Rebuilding Your Credit With Credit Cards

Rebuilding Your Credit With Credit Cards

Rebuilding Your Credit With Credit Cards

Credit can be a frustrating concept—you need to have credit to raise your score to be eligible for desirable cards and loans, but you can’t build it without taking out a credit line. This becomes even more challenging for individuals who have had to use credit cards to cover needed expenses and were unable to pay the bill on time, creating a cycle of late fees, interest payments, and hits to the credit score. [2]

Generally speaking, someone with a credit score of 690 and above is classified as having “good credit.” People with fair or average credit typically have a score ranging from 630 to 689, and any score below 689 is considered poor. Unfortunately, there are often life circumstances that necessitate decisions that result in a lowering of your credit score, and it takes time and pointed effort to raise scores that have fallen. [3]

Although having a poor credit score is not an ideal situation, there are some credit card options available. It may seem counterintuitive to open a line of credit when already struggling financially, but opening a new credit card can actually improve your credit score (so long as you do not overspend on the card or miss payments). While these credit cards may not be the most competitive or desirable, they can be used as stepping stones to help build back credit and to open opportunities for more desirable credit lines in the future. [1]

Why Open Another Credit Card Line With Poor Credit?

Building credit is based on proving that you can pay back what you’ve borrowed. Creditors value having multiple lines of credit because this demonstrates the borrower’s ability to follow through with commitments. Therefore, having more than one credit option can actually help improve your score because it shows that you are able to manage multiple accounts effectively. [1]

An additional benefit to having a few different cards is that you can utilize each card for its unique rewards. For example, if you have a credit card that offers double points toward travel rewards for all purchases made at restaurants, it would make the most sense to utilize this card when going out to eat. So long as you do not overspend on the card (which can result in additional debt due to interest accrual), you can utilize credit cards for their perks to save money on future purchases that you would have made anyway. [1]

When opening a new credit card line, it is important to shop around to search for any potential deals. For example, some cards have initial periods where either no interest or a low interest rate is charged for a set period of time. Consider comparing the interest rates for your current credit cards with the rate offered on the new card, as it may be to your benefit to transfer debt from one card to the other. Be sure to check and see if there are any balance transfer fees as well as the amount of interest you will be paying once the deal expires. This is one way to build credit and potentially save on interest that would have been paid on your other cards. [1]

Secured Versus Unsecured Credit Cards

While shopping for a new credit card, you may come across the juxtaposition of “secured” versus “unsecured” cards. Most cards are considered unsecured, meaning that the lender does not require the lendee to offer a deposit or some other form of collateral prior to getting the card. Credit cards with the best benefits and interest rates tend to fall within the unsecured categorization. [2]

In contrast, secured credit cards require the lendee to provide a deposit prior to getting the card. This deposit is paid in cash and is returned, so long as the user pays off what is spent on the card and does so on time. For secured cards, the credit limit tends to be low, and the user cannot carry a balance on the card that is higher than the deposit placed. Individuals with poor credit may find it easier to qualify for secured cards compared to unsecured cards and can work on boosting their score by monitoring their spending and following through with the contractual agreement. [1-3]

While there may be credit cards of both types available to those with poor credit, it is important to remember that these credit cards will likely come with increased interest rates or fees. Potential applicants should be sure to closely examine the credit card agreement prior to accepting the card. Individuals with poor credit may not qualify for the more desirable cards, but they may be able to use undesirable cards to their advantage to work on building credit over time. [1-2]

Benefits Of Acquiring A Less Desirable Card

Reading over some of the stipulations of cards available to individuals with poor credit can be somewhat daunting, and you may be wondering if it’s worth it to look into these cards in the first place. Although interest rates and fees may be high, these cards can provide a foundation for improving your credit score. [1]

More specifically, consumers may want to examine retail card options, as these can only be utilized in particular stores but still provide feedback for your credit score. These cards tend to have lower limits and high interest rates, so it is important to pay them off quickly. Retail store cards may provide additional discounts or benefits on purchases that you would have made anyway, regardless of having the card. In the end, this helps to save you money while you are rebuilding your credit. [1]

During your credit card research, you may also come across the term “subprime” to describe certain credit cards. These cards are available to individuals with poor credit history. Consumers may want to consider applying for a subprime credit card that is secured, as the interest rate will likely be lower than the rate offered for a subprime unsecured card. Some places offer the option to upgrade from a secured card to an unsecured card over time, as the credit score improves. [1-4]

While having a low credit score can be difficult to manage, taking the time to research your credit line options and making a plan to help improve your score will likely pay off over time. Regardless of your decision, it is crucial to make payments to your cards on time and to maintain a relatively low balance, if possible. Building credit takes time but is not unobtainable, especially if you are aware of options available for people with poor credit scores.

References:

[1] https://www.nation.com/bad-credit-no-problem-getting-a-credit-card-is-easier-than-ever/
[2] https://www.thebalance.com/pros-and-cons-of-secured-credit-cards-960202
[3] https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/credit-cards/what-is-unsecured-credit-card
[4] https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/subprime_credit_card.asp

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