Secured credit cards offer you all the benefits of a credit card with approval terms that are less difficult than unsecured credit terms. In fact, many people use a secured credit card to rebuild their credit or establish credit history early, years before they know they’ll need a good credit score.
So how can you decide which card is right for you? Here’s a list of features that you should be sure to look out for:
Low annual fees – Low annual fees are extremely important for secured card users. Most secured cards now have some kind of annual fee, which is often waived at a customer’s request. However, in the event you are not approved for a fee waiver, it’s important to hold fees as low as you can. A $29 fee is more than reasonable, and virtually standard in secured credit cards.
Multi-bureau reporting – A secured credit card should report to multiple credit bureaus to give you the most benefit that it can. Having a credit card report to all three bureaus is especially important if you wish to cover up old credit history, or build new credit history in the future. Many banks use only one or two credit bureaus, so you want to be sure that whatever report a banker pulls, your best information will be on the report.
Unsecured conversion – Look for a secured credit card that can be converted to unsecured with good payment history. Once you convert to unsecured or partially secured, the balance of your security deposit will be returned to you immediately. Converting to an unsecured card is a great way to “graduated” into better credit card offers as your history and credit score improve. Also, once you move to unsecured cards, the sky is the limit for your credit line.