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What is a secured credit card? An option for people with bad credit

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This page includes information about the Discover it® Secured, which is currently not available on Business Insider and may be out of date.  

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A secured credit card can help you improve your credit score.

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This article is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. It has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of the issuers listed. Some of the offers you see on this page are from our partners, like Citi, but our coverage is always independent.

  • A secured credit card requires a cash deposit to serve as collateral against your credit limit.
  • Since the security deposit minimizes the card issuer’s risk, most secured credit cards are easier to qualify for when you have poor credit or none at all.
  • When shopping for a secured credit card, look for a card that reports to all three major credit bureaus, provides a clear graduation path, and charges minimal fees.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A good credit score makes it easier to get approved for a loan or qualify for lower interest rates. But even if you don’t plan to apply for a loan soon, your credit score can still affect your daily life.

Utility companies, insurance providers, phone companies, and landlords have all been known to use credit scores when considering a new customer or tenant.

Using a credit card responsibly can help you build your credit history and improve your score. But many credit cards require credit approval as well, so they can be hard to qualify for when you have bad credit or none at all.

In this situation, you may want to consider applying for a secured credit card. Let’s take a look at what a secured credit card is and how it works. We’ll also discuss what to look for when you’re shopping for a secured credit card.

What is a secured credit card?

A secured credit card requires a cash deposit that will serve as collateral and minimize the card issuer’s risk. Unsecured credit cards, on the other hand, do not require a deposit. The credit limit on a secured credit card will usually be equal to the deposit you make. 

While secured credit cards provide extra protection to your lender, they otherwise work just like a normal, unsecured card. And as long as your card issuer reports to the major credit bureaus, secured credit cards can help you improve your credit score.

To help you build your score faster, you’ll want to keep an eye on your credit utilization rate (how much of your available credit you use each month).

Many credit experts recommend that you spend less than 30% of your available credit in a given month. Since most secured cards have low credit limits (often $300 or below), they require a bit more attention and discipline to stay within that range.

Some secured credit cards include a graduation component, where cardholders are automatically transitioned to unsecured versions of the card (receiving a refund of their deposit) after a certain period of time. Or, once your credit score improves, you may want to apply for a credit card that offers better terms, interest rates, or rewards.

What to look for in a secured credit card

If you’re in the market for a secured credit card, here are a few things you’ll want to pay attention to.

Credit reporting

With any credit card, you’ll want to make sure that you get credit for all the payments you make. But that’s especially true with a secured credit card where you’re having to put up cash to use it. 

That’s why you’ll want to make sure that your secured card reports to all three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Most secured cards do, but it’s still something you’ll want to confirm before you apply.

Clear graduation path

If possible, you’ll want to find a secured card that clearly states how long you’ll need to wait before you can graduate to a partially secured or fully unsecured version of the card.

For instance, the Discover it® Secured promises to begin reviewing your account for a deposit refund after eight months (it’s also one of the few secured credit cards that offers rewards). And the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One® will consider increasing your credit limit after only five on-time monthly payments.

Low fees

If you apply for a secured credit card, you’re already agreeing to put up a cash deposit for a card that may not offer any rewards. But, in exchange, secured credit cards can be easier to qualify for and that can be a worthy tradeoff. 

However, many secured credit cards also charge exorbitant fees. Whenever possible, try to find a secured card that will treat you fairly, like the cards listed below.

The Discover it Secured card, Secured Mastercard from Capital One, and the Citi Secured Mastercard all charge no annual fee. And the Discover it Secured card won’t charge a fee for your first late payment either, and paying late won’t raise your APR.

If you don’t qualify for any of these cards, you may want to consider the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card. It doesn’t require a credit check to apply, yet still charges a reasonable $35 annual fee.

Secured credit cards can be a valuable credit-building tool. But make sure that the secured credit card you choose is truly designed to help you improve your credit situation and not take advantage of it.

More coverage from How to Do Everything: Money

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Possible Raises Series B and Moves Fully Remote | State News

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SEATLLE, Oct. 20, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Possible raises $11 million in new equity funding to expand the team and to provide additional products for its customers. Union Square Ventures led the round, with participation from existing investors Canvas Ventures, Unlock Venture Partners, Columbia Pacific Advisors, Union Bay Partners, Tom Williams, and FJ Labs. The company has also secured $80 million in new debt financing from Park Cities Advisors.

Furthermore, the company is now fully remote and recently onboarded software engineers from across the US and the globe. Possible is committed to distributed work and actively recruiting for a number of other remote roles.

Possible provides friendly access to capital and a simple way to build credit for people who otherwise would get a payday loan or get hit with a bank overdraft fee. The company uses real-time financial data, rather than a credit score, to qualify customers and provide funds instantly through its iTunes and Android apps. Unlike payday loans or overdraft fees, Possible loans are paid back in small installments over multiple pay periods to allow customers to catch their breath. By reporting on-time payments to the credit bureaus, Possible enables its customers to build credit history and eventually qualify for cheaper, longer term financial products. On average, customers with low credit scores see their scores increase by 70 points within 4 months.

Tony Huang, Possible’s CEO explains, “So many people who live paycheck to paycheck can’t afford to build credit history. We’re helping them do it for the first time while providing them with a friendlier and more affordable small-dollar loan.”

Since launching in June 2018, Possible’s given out loans to hundreds of thousands of customers, helping meet short-term cash needs while building credit history or establishing credit for the first time. These customers, often with bad credit or no credit history, are underserved by traditional banks. Possible fills that gap and provides financial access to those who need it most while giving them the means to climb their way out.

Gillian Munson, Partner at Union Square Ventures, explains the thesis behind their new investment, “Through tech innovation, data-driven insights, and a focus on the customer, Possible is well on its way to winning the hearts and minds of both consumers and regulators alike, and building a trusted brand that endures.”

A 2019 Experian study shows 34.8% of consumers are subprime and can’t access money when they need it. They pay $106 billion in punitive fees each year to the existing financial system for short-term credit products. These consumers are trapped in predatory debt cycles of payday loans and overdraft fees without the means to rebuild their credit or improve their financial health. While there has been a number of new tech-enabled products in this space, most lead to similar debt cycles and don’t address the harder issue of improving long-term financial health. That’s where Possible comes in.

Since the company is now fully remote, Possible is actively hiring talent across the globe. Tyler, Possible’s CTO, explains, “Being fully distributed allows us to access the talent pool of the entire world. Our success so far is a reflection of the quality of our people, and we believe hiring globally will allow us to find exceptional people to join us in achieving our mission.”

About Possible

Possible is a fintech company based in Seattle, Washington. The company provides a friendlier and easier way for customers to access capital while also building credit history and improving long-term financial health.

About Union Square Ventures

Union Square Ventures is a thesis-driven venture capital firm based in New York City. USV manages over $1 billion in capital across seven funds and focuses investments in portfolio companies with the potential to transform important markets.

About Park Cities Advisors LLC

Park Cities Advisors LLC (“PCA”) is a privately held, SEC-registered alternative credit manager based in Dallas, Texas. PCA is focused on private lending across the specialty finance and FinTech sectors and provides debt capital to companies across a variety of industries through asset-based financing transactions.



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Business Loans – Make The Right Choice!

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Your business needs funding and there’s no denying that! ‘You need money to make money’ and this is most applicable in the business world! While it is fairly easy to start with an awesome idea, to make a business profitable, you need to invest a good chunk of capital.

Whether to buy equipment or hire the right minds, you need capital! And the best way to go about it is to search for the ‘right’ business loan solution. Finding the ‘right’ one amongst the plethora of available options is a tricky decision.

You’ll be under stress to match the repayment frequency. And thus, your business will suffer. Hence, finalizing the right business financing solution after analyzing your business structure, repayment terms, cash-flow, and urgency is the best practice.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of which business financing solution or small business loan will help your business better!

1. For Real Estate – SBA

SBA loan is one of the most popular loans for small business owners. This is pretty straightforward to understand but involves extensive paperwork. If you need a place to kickstart your business, this is most suited for you.

It is issued by a private lending party or a bank. But the interesting part is that this loan can be guaranteed up to 85% by the federal agency—Small Business Administration (SBA). Hence, lending institutions are free and content to give the loan.

The best things about this loan are the lowest down payments and low-interest rates. If you wish to pay in the very long term, you can do so. An SBA loan involves a lot of flexibility. The condition being you should have the right financial service provider to guide you.

2. For An Equipment Or Any One-Off Loan – Equipment Financing, Term Loan

Do you need a new computer, or a tablet for your employee, or maybe a vehicle for your business’ delivery needs? Equipment financing is best suited for such kinds of needs. You can also get up to 100% financing solutions.

But there is one drawback that you should be aware of. As long as the repayments are done on time, you’ll continue to have access to the equipment. But the moment you fail short of your commitment, the lending institution has completed control over ceasing it.

A business term loan is another solution for this kind of requirement. Term loans are based on the ‘term’ that can be anywhere from 1 to 5 years. So, the repayment has to be made in that time-frame. If you’re looking for business loans in Edgewater, NJ, this will be just about right for you!

3. Need To Balance Cash Flow – Business Line of Credit

Business Line of Credit is the best financing solution that can help you with balancing your cash flow or handling any emergencies.

You get access to a limited amount of funds for a set period of time that you need to pay with interest and as soon as you pay it back, your specific balance sheet is turned back to ‘0’. This indicates that you’re again eligible for using that fund.

You can do it repetitively. There is no drawback to this mechanism. So every time you have an emergency fund need, you can look towards the business line of credit.

The only shortcoming of this system is that the interest rate is high and may require collaterals for approval. However, it is one of the most appealing choices if you need capital and have a bad credit score!

4. Credit Card Based Businesses – Merchant Cash Advance

Do you own a business that involves payments via credit cards? If yes, then the merchant cash advance is the right solution for you.

A business like retail or food chain that makes use of credit card transactions the most, can utilize merchant cash advance to boost its business. The way this financing system works is, the lender will enquire about your daily credit card transactions to the terminal provider and get your exact details. Then, he will compare it with the asked amount. If both are in accordance, you’ll become eligible for the advance.

The repayment term is interesting for this financing solution. Instead of getting a fixed rate, the advance provider will give you the figure in percentage. So every day if you make $1000 and the decided percentage is 5, then $50 will be ‘withheld’.

A merchant cash advance acts more like an investment than a loan!

5. Have No Collateral – Invoice Financing, Equipment Financing

Not all businesses have the luxury of putting collateral on the line and getting access to the desired fund. If you fall into the same category, you do not need to worry! Invoice financing can help you out even in this crunch situation.

Your account receivables serve as collateral in this financing solution and can help you get a loan up to 85% of its worth.

The only downside is the interest rate that is marginally higher than the traditional solutions.

Bonus: For A Small Duration – Short Term Loan

What if you need a loan just for 18 months? You have some debt or need to manage the cash flow, but your requirement is small. Which loan is right for you?

Well, you can opt for a short term loan. This loan gives you instant access to a lump sum of money that should be paid within the next 18 months.

The best part about this loan is that bad credit doesn’t bother the process!

This can also support businesses that need temporary loans to manage or settle a few things. Businesses that do not need some loan that lasts for years!

But just like all other financing solutions, this loan as well comes with a few drawbacks.

The first one being the annual cost will be slightly towards the higher side and the second being that a few businesses may find it hard to cope-up with the weekly payments.

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Financial advisor Helen Baker shares the six saving tricks to help you save THOUSANDS

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A leading financial advisor has shared the saving tricks that will help you to save thousands in a short amount of time, including adopting the 50/30/20 method and never signing up for financial products on your partner’s behalf.

Helen Baker, from Queensland explained that if this year has shown us anything, it’s that you need to have some spare money in the bank in case of loss of income.

Helen revealed the top tips and tricks to help you save tens of thousands of dollars, no matter what your salary or financial goals are.

Helen Baker (pictured), from Queensland, shared the saving tricks that will help you to save thousands in a short amount of time

Helen Baker (pictured), from Queensland, shared the saving tricks that will help you to save thousands in a short amount of time

1. Use the 50/30/20 strategy to control spending

The first way that Helen said you can save a bit more than you already do is by adopting the 50/30/20 strategy to control your spending.

‘This simple yet effective budgeting method involves dividing your after-tax income into three categories,’ she told FEMAIL.

Put 50 per cent of your net income towards ‘must-haves’ like rent, utility bills, school fees and groceries, then reserve 30 per cent for your ‘wants’, like dining out, fashion and entertainment.

Finally, Helen said you need to keep 20 per cent back for loan repayments or building up your savings.

This simple approach will help you to save thousands over the course of a single year.

The first way that Helen said you can save a bit more than you already do is by adopting the 50/30/20 strategy to control your spending (stock image)

The first way that Helen said you can save a bit more than you already do is by adopting the 50/30/20 strategy to control your spending (stock image)

2. Consider salary sacrificing to superannuation

Helen’s second tip involves you voluntarily sacrificing some of your salary to your superannuation.

‘If you are looking to save a deposit for your first home, the First Home Super Saver Scheme enables you make voluntary contributions in your super fund and withdraw up to $30,000 of eligible contributions towards your home deposit,’ she said.

Concessional contributions made to an approved super fund are taxed at just 15 per cent, rather than the marginal rate of up to 46.5 per cent on your regular pay.

‘If you have an income of $70,000 and want to put $15,000 towards a home deposit, you can end up paying nearly $4,875 of that $15,000 in tax,’ she said.

By contrast, if you sacrifice $15,000 a year into your super through the First Home Super Save Scheme, you pay just $2,250 in tax per year and could have around $25,000 available for a home deposit after two years.

3. Avoid signing up for products on your partner’s behalf

It might feel tempting to sign up to products on your partner’s behalf as you are a couple, but Helen said it’s best to avoid taking out a credit card, loan or mobile phone plan on your partner’s behalf, in your name.

‘If your partner falls behind on repayments, it can affect both your credit ratings, and if you break up or your partner accumulated debt, and you are married or defacto, you will be liable for their debt,’ she explained.

Avoid rushing into joint bank accounts or co-signing loans, she added.

Even though it’s important to have joint finances and accounts when you’re in a long-term relationship or marriage, you must also have your own savings and emergency fund. 

Helen said it's best to avoid taking out a credit card, loan or mobile phone plan on your partner's behalf, in your name (stock image)

Helen said it’s best to avoid taking out a credit card, loan or mobile phone plan on your partner’s behalf, in your name (stock image)

4. Hide your savings account from yourself

When you set up a savings account, there is always a temptation to dip into it when you need a boost.

But Helen said you should set up a separate bank account for your savings, and ideally one that you can’t access with your current banking app.

‘Choose a savings account that charges withdrawal fees,’ she added – as the harder and more expensive it is to access your account, more likely you are to realise your savings goals.

5. Cut your spending instead of increasing your income

Smart spending can be just as good, if not better, than increasing your income, Helen said.

‘Look at expenses that you can cull, such as a subscription that you rarely use,’ Helen said. 

You could also cut dining out as much and look after your existing items so you can use them for a longer period. 

6. Create a bill strategy 

Helen recommends that you outline all of your bills in a spreadsheet so as to avoid incurring any late fees and pay every bill when it’s due. 

‘Ensure your calendar gives you adequate time to thoroughly check invoices and make sure you are not being overcharged,’ she said.

Try to group any bills into categories of $100, $100-$500 and $500 plus. 

‘Smaller bills, such as mobile phone plans or other monthly service utilities, can be paid by setting up automatic payments,’ she said.

‘Larger bills, such as tax, rent or mortgage repayments, require more diligence. It is also crucial to pay substantial bills on time to avoid incurring a bad credit rating.’ 

Helen is a spokesperson for money.com.au. For more information, please click here

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