Every month, we choose the Best Credit Cards in America that are ideal for a specific purpose. We choose reward cards for people who pay their balance in full every month, and low interest rate cards for those who need to carry a balance. Yet all of these comparisons assume that the applicant has good, or at least average credit.
Nevertheless, there are still millions of potential credit card users who have problems with their credit. Although some people’s credit problems stem from poor decisions that they once made, others are the result of extenuating circumstances such as job loss, medical bills or divorce. Yet these consumers need to know that however they got to this place, there is always a way out. Secured credit cards are a lifeline to those who need to build a positive credit history, but cannot qualify for a traditional, unsecured credit card.
The problem is that the market is flooded with secured cards that have exorbitant fees, high interest rates and unfavorable terms. A secured credit card requires a cardholder to make a cash deposit to “secure” the total limit on the credit card. Those applying for a secured card should look for a card with a single annual fee, not a costly monthly fee. The best products will not charge an application fee, and will offer the same interest-free grace period that other credit cards do. For those who travel, a secured card can also offer rental car insurance and eliminate the challenge of attempting to rent a car without a credit card. Finally, secured cardholders are in a great position when they can eventually upgrade their card to a regular credit card offered by the same bank.
Before we reveal the winners, a note of caution. These cards are indeed a lifeline to those who want to rebuild their credit, but cardholders must also be extremely vigilant about their spending and payment habits. Now is the time to begin paying each statement balance in full and on time, every month. This practice will eliminate interest charges while helping you to build your credit history quickly. After a year or two of making on-time payments, most banks will be able to offer you a non-secured card and refund your deposit.
This card offers nearly everything that a secured card should, and it is offered by a reputable major bank.
Why it won: The Wells Fargo Secured Card card has many standout features including a low annual fee, a reasonable interest rate and valuable benefits.
The Benefits: Applicants can offer a refundable deposit of between $300 and $10,000, which then becomes the cardholder’s credit limit. Cardholders then receive many of the same benefits of a standard credit card, including auto rental collision damage waiver, emergency card replacement, roadside dispatch, and travel assistance services. Furthermore, cardholders even receive cellphone insurance that covers theft or damage claims up to $600, with a $25 deductible. Considering the price of most cellphone insurance policies, this can be worth more than $100 a year.
The costs: There is a $25 annual fee for this card and it has a standard interest rate of 18.99%. Cardholders receive an interest-free grace period when payments are received by the due date, 25 days after the close of their billing period. Unfortunately, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee on all purchases processed outside the U.S.
Why it won: This card offers reasonable fees, and valuable benefits.
The Benefits: Applicants place a security deposit of at least $300, which then becomes their credit limit. Interestingly, this security deposit is held in an interest-bearing account. Cardholders also receive travel & emergency assistance, auto rental collision damage waiver and travel accident insurance.
The costs: There is a $35 annual fee for this card and a standard interest rate of 20.99%. The due date to avoid interest will be 24-30 days after the billing cycle closes. There is a 3% foreign transaction fee on purchases in a foreign currency.
Why it won: This card offers reasonable fees, a spending limit in excess of the initial deposit, and the chance to apply for an unsecured card.
The Benefits: A minimum security deposit of $49 offers cardholders a credit limit of $200, and customers can deposit more to increase their line of credit. Because cardholders’ credit lines can exceed their security deposit, not all applicants will be approved for this card.
The costs: There is a $29 annual fee for this card, and the standard interest rate is 22.9%. Cardholders have the standard 25-day grace period in which to pay their balance in full and avoid interest charges. Thankfully, there are no foreign transaction fees with this card.
At publishing time, the Capital One Secured MasterCard is offered through Credit.com product pages and Credit.com may be compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for the card. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
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