Approximately 45 million Americans have no credit history. This can make life difficult, because a credit score is often needed if you want to apply for an apartment or mortgage, buy a car, or find a job. To build or rebuild credit, our credit counseling advice is to start with secured credit cards.
What is a secured credit card?
Secured credit cards require an initial security deposit before you are able to use them. Other than the security deposit, it works just like a regular unsecured credit card. However, the limit on secured cards is relatively low, typically the amount that you paid for the security deposit. Additionally, the interest rates on secured credit cards are higher than those of unsecured cards. That being said, it is a good idea to the balance in full every month.
Who uses secured credit cards?
People who have little to no credit history are usually the main users of this type of credit card. Those who are trying to rebuild their credit history after struggling with consumer debt also can use secured credit cards to get back on track. Secured credit cards report to credit bureaus just like a regular card. They are a great starting point for establishing credit. You can think of a secured credit card as the “training wheels” for a regular credit card in a way. A teenager or someone post bankruptcy are good candidates.
When should I get an unsecured card?
The credit card issuer will most likely offer you a regular, unsecured credit card after one year. Once you have spent a year using your secured credit card and have consistently paid it off, you will be able to “graduate” to an unsecured card. These credit cards offer better rewards and lower interest rates. Just keep in mind that you still need to use it responsibly. It can be easy to fall into the trap of accumulating too much credit card debt.
If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today.