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Should You Get a Secured Credit Card?

For young adults who have little or no credit history, it may seem impossible to build credit. After all, if you need credit history in order to apply to get a credit card to build credit, isn’t that a bit of a catch-22? Yes and no. This is where a secured credit card can be useful. As a non profit credit counseling agency, ACCC explains how to get a secured credit card and use it to build credit.

A secured credit card can help you build credit.

A secured credit card can help you build credit.

What is a secured credit card?

A secured credit card works almost the same as any other credit card. If you only pay the minimum or you don’t pay it off in full, it accumulates interest. Making on time payments and keeping your credit utilization below 30% will help you to increase your credit score.  The key difference between a secured credit card and a regular card, however, is that with a secured credit card, you are required to pay an upfront deposit (usually $200-$500) equal to your account’s credit limit.

After you have shown your creditor that you have responsibly used your secured credit card for a few months, they may increase your credit limit. Of course, even with a higher credit limit, the same rules apply. Just because you can spend more, doesn’t mean you should. Our credit counseling advice is to keep your spending about the same, that way your credit utilization rate stays low.

What if you get denied?

If you apply for a secured credit card and get denied, you might be confused at first. Secured credit cards are meant for people who have no credit history or bad credit, so why would you get denied? There are a few reasons. First, if you don’t have enough funds for the required deposit, you will probably get denied. Similarly, if you don’t have any income or documented proof of your income, you could get denied.

So, if you can’t get a secured credit card, what else can you do to build credit? Your other option is to ask a friend or family member if you can become an authorized user on their credit card. As long as both of you agree to stay within certain spending limits and pay off the credit card, you should be able to build credit this way.

If you struggle to pay off credit card debt, ACCC can help. Sign up for a free credit counseling session today. 


Madison is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. She is excited to share her tips on saving money and being financially responsible here on the Talking Cents blog!

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