, the higher your limit is likely to be. Credit card issuers don’t want to let you borrow more than you can reasonably repay. This minimizes their risk. A higher limit provides greater purchasing power, but you need adequate income to support it. Issuers do not want you to be tempted to spend more than you can afford.

A more modest limit, such as $500, can be a smart choice to get you started. It offers some spending flexibility while keeping your potential debt manageable. You can easily pay off your balance in full each month, helping you avoid interest charges and build a positive payment history.

As you demonstrate responsible habits, you can request a limit increase. Alternatively, you can look for new cards that offer higher limits and better terms. Gradually increasing your limit while maintaining a low balance will improve your score over time.

Searching for more access to cash?

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How does the issuer set your initial credit limit?

Every issuer has slightly different criteria for determining your limit, but all have the same goal: to let you borrow only what you can be reasonably expect to repay.

Credit Score: Your score reflects your history of managing debt. A higher score leads to higher limits.

Income: The more you earn, the more you can afford to borrow. Your income is not limited to your 9-to-5 job. You can also list child support, alimony, retirement accounts, disability payments, and so on.

Existing Debt: Lenders are interested in your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) – the debt you have versus how much you earn. The lower your ratio, the higher the limit you’ll get. A low DTI – below 35% – shows you can handle debts responsibly.

Read more about debt.

Credit History: A history of timely payments and low utilization signals that you’re a low-risk borrower who can handle a higher limit.

Employment Status: Creditors like stability. Jumping from job to job makes you appear as high risk. Stay at your job for a while before you apply for a new card to increase your chances of getting a high limit.

Next time you apply for a $500 credit card, consider these factors. It might be a good idea to pay down some debt or stay at your job for a few more months first to get the limit you want.

How to request an increase

Your limit is not set in stone. Card companies want to give you higher credit limits. The more you spend, the more likely you are to spread payments out over a few months, and they’ll earn interest. Many review your account periodically to see if you qualify for an increase. If you don’t want to wait, you can go online or call a representative to request one.

The issuer will will want to know your salary and rent or mortgage payments to determine what you can afford. If you’ve received a raise or changed to a higher salaried job, let them know. That might be enough to get you the limit you want.

Tell them how you’ve improved your score and how responsible a customer you’ve been. A history of consistent on time payments will prove your case.

If there’s no limit increase for your current card, ask if you can upgrade to one with a higher starting line and no annual fee.

Do not ask for too large a limit increase. You will be viewed with suspicion and appear desperate. It’s best to ask for a 10% to 25% increase.

If you’re approved, the increase will take effect right away. Note that some issuers perform hard inquiries to evaluate your request, which can temporarily lower your score.

We have a loan for you!

Get a $200 loan now for bad credit.

How to apply for a credit card with $500 limit guaranteed approval

Applying for a card is one of the basic parts of adult life. Most people have three to four cards and see offers for more all the time. Now, guaranteed approval is a term you’ll often hear, but unfortunately, there’s no such thing. No card issuer approves every single candidate. That said, the cards we’ve listed offer ‘almost’ guaranteed approval. They have lenient requirements and many offer a line of $500 to applicants with lower scores.

To apply for any card, follow these steps:

  1. Research: Compare different cards to find the one that suits your needs. Look at the potential limits and rewards. Consider the foreign transaction fee, annual fee, and APR range. Check out the issuer as well. See if they have a good reputation and if they offer easy online access or mobile apps.
  2. Check Eligibility: Ensure you meet the card’s requirements, such as minimum income and score. There is no point in applying for a card you don’t qualify for.
  3. Gather Information: Have your personal, financial, and employment details ready, including your Social Security Number, employment status, and housing expenses. Accurate and complete information increases your chances of approval.
  4. Prequalify: Prequalifying lets you see if you qualify and compare offers without affecting your score.
  5. Read Terms and Conditions: Pay attention to the fine print – annual fee, late payment fee, interest rates, and repayment terms – to avoid any surprises.
  6. Apply Online: Visit the issuer’s website and fill out the application. You may get instant approval or have to wait a few days.

Improve your credit score with a $500 credit card

A $500 credit card limit can be an excellent starting point for rebuilding your score. To effectively raise your rating, follow these tips:

Always pay on time. On time payments tell lenders that you’re reliable and they will get their money back. Late or missed payments damage your score and stay on your report for up to seven years. Set reminders on your phone or automate payments to avoid this pitfall.

Maintain a low utilization ratio. In an ideal world, you’ll use less than 30% of your limit but more than 0%. On a $500 card, this means keeping your balance below $150.

Use your card for small regular purchases. A $500 limit card is perfect for filling up your tank or paying for groceries. Use it for smaller everyday expenses so that it is easier to pay the balance in full each month.

Pay your bill more than once a month. You don’t have to wait till your minimum payment is due to pay your bill. You can make payments at any time. Multiple payments help keep your utilization low.

Wait to apply again. It can be tempting to apply for a new card right away. The problem is that the issuer will conduct a hard inquiry, temporarily lowering your score. Wait at least a year before applying again.

Expand your reported payments. Certain companies report other monthly payments – rent, phone bill, utilities, subscriptions – to the three major credit bureaus, which can further boost your score.

Need money now but can’t get a loan?

Find loan options for poor credit.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, you can get credit cards with a $500 limit with bad credit. Many issuers offer secured credit cards, which require a refundable deposit, typically matching your limit. There are also Mastercard and Visa credit cards with a $500 limit for applicants with poor scores. These cards can help you rebuild your score with responsible use.

Yes, you can get a card without depositing money, even with a poor score. These are known as subprime unsecured cards. While they don’t require a security deposit, they usually come with higher interest rates and fees like an annual fee. Responsible use of these cards can help improve your score over time, increasing your access to better options with fewer fees and more rewards.

Secured cards are typically the easiest to get if you have a low score. These cards require a refundable security deposit, which acts as your limit. Because the deposit minimizes the risk for the issuer, approval rates are higher.

No issuer approves absolutely every candidate. Secured credit cards are the easiest to be approved for as they are designed to help you raise your rating. Subprime unsecured credit cards are also easy to be approved for including the ones listed above. 

Store cards are generally easy to qualify for. Many issuers will accept candidates with low scores. The problem with store cards is they are typically closed-loop cards, meaning you can only use them at the issuing store. They also tend to have higher interest rates than a regular Mastercard or Visa credit card.

The best $500.00 credit card for bad credit typically features no annual fee, reports to all three major credit bureaus, and offers a straightforward approval process. Secured credit cards are a common choice, requiring a refundable security deposit equal to the limit, making it easier for those with poor credit to qualify.

Bottom Line

Credit cards with a $500 limit are a good starting point. They can help you improve your score and develop a relationship with the issuer that can lead to upgrades, limit increases, and other perks. 

A $500 limit is modest but it’s enough to show you can be trusted borrowing money. Demonstrate responsible habits – pay on time, keep your balances low – and you can achieve a good score and open the way to cards with higher limits and more perks.

About the author

Rachel Alulis

Rachel Alulis has been the lead editor for Moneyfor’s credit cards team since 2015 and for the financial rewards team since 2023. Before joining Moneyfor, Rachel worked at USA Today and the Des Moines Register. She then established a successful freelance writing and editing business specializing in personal finance. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA.