To get the best terms when purchasing a car or house, applying for a personal loan, or buying a new phone your credit score comes into play. Together with your credit report, your score tells the seller/lender your creditworthiness. Credit rating is based on your previous debt and how you managed it.
If you have a good and long credit history, you get favorable credit terms. On the other hand, without any credit to show or a report riddled with late payments and overdue debts, you’ll attract undesirable terms or not get approved at all.
So, how do you fix bad credit? One of the ingenious ways is using a secured credit card as explained below.
What Is a Secured Credit Card?
A secured credit card is just one of the broad categories of credit cards. The distinction is that, unlike traditional credit cards whose repayment is not guaranteed, the risk of defaulting on a secured card is reduced through a cash deposit.
The limit is equal to the deposit, meaning that the issuer assumes a very small risk. Additionally, the security makes it unnecessary for the issuer to ask for a credit report or attach a cap on credit scores when applying for a secured credit card.
How Much Is the Security Deposit for a Secured Credit Card?
Typically, the card requires the holder to deposit $200 to $300. However, some cards attract a deposit of just $49. The upper limit is around $2500 or more depending on the issuer and previous use of the card. What is important is to remember that the credit line is equivalent to the amount of money you put into the card.
Tips for Building Credit Using a Secured Credit Card
For the card to make a difference in your credit scores, you need to know how to use it wisely. The factors that go into credit rating calculations include; payment history, outstanding debt, new credit, credit mix, and the length of credit history. With this in mind, here is how to use a secured credit card like a pro:
1. Choose Your Card Wisely
Apart from the security deposit, you need to consider how much interest a credit card charges. The APR for secured cards is normally high and constant. It ranges around $24% or more which is in contrast to traditional credit cards that have an APR range of around 13.99% and 24.99%.
Another factor when choosing a card is the reward terms. Such include:
- Zero charges on international transfers
- Cash backs on restaurant and gas station payments
- Zero annual fees
2. Use the Card
Basically, once you deposit the security, the issuer expects you to start using the card. Wise usage calls for not maxing out your limit. You also need to keep a low card utilization; the percentage of the credit you are using is against your limit. The ideal credit utilization for building credit is 30% and below.
3. Make Timely Payments
The whole point of getting a secured credit card is to create a stellar credit history. As such, you have to make timely payments on the card to avoid penalties that lower your credibility. Why? As a factor in credit score calculations, payment history weighs the most at 35% of the total score.
4. Graduate to a Traditional Credit Card
If you use the card diligently, then after a year or thereabouts, your credit score will get a much-needed boost. It follows that you’ll stand a chance of qualifying for better terms on other credit lines. At such a time, and considering that you’ll have learned to use credit wisely, apply for an unsecured credit card. Also, keep in mind that the APR for secured cards is high and could be unattainable for years on end.
Secured credit cards are a godsend to individuals with no or low credit scores. It is easy to apply and get approved for the card and with the right usage; you’ll see your scores improve in 6 months or so. That said, the card comes with a high-interest rate and you must pay the deposit before the credit becomes accessible.