Improving your credit score is one of the most important things you can do for your finances, but finding ways to do this isn’t always easy.

After all, the surest way to improve your credit is to show you can make any debt repayments on time, but if your credit score isn’t the best, you might struggle to get accepted for a loan or credit card in the first place.

Fortunately, some providers offer credit cards for this exact purpose. Credit builder credit cards, as their name suggests, are designed for people looking to boost their credit score, and as such are available to people with weaker scores than other kinds of credit cards would normally demand.

This article will explain how these cards work and list some of the best credit builder cards available right now.

Do I need a credit builder card?

You might think about getting a credit builder card either if your credit score is relatively low, or if you don’t have much of a credit history to begin with (for instance, because you haven’t taken many loans or cards out in the past). Building and maintaining a good credit score is important, as without it, you may be unable to take out loans, mortgages and credit cards. Even if you are still eligible for some of these, a stronger credit history typically gives you access to better deals, so it is always worth looking at ways you can boost your score.

You might also have a weak credit score if you have been rejected for loans or credit cards before, have lots of credit cards to your name that you don’t use, or have made late repayments on loans or credit cards in the past. Early repayments can also damage your credit score if they happen to come with a penalty.

If you already have a credit card, then you probably don’t need to get a credit builder card, as they are usually targeted at people with no card who don’t have any other way to access credit.

Read more about how credit scores work in our article Do I need a good credit score to borrow money?

How do credit builder cards work?

When you are accepted for a credit builder card, your provider will generally start you off with a low credit limit, with the idea being that you only make small purchases each month for the first few months.

If you can pay your balance off on time each month and prove that you can borrow responsibly, your credit score will usually start to improve from around four to six months. 

The main downside of credit builder cards is that they tend to come with high interest rates, as providers see it as more of a risk to lend to people with weaker credit scores. So, while these cards can be great for people with weaker credit, you should be confident that you’ll be able to make your repayments on time each month, or you’ll not only be hit with hefty interest charges, but you could further damage your credit score.

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What are the best credit builder cards right now?

Sainsbury's Bank Everyday Credit Card

Starting credit limit: Between £1,000 – £2,000 per month

Representative annual percentage rate (APR): 29.4%

Apply: Online at Sainsbury’s

Tesco Bank Foundation Credit Card

Starting credit limit: Between £250 – £1,500 per month

Representative annual percentage rate (APR): 29.9%

You should know: You can also earn Tesco Clubcard points when you spend with this card.

Apply: Online at Tesco Bank

Capital One Platinum Credit Card

Starting credit limit: Between £200 – £1,500 per month

Representative annual percentage rate (APR): 34.9%

Apply: Online at Capital One

Post Office Classic Credit Card

Starting credit limit: £200 – £8,000 per month

Rep. APR: 19.9%-34.9%, depending on circumstances

You should know: You may be eligible for 0% interest on purchases and/or balance transfers for up to 12 months.

Apply: Online at Post Office Money

Where can I check my credit score?

There are three main credit scoring agencies in the UK – Experian, Equifax and TransUnion (formerly Callcredit). If you don’t want to pay to access your credit score, ClearScore offers a free credit checking service that accesses Equifax data. They also offer free identity protection that scans for stolen passwords, security problems and fraud defence tips.

Other options include MoneySuperMarket’s Credit Monitor tool*, which enables you to check your credit score and report free of charge using data from TransUnion and offers free personalised tips to help it grow. Experian also has a free service that enables you to sign up and check your credit score with them and Totally Money offers a similar service using TransUnion data.

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How else can I improve my credit score?

Credit builder cards aren’t the only way to build a good credit score. For more ways to get your credit in good shape, read our article Seven steps to improve your credit score.

For more information about the different types of credit cards, read our article A simple guide to credit cards.

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