Can I get a tourist card with bad credit?

If you want to travel more for less, applying for a trip reward card is one of the best ways to do so. For every dollar you spend on the card, you earn a trip reward that can help cover your flight, hotel, and other future travel expenses.

However, the best travel credit cards on the market are often only for those with a good or excellent credit history. This means that if your credit history is less than ideal, or if you don’t have enough credit history to qualify with major banks, you may find it difficult to get approved for a travel credit card.

Does this mean you should rule out getting a good travel credit card if you have a bad credit score? Not necessary.

Here are three credit cards you can still qualify for, along with more information to help you decide whether to apply for a travel credit card.

What are Travel Rewards credit cards?

A travel credit card brings rewards that you can use for flights, hotels, car rentals, and more. As with any credit card, the more you spend on the card, the more points or miles you earn.

What makes travel reward cards so special is that they tend to be much more valuable than a regular cash back or store credit card. Travel promotion cards tend to offer great introductory deals – we’re talking $1,000 or more – for new applicants.

Read more: Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards

In addition, travel cards offer high returns on everyday and travel purchases, and the accumulated points can be used for future redemptions. Some travel cards even offer exclusive benefits, such as airport lounge access or checkout credits for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, to enhance your journey in every way.

But these cards also come with a catch. Travel Rewards cards have some of the highest APRs on the market. If you don’t pay off your credit card bill on time, you’ll have to pay interest and late fees, which will hurt your credit score and negate the value of any rewards you’ve earned.

Read more: How to use a credit card responsibly

What credit score do I need for a travel credit card?

Based on the FICO scales, there are five ranges of credit scores:

  • Exceptional: 800+
  • Very good: 740 to 799
  • Good: 670 to 739
  • Fair: 580 to 669
  • Bad: >580

Because travel incentive cards are so popular, you will likely need to have a good or exceptional credit score for the vast majority of them. Not only that, but you will need to provide sufficient credit history. If you’re looking for your first credit card and don’t have at least a year of account history to verify your credit score, you’ll have a hard time getting approved.

And, unfortunately, if your credit score falls into the “fair” or “bad” ranges, you will most likely be denied the best cards.

Read more: What credit score do you need to get approved for a credit card?

For example, one of the most popular travel credit cards is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. This is a favorite card for its handling $95 annual fee, great reward potential, and a solid signup bonus. Although there are no official credit score requirements, most applicants with a credit score of at least 740 will be approved for the card.

The more prestigious the pass – or the higher the annual fee – the better the credit score you need. For most people, the Platinum Card® from American Express immediately comes to mind as one of the most luxurious travel cards, and its annual fee is a whopping $695. To qualify, you will likely need an exceptional credit score.

Read more: What is an excellent credit score?

Best Credit Cards for Traveling with a Low Credit Score

If your credit score isn’t quite up to par yet, don’t worry. There are some other significant bonus cards that can serve as a great starting option. Over time, as you improve your credit history by making timely payments, you may begin to qualify for some of those big kahunas mentioned above.

Read more: How to improve your credit score step by step

Best Credit Card Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards

The Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card has a low $39 annual fee and is designed for applicants with an average loan. So, if your credit score drops somewhere in the 600 range, this could be a great card for you.

Although Capital One QuicksilverOne is not marketed as a “travel” credit card, it offers many of the same travel benefits as competing cards. First, cardholders receive 5% cashback on hotels and car rentals booked through the Capital One travel portal and 1.5% cashback on all other eligible purchases, with no limit to the amount of rewards you can earn.

All rewards you earn can be redeemed in the form of a credit statement, check or direct deposit. What’s more, Capital One QuicksilverOne cardholders can redeem their rewards for flights, hotels or car rentals through the issuer’s online travel portal at a rate of 1 cent per card. This can be a great way to offset travel expenses, even as a “cash back card”.

Another key benefit of the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards credit card is the absence of transaction fees abroad. If you are traveling abroad, the card does not incur any additional fees or charges for paying in another currency.

Best for Poor Loans: Discover It Safely

If you have bad credit or a score below 580, you should use the Discover it Secured program as you work to build your credit history. To open the card, you are required to pay a fully refundable security deposit of between $200 and $2,500. The amount you deposit will determine the total credit limit available to you, and should you ever decide to close your account, you will receive your deposit back.

Protected credit cards usually have high annual fees or have no ability to earn rewards. Thankfully, Discover it Secured comes with no annual fee and offers 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to the first $1,000 spent per quarter.

You can save the money you earn back for future travel purchases. In addition, you can use your Discover it Secured card abroad as this card also does not charge any transaction fees abroad.

Read more: How secure credit cards work

Best for Students: Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card

If you are currently studying at an accredited two- or four-year university, this is the perfect time to get your hands on a trip reward card. Even if you don’t have a previous credit history, Chase offers easy chances of approval, and the Chase Freedom® Student Credit Card is specifically designed for college students.

Cardholders receive unlimited 1% cashback on all purchases. Although this is not the best level of earnings, it is better than not receiving any rewards at all. Other benefits include a permanent $20 reward after each account anniversary for up to five years, as well as an automatic increase in credit limit after five monthly on-time payments within 10 months of account opening.

In addition, Chase offers some of the best travel credit cards on the market. This means that if you build a solid foundation for this issuer now, you will be able to apply for better cards in a year or two.

Other Ways to Get a Travel Credit Card with Bad Credit

Applying for a travel credit card on your own isn’t the only way – there are several other options worth considering.

If your parent, guardian or other trusted adult has a travel credit card in their wallet, they can add you as an authorized user and then you can enjoy some of the benefits of a primary cardholder. In some cases, becoming an authorized user can be a smart way to earn credit quickly.

You may also have received advance travel credit card offers in the mail that said you were eligible to apply for the card. If any of these email offers are of interest to you, the chances of being approved can be much higher as you have been pre-screened based on a variety of factors.

As a general rule, try your best to pay your credit card statement on time and in full for at least one year. This is a time-honored method to improve your credit score and increase your chances of getting your desired travel reward card approved in the future.


It can be difficult to get approved for your dream travel pass without a good, very good, or exceptional credit history. However, this does not mean that all bonus credit cards are excluded. There are many cards that still offer rewards that you can save towards future travel expenses and other travel-related perks.

Once you improve your credit score, getting approved for the best travel credit card becomes a lot more real.

Featured Image: Kite_rin/Shutterstock.com

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