What is a secured credit card?

Millions of Americans have limited access to credit, and no borrowing history to speak of. For these people a secured credit card might be the only way for them to build a profile.

These accounts work by having the applicant make a small payment - usually a few hundred dollars - that sets the credit card's limit. After that, they can be used in much the same way as a normal card, and be used to improve credit standing through careful use.

However, these cards often come with larger than normal fees and higher interest rates, so if you're trying to build a strong borrowing history, you'll have to be careful to not overspend on it, and pay off your balance in full as often as possible to avoid high costs. But once you've had such a card for a few months or a year, you should be able to qualify for a more traditional credit card instead.

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