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Secured credit card basics
How secured credit cards work
A secured credit card requires a deposit of certain amount of money into a bank account, and the credit limit can be based on a percentage of the deposited amount. This deposit for a secured credit card acts as a sort of collateral, and funds are not used for regular payments. This is unlike a prepaid card which draws from the funds you deposit. Like traditional unsecured cards, secured credit cards come with APRs, so paying attention to your spending and balances can help you keep interest payments low.
Can secured credit cards help your credit?
Typically, secured credit cards can be a good tool to help you establish or build your credit, as long as you make your payments on time each month, and keep your balance low relative to the credit limit, for positive marks on your credit report each month. Some issuers may not report to any or all credit reporting bureaus, and so it is important to check the issuer’s terms and conditions. As your on-time payment history lengthens, your credit score should improve. Having a secured card will be one of many steps on your path to achieving excellent credit, and so when your credit needs grow, you will be ready to move towards those next steps.
Applying for a secured credit card
Finding and applying for the right secured credit card can make things easier as you build your credit. Knowing what the terms and conditions are can help you decide whether it makes sense financially for you. Considerations can include what the fees are and what the interest rates or APR are. Your personal situation can also be a factor, such as what you are comfortable with in terms of spending. All of these can impact your decision on which issuer is best for you.
Secured credit card details
- Deposits: Deposit requirements can vary, such as the minimum amount required, and there could be limitations on withdrawals. Knowing what the limitations are can be an important factor for you. It could be important for you to be able to withdraw your deposit with no penalty, as long as you have no balance on your secured credit card.
- Card Fees: Some issuers may charge an annual fee, and there might be other issuers who may also charge a monthly maintenance fee. Knowing the additional fees can also help you decide which card is best for you, based on the total costs involved and what you are able to afford or willing to spend. Additional fees could include application fees, transaction fees, and penalty fees. There could also be optional fees for additional services, such as requesting a credit limit increase.
- Interest Rates: Interest rates for secured credit cards can vary and can be either fixed or variable. A fixed rate generally remains the same, unless certain events occur, such as a missed or late payment, which could raise your rate, or if a promotional period ends. A variable rate is tied to the economy and the prime rate, and can go up or down based on the performance of this prime rate. Paying attention to the interest rates can be important, especially if you tend to carry balance from month-to-month. Knowing how much you are paying on interest can give you a good idea about how much you are spending to use a secured credit card.