There are several different types of credit cards out there. How do you choose the right one? Read more to find out!
People frequently wonder if a secured credit card may be used to establish or improve credit. Of course! A secured credit card, when used correctly, can help a person considerably raise their credit score.
So what exactly are secured credit cards? Let’s find out!
What are Secured Credit Cards?
Secured credit cards are a type of credit card that requires the cardholder to provide a cash deposit as collateral before they can use the card. Unlike traditional unsecured credit cards, where the credit limit is based on the cardholder's creditworthiness and financial history, secured credit cards are backed by the deposit made by the cardholder.
People who are just getting started with establishing or restoring their credit typically turn to secured credit cards. They allow people who may not be eligible for standard credit cards to gain access to a credit line, which is necessary for establishing credit.
When Should You Consider Secured Cards?
You should consider secured cards under the following circumstances:
- Limited or No Credit History: Secured credit cards are ideal for individuals who have a limited or no credit history. If you're just starting to build your credit profile, a secured card can provide you with a valuable opportunity to establish creditworthiness
- Need to Rebuild Credit: Facing financial challenges or experiencing negative marks on your credit report can indeed be discouraging. Late payments, defaults, and other unfavorable remarks can significantly impact your credit score, making it harder to secure favorable financial opportunities. If you're on a journey to rebuild your credit, a secured credit card can be a valuable tool in your arsenal. As you use the secured credit card responsibly—by making on-time payments and keeping your credit utilization low—you start demonstrating to creditors that you've learned from past mistakes and are committed to improving your financial behavior.
- Desire for Financial Discipline: Secured cards require you to make a cash deposit that acts as collateral. This deposit becomes your credit limit. By using a secured card, you can develop healthy financial habits, learn to manage expenses within your means and build a positive credit profile.
- Unsecured Credit Card Rejections: If you've been rejected for unsecured credit cards due to poor credit health, a secured credit card can provide you with an alternative option. It allows you to access credit while minimizing the risk for the card issuer
- Interest and Fee Considerations: Secured credit cards generally have lower interest rates compared to unsecured credit cards, making them a more cost-effective choice. Additionally, they often have lower annual or joining fees, making them a suitable option for individuals with limited credit
- CD Collateral: If you have a sum of money, you can open a savings account or certificate of deposit (CD) with that money. Then, you can use this savings account or CD as collateral to secure a secured credit card. The credit limit on the card will typically be based on the amount you have on deposit
- Gradual Credit Limit Increase: With good repayment behavior, some banks may increase your credit limit over time. This can help you manage your expenses more effectively and continue to demonstrate responsible credit usage
- Opportunity for Future Loans: Building a positive credit history through a secured credit card can increase your chances of qualifying for low-interest loans in the future, such as personal loans, auto loans, or home loans
Before applying for a secured credit card, make sure to review the eligibility criteria of different banks, consider your credit goals, and research the benefits and features of various secured credit card options
How Do Secured Credit Cards Work?
Here's how secured credit cards work:
- Cash Deposit: When applying for a secured credit card, the cardholder is typically required to make a cash deposit with the card issuer. This deposit serves as security for the credit card company, ensuring that they have funds to cover any potential default on payments.
- Credit Limit: The credit limit on a secured credit card is usually equal to or slightly higher than the amount of the cash deposit. For example, if the cardholder makes a $500 deposit, their credit limit maybe $500 or slightly more.
- Card Usage: Once the secured credit card is issued, the cardholder can use it just like any other credit card to make purchases. They are required to make monthly payments on their purchases, just like with an unsecured credit card.
- Building Credit: One of the main benefits of secured credit cards is that they can help individuals build or rebuild their credit history. Since the cardholder is using their own money as collateral, the risk to the credit card company is lower. As a result, secured credit cards are often available to people with limited or poor credit histories.
- Credit Reporting: Responsible use of a secured credit card is reported to the credit bureaus, just like with an unsecured credit card. Making on-time payments and keeping credit utilization low can help improve the cardholder's credit score over time.
- Deposit Return or Upgrade: Some secured credit card issuers may review the cardholder's credit history after a certain period of responsible use. If the cardholder has demonstrated good credit behavior, they may be eligible for a deposit return or an upgrade to an unsecured credit card.
It's important to note that while secured credit cards can help build credit, they may come with higher interest rates and fees compared to traditional credit cards. It is important to compare different secured credit cards that best suits their financial needs and goals.
Can You Use Secured Credit Cards To Build Credit?
People frequently wonder if a secured credit card may be used to establish or improve credit. The answer is yes. A secured credit card, when used correctly, can help a person considerably raise their credit score.
Secured credit cards disclose your payment history to the three main credit bureaus each time you make a purchase and pay off your balance. These agencies revise your credit report after receiving new information about your credit card transactions. Maintaining such a history of careful borrowing over time might do wonders for your credit rating.
If you want to use a secured credit card to improve your credit, paying on time is crucial. FICO states that your payment history is the most important factor in your credit score, accounting for 35% of the total.
Making your secured credit card payments on time will help build your credit score. Making all of your payments on time each month shows lenders that you can be trusted as a borrower, which can boost your credit rating.
Another way secured cards can improve your credit is by managing your credit utilization ratio. This ratio, the amount of credit you use compared to your total available credit, is a key factor in credit score calculations. By keeping your balance low, you can maintain a low credit utilization ratio, which can help improve your credit score. A low credit score can be the result of high credit utilization or several hard queries into a consumer's credit history.
When Should You Exit Secured Credit Cards?
Exit from secured cards and transitioning to unsecured cards are important steps in your credit journey. Here's when you should consider exiting from secured cards and the options available:
- Improved Credit Score: You should consider exiting from secured cards when your credit score has significantly improved. Responsible use of a secured card, including making on-time payments and maintaining a low credit utilization ratio, can help boost your credit score over time. Once your credit score reaches a level where you qualify for unsecured credit cards, you may consider transitioning. It is recommended to consider exiting secured credit cards and transitioning to unsecured credit cards when your credit score reaches around 650 or higher.
- Credit History Establishment: Exiting from secured cards is also appropriate once you have successfully established a positive credit history. Regularly using and managing your secured card demonstrates your creditworthiness and financial responsibility, making you eligible for more favorable terms on unsecured cards.
- Pre-Approved Offers: Keep an eye out for pre-approved offers for unsecured credit cards. If you receive offers with favorable terms, such as higher credit limits and lower interest rates, it may be a sign that you're ready to transition from a secured card.
- Unsecured Card Approval: If you're approved for an unsecured credit card with reasonable terms and features, it might be a good time to exit from your secured card. Unsecured cards typically offer more flexibility and benefits compared to secured cards.
What are the Alternatives to Secured Credit Cards?
What do you do once you move on from secured credit cards? Well, here are some options you should consider as the next step in your credit-building journey.
- Unsecured Credit Cards: As your credit improves, you can explore traditional unsecured credit cards. These cards do not require a security deposit and often come with higher credit limits, better rewards, and lower interest rates.
You can look into unsecured credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, and American Express Gold Card. These cards typically offer various rewards programs, such as cashback, travel points, or airline miles, and may come with additional benefits like travel insurance and extended warranty protection.
- Starter Credit Cards: Starter credit cards are designed for individuals with limited or fair credit. They offer basic features and may have lower credit limits, making them suitable for those transitioning from secured cards.
Some examples of starter credit cards are the Capital One Platinum Credit Card, Discover it® Student Cash Back, and the Petal® 2 "Cash Back, No Fees" Visa® Credit Card. These cards are tailored for individuals with limited credit history or fair credit scores, and they often have lower credit limits to help manage spending while building credit.
- Retail Store Credit Cards: Some retail stores offer credit cards that are easier to qualify for, making them an option for building credit. However, be cautious of the high-interest rates and fees associated with these cards.
Popular retail store credit cards include the Target REDcard, Amazon Store Card, and Macy's Credit Card. These cards are typically easier to qualify for as they are co-branded with specific retailers. While they can help establish credit, be mindful of their high-interest rates, especially if you carry a balance.
- Credit-Building Loans: Credit-builder loans are installment loans specifically designed to help you build credit. These loans require you to make regular payments, and once the loan is repaid, you'll have a positive payment history on your credit report.
Some of the most popular credit-builder loans are offered by. With these loans, you make monthly payments into a dedicated account, and once the loan term is complete, you receive the funds along with a positive payment history on your credit report. These loans are designed to demonstrate responsible credit behavior and help improve your credit score over time.
- Secured Cards with Graduation: Some secured card issuers offer the option to "graduate" to an unsecured card after a certain period of responsible use. This transition may involve returning your security deposit and receiving an unsecured card.
Remember, the decision to exit from a secured card and transition to unsecured credit options should be based on careful consideration of your improved credit standing, financial goals, and available offers. It's advisable to continue practicing responsible credit habits to maintain and further improve your credit profile.
If used carefully, a secured credit card can pave the way to an unsecured card with lower interest rates and more perks. As your credit history and score improve, you may be able to upgrade from a secured to an unsecured credit card.
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Want to understand the intricacies of a credit score? Read more here!