Looking at rebuilding credit options as it relates to credit cards, Jason Steele asks industry experts the following question:
"Which credit cards do you recommend to people who are trying to rebuild their credit, and why?"
Beverly Harzog - Credit card expert for US News and World Report
There are a few ways to rebuild credit with a credit card. One way, is to get a secured credit card. Do some research first and find one that has low fees. There are some good ones out there. Here’s how it works: You put a deposit in the bank to “secure” the card. Then, you get a credit card that looks just like an unsecured card. Use your secured credit card for purchases and you’ll start rebuilding your credit.
Be sure you keep low balances on your secured credit card, and pay the bill in full by the due date. As long as the issuer reports to the three major credit bureaus, your credit score will start to improve. Now, this won’t work unless you’re diligent about paying all of your other bills on time. Good credit involves an excellent payment history for all your bills, not just credit cards.
If your credit is so poor that you can’t get approved for a secured credit card, then consider becoming an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account. It’s not as effective as having your own account, but it will help you build credit. Just make sure the credit card issuer reports authorized user activity to the bureaus.
There are also unsecured credit cards that target those with bad credit. Some of these have monthly fees, application fees, no grace periods and high APRs. Be sure you understand the costs of these cards before applying. With high APRs, it’s easy to fall into credit card debt.
Shawn Coomer - Editor and Founder of Miles to Memories
Bad things happen in life and thankfully it isn’t the end of the world if you have credit problems. While there are a ton of credit card options for those looking to rebuild credit, many of them come with very high fees. These products may be useful for some, but I feel the best option is a no annual fee secured credit card.
Both Capital One and Discover have secured products which allow you to rebuild you credit without requiring you to pay through the nose. The Secured Mastercard from Capital One allows you to place a security deposit in exchange for credit. This card reports just like any other credit card on your credit report and it also has some fringe benefits like extended warranty and price protection.
Perhaps the best overall card for rebuilding credit is the Discover it Secured card. Just like with Capital One’s offering this no annual fee card requires a security deposit and reports normally on your credit report, but unlike Capital One’s secured card it also earns rewards! With 1% cashback on everyday purchases, the ability to get your deposit back in as little as eight months and free FICO credit score monitoring, this is the best overall product in my opinion for rebuilding your credit without losing many of the benefits that credit cards provide.
Ben Luthi - Credit card expert and personal finance writer
My favorite credit card for rebuilding credit is the Discover it Secured. In a way, it feels like it helps credit rebuilders maintain their dignity. It's a secured card, so it does require a security deposit equal to your credit limit.
But starting at eight months, Discover reviews your account activity to see if it can return your deposit. In other words, you don't necessarily have to wait until you close your account to get your deposit back.
The card also offers cash-back rewards, which is rare for secured credit cards. Plus, Discover will double all the cash back you earn your first year, effectively giving you a base rewards rate of 2% during that time.
If you can't qualify for the Discover it Secured, my next choice is the Capital One Secured Mastercard. It doesn't offer any rewards, but you can get an initial credit line of $200 with a $49, $99 or $200 deposit, depending on your creditworthiness.
You'll also have a chance later on to increase your credit limit without an additional deposit — you just need to make your first five monthly payments on time.
Finally, if your credit report has some serious negative items on it, it might be tough to get approved for even a secured credit card. For this, the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card is worth considering.
The card doesn't require a credit check to get approved, plus it has a decent APR if you need to carry a balance. The only drawback is it has a $35 annual fee. The other two don't have an annual fee at all.
Regardless of which credit card you choose, your top priority should be to work on rebuilding your credit. That means using the card regularly, keeping your balance relatively low, and paying on time each month, preferably in full.
Zina Kumok - Author of ConsciousCoins.com
Discover it secured is my favorite pick for people rebuilding their credit. It reports credit activity to all three credit bureaus, you earn cash back on your purchases and you also get free access to your credit score.
There's also no annual fee so you won't pay anything to use this card. This is pretty rare to find in a secured card and I think consumers should take advantage.
Eric Rosenberg - Finance, travel, and technology writer in Ventura, California
When rebuilding credit, the best credit card depends on your starting point. If you have very bad credit from a string of late and missed payments in the past, you may be limited to secured credit cards. Among secured cards, the best are those with no annual fees and extra tools to help you better understand and improve your credit. In this class of card, my favorite is the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®.
Capital One offers a great secured card with no annual fee. While the initial credit limit is low and the interest rate is high, it gives you an opportunity to use credit responsibly and build up to qualify for better cards in the future. Another good choice is the Discover it® Secured card, which offers cash back rewards and no annual fee. Just be aware that Discover cards are not as widely accepted, which might make the Capital One card a little more enticing.
Jason Steele - Credit card, travel expert and Founder of the all things credit card conference, CardCon
Both the Discover it Secured and the Capital One Secured cards are great choices, with no annual fees. Capital One stands out because it will offer you a credit limit in excess of your security deposit.
Another attractive option is US Bank which offers several different secured cards with low annual fees, or no annual fee at all. And if you already have accounts with US Bank, it can be that much easier to manage your accounts all in one place. After a year of on-time payments, most secured card users find that they can qualify for a standard, unsecured card and receive their deposit back.