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Choosing a Credit Card When You Have Poor Credit

Aug 17, 2007
Poor credit is something that can happen to just about anyone, and it's not always due to circumstances we could have controlled. Sometimes life events just go beyond what even the most budget conscious could have paid for.

Once you have things back under control, it's time to start rebuilding your credit. Even if you hope to never have debt in your life again, building a good credit history can help you.

Your credit history can impact your ability to get a job, a car, a home. It can even impact the rates you pay on insurance. Places you wouldn't necessarily think of may run a credit check on you.

This makes selecting a credit card to help you build up that score very important. You want it to be something that will help you rather than make things worse.

Many credit cards for poor credit have annual fees. These may not sound too bad, and in many cases really aren't that bad, until you add them on top of all the other fees that may be charged. Some companies have a fee to join and a monthly fee on top of that, to where the fees are costing you more than you may have planned on spending on the card.

Right off the top, make sure you understand the fee schedule before you even apply for the card. There's no point in paying for a card you're going to loathe. Take a little time and you can find much more reasonably priced credit cards.

And don't pay a fee until you actually get the card. This is one of the best ways to avoid being scammed. You may be having a hard time building up your credit, but that's no reason to skip your due diligence. It's for your own protection.

The interest rate offered to you matters, even if you aren't particularly planning on carrying a balance. You might need to at some point, so do take this into consideration.

A big consideration is whether you want to go with a secured or unsecured credit card. You can find these available to you, pretty much no matter what your credit looks like. Which you prefer is pretty much up to you.

However, if you prefer a secured credit card, make sure that it is a true secured card and reported to the credit bureaus. You do not want to be wasting your efforts with a prepaid debit card when you're trying to rebuild your credit score. The two can sound very similar, so be sure to ask the company when in doubt.

The grace period can be another major sticking point. You want to have enough time that you actually have a chance of getting your payments in on time. You may be capable of taking that bill the day you get it and sending your payment straight in, but what if you don't? You need a sufficient grace period to allow yourself to comfortably make that payment.

Beyond all these factors, you want to look at what you really want from the card. If you're going to carry a balance, a rewards card honestly is probably not the best choice, since the interest will probably eat up your benefits.

Going from a poor credit score to a good one takes time, but it's a necessity of modern life for most people. If you work at it you should be able to improve your credit score steadily and make the move to a regular credit card over time.
About the Author
Stephanie Foster blogs at http://credit-blog.findcreditonline.com/ on credit related issues. If you need to find a credit card for poor credit, she suggests looking over the unsecured credit cards at her site.
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