It’s not always easy to get a traditional credit card. If you have a limited credit history, low credit score, or limited income it can be especially challenging. When credit card application after application is turned down you may be discouraged, but don’t worry too much.

There are alternatives to conventional credit cards that you are likely eligible for. They can help you manage your finances and even build or rebuild your credit.

Let’s explore eight credit alternatives and see if one is a match for you.

1. Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card is a fantastic starting point if you have no credit history or poor credit. Unlike unsecured credit cards, a secured card requires a cash deposit that serves as collateral and typically sets the limit for your credit.

For example, if you deposit $500, you’ll have a credit limit of $500. If you miss a payment, the card issuer will use your deposit to pay your balance.

Secured credit cards are a low-risk option for issuers and can help you build your credit with on-time payments and responsible use.

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2. Retail Store Card

Retail store cards often have more lenient credit requirements, making them accessible for those with poor or limited credit. They can be used to build credit by making small purchases and paying the balance in full each month.

Watch out for high-interest rates and limited use outside of the issuing store, though.

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3. Buy Now, Pay Later

‘Buy now, pay later’ services have surged in popularity, offering a flexible way to spread out payments for purchases over time.

These services can be interest-free if you pay on time, making them an attractive alternative to traditional credit. Plus you usually don’t have to go through a credit check to use them, making them more accessible than credit cards.

Be careful of missed payments that can lead to fees, interest charges, and negatively impact your credit score.

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4. Subprime Credit Card

Subprime credit cards are designed for people with poor credit scores. These cards can help rebuild credit but typically come with high-interest rates, additional fees, and lower credit limits.

Read the fine print carefully and use these cards responsibly to build credit and avoid falling into debt. Before you apply, make sure that the issuer reports your credit use to at least one of the major credit bureaus.

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5. Short-term Loan

For immediate financial needs, a short-term loan could be a solution. These are usually smaller amounts with repayment due in a few months. Because of their high-interest rates and fees, they should be used sparingly and only in emergencies.

Make sure you have a solid repayment plan in place to avoid compounding debt.

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6. Arranged Overdraft

A lot of banks will let you arrange an overdraft if you’re in a pinch. This service allows you to spend more than you have in your account up to a pre-arranged limit giving you quick and convenient access to additional funds.

Keep in mind that overdrafts often involve fees and interest, so they should be used judiciously.

7. Credit Card Authorized User

Becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account can help you access credit and improve your score. The primary cardholder extends their credit line to you, allowing you to make purchases and reap the benefits of their credit history.

It’s important to choose someone who has good credit and is responsible. If they miss a payment, your score may suffer too.

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8. Cosigned Credit Card

If you can’t qualify for a credit card on your own, finding someone to cosign can help. A cosigner with a strong credit history can increase your chances of being approved as the primary cardholder.

The catch is that the cosigner becomes equally responsible for paying the bill, which can strain personal relationships if payments are missed. Clear communication and responsible spending are key.

Final Thoughts

Lack of access to a traditional credit card doesn’t mean you’re out of options.

You can get your hands on extra cash through loans, buy items on credit with joint applications, or take part in the rise of buy now, pay later apps. There is a credit card – or alternative – out there for everyone.

It’s just a matter of finding the right fit for you!