Finance Globe

U.S. financial and economic topics from several finance writers.
3 minutes reading time (536 words)

Secured Credit Cards

My first credit card was a secured card.

I was 19, had a stable job and paid my rent and utilities on time. I spent money responsibly and took pride in managing my finances. I thought it would be easy to get a credit card.

I soon learned that creditors did not see me the way I did, I had not established credit by simply paying my bills. How can a person establish credit if nobody will give them credit, or how can someone start over after bankruptcy if they're not given a chance? I then found out about secured credit cards.

A secured card is used just like any other credit card and retailers won't know that it is secured. You will have to make a deposit into a savings account with the card issuer, and that amount will serve as collateral in case the bills are not paid.

Your deposit will not be available for withdrawal as long as your secured credit account is open. After a year or two of paying your bill on time, the credit issuer may graduate you to a non-secured account and you'll be allowed to withdraw your deposit.

While a secured credit card may be your only option, be on the lookout for predatory card issuers. Some may try to take advantage of you knowing that you cannot easily get credit.

An annual fee of $25 to $50 is pretty common and considered to be reasonable, but unscrupulous lenders may charge annual fees in the hundreds. Make sure you know how much interest you'll be paying on this credit. It is required by law that lenders disclose the annual fee, the APR, and grace periods on the credit. You can find this information on the back of any legitimate credit offer.

Be wary of "banks" you've never heard of. You are trusting your hard earned money to someone, you want to make sure they really are who they say they are.

You might even start with your local bank that you already have an account with to see if they offer a secured credit card. They may give you a better deal if you've been a long time customer than an out of state bank you have no relationship with.

Be an informed consumer and read the fine print in any mailings you're considering. Shop around for the best offer; trusted companies like Finance Globe can direct you to reputable lenders offering secured credit cards.

The simple fact is that you will pay higher interest rates with a secured card than someone who has impeccable credit. The bank considers you to be a higher risk so it will charge more to take that risk with you.

You can avoid these interest charges altogether and still build your credit by paying your balance in full before the grace period ends, often 25-30 days. Just be sure not to charge more than you plan to pay off every month and make the payments on time.

A secured card is not the best deal around, but for some it's the only option. With discipline, timeliness, and patience you can build your credit and soon other options will become available to you.
Establishing Credit
Choosing the Right Credit Card
 

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Monday, 21 October 2019

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