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Best Cards For Rebuilding Credit

The best way to build good credit is to use credit responsibly, but how do you do that when nobody gives you credit because of your low score? Many millions of Americans face this question when trying to rebuild their financial lives. The system seems designed to make sure the people who need credit most can't get it.

Rebuilding is a challenge, but it's not impossible, and even if your score is downright bad, you can still get the tools you need to begin the process. One of the best ways to do this is with a secured card.

What Are They?
Most cards are unsecured, meaning that you don't have to provide any collateral to get one and start using it. You can only get one of these if you have at least a fair credit score. Secured cards require the holders to make a cash security deposit, usually equal to or slightly more than the limit. Because the deposit protects the issuer from a possible default, these products are available to people with serious issues in their financial histories.

Issuing companies do sometimes reward responsible users with higher limits after a period, and these increases often don't require any additional deposit. With regular, responsible use, you can build your credit profile and qualify for an unsecured product down the line. If you close your account or convert it to an unsecured card, the issuer will refund your security deposit, in some cases with interest. If you keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit and pay every bill on time, you'll be on the road to a better score!

There are dozens of secured options out there. How can you choose the one that's right for you? Let's compare some of the most popular offerings. Look for the interest rate, annual fee, minimum deposit, and other features that suit your needs. Remember that a higher interest rate can balance out a low annual fee very quickly, though if you pay your bill on time every month, as you should if you are trying to improve your score, you won't have to pay interest. All of the options listed here report to the three major bureaus, an important feature for rebuilding your score. You'll have to put some effort into figuring out which is best for you, but with the right choice, you'll have the convenience of plastic and a way to improve your financial profile.

You'll find links to the application pages at the end of this article!

Discover it® Secured
Regular APR - 23.49%
Annual fee - $0

This popular option has no annual fee and gives you cash back on every purchase you make. You'll get 2% at restaurants and gas stations on up to $1,000 worth of spending per quarter and 1% cash back on all purchases. If you handle your account responsibly, you'll get an automatic review every seven months to see if you are eligible for an upgrade to an unsecured product. You'll get a free FICO Score report with every monthly statement, a useful tool for tracking your progress. You will need a bank account and a security deposit of $200 or more.

Wells Fargo Secured Visa®
Regular APR – 19.49%
Annual fee - $25

You'll get a very high potential credit limit (minimum $300, maximum $10,000), making it a good option for people with available cash. The $25 annual fee isn't too bad, and after 12 months of timely payments, Wells Fargo will review your account to see if you qualify for an unsecured card.

Excent™ Secured
Regular APR – 13.99%
Annual fee - $49

This option pays you interest on your security deposit, which needs to be a minimum of $200 up to a maximum of $5,000. That gives you some payback for the somewhat higher annual fee. You can apply even with a low score or no history, and approval is guaranteed if your income exceeds your expenses by at least $100.

Capital One® Secured MasterCard
Regular APR – 24.99%
Annual fee - $0

The Capital One Secured MasterCard will give you a limit greater than your security deposit, based on your creditworthiness. A security deposit of $49, $99, or $200 will get you an initial limit of $200. There's no annual fee. If you make your first five monthly payments on time, you qualify for a higher limit with no additional deposit!

primor® Secured Visa Gold
Regular APR – 9.99%
Annual fee - $49

The primor Secured Visa Gold Card has a low APR of 9.99% and offers a limit equal to your deposit, anywhere from $200 to $5,000. Your deposit also accrues interest but does not compound. There's no minimum score, making this an excellent choice for people with past issues in their financial histories. The annual fee is on the steep side, but if you often carry a balance, the low APR could make up for it. Just remember that carrying a balance is bad for your score.

U.S. Bank Secured Visa®
Regular APR – 19.49%
Annual fee - $29

With the U.S. Bank Secured Visa, your security deposit (minimum $300, maximum $5,000) goes into an FDIC-insured, interest-accruing U.S. Bank savings account. Following 12 timely payments, U.S. Bank will review your account to see if you are eligible for an upgraded, unsecured card. You can use this anywhere in the world, and it carries a range of fraud protection benefits, auto rental insurance, and online banking, making it a great choice for travellers.