The five-card shuffle: credit builders

Sunshine after the rain
Sunshine after the rain - you can see where we're heading with this, can't you?
"Using these regularly and making sure they're paid every month, could go a long way to helping you get back on the road to a more favourable rating"
  • | by Matthew Sanders

Finding out that you’ve got a bad or limited credit rating isn’t a great feeling, especially if it means you have been knocked back for a mortgage, credit card, loan, or similar.

It might seem quite strange, but one of the best ways to address a rating is by building your credit record back up to an acceptable level is by using… a credit builder credit card.

While you might think that credit card providers wouldn’t be in a hurry to hand cards out to individuals without great track records, there are selected cards on the market which are more easily obtainable.

Using these regularly and making sure they’re paid every month, could go a long way to helping you get back on the road to a more favourable rating.

So, let’s take a look at what’s out there….

Barclaycard 18-month Visa

Barclaycard Platinum Visa

  • 0% on balance transfers for 18 months
  • 0% on new purchases for three months
  • Designed for people with limited credit history

This card sits somewhere in the middle of the market – if your credit history is very poor you probably won't qualify, but on the other hand, it’s also not aimed at those with a silky smooth file.

It’s a card aimed at those with a limited history rather than a poor one, so if you’ve not had much experience of debt or debit, then this one may be for you.

Bear in mind that you won’t be able to transfer any balances from other Barclaycards. That 18-month interest-free balance transfer period could also help you wrestle any debts you already have under control.

Aqua Classic Mastercard

Aqua Classic Mastercard

  • Representative APR: 29.7% (Variable)
  • Free Aqua Credit Checker, worth up to £80

This card boasts one of the lowest APRs of the credit-builder bunch. It’s also known to accept customers with low incomes and previous County Court Judgements, which is something of a rarity.

However, customers shouldn’t count on having a high credit limit to play with – for this, or any card focused on customers with a poor credit limit, for that matter.

Vanquis Bank Visa


  • Representative APR: 29.8%
  • Easy-to-manage credit limit up to £1,000 with regular reviews

Vanquis has a lower income expectation of potential customers than the majority of other card providers, so if money is in short supply this might be the card for you. The APR is on the lower end of the spectrum for cards for people with low incomes or poor credit limits, and it might well help you build your credit score up.

Capital One Classic Extra

Capital One credit card

  • Representative APR: 34.9% (Variable)
  • 0.5% cashback on purchases
  • No annual fee

Think that cashback and foreign usage is only for the high-rollers with premium cards? Think again: this nifty number from Capital One gives 0.5% cashback on purchases, and has no foreign use charges.

And as if the prospect of building up your credit rating wasn’t enough incentive to pay on time every month, you could earn an annual £10 bonus for being punctual with your payments. Better than a kick in the backside, I suppose.
However, you’re unlikely to be accepted without a previous UK credit history of some kind, and that 34.5% APR is pretty hefty.

Vanquis Bank Visa

Vanquis bank credit card

  • Representative APR: 39.9%
  • Credit limit increases available

If you’ve been turned down elsewhere and need to build your credit rating back up, the Vanquis Bank Visa will provide you with plenty of tools to keep on top of your account.

If features online and SMS account management facilities galore. However, watch out for that APR; at just shy of 39.9%, it’s vital that you keep on top of your payments.

Learn more about credit ratings, how they could affect you and how to build and maintain a good score.