What is considered a bad credit score?
From the first time that you borrow money onward, you establish a credit file at one or more of the top three credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian or Equifax. Your credit score is a number that reflects the level of risk associated with your buying and payment behaviors. When lenders and other financial groups look at your credit history, they are seeking to determine the probability that you will pay back the money you borrow. Your credit score plays a key role in determining how to get a credit card. Those with high credit scores typically make on-time payments and avoid carrying obscene amounts of debt. The possible FICO score ranges from 300-850, with anything below 579 considered a bad credit score. For comparison, the national average score is 706. It doesn’t take long to severely damage your credit reputation. Though the road back to financial health may be more of a challenge, it’s possible to start rebuilding your credit with a few simple changes.
If you have bad credit, what should you take into consideration when shopping for a credit card?
If you want to improve your credit score, every dollar counts. You should scrutinize the fine print carefully and look for a card that minimizes fees.
You should also make sure that the card you choose reports to at least one of the three main credit bureaus so that using the card wisely will have a positive impact on your credit history.
- APR: Find out if the credit card has a fixed or variable APR and how high it can run. While you should always try to avoid carrying a high balance when building your credit, the APR will determine how much extra you have to pay when you can’t make your payment in full.
- Annual fee: Check to see if the credit card charges an annual fee before applying.
- Security deposit: many credit cards meant to help rebuild bad credit require a security deposit before you can begin utilizing the card. Many companies will match the amount you put down as your line of credit.
- Other fees: some cards require program or start-up fees
- Credit check required: if a credit check is required, you may do more harm than good if your odds of approval are low. Each time a company checks your credit, your score suffers.
What types of credit cards are there for bad credit?
There are two main types of credit cards for bad credit. Secured credit cards require you to make a deposit with the lender issuing the card. Subprime credit cards, sometimes advertised as “student credit cards“, are designed for people just establishing a credit history. Steer clear of cards that require upfront fees — or “fee harvester” cards — because these fees can cut into your credit limit before you even make a purchase.
What type of cards to avoid if you have bad credit
First Premier Bank Gold Mastercard
A 59.9 percent APR and a $75 processing set-up fee. In the second year, there’s a $75 annual fee, which First Premier charges you at the rate of $6.25 a month. And for this, you get a paltry $300 credit limit.
Centennial Gold MasterCard
First Premier Bank issues this card with a 59.9% APR, a $75 processing set-up fee and a $75 annual fee starting in the second year. It also has small credit limits.
Aventium Gold MasterCard
This card has the same 59.9% APR, $75 processing set-up fee and a $75 annual fee starting in the second year, with minimal credit limits.
Applied Bank Gold Visa Card
This unsecured card is expensive, and you get very little in return. The maximum credit limit is just $500. For that, you have to pay a $125 annual fee, which charges to your account. That reduces your credit limit to $375, resulting in incurring finance charges at 30% weeks before your first bill.
There’s also no grace period on purchases, so finance charges are inescapable, even when paying your bills on time. After the first year, the annual fee becomes replaced by a monthly maintenance fee of $15, or $180 annually. Additionally, Applied Bank charges a $100 credit limit increase fee.
Applied Bank Gold Match Plus Visa Card
To get the card, you have to open a deposit account with the bank of at least $300 (maximum $5,000). Your credit limit is the amount of the deposit plus $300. Although your deposit is FDIC insured, the bank doesn’t pay you interest on it. The APR is low at 23.99%.
What is the difference between a secured and an unsecured credit card?
A secured credit card requires a deposit ranging anywhere from $200 to $2,500. The card issuer keeps this deposit as security in case you default on your obligation to pay. An unsecured card does not require a deposit. However, you may need to meet stricter approval qualifications and have to pay higher fees with an unsecured credit card, so it is not necessarily a better deal.
What you need to know about credit scores
FICO, the acronym for the Fair Isaac Corporation, creates the score that 90% of lenders use to determine your creditworthiness. There are five categories within the 300-850 FICO score range: bad (300-579); fair (580-669); good (670-739); very good (740-799); exceptional (800-850). If you want to know your credit score, you can order a copy of the report from each of the three main credit bureaus for free once a year from the only site authorized by the federal government, AnnualCreditReport.com.
Fastest ways to raise your credit score
Everyone’s goal should be to raise their credit score. The higher the score, the lower the interest you’ll have to pay on loans, and the more you’ll be eligible for premium credit cards that offer sign up bonuses and other perks. Here’s how to do it: