Secured Credit Cards - Easy Way To Establish or Re-establish Credit
Secured credit cards are designed to assist people who have never had credit or those who have bad credit, in order to enable them to establish a good credit rating.
Typically, secured credit cards are issued when the holder is able to offer a type of "security" deposit to the lender by depositing a pre-arranged amount of money into a savings account, money market or certificate of deposit. This is how it works: Usually, for a small fee, the lender will allow the cardholder to utilize the credit card within the specified parameters. Unlike using the cash for any purchases, the secured card creates a credit history for the holder, thus contributing to their overall credit rating.
With a secured credit card, it is imperative that you make full payments each and every month; otherwise interest is charged on the outstanding balance. If you default, the lender will use the amount in the security account to pay off the debt and this can result in more damage to your credit rating.
Don't Fall Prey To Credit Card Scams
As with any other financial undertaking, it is important that you read the fine print so you are totally aware of exactly what you are paying for. There are some pretty unscrupulous predators out there whose primary goal is separating you, the consumer, from your money. For this reason, you should pay particular attention to the fee schedule prior to accepting any offers for credit cards. Of course, no-fee credit cards are best, but most often the lender will require a small one-time activation fee, which can typically range from $25 to $60.
The user must be vigilant when obtaining credit, so it is your responsibility to make sure there are no hidden fees. Special care must be taken when the contract contains clauses outlining registration charges and/or set-up fees. In some cases, the cost of the card can quickly exceed your credit limit, thus only adding to your credit woes.
Do Your Research On Secured Credit Cards Before You Apply
With a secured credit card, you may have to pay a higher than average interest rate, however, this does not mean that the interest charge is outlandish. Many secured cards offer competitive rates under 19% and again, this is where diligent research on the part of the user becomes paramount. You should be cognizant of all grace periods, the penalty for late payments and the fees charged should full payment not be made within the proscribed time frame.
Once you show due diligence over the specified time frame (most lenders like to see a history of six months to one year of responsible credit card use), the creditor may offer to double the amount of credit available to you, with a portion of this fixed amount being unsecured. Should you choose to close out the account, however, the unsecured funds must be returned to the lender.
The cardholder should ensure that the creditor regularly informs credit-reporting agencies of their payment history. Once it can be established that you are using credit reliably and sensibly, your credit score will increase and you will then be eligible to apply for an unsecured credit card.
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