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Imperium Group and WebMetrix Group On How Today’s Top 31 Entreprenuers and Investors Are Navigating the Post-COVID Times

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DALLAS, TEXAS, July 07, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Although the first wave of COVID-19 may be nearing its end, nothing has returned to normal – nor will it, for a long time. In times like these, entrepreneurs and business owners help each other. Today’s top 30 entrepreneurs and investors are doing the best they can to offer resources, share advice, and feature workable solutions to help one another and the nation. 

WebMetrix Group hosted an online forum for these entrepreneurs and investors to share their best advice to other business owners during this time. Here’s how they are navigating post-COVID times, advising others on how to, or lending a helping hand.

1. Immy Tariq, CEO of WebMetrix Group LLC. Immy Tariq is a digital marketing, SEO, and credibility expert, who has been helping his clients leverage credibility now more than ever. “Now is the time to double down on all markers of credibility and SEO to build trust with your target audience,” said Tariq. “As the economy slowly reopens, consumers only want to invest in people and companies that they trust.” 

2. Rudy Medina, founder of Del Mar Heritage. Medina is in the real estate industry, and foresees the following changes to people’s preferences for where they want to live following the lockdown provisions. These include Privacy, Additional outdoor or flex areas, Room for pets outside of the living area, proximity to entertainment and recreation, and a front yard to socialize with neighbors.

3. Salvatore Buscem, Managing Director at Dandrew Capital Partners. Buscem specializes in managing risk through his real estate investment portfolio, and advises other investors and entrepreneurs to invest in commercial real estate in areas with consistent ROI’s. “By researching an investment and going for commercial real estate, it’s a defensive play. Make decisions right now that have a verifiable ROI that extends far into the future.” 

4. Aimee Tariq CEO Of A Life With Health is a WSJ best selling author and health expert who has had many near death experiences in her decade-long battle with health. With the ever growing global focus on health and well-being, Tariq is helping more people to optimize their health through her new book on the oral microbiome (also known as the ‘second gut’ because of its importance), called Panic! Germs and the Inside of the American Mouth.

5. Matt Young, founder of Realply. As the founder of a LinkedIn direct messaging service, Young knows how effective cold direct message outreach is for sales. “With the emphasis on, ‘How can I help?’, automating direct messaging can spell the difference between life and death for businesses right now,” he said. “A steady stream of new leads can still be automated, which can be the strategy that keeps your business afloat.”

6. Jeremy Miner, founder of 7th Level HQ. An expert on neuro-linguistic programming for sales, Miner is helping salespeople learn sales techniques that assist prospective customers into persuading themselves why they need the product or service. Featuring his breakthrough research and years of testing, his course is a hopeful avenue for salespeople and entrepreneurs who want to help consumers but are potentially anxious about selling right now.

7. Stephane & Shalee Schaifaitel, Co-founders of Success Training Co. and Co-authors of the book, Master Your Mindpower: A User Manual For Your Mind & The Ultimate Guide To Mental Toughness. The Schaifaitels help executives and entrepreneurs resolve mental and emotional barriers through a series of impactful coaching sessions that will maximize your clarity, mental toughness and success. “The truth is, in a time of crisis, the people who have mental toughness and emotional resilience are more likely to succeed,” the Schafeitels emphasized. “We developed The BLAH Method to assist you to get through any ‘blah’ moment or crisis, large and small: 1) Breathe, 2) Look Up, 3) Access a State of Gratitude and 4) Handle it – go do what you need to do toward achieving your Big Effing Goals (BEGs).”

8. Haley Hoffman Smith, author of Her Big Idea and motivational speaker. As a motivational speaker and author, Hoffman Smith is encouraging more young people and female-identifying hopeful founders to consider entrepreneurship and go after their big dreams. Her fund, The Her Big Idea Fund, is in partnership with Brown’s Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship and supports two female-identifying hopeful founders with $500 grants and a year of mentorship. “It’s more important than ever to support the dreams and visions of all people, and let them know they aren’t alone in bringing it to life – there is support and there are people who believe in you and want to invest in you,” she commented.

9. Kimanzi Constable CEO Results Global Impact Consulting. Kimzani helps consultants book corporate gigs with large corporations – and stress that right now, large companies are heavily investing in trainers, coaches, and consultants. “Understand that companies are making strategic pivots right now, and they need the brightest minds to help them get there. Position yourself accordingly, so you can help these businesses thrive while you thrive, too,” they advised. 

10. Sloan Foster, founder of AutoThinkUSA. Foster, who is in the business of providing convenient accommodations for consumers, encourages entrepreneurs to think about how they can get involved and collaborate with essential businesses. “Create a new opportunity in alignment with COVID-19 standards,” she advised.

11. Christine Haas, founder of Haas Media. Haas assists founders and CEO’s in landing TV engagements. “Investing in TV PR is critical for both exposure and creating credibility in your field of expertise — especially now,” shared Haas. “It can seem ‘exclusive’ or only reserved for certain types of people, but now more than ever, people are home and looking to the TV to learn.” 

12. Kerri Kasem, Founder of Kasem Cares, radio and TV Show Host. Kasem is using her platform to emphasize mental health. “With so much going on in the world that was unforeseen, it’s only natural to experience symptoms akin to anxiety and depression. It’s important to check in with ourselves, or friends, and our family right now and see how we can help,” she encouraged.

13. David Schloss, author of The New MBA. Schloss’ new book helps hopeful entrepreneurs build a clear blueprint for their first businesses. In these uncertain times, he advises, “A market-to-message match is key before turning organic traffic into paid traffic.” He insists that a product and market fit is the foundation for successful businesses when investing in marketing post-COVID.

14. Allison Caddy, CEO & Founder of Active Alie. Caddy believes in finding opportunity in unlikely places.  “My best advice is to take advantage of the times, refinance as much as you can because interest rates are currently low, and buy up more real estate that provides positive cash flow and builds your equity,” she offered.

15. Lauren Tickner, founder of Impact School MBA. Tickner teaches students how to sell through permission-based relationship marketing, in which a product or service is offered conversationally — optimal for seeing who your business can help right now, without any additional pressure. “The emphasis in selling right now is on seeing if you can actually help your target audience, and through natural messaging conversations, time is saved for the founder and prospects are more likely to buy,” she said.

16. Jeremy Delk, founder of Delk Enterprises. “Recognize the changes that are afoot, and use this time to adapt quickly,” said Delk. “The new mindset will now be on-demand help from our smartphones and tele-health. How can you lean into these shifts and stay relevant?” 

17. Stephanie Burns, founder of Chic CEO. Burns has always encouraged making ‘unreasonable requests’ – in other words, asking people or businesses for something you need that may seem ‘out of bounds’ to even ask, because sometimes the answer is… yes. “I think there may be a tendency to hold back on what we ask from others right now, out of an abundance of caution and empathy,” said Burns. “But remember that unreasonable requests often lead to symbiotic relationships and benefits for both parties. Keep putting yourself out there.”

18. Rohan Seth, Founder of Lydian Accelerator. “I’ve learned that building multiple marketing channels is the best way to sustain and embolden businesses,” said Seth. “Explore different avenues to market through social media and ads, and pay close attention to which of those deliver the highest ROI. 

19. Bobby Dillard, co-founder of Cielo Property Group. Dillard noted that “trying times will always reveal weaknesses in your business that you didn’t know were there. It’s important to remain calm and do all you can to get your business in top shape so that you can take advantage of the opportunities that arise in these situations.” Specifically, he advises entrepreneurs to use this time for personal growth in those areas of weakness.

20. Maggie Berghoff, Founder and CEO of high performance health agency, Celproceo. Berghoff helps entrepreneurs and high achievers biohack and optimize their health for their best performance, and mental health and wellbeing is a critical part of this. “Hone in on decreasing your own stress and working on a positive mindset,” Berghoff encouraged. “It’s easy to get sucked into the fear, chaos, and negativity you may see around you, but your top power will be your ability to maintain resilience and strength during this time.”

21. Jose Artiumo, Founder of VIP Media Solutions. Artiumo always emphasizes the importance of gaining media attention, but specifically, sees this time as critical for refining your skill. “Sharpen your ax with your skills so you can retain the attention you get when you get back into the media,” said Artiumo. “Now is the ideal time to invest in yourself and make sure you’re the best at what you do.”

22. Jeff Sekinger, founder of 0percent.com. Sekinger recently launched a partnership program that allows his business’s consulting clients to start financial services businesses such as funding, credit repair and insurance at no cost and virtually no barriers to entry. Specifically, they help entrepreneurs get the lowest business financing possible, so they can leverage business debt — one of the greatest resources available during these uncertain times.

23. Mcdonald Worley CEO of Mcdonald Worley P.C. Worley shares that after serving 30,000 clients, he feels that the difference between a successful business and a hurting one right now comes down to making sure that your business can give the clients what they need and paying attention to the details. If you go beyond what you can handle as a team, in order to bring more clients into the fold then the work will suffer, which in turn will hurt your reputation and this will cost you way more business than anything else. 

24. Drew Evans, CEO of Caifu Property. To date, Evans has built his personal real estate portfolio to over $10 Million Dollars, and with his business partner, has helped his clients invest in over $1 Billion in property. “There are still many real estate opportunities to build positive cashflow property portfolios and instant equity,” said Evans. “Even if you have never explored real estate before, it continues to be a worthwhile investment for the long run, even in economic downturns in the short run.” 

25. Thomas Graham CEO of Crosswinds PR. “Working as a PR crisis firm, we’ve learned that the best way to navigate crises is to be empathetic and transparent,” said Graham. “As your business faces inevitable crises of differing sizes during this time, make sure you stay genuine and transparent with your audience or customers and always position yourself as someone who can – and who wants to – help.”

26. David Pascht, digital marketing expert. Pascht offered his best advice for running a team, which applies at any time, but is especially pertinent as teams continue to work remotely or shift in the wake of the pandemic. “Although your team is looking to you as the ‘leader,’ make sure to treat them as equals. Invite creative ideas and the open space and encouragement for innovative approaches to the problems your business will face through the turbulent times. These ideas can only come in if your team feels safe to be ‘wrong’ – this is how they will be truly creative.” 

27. Travis Killian, expert in Amazon e-commerce. Killian has created a $10 Million business by selling physical products on Amazon, and recommends that founders with physical products make sure that they’re on Amazon. “Many founders spend 80 percent of their efforts on platforms like Shopify, for only a fraction of the ROI. If you haven’t tried Amazon or doubled down on it, now is a great time to build a presence there,” he advised.

28. Greg Vogel, expert in company exits. There is opportunity in everything that is shifting, too – Vogel noted that “There is no bigger payday than this if you position yourself correctly. Many company exits are in the works, and there are opportunities to buy up companies now and have wildly successful exits later, when the market bounces back.” 

29. Moshe Reuven Sheradsky, WeDu. “Your marketing approach could use some emotional intelligence: work right now to understand your customers’ emotions (as much as they are changing), and work to meet the customer where they are emotionally.” 

30. Iman Shafei, Founder of Keystone Investors. “Many are interested in investment opportunities right now because of the fluctuating market, and I definitely encourage people to follow that interest, if it’s financially feasible at this time,” said Shafei. “Specifically, cryptocurrency may be an interesting investment because of the way the global economy is currently changing.”

31. Jeremy Axel, CEO of Fluent Conveyors. “The most important things during these times is to make sure you communicate very well to your team about the importance of execution. Make sure you hold everyone including yourself accountable for the jobs required that will have a quick impact to revenue and cash flow or if its a long term value add. In essence you need to remain intentional and thoughtful as a leader and make sure your team does the same.”

Shazir Mucklai

CEO

Imperium Group

[email protected]

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Some VA lenders are still exploiting troops and veterans, report alleges

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Troops and veterans in some cases are being “grossly” overcharged for VA home loans, and federal regulators need to suspend or ban alleged bad actors and strengthen their oversight over lenders, according to a new report from the office of Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif.

The report alleges that NewDay USA and The Federal Savings Bank “continue to aggressively market cash-out refinancings with fees and interest rates that could cost borrowers tens of thousands of dollars more over the life of the loan compared to other lenders.”

“This report finds that grossly overpriced cash-out refinancings continue to scam veterans,” Porter stated in an introduction to the report released Aug. 3.

The report noted that the actions of Congress and federal regulators in 2017 and 2018 decreased the incidence of predatory cash-out VA loan refinancing. But while the number of these loans decreased in those years, the problematic rates and fees continued, the report stated.

The report’s authors found that while the number of cash-out refinancings did decrease in 2020, it’s on the rise again — up by 50 percent since July, 2020.

“It is despicable that corporate executives would prey on veterans and military families to line their pockets,” said Porter in an announcement of the report, titled “AWOL: How watchdogs are failing to protect servicemembers from financial scams.”

The report “calls out the lenders that are continuing to single out vulnerable military borrowers for overpriced, cash-out refi mortgages. The Administration has a duty to step in and prevent these scams from happening,” Porter said.

“Ginnie Mae should immediately suspend NewDay USA, The Federal Savings Bank, and any other lender with similar lending patterns from originating new cash-out loans,” the report recommended.

Ginnie Mae officials didn’t comment on this recommendation, but in a statement to Military Times emphasized that the government agency “continues to be focused on maintaining the market predictability and integrity of Ginnie Mae securities, which leads to low-cost mortgage financing available to homeowners who use various government-insured mortgage products.”

An American flag is raised at a home, March 19, 2019, at on-base military housing at Naval Station Mayport. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Bowser/Navy)
An American flag is raised at a home, March 19, 2019, at on-base military housing at Naval Station Mayport. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devin Bowser/Navy)

Active-duty members as well as veterans generally qualify for a VA loan. The Veterans Affairs Department doesn’t make the loans; It guarantees them. This minimizes lenders’ risks and reduces their losses in the event of a foreclosure. The lenders set the interest rate and some other costs.

The Porter report also recommended the VA and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau take additional action to address the issue. In recent years, all these government agencies have taken steps to tighten rules and strengthen monitoring, in order to limit overpriced cash-out refinancings and loan “churning,” where lenders convince borrowers to unnecessarily refinance their mortgages early to get new terms or take out cash, often costing borrowers more in the long run.

“Churning VA loans hurts all veterans,” said Andrew Pizor, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center. While some steps have been taken, more are needed, he said.

As the report notes, not all cash-out refinancings are necessarily predatory. These loans take cash value out of homes, but some loans tend to have bad terms which could leave borrowers worse off after refinancing. Lenders market these loans often to veterans, enticing them to take thousands of dollars out of the equity in their home, to pay off debt, make home improvements, or other purposes. The cash-out loans can be used to refinance a non-VA loan into a VA loan.

In contrast, a VA Interest Rate Reduction Refinance Loan, IRRL, also known as the streamline refinance loan, is typically used to reduce the borrower’s interest rate on an existing VA loan, or to convert an adjustable rate VA loan to a fixed rate mortgage.

The quantity of cash-out refinancings decreased in 2020, both at NewDay and across the VA home loan industry, but the nature of the loans remained the same, according to the analysts. In analyzing the top 10 originators of VA cash-out refinancings in 2020, the analysts found NewDay’s customers were charged the highest average interest rate.

If these borrowers had used the VA streamline refinance with NewDay instead of the cash-out refinance, the analysts found, they would have paid competitive market rates and less than half the up-front costs of a cash-out mortgage.

“The disparity suggests that service members, veterans and military families looking for cash-out loans at NewDay may be specifically targeted and exploited for profit,” the report stated.

NewDay’s response

NewDay USA defended their practices when reached for comment.

“NewDay USA’s mission is to serve our nation’s veterans and we’re proud of the work we do to help them achieve the dream of homeownership,” NewDay officials said in a statement provided to Military Times. “We’re committed to continuing to help veterans and their families gain financial security by providing them the best possible service.”

The vast majority of NewDay’s 2020 total loan originations were streamline refinancings and other products; 13 percent were VA cash-out refinancings, according to NewDay officials, which they say is consistent with the rest of the mortgage market.

These two types of refinancings should not be conflated, because they serve different purposes, officials noted. “Cash-out loans offer veterans money in hand to pay off high-interest revolving credit lines, invest in home improvements, or cover other unexpected costs.” Their data shows that customers saved a “weighted average” of $617 per month with cash-out refinancing, officials said. By contrast, streamline refinancings are designed to lower the interest rate on the VA loan, or convert an adjustable-rate VA loan to a fixed-rate mortgage.

In response to the higher fees or interest rates, NewDay noted that the majority of its customers are enlisted veterans, and that NewDay customers’ average credit scores are lower than those of other top lenders. In 2020, the average FICO credit score of its cash-out refinancing customers was 694, which was 35 to 75 points lower than the average FICO score of other top lenders.

“As is common practice, lower credit scores indicate greater risk to the lender and require higher interest rates,” NewDay officials stated. They provided statistics from Ginnie Mae showing NewDay’s customers’ average credit score was 694; Navy Federal Credit Union’s customers’ average credit score was 729; USAA, 738; and PenFed, 769.

Analysts in the Porter report acknowledged that “this situation might be partially explained by borrowers’ poor credit, but NewDay also had the second highest upfront costs, almost double what a borrower would pay for a cash-out loan from USAA.”

The average total up-front cost of a cash-out refinance at NewDay was $10,335 in 2019, compared to USAA’s average cost of $5,590, according to the analysts.

If the high interest rates were a function of poor credit, the report stated, “then NewDay USA was targeting the most vulnerable consumers with exorbitant fees.”

“A lot of people don’t realize when they’re being overcharged,” a staff attorney for the National Consumer Law Center said. (Stock/Getty Images)
“A lot of people don’t realize when they’re being overcharged,” a staff attorney for the National Consumer Law Center said. (Stock/Getty Images)

“If the high rates were arbitrary, it suggests that NewDay USA was charging service members, military families and veterans higher rates than their credit warranted,” the report added.

However, there are other factors, NewDay officials said. In addition to lending to more consumers with lower credit scores, NewDay has a higher loan-to-value ratio than other top lenders, averaging 90.5 percent in 2020, NewDay officials said. This is the ratio of how much money is borrowed compared to the appraised value of the property. In lending, higher loan-to-value ratios indicate less collateral and more risk for lenders, who many charge higher fees or interest rates, NewDay officials said.

The report recommends that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau require lenders to include customer credit scores in their required reporting of home loan details, to increase monitoring and transparency of potentially predatory lending. In 2018, the CFPB decided to exclude public reporting of credit scores because of privacy risks to individuals.

Among other things, the Porter report recommended that the VA add the VA home loan funding fee to the list of closing costs that should be recouped through savings from refinancing. VA had not responded by press time to questions about whether those recommendations are being considered.

The CFPB has taken a number of actions related to VA refinancings, including settlements with nine mortgage companies to address deceptive loan advertisements; and action against NewDay USA in 2015 for alleged deceptive mortgage advertising.

The Federal Savings Bank, also targeted in the report, offers competitive interest rates, but it has the “highest up-front costs and most discount points of any cash-out originator,” the report stated. For example, the average total loan cost in 2020 was $10,791, compared to USAA’s average total loan cost of $5,877.

Officials from The Federal Savings Bank had not responded to questions before publication, stating they haven’t had an opportunity to read the entire report.

Advice to VA borrowers

Many home loan borrowers don’t know what most of their charges are in a mortgage closing, said Pizor, staff attorney for the National Consumer Law Center.

“A lot of people don’t realize when they’re being overcharged,” he said.

Most veterans do know what the VA funding fees are, which are one-time payments that the borrower pays on a VA-backed loan. For example, the funding fee for a VA cash-out refinancing loan is 2.3 percent of the loan amount for the first use; and after that, it’s 3.6 percent.

A VA home loan is one of the best loan products out there, Pizor said. “But aside from that, you really have to shop around,” he said. That means get written loan estimates from more than one lender — three, if possible.

“You’ll see the differences in price,” he said. It’s not enough to talk with the loan officers, who are essentially salesmen, he said. You have to look at the numbers on the loan estimates.

Some lenders may try to delay giving you these estimates, he said, but it’s worth insisting on. “Once you get it, certain rules apply about what changes are allowed…. Estimates are supposed to be pretty close.”

He also suggested visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s web tool for exploring interest rates in your area. It quickly gives you a sense of what the interest rates are, and can be useful “because you’ll know if someone is giving you an estimate that’s way out of line,” he said.

When shopping for a loan, it’s always wise to get your credit scores beforehand. The higher your credit score is, the better the terms you’ll get. But a lot of people assume they have bad credit, without checking their credit scores, Pizor said.

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China Ramps Up Market Regulation Of Food, Medicine

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BEIJING, Aug. 4 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 4th Aug, 2021 ) :China has expanded its list of illegal and dishonest market behaviors in the food, medicine and special equipment sectors, the country’s market regulator said Wednesday.

The list focuses on those sectors that are directly related to people’s life, health and safety, said the State Administration for Market Regulation.

The enlarged list, which comes into force on Sept. 1, is expected to help tighten the crackdown on market irregularities and acts of dishonesty, the administration said.

The country has also stepped up measures to optimize its credit-based market-regulation mechanism, such as strengthening information disclosure and encouraging credit repair, according to the administration.



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How Does a Secured Credit Card Work? | Credit Card News & Advice

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Building credit from scratch is often referred to as a chicken-or-the-egg problem. If you don’t have a credit history, it can be challenging to get approved for a credit card. But if you don’t have a credit card, it’s hard to build a credit history.

Here’s where secured credit cards can save the day. It’s possible to be turned down for a secured credit card, but if you’re approved for one, it’s a good way to get started on your journey to great credit.

We’ll start with the basics and work our way up to the advantages – and disadvantages – of secured credit cards.

There are both unsecured and secured credit cards. An unsecured credit card doesn’t require a deposit to get approved for the card. The top unsecured credit cards from major issuers are typically used by those who have at least fair credit. There are some unsecured credit cards available for those with zero or bad credit, but they tend to have high interest rates and fees.

Due to the cost of unsecured cards that target those with little or bad credit, many turn to secured credit cards. Secured credit cards do require a deposit, usually ranging from $200 to several thousand dollars, depending on the deposit requirements of the issuer.

The deposit stays in an account, and the purpose of the deposit is to decrease the risk for the lender. If you don’t pay for the purchases you made with your secured credit card, the financial institution will use your deposit to pay it off.

When you get approved for a secured credit card, you’ll receive a credit card that looks just like an unsecured credit card. There’s no visible clue that the card is secured.

The amount of your security deposit is usually equal to the credit limit for your new secured card. You’ll use your secured credit card just like you would an unsecured card. You can use it for purchases everywhere that accepts your secured credit card.

Just to be clear, your security deposit stays in an account with the issuer. You’ll make payments on your balance from one of your own bank accounts. So, you’re actually buying things on credit.

Most secured credit card issuers report your payment history to the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. If you can’t find confirmation on the card’s home page that payment history is reported, call the issuer to make sure it’s the policy.

When your secured card’s bill comes, you must pay the bill by the due date. If you pay your balance in full, you’ll avoid paying compound interest. If you consistently make on-time payments and keep low balances on your card during the month, your credit score will begin to increase.

Secured credit cards have many advantages, but there are also downsides to this type of credit card.

  • Secured credit cards help you build credit and develop a good credit score.
  • Secured cards help you learn how credit works. And since the credit limits are on the low side, it helps to minimize your risk of getting into debt.
  • Some credit card issuers will promote you to an unsecured credit card. Not all secured card issuers have unsecured versions, but many of them do.
  • When you’ve built a good credit history and you’re ready to upgrade to an unsecured card, you can get a refund of your deposit.
  • Many secured credit cards offer rewards and benefits.

  • You have to make a security deposit, and this ties up your money for the life of the secured card.
  • Some secured cards have many fees, so you have to read the fine print carefully.
  • You’ll probably have a low credit limit, but this is often a good thing while you’re getting comfortable using credit.
  • Some secured credit card issuers don’t offer unsecured versions, which means you have to apply for an unsecured card from another issuer.

I know it’s difficult to build credit or to come back from a poor credit score. A secured credit card can be a great option, but be sure you read all the disclosure statements and understand if there are fees involved. After about a year of responsible use, you’ll probably have at least a fair FICO score (580-669), which is good enough to make the leap to an unsecured credit card.

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