For those unable to qualify for a traditional credit card, a secured card can be an important tool for rebuilding your credit. Here’s a rundown on how to decide which options might be best for you, and how to apply.
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What is a secured credit card?
A secured card is a specific type of credit card that requires applicants to make a cash deposit in order to be approved. The experience of using a secured card for everyday purchases is mostly the same as a “regular” credit card, and the deposit requirement makes secured cards extremely attainable and a good option for people who want to build their credit with a credit card but don’t qualify for traditional unsecured credit cards because of bad credit or a lack of credit history.
Ratehub’s best secured credit cards
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You pay a deposit upfront in order to be approved for a secured credit card. The deposit serves as collateral, so it’s easy to be approved for these cards even if you have a bad credit rating. The spending limit on your secured credit card will be one to two times the security deposit you put down. If you miss your minimum payments, then the issuer may take money from your deposit to cover what you owe, but you cannot use the deposit yourself to make payments on your card. If you decide to close your account or to upgrade to an unsecured card, then your deposit will be returned.
Other than that, the card works just like a regular unsecured credit card. You can use it to buy things online, in stores, or to cover regular monthly bill payments, such as utilities or Internet service. If you carry a balance at the end of the month, you will be charged interest at the stated rate.
Do secured credit cards build credit?
Yes. In fact, building a better credit rating is the primary value of a secured credit card. Because payment history is such an important factor in determining a credit score, this is an excellent option for people who are new to the country, have no credit or poor credit, or have recently filed for bankruptcy. It is important to remember to be as careful making your credit card payments as you would with any other loan or bill payment. Missed payments can hurt your credit rating more easily than making payments can help it.
If you make your minimum payment on time every month, it’s possible to develop good credit in as little as a year. Once that happens, you may be able to qualify for an unsecured credit card and get your deposit back. It is good practice to use your secured credit card regularly but to use it sparingly. You want to be sure you can pay off your entire balance each month to avoid paying interest.
Secured vs unsecured credit cards
Secured credit cards
Easy to get approved for (even if you have bad credit)
Often have annual fees, or setup fees
Don’t come with any perks or rewards
Can have higher interest rates, but rates can vary b
Can help build credit
Unsecured credit cards
No deposit required
Require a moderately good credit rating
No set up fees; many options do not have annual fees, while others do
Can come with benefits such as travel points, cash back, travel insurance and so on