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Seeley: Village trying to keep rent affordable | Greene County

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CATSKILL — Community members discussed rent control, short-term rentals, home ownership and more at a virtual meeting.

Research conducted by the Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition showed that of the 1,519 Catskill residents surveyed, 365 face eviction or foreclosure.

The waiting list for Hop-o-Nose numbers 82, Catskill Mountain Housing’s waiting list for senior and disabled housing is two years and RUPCO has 605 applications, according to the Coalition.

The village’s comprehensive plan reports that between 2010 and 2017, there was a 27.5% increase in residents falling below the poverty line.

Courtney Parish, of Homestead Funding Corp., and Columbia Greene Northern Dutchess Multiple Listing Service President Angela Lanuto kicked off the meeting by discussing the current real-estate market and obstacles that first-time homeowners face.

The local housing market has been in a steady upswing for the past few years, Lanuto said.

“We’ve seen a significant increase in people wanting to come up into our area,” she said. “Not only weekenders but part-time homeowners that have become full-time homeowners.”

The increase in demand and low inventory is driving prices up, Lanuto said.

COVID-related changes to the workplace are a factor in people relocating, as working from home becomes more feasible, she said.

“[Buyers] can come into other markets where they always wanted to be,” she said.

The increase influx of buyers can cause locals to be outbid, Parish said.

“Prices are going up, people are paying over asking price, cash, 30-40% down,” Parish said. “Our locals are not able to compete with that. That’s something that really bothers me. Our local people, they need housing, too.”

Homestead Funding has multiple loan options for prospective home buyers, Parish said.

“There are tons of options for people,” she said. “You don’t have to have that 20% down. You don’t have to have stellar credit. If somebody has a 620 credit score, they can get a home.”

Parish typically averages about $4 million in lending per month, she said. The last four months she has been averaging $11 million to $13 million, she said, adding that the increase is due to the pandemic and the people trying to leave the city.

Hudson Common Council 2nd Ward Alderwoman Tiffany Garriga questioned how home ownership related to keeping rent affordable.

“[My goal] is to bring resources to this meeting and to your ears,” Village President Vincent Seeley said. “There are tools out there that will allow no down payment, even if you have bad credit. I would love to see people get out of rentals, to be honest with you.”

Garriga countered that Seeley’s aspirations for the community may not be the most realistic.

“That’s a beautiful thing that you want,” she said. “But 51% of your people are renters and they want to know what they’re renting is being accommodated in a way that they can live with their children. Not everyone can be a homeowner and not everyone wants that option. Let’s not forget about the responsibility that you have at Hop-o-Nose. While you’re looking out for people to become a homeowner, what are you doing for people that are renters?”

Seeley said the village is trying to keep rent affordable in the area and then provided Garriga with scenarios about how much a homeowner invests in a property, arguing that the owner needs to make a profit in order to maintain the property.

“The rentals, definitely, we need to get the quality up and the rent down,” Seeley said.

Dylan Reagh, an intern with the Housing Coalition, was also critical of the approach.

“Your own comments categorize rental control as anti-competitive and damaging to the real-estate market,” Reagh said. “There’s no automatic reason that market logic should dominate public policy. Especially given that we have a serious housing situation happening right now, unemployment is incredibly high all over country, a lot of people are really struggling to pay rent. You yourself said we need to get the rental crisis down. I know it’s not easy to do but I think it’s pretty clear rent control is the most obvious solution to stabilizing rent for a lot of people who don’t have housing security.”

Reagh encouraged Seeley and the board to consider the interests of Catskill residents.

“You should be looking out for people who already live in Catskill instead of worrying about the market situation,” he said. “I think there’s a problem fundamentally that the discourse is revolving around the interest of private investors.”

Reagh criticized Seeley’s choice of guest speakers.

“These first two people you had were a real-estate broker and a lender who have a financial interest in the government taking a step back and not actively protecting renters,” he said. “It seems people who have a financial interest are being given precedence. Even in your own theoretical argument, the investor is being given preference. There has to be more consideration of all the people who cannot pay their rent or are struggling to pay their rent.”

Rent prices do not necessarily reflect the quality of the building, Reagh said.

“I’m a renter and I can tell you from experience my landlord is not reinvesting my rent into my house,” he said. “The quality is terrible. Rent is not being paid for the benefit of the tenant. Rent is being paid because the owner has control over the house.”

Seeley questioned if Reagh was suggesting the village use taxpayer money to create a housing complex.

“It’s one thing to say it would be difficult to implement rent control,” Reagh said. “It’s another thing to dismiss it entirely.”

Resident Gary Burns echoed similar remarks.

“We’ve got a population half of which are renters and I think it is nice, this good old-fashioned dream of having a home and a lawn that you mow, but we’re in a climate crisis and that’s not feasible for every person,” he said. “We need to come up with a more dynamic way to accommodate people that are deciding to live here.”

United Tenants of Albany Executive Director Laura Phelps proposed a few options for the board to consider.

The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act would grant tenants the right of refusal should their building go up for sale, Phelps said. Tenants would have the first right to finance and purchase that, before another buyer could outbid them.

The Emergency Tenant Protection Act, which is being looked at in Albany, Rochester and Ossining, Phelps said, would establish rent control for buildings built on or before 1974 with six or more units. A rental guidelines board would determine what a fair rental increase would be, typically 1-3% per year, Phelps said.

Through this legislation, tenants have a right to a lease renewal, which would eliminate no cause evictions, she said.

“For your area to get [this legislation], the [village] board would have to commission a vacancy survey,” she said. Depending on the results of the survey, the board could then declare a rental emergency — meaning rentals are low and rents are high.

Isabella Lee, with the Housing Coalition, encouraged the board to examine the effect their decisions could have on the community.

“Ask yourselves what kind of community you’re going to create by not dealing with the mass displacement, which is on the horizon, and the homogeneity that these raises in rent look like, the catering to outside investors and people buying second homes over residents that have lived here, often generations,” she said. “Really ask yourselves what kind of community that’s going to look like. We’re in the middle of an unprecedented economic crisis and it’s quite strange to not hear the urgency in that expressed by the representatives.”

Hudson/Catskill Housing Coalition Program Director Molly Stinchfield asked the board to consider the needs of tenants.

“You’re asking us to consider the investment of the homeowner and I’m asking the village board to consider the renters who are paying off the owner’s mortgage with zero return on investment. We have to prioritize low- and middle-income housing. If we don’t, the state of Catskill will shift so dramatically.”

Another issue that depletes available housing is short-term rentals. Greene County hosted 67,500 Airbnb guests in 2019. The county had a population of 47,188, according to census estimates.

Liam Singer, owner of Avalon Lounge and Hi-Lo Cafe, proposed a number of different options for regulating short-term rentals, such as including them in the village’s definition of hotels and thus subjecting them to the same type of zoning laws; having restrictions on non-owner occupied rentals; or implementing a permitting system. Permits could potentially require at least part-time residence in Catskill, or be limited to one per person, Singer said.

The village of Athens passed a local law in June requiring short-term rental owners to register their properties.

Planning board member Gil Bagnet agreed that this needs to be examined.

“Ten years ago there weren’t Airbnbs and that’s why we don’t have laws,” he said. “Now that they exist, we need to regulate them.”

The town planning board is holding a meeting Aug. 31 at the Robert Antonelli Senior Center to review proposed amendments to the village’s zoning law, in light of the new comprehensive plan that was adopted in February. Short-term rentals will be part of the discussion, Planning Board Chairman Patrick McCulloch said.

Seeley estimated the village has property available to construct about 200 living units, citing a parcel behind Price Chopper with 77 subdivisions, Forlini’s motel on West Main Street and the former St. Patrick’s Academy on Woodland Avenue as examples.

A 10-unit apartment complex has been proposed for St. Patrick’s. Because the property is not zoned for multiple dwellings, property owner Dennis Frascello can ask the village board to rezone the property or go to the zoning board of appeals seeking a variance, McCulloch said.

The Catskill Gardens project, a 90-unit complex for West Main Street, would have featured one floor for residents with mental health issues, staffed 24/7 by crisis management staff and the other two floors would have offered affordable housing where tenants paid one-third of their income, Stinchfield said.

“[The Mental Health Association] lost grant funding as a result of the waterfront moratorium,” Stinchfield said.

The moratorium, which went into effect in September 2018 and expires in November, put a halt on new construction along the river from the Uncle Sam Bridge to The Historic Catskill Point.

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How long do offers last, and what if I have bad credit? We answer the most-asked mortgage questions

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Forget the eyes – nowadays, it is our internet searches that provide a window into the soul.  

We often turn to search engines to ask the questions that are on our minds, whether we’re just looking for a quick answer or because it’s something we are embarrassed to ask in person. 

Now, Britons’ most common mortgage questions have been revealed, thanks to a new analysis of Google searches.  

Many of the mainstream lenders are able to offer a mortgage within 2-3 weeks of an application being submitted, according to the mortgage experts we spoke to

Many of the mainstream lenders are able to offer a mortgage within 2-3 weeks of an application being submitted, according to the mortgage experts we spoke to

Comparethemarket.com looked at search data from the last twelve months, and discovered that the most asked mortgage question, with 20,960 searches, was ‘How long does a mortgage application take?’

Britons also wanted to know how long a mortgage offer lasted for, how to get a mortgage with bad credit, what an interest only mortgage was, and what a lifetime mortgage was. 

Applying for a mortgage can sometimes be complicated, and there is often a lot of jargon to contend with – so it is not surprising that people search online for more information.

This is Money asked Mark Harris of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, Nicholas Morrey of mortgage broker John Charcol and a spokesperson from the Mortgage Advice Bureau to help provide answers to the five most-asked questions.

How long does a mortgage application take?

The most common mortgage question on Google, this is particularly relevant at the moment given that some buyers are keen to complete before the stamp duty holiday ends on 31 March. 

But the answer depends on the type of mortgage application being submitted, according to Harris.

For example, a product transfer – where you stay with your current lender but move to a new deal – can take a matter of days, whilst a more complex mortgage application can take weeks.

‘Once the application is submitted, a lot depends on the lender and the complexity of the application – it may take anywhere between one day to two weeks for an initial assessment to take place,’  Harris said. 

If you’re self-employed or the mortgage valuation requires a surveyor to visit the property in person, then you are likely to face further delays. 

A firm mortgage offer will follow once your application has been fully reviewed and an acceptable valuation received.

The experts we spoke to said that typically, it would to take two to three weeks from application to offer – but the pandemic has meant that these timescales have been stretched. 

‘Unfortunately, during the Covid-19 pandemic, lenders have suffered from staff and resource issues and tasks are taking longer to complete,’ said Harris.

‘Also, given the effect on employment and income, lenders are scrutinising applications in greater depth to see how applicants have been affected.’ 

How long does a mortgage offer last?

In most cases mortgage offers last for six months, although some offers will only last for three months.

‘If the offer expires, lenders will sometimes agree to an extension – although this will sometimes require a re-assessment by the lender,’ said Morrey.

A typical mortgage offer will last for six months, but this can sometimes be extended

A typical mortgage offer will last for six months, but this can sometimes be extended

‘For example, the original deal may no longer be available, or a new valuation may be required, or the lender may wish to re-assess your income and outgoings.’

Where an application involves a new-build property, the offer may last longer – potentially up to 12 months, according to Harris.

‘Borrowers should be aware that some new builds have completion deadlines that may not coincide with offer expiry dates,’ he said.

How to get a mortgage with bad credit?

Some lenders will not offer mortgages to people with a history of bad credit, and this was something that Google searchers wanted to know how to get around. 

Lenders that are willing to do so often charge a higher interest rate, to reflect the increased level of risk.

‘When getting a mortgage with bad credit, you can expect to borrow less and to pay more in interest in comparison to someone who has an exemplary credit record,’ explained the spokesperson for the Mortgage Advice Bureau.

Having bad credit may mean you are not able to borrow as much on your mortgage

Having bad credit may mean you are not able to borrow as much on your mortgage

‘High street lenders are generally averse to dealing with those who have bad credit, which can make it pretty difficult.

‘When you apply for a mortgage, it can register on your credit file – and if you apply to a number of lenders to see if they will lend to you, it may be doing additional damage to your credit score.’

‘Your best option, according to Mortgage Advice Bureau, is to contact an established and experienced mortgage broker.

‘They will have access to contacts and deals that are exclusive and not available to the general public. The mortgage broker will carry out a ‘soft’ credit check first, so your inquiry doesn’t negatively impact your credit score.’ 

What is an interest-only mortgage?

Another common question on Google concerned interest-only mortgages. So what are they? 

When borrowing for a home, you can either opt for a repayment mortgage or an interest-only mortgage.

With a repayment mortgage, you will pay back a part of the loan, as well as the interest, each month until you eventually pay off the mortgage.

With an interest-only mortgage, you will only pay the interest each month, with the loan amount remaining the same.

‘It means your monthly payments will be lower but, at the end of the mortgage term, the full amount you borrow is still outstanding and you have to pay the lender back everything at that time,’ said Morrey.

‘When applying for an interest-only loan, the borrower must demonstrate that there is a clear and credible strategy in place to repay the capital,’ added Harris.

What is a lifetime mortgage?

A lifetime mortgage is a mortgage secured on your home, with the loan only being repaid when you pass away, go into long-term care or sell the property.

Two examples of this are retirement interest-only mortgages and equity release mortgages.

Equity release allows you to access some of the equity in your home via a lifetime mortgage

Equity release allows you to access some of the equity in your home via a lifetime mortgage

‘Lifetime mortgages often have fixed rates of interest, and in the case of equity release mortgages, the fixed rate is for life and not just two or five years,’ explained Morrey.

He added: ‘They should not be confused with lifetime tracker mortgages, which track a specific index such as the Bank of England base rate – these will likely have an end date and won’t be for a ‘lifetime’ in itself.’

There are strict lending criteria, with the amount you can you borrow depending on your age.

‘Seeking expert financial and legal advice is crucial for this type of mortgage,’ said Harris.

‘An adviser covering both equity release and standard mortgages would be most useful as they can assess the most suitable route forward.’

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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What is a Subprime Mortgage?

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What is a subprime mortgage? If you’re asking this question, chances are good you’re either trying to borrow for a home with poor credit or you’ve been offered a loan you’re concerned is a subprime loan. We’ll explain the answer to the question “what is a subprime mortgage?” and discuss some of the risks and alternatives.

What is a subprime mortgage?

Prime loans usually offer competitive interest rates to well-qualified borrowers. A subprime mortgage is similar to a conventional mortgage, except it has a higher interest rate. Subprime loans are geared toward borrowers with bad credit who can’t qualify for a prime mortgage at the best rates. Lenders take a bigger risk with subprime loans, so they charge substantially higher rates due to the borrower’s poor credit history.

If you have a credit score below 620, you may not be able to qualify for a prime mortgage, but you might get a subprime mortgage.

Types of subprime mortgages

There are multiple types of subprime mortgage loans. However, one particular type of loan — an adjustable-rate mortgage — is especially common for subprime mortgages.

Adjustable-rate mortgages

Many subprime mortgages are adjustable-rate mortgages, or ARMs. The introductory rate on an ARM is fixed for a limited time. For example, a 5/1 ARM provides a fixed rate for five years. After that, the rate adjusts based on a financial index.

That means your interest rate may go down — but it could go up, too. ARMs carry more risk than fixed rate loans. If interest rates rise, monthly payments could increase. If you take out an adjustable loan, find out how high your payment could go. Don’t assume you’ll always be able to refinance or sell your home before it adjusts.

Fixed-rate mortgages

With fixed-rate subprime mortgages, the interest rate remains the same for the entire repayment period. Since the rate doesn’t change, payments don’t change.

The important question is, what is a subprime mortgage interest rate you’d qualify for? You need to make sure the rate is reasonable and that monthly payments are affordable.

Shop and compare rates from multiple mortgage lenders for poor credit to find the best subprime loan rates. And use a mortgage calculator to see how much your monthly payment would be for any loan you’re considering.

Interest-only mortgages

Interest-only mortgages allow you to pay only interest for a limited time, such as the first five years. This makes monthly payments more affordable, but you don’t make progress in reducing your loan principal.

At the end of the initial period, you’ll begin paying both principal and interest. Your payments may rise substantially because you’ll have a shorter timeline to pay your loan off. If you took a 30-year mortgage and only paid interest for the first 10 years, you’d have just 20 years to pay off your entire principal balance.

Most interest-only loans are also structured as ARMs, so you take the added risk of rates going up and payments rising.

Dignity mortgages

Dignity mortgages are a specific type of subprime loan offered by some lenders. With this type of mortgage, you’ll initially have a high interest rate. But if you make on-time payments for a period of time, your interest rate will eventually be reduced to the prime rate.

Subprime mortgage risks

It’s important to also consider if you’re willing to take on the risk of this type of loan. Some of the biggest risks include:

  • Interest costs will be high: You will pay significantly more mortgage interest over time than if you took out a conventional mortgage.
  • Finding a lender may be difficult: Not all mortgage lenders offer loans to subprime borrowers. You could be limiting your potential loan options.
  • Payments could increase: If you choose an ARM, you face the risk of interest rates going up and payments rising.
  • Foreclosure is possible: If you don’t pay your subprime mortgage loan, your lender will foreclose. Your credit could be severely damaged.

Lenders are required under Dodd-Frank financial reform laws to conduct an “ability-to-repay” assessment. This ensures borrowers are capable of paying back their loans. These mandates can reduce the risk for borrowers. But the bottom line is buying a house with bad credit can create a host of complications.

Alternatives to subprime mortgages

You may be wondering if there are other options. The good news is that there are multiple solutions for borrowers with bad credit. Some of the best options include these government-back loans:

  • FHA loan: FHA lenders often work with borrowers with lower credit. FHA loans are available to borrowers with credit as low as 500 as long as they make a 10% down payment. Borrowers with scores of 580 or higher can get approved with a 3.5% down payment.
  • VA loan: A VA mortgage loan is available to eligible service members and veterans regardless of their poor credit history. The VA doesn’t set a minimum score, but some lenders do.

USDA loan: These allow you to purchase eligible homes in rural areas. More stringent underwriting is required to qualify borrowers with credit scores below 640. But it may still be possible to qualify.

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Indigo Platinum Mastercard Review | NextAdvisor with TIME

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We want to help you make more informed decisions. Some links on this page — clearly marked — may take you to a partner website and may result in us earning a referral commission. For more information, see How We Make Money.

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus: No current offer
  • Annual fee: $0 – $99
  • Regular APR: 24.90%
  • Recommended credit score: 300-670 (Bad to Fair)

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard can help you build a better credit score (if you practice good credit habits) with monthly reporting to the three credit bureaus. Unlike many other options for building credit, this is an unsecured credit card, so it doesn’t require a cash deposit as collateral. But you may incur an annual fee, depending on your creditworthiness when you apply.

At a Glance

  • Monthly payment reporting to the three credit bureaus for people with limited credit history or poor credit
  • Annual fee of $0, $59, or $75 the first year, depending on your creditworthiness ($75 version charges a $99 annual fee after the first year)
  • Unsecured credit card with no security deposit required
  • Standard variable APR of 24.9% 

Pros

  • Available to individuals with no credit history or low credit scores

  • Unsecured credit card

  • Annual fee could be as low as $0 depending on your creditworthiness

  • Monthly payments report to all three credit bureaus

Cons

  • No rewards

  • Annual fees vary depending on creditworthiness, and you won’t know your fee until you apply

  • High variable APR

  • $300 credit limit

Additional Card Details

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is geared toward people with “less than perfect credit” or minimal credit histories. Like other credit-building card options, it doesn’t offer a lot of perks.

You will get a few benefits, like online account access and reporting to all three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can also choose from multiple card designs for no extra charge.

Prequalification is another benefit of the Indigo Platinum Mastercard. Prequalifying is a great way to gauge your approval odds and the terms of your offer without filling out a full application and undergoing a credit check, which can temporarily hurt your credit score. If you do choose to apply after pre-qualifying, you’ll still be subject to credit approval with a hard credit inquiry.

Should You Get this Card?

Many credit cards available to people with bad credit scores are secured credit cards that require a cash deposit as collateral. The Indigo Platinum Mastercard offers an alternative to secured cards for building better credit, but has its own drawbacks.

For one, your credit limit is capped at $300. If you’re approved for a version of this card with an annual fee, it’ll be automatically applied, which means your starting limit could be as low as $225. 

The annual fee itself is another drawback. The amount you’re charged will depend on your creditworthiness when you apply. If your approval comes with an annual fee, that $59 or $99 ($75 the first year) charge can quickly add up over time. Consider other cards with no annual fee (and even no annual fee secured credit cards) that may make better long-term options for building a healthier credit profile.

How to Use the Indigo Platinum Mastercard

Because the Indigo Platinum Mastercard doesn’t offer any rewards and your credit limit is just $300, you should use this credit card for the sole purpose of improving your credit score. Only make purchases you can afford to pay off when your statement is due, and pay your bill on time to avoid up to $40 in late fees and a penalty APR up to 29.9%. 

Pro Tip

Building a great credit score, whether you’re starting from no credit history or repairing damaged credit, requires a foundation of good credit habits your credit card can help establish — such as timely payments, low credit utilization, and paying off your balances in full each month.

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard’s low credit limit means you’ll need to be extra careful with your spending to improve your credit score. Using more than 30% of your available credit can hurt your credit utilization rate — one of the most influential factors in your credit score. With a credit limit of $300, that means you should keep your charges below $90.

The goal of a card like Indigo Platinum Mastercard is to, over time, improve your credit score enough to qualify for a better credit card. Use this card to establish and maintain the healthy credit habits (like timely payments in full, low utilization, and consistently paying down balances) that will improve your credit long-term, and help you qualify for a card that’s better suited for your spending habits in the future.

Indigo Platinum Mastercard Compared to Other Cards

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

Indigo® Platinum Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $0 – $99

  • Regular APR:

    24.90%

  • Recommended credit:

    300-670 (Bad to Fair)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site
Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $0

  • Regular APR:

    22.49% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No Credit History)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site
Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card

  • Intro bonus:

    No current offer

  • Annual fee:

    $39

  • Regular APR:

    26.99% (Variable)

  • Recommended credit:

    (No Credit History)

  • Learn moreexterna link icon at our partner’s secure site

Bottom Line

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

If your credit score isn’t great and you want to start building the credit foundation to move in the right direction, the Indigo Platinum Mastercard can help by reporting your usage to the three credit bureaus — if you practice good habits that will reflect positively on your report. But you may also take on a pricey annual fee and risk high utilization due to the card’s low credit limit. Before applying, consider other cards for bad credit and secured credit cards with no annual fee that may better serve your credit-building goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is a decent option for consumers with poor credit who don’t want to put down a security deposit on a secured credit card. Check your prequalification terms, and compare other options for people with fair credit or bad credit before applying.

The credit limit for the Indigo Platinum Mastercard is $300. If you get approved for a version with an annual fee, your annual fee will be deducted from your credit limit.

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is an unsecured credit card, so you do not have to put down a cash deposit as collateral.

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