Credit Card Expert Roundup #33 - What credit card would you recommend to someone with poor credit who is trying to rebuilding their credit?

Jason Steele
March 5, 2019
Jason Steele CardCon

Unfortunately, 95% of credit card offers catering to those with damaged credit histories are completely unfavorable to the consumers who they are designed for. Jason Steele asks a group of experts this week to share their insights on products to look for catered to the underserved market:

"What credit card would you recommend to someone with poor credit who is trying to rebuilding their credit?"

Greg Johnson - Founder of Club Thrifty

My favorite credit card for people with poor credit is the Discover It Secured card. Although this card does require a cash deposit to get started, this is a legit credit card – not a prepaid card. Like other secured cards, the interest rate isn’t great, but there is no annual fee to worry about. Discover also reports your progress to all three major credit bureaus, helping you to build credit quickly.

You can even track your progress on your bill. Each month, Discover provides your FICO score right on your statement, helping you see your improvement and encouraging you to keep going.

Here’s the best part, though: With the Discover It Secured card, you’ll earn a nice 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in gas station and restaurant spending each quarter (then 1%) along with 1% back on all other purchases. As with other Discover cash-back credit cards, they’ll also match your cash back balance at the end of your first year.

As far as I know, there aren’t any other secured cards with a deal this good. So, in my mind, the Discover It Secured card is a no-brainer for people looking to build their credit and earn cash back while they are doing it.

Debra Schroeder - Founder of Traveling Well For Less

The best credit card for someone with poor credit and who is trying to rebuild their credit is the Capital One Secured Mastercard. There is no annual fee and the required refundable security deposit is as low as $49, depending on their creditworthiness. The initial credit line starts at $200. If you want a higher credit line you can deposit more money. Or you can hack your way to a higher line without fronting money by making your first five payments on time. For most people, this is the easiest way to start rebuilding their credit. You can improve your credit faster because Capital One reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.

The Capital One Secured Mastercard offers additional features like selecting your own payment date. This could provide some cushion if all your bills are due on the same date. You can set purchase notifications and account alerts to keep track of your spending. Whether or not you have this card, you can use the Capital One CreditWise service to check your VantageScore 3.0 credit score. The card also gives you free access to your TransUnion credit report. So you can monitor and check your progress towards rebuilding your credit. Additionally, there are no foreign transaction fees on purchases outside the United States.

Louis DeNicola - Personal finance writer who works with Fortune 500 financial services firms, FinTech startups, and non-profits to help promote financial literacy

I recommend looking for a secured credit card, which is a type of credit card that's designed for people who are building or rebuilding their credit. With a secured card, you'll have to send the issuer a refundable security deposit to open your account. The deposit isn't for paying off your balance -- it's not like a prepaid card -- but the issuer can keep part or all of the deposit if the cardholder defaults on the card. You'll receive the deposit back when you close your account as long as you've repaid your balance in full.

I don't recommend any specific secured card in particular, but I suggest looking for one that doesn't have an annual fee. Use the card for a small bill each month, such as a streaming service, and then pay off the balance in full. Consistently doing this could help you build a history of on-time payments, which can help your credit scores.

Miranda Marquit - Nationally-recognized financial expert. She is the founder of Planting Money Seeds

One of my favorites for rebuilding credit is the Capital One Platinum Mastercard. It doesn't come with rewards, but it has no fees, and if you're just looking to re-establish your credit, it can be a good choice. It's possible to get this unsecured credit card even if you have poor credit in the low- to mid-500s. I like that you don't need to make a security deposit, and you're rewarded for making on-time payments. After you make five on-time payments, you are eligible for a credit line increase, which can also help your credit utilization. As always, though, you need to be careful in your attempts to rebuild your credit. Make a few purchases each month and pay them off in full. The Capital One Platinum Mastercard has a high APR, so you won't want to carry a balance.

Jason Steele - Founder of the credit card media conference CardCon as well as a credit card/travel expert.

There are many credit cards that are offered to people with poor credit, but most of them come with outrageous fees and very high interest rates. Thankfully, there are some credit cards that are offered to applicants with nearly any credit history, and some don’t charge an annual fee.

Both the Capital One Secured and the Discover it Secured cards have no annual fee. Both require a refundable security deposit before you can open an account. But once open, they work just like any other credit card. You’ll receive a monthly statement and must make a payment each month. With responsible use and no late payments, most people find that they can qualify for a standard, unsecured card within a year. This is how I recommend that people rebuild their credit.

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