secured credit cards

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If your credit rating has seen brighter days, or if you simply don’t have any credit, you may still be able to get approved for a secured credit card. Secured credit cards are essentially credit cards backed by collateral that you provide up front. Often this collateral is just cash: so if you give the bank $300 as a guarantee that you won’t default on payments or simply ignore them, then your credit limit will be set at $300. That is to say, you cannot spend any more than $300 without first paying some of it off.

This may not sound like the ideal situation for many credit card users, but it may be the only way for people whose credit is not good enough to get approved for something better, like a low interest credit card. Then, once a pattern of punctuality and trust has been established with the bank or credit card company, they will often offer to extend your credit limit. These types of cards are called partially secured credit cards. Continuing the example above, if you used the card enough and made a year’s worth of payments on time, they may offer to double your limit. This would mean that for your $300 collateral that the bank still has, you can now spend up to $600 on the card.

It is important not to take this as a green light to spending, however; you are still responsible for every penny you spend. In addition to that, once you begin to carry a balance again, your credit rating begins to drop again, and with it goes the rapport with the institution that issues your credit card. Also keep in mind your APR, or the amount of interest you will be paying on an overdue balance. It is very easy to drive yourself back into serious debt and credit trouble when enjoying your new freedoms.

However, if you continue to use the card frequently and make payments diligently, your institution may upgrade your partially secured credit card to an unsecured credit card. Again, this is an institution’s way of rewarding you for charging with their card and being punctual with payments. Don’t abuse the freedom, and the trust will continue to grow with your credit rating. In fact, this is a technique used by many to get their credit rating high enough that a company will consider them for a mortgage. It only works, however, if the card gets significant use and every single payment is made exactly on time.

Another option to consider is a prepaid card, which essentially will link your card to a bank account, similar to a debit card. These often have fees associated with them, but there is no collateral involved and your spending is only limited by what you have in the bank account. However, some people will appreciate the credit limit of a secured credit card as opposed to a prepaid card. In essence, it is just more motivation to build savings. So if you’re having problems getting approved for cards with more appealing offers, consider getting a secured credit card as a way to build your credit.