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How to get a credit card with bad credit: Consider a secured card

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  • Figuring out how to get a credit card with bad credit takes a little more thought than simply opening a card when you have good credit or excellent credit.
  • First, you want to check your credit score to confirm that you do have bad credit, and see exactly how high (or low) it is.
  • Then, explore your options: Some major card issuers offer cards specifically for building or rebuilding credit, or you can open a secured credit card until your credit is stronger.
  • Or, you could open a checking account with a debit card. That won’t help build your credit, but it will provide a non-cash way to pay for purchases online and in person.
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Good credit can unlock the key to so many promising things, like reasonable interest rates on loans, for example, and the ability to score a stellar credit card with great rewards.

If you have bad credit, though, it might not be impossible to get a credit card after all — it just might take some extra steps or ingenuity. Here’s where to start if you need a credit card and you have less-than-admirable credit.

1. Find out your credit score

If you’re just guessing that you don’t have good credit, or it’s been a while since you checked, it’s worth looking into again before trying to get a credit card. 

It’ll be hard to track your credit-score progress without knowing where you began. Banks often offer free credit-score tracking for customers, or you can check it for free at any time on sites like Credit Karma, Credit Sesame, and Credit.com. There is no need to ever pay for your credit score.

The credit-scoring company FICO issues five categories of credit scores:

  • poor: 300-579
  • fair: 580-669
  • good: 670-739
  • very good: 740-799
  • excellent: 800-850

Note that for most things, you don’t need perfect credit. Once you get solidly into “very good” territory, you should be able to get favorable terms from lenders.

If you find out that your credit score really isn’t that great, looking into the perks of cards for people with better credit might just get in the way of focusing on your ultimate goal: finding a credit card you can score with the credit you currently have, and working on building up your score for better options in the future.

2. Apply for a credit card specifically geared towards people with bad credit

Before turning to secured credit cards — more on that below — it’s worth looking into some of the regular, unsecured credit cards that offer products to people with bad credit. These cards might come with annual fees, but if you have a score that’s generally between 300 and 639, you could get an unsecured card that will help grow your credit score until you qualify for another card. 

Cards like the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit (no annual fee) and the Capital One Platinum Card (annual fee varies from $0 to $99) are marketed to people with limited or no credit history, who want to build or rebuild their credit.

If you’re trying to build your credit from scratch, Petal Card is a new credit card designed to do exactly that.

3. Try a secured credit card

One of the easiest ways for someone with bad credit to gain access to a credit card is through a secured credit card like the Discover it Secured, Capital One Secured, or Citi Secured.

A secured credit card requires a security deposit (hence, “secured”). The card issuer keeps this deposit, which is usually equal to your credit line, until you either upgrade to an unsecured card or close the account balance-free. Most secured cards allow you to convert to an unsecured version after you make on-time payments for a certain amount of time — generally after a year, although specific terms vary by card.

4. Become an authorized user on someone else’s account

Before heading down this avenue, know that asking someone to be added as an authorized user on his or her account is a very personal thing.

If you do want to try this route, find someone you know well and whom you trust (and who has good credit themselves). The primary cardholder is responsible for the balance, whether the authorized user is spending responsibly or not — so you want to make sure that you fall in the former camp.

Also, if you are added as an authorized user, confirm that the credit issuer actually reports you as an authorized user to the credit bureaus. If you’re not on file, it won’t help you with your own credit score in the long run.

5. Get a prepaid debit card

It’s important to understand that a prepaid debit card will do nothing to help with your overall credit score. This type of card is simply an alternative way to pay for items without cash, except it’s impossible to overspend with a prepaid card because you have a set spending limit.

If you have bad credit and are working on figuring out a way to secure an actual credit card, but you need a credit-card-like option in the meantime, a prepaid debit card can help you pay for things online, over the phone, or in a store without cash, and it will also help you stick to a set budget.

6. Stay the course and improve your credit over time

Even if you can’t get a credit card with your score right now, you’ll increase your chances if you continue to improve your credit. To do that, you’ll want to get in the habit of making payments on time, tackle any outstanding debt, and keep an eye on your credit report and score in case of any fraudulent activity (and to watch your score increase over time!).

Related coverage from How to Do Everything: Money

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Evicted California renters at greater risk of getting COVID-19

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After 70 years in Monterey County, 87-year-old Mary Martinez moved in the middle of a pandemic, evicted from her modest one-bedroom, second-floor apartment at 1118 Parkside St. in north Salinas.

According to her former landlord, Martinez was evicted because she allowed a “violent man” to live with her, violating the conditions of her lease. Martinez said the man is her epileptic nephew.

Advocates say that while evictions like Martinez’s are rarer during the pandemic, landlords are feeling the financial squeeze. Some have sold rental properties to make up for lack of income. That can leave renters out in the cold when their new landlord raises the rent by hundreds of dollars or requires all renters move out before they take over the building.

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New program to help Black-owned online businesses | Technology

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ATLANTA _ Many Black entrepreneurs struggle to get bank loans and professional help to launch new businesses. A new program aims to remove those stumbling blocks.

An Atlanta nonprofit and another business have committed $150 million to the 1 Million Black Businesses effort, which will make loans and provide financial and business advice to Black-owned startups and established small businesses. Atlanta-based nonprofit Operation Hope, which helps consumers improve credit scores, is kicking in $20 million, and Shopify, the online e-commerce is adding another $130 million for the loans and website-hosting services.

Other services firms providing expertise or help include Aprio, an Atlanta-based accounting firm, and First Horizon Bank.

It’s a package of products that many Black entrepreneurs couldn’t get through a bank or credit union, said John Hope Bryant, CEO of Operation Hope.

“A bank won’t lend you money unless you can prove that you don’t need it,” Bryant said. “That’s especially true with minority-owned small businesses.”

Small businesses with Black owners were half as likely to obtain business loans as whites, according to a Federal Reserve survey published earlier this year.

The initiative is the latest effort to help Black consumers and businesses enter the financial mainstream. Earlier this month, a group that includes rapper Killer Mike opened a digital bank aimed at Black and Latino consumers.

Banks and credit unions have tried for years to help Black consumers open checking and savings accounts. The efforts helped, as the number of U.S. households without bank accounts fell to 5.4% in 2019 from 6.5% in 2017, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Monday.

Consumers who own checking and savings accounts typically have access loans with better rates and a wider variety of financial services.

The federal government’s $660 billion loan initiative for businesses hit by COVID-19, the Paycheck Protection Program, also helped few Black-owned businesses, Bryant said. PPP loans were based on a company’s number of employees and its rent obligations. many Black-owned small businesses typically didn’t have enough workers to qualify and are based out of the owner’s residence.

Bryant said a bad credit history may not prevent applicants from receiving a loan.

He hopes more companies will contribute services such as insurance advice or software typically available only to well-established businesses.

Bryant noted that 1MBB is not a charitable organization, as participating companies like Shopify will likely get a pipeline of new business customers through the program.

“This is not pure philanthropy,” he said. “Shopify believes that Black-owned businesses are good businesses if they’re properly supported.”

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This Week’s Top Car Deals & Analysis – October 30, 2020

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The final days of October offer a chance to take advantage of outstanding model year-end deals. Most offers end November 2, which means there isn’t much time left to enjoy this month’s best lease deals and deepest new car discounts. We even found incentives that can help those with bad credit buy a new or used car.

2021 car deals. Interestingly, 2021 new car incentives are showing some surprises. For example, Audi is already offering up to $12,000 in savings when leasing the 2021 e-tron all-electric crossover. We even learned that the new Genesis GV80 SUV will debut with a $589/month lease deal plus special financing rates.

Believe it or not, the 2021 Hyundai Veloster N could prove to be a great value despite a nearly $4,700 price increase compared to the previous year. That’s because our analysis finds that better incentives can make it just $10/month more expensive to lease than the 2020 model. Talk about getting more for your money.

Why are small cars bad to lease? Even though smaller cars typically come with lower price tags, that isn’t always the case when leasing. A mix of lower discounts, worse residual values, and smaller discounts can actually make a Nissan Altima cheaper than a Versa despite having an almost $10,000 difference in MSRP.

Shorter-mileage leases. More brands are offering shorter mileage allowances on car leases. Although this is typically used to offer consumers more flexibility, we’ve found cases in which you can end up getting less for your money. If you don’t read all the fine print, this could make comparison-shopping difficult.

Bad credit car deals. If you have subprime credit, you may find it harder to get financed. However, some manufacturers are offering special incentives to help make cars & trucks more affordable. For example, Chevy is offering $2,000 in down payment assistance plus 9.9% APR for 72 months on the 2020 Trax.

$0 down leases. If you’re adamant about now putting down any money on a lease, you’ll love Sign & Drive leases. In addition to requiring no money down, $0 down lease deals can cover your first month’s payment. Even hot sellers like the Honda CR-V Hybrid offer $0 down and as little as $330/month on a lease.

The high cost of safety? Even though most major automakers are offering more safety features than ever before, our analysis finds that the highest IIHS safety ratings still require costly options in 2020. That’s starting to change, but the cost of buying a car with the most bragging rights is still very high.

Disaster relief. Those affected by some of this year’s natural disasters should be aware that automakers are offering assistance. California wildfire assistance programs like Ford Employee Pricing can save thousands when replacing a car. Similarly, a 2020 hurricane relief program from GM offers $1,000 in savings.

Spooky loan situations. There are some scary scenarios you can avoid when getting a car loan. However, boosting your credit score is possible with some determination because negative items on your credit report fall off after 7 years. Our network of dealers is specially equipped to help those with bad credit.

Upcoming vehicles. Genesis finally revealed the new GV70, a small luxury crossover based on the highly-rated G70 sedan. Whether it’s a redesigned car, truck, or SUV, odds are you’ll find it on our Previews page. That said, as we reported last week, discounts ahead of a redesign can result in substantial savings.

This Month’s Cheapest Lease Deals »



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