If your credit is on the low end of the scale, it may seem impossible to raise your score since you don’t qualify for 95 percent of the credit cards out there. But there are a small number of cards that are specifically made for those with bad credit, and can be used to raise your credit score so you will eventually be able to apply for the other 95 percent of credit cards.
How Do Credit Cards for Bad Credit Work?
First, keep in mind that not all credit cards designed for those with bad credit, or “secured” credit cards, report to the credit bureaus, which means they will not help raise your credit score. Make sure before you sign up for a secured credit card that it reports to all three of the credit bureaus. Also, most secured credit cards require a deposit, which acts as kind of an insurance for the credit card companies, since your credit score is so low. Most deposits are equal to the credit limit on the credit card, although some secured cards offer lower deposits as an incentive.
But the beauty of these cards is that they don’t require a credit check. So no matter how low your credit score is, you can qualify for a secured credit card.
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So Which Secured Credit Card Is Best?
This really depends on what you are looking for. Most secured cards are pretty standard, but there are a few that offer some great features and incentives that can be pretty enticing. Here are a few cards that are the best of the secured credit cards we’ve seen:
Best for low fees: If you are in debt and trying to rebuild your credit, the last thing you want to do is pay a bunch of fees. That’s where the Capital One Secured MasterCard comes in. First off, you only have to pay a $49 deposit, which can get you a credit limit in the thousands, if you qualify. It also has a annual fee of only $29, much lower than most other secured cards. You also get credit report monitoring with the card, which can help you keep track of your credit score.
Best for students: Students are in a different situation because their low credit score is from lack of credit. They also can qualify for a few student cards, even with a low credit score. The best of those is the new Discover it card for students. First off, it has a 0% introductory APR for the first 6 months, so you don’t have to worry about interest during that time. It also gives students 5% cash back in categories Discover chooses, as well as 1% cash back on everything else. Rewards are generally unheard of in student credit cards, so this is a good deal. (You can sign up here.)
Best for people with no credit: The Capital One Cash Rewards for Newcomers is for people that have no credit, generally immigrants who are new to the country. The best part about this card is that there is no annual fee, and you get rewards: 2% on travel and 1% on everything else. It also has no foreign transaction fee, so it’s great for travel.
Best for low APR: If you think you might use your card for big purchases that you want to pay off slowly, you might want to try the Applied Bank Zero Secured Visa Credit Card. It has a 0% APR (not introductory, it will always be 0%), which is great if you want to buy things interest free. The big downside: There is a $9.95/month fee that can cost you close to $120 for the year.