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Credit Card Alternatives for Poor Credit Scores
Lax credit rules, over spending, a weak economy and a startling number of unemployed workers have many consumers licking their financial wounds. Starting over financially is no walk in the park but is a necessity to get back on your feet and headed in the right direction.
Don't Over Apply
First of all, keep in mind that if you're not having any luck with applying for a credit card with the traditional banks - don't continue to apply. Each time a credit check occurs you potentially impact your credit score further.
Credit Card Alternatives
This may be easier said than done. Many lenders will reject applications for credit from those with poor credit. But that doesn't mean you're completely out of options. Having access to a MasterCard or Visa is necessary in many situations and doing without is nearly impossible for some. Consider these alternatives:
- Prepaid Cards are one option for those unable to qualify for a credit card. Essentially they work independently from your credit score and do not impact you positively or negatively on your credit history. The basis of a prepaid credit card is that, for a fee, you may "load" the card in advance via a cash payment and then are able to use it as needed. Again, prepaid card companies will not report your responsible spending to reporting agencies but will help you learn to stay within your budget and get you into the habit of only spending what you can afford.
- Secured Credit Cards are similar to a prepaid card but do work in conjunction with your credit score. Typically a customer is able to obtain a secure credit card via a cash deposit. After several months of making monthly payments and staying within the credit limit, a secured credit card company will often issue a line of credit that is more similar to an unsecured credit card. This is considered a starter credit card to help get you back on your feet.
- Bad Credit - Credit Cards are specifically designed for those with poor credit history and a low score. Some companies may still be willing to issue a line of credit. HOwever, be prepared for hefty fees and penalties of any credit card you obtain. Credit card companies willing to risk a line of credit to someone who has been historically irresponsible are going to charge fees.. Annual fees can range from $50 to several hundreds of dollars and are hard to avoid. Credit limits on these types of cards are typically very low and may even require collateralization.
Establish a Payment History
Once you're able to gain access to even a small line of credit treat it with the upmost importance. Demonstrate that you can make monthly payments on time each month and spend only within your credit limit. This practice done consistently will eventually earn you a larger line of credit at cheaper interest rates.
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