Owning an unsecured credit card is basic in the American consumer economy. If you want to either build or rebuild your credit rating, it’s essential to be accepted for a line of credit from VISA, MasterCard, or some other charge card network. The problem is, when they have a low FICO score, many people don’t know where to start.
NoCreditCreditCard exists to help those consumers repair their credit score. This site begins where you should begin: secured credit. Beyond that, NCCC is a guide to debt repair and financial literacy. Our blog is home to many budgeting topics, but this website’s emphasis remains on personal finance.
Almost certainly, a VISA or MasterCard with a security deposit is going to be your first step towards repairing or establishing your credit history.
Secured Credit Cards Can Rebuild and Repair Your Finances
When you’re trying to fix your score, finding the right financing can be difficult. Especially if you’re new to the financial world, even knowing where to start can be confusing. When you feel like you don’t have anywhere to turn, you’re prone to get frustrated or even depressed. Shopping in those circumstances can often be self-destructive, so it’s important to break out of that cycle. Luckily, a tailor-made way exists to help beginners walk through the gateway of financial independence. Read this page and you’ll know the many doorways to better credit. Maybe you think you know how this ends already. Maybe you’ve already tried applying for a card through your bank or a department store. Maybe you’ve even contacted VISA and MasterCard directly. If you’re reading this, those attempts probably failed.
Don’t worry: you simply applied for the wrong types of financing.
I’ll teach you the right cards to target, with programs designed to help you repair and rebuild your financial standing. Applying for a “no credit” credit card is easy. In fact, you have a close-to-100% chance of being accepted, if you use an affordable cash deposit as collateral. The traditional line of credit isn’t for you, but it soon will be. Enter that world with an intermediary step. The wide world of consumerism is best accessed through the gateway known as secured credit.
How Secured Credit Cards Work
In most cases, the only way to get a “no credit” credit card is through secured financing. “Secured” means there is an asset linked to the account, so the lender can take the collateral if you fail to make your payments. Think of a these cards as similar to mortgages or car loans–these are examples of secured loans that many people are familiar with. In those cases, if you fail to make your car or house payments, the lender will take your asset in order to satisfy the debt.
In this case, a security deposit is what insures the loan from your creditors’ perspective.
Otherwise, you have many of the advantages of unsecured lending. The best secured cards offer more than just credit building–many offer their members reward points and other bonuses, just like a more traditional credit card. Those who make payments on time replace bad history with good history, thus building their rating.
Many banks and credit card companies offer a secured line of credit.
Best VISA and MasterCard Cards
VISA offers OpenSky and its top rival offers Capital One Secured MasterCard. Each serves as a doorway into the world of finance for people who need to build better credit. With as little as a $200 deposit, you can begin to change your financial reputation while gaining a credit education. These cards have low annual fees, no hidden fees, and many offer their customers reward programs for good behavior. OpenSky is probably the best all-around program for most beginning consumers, if you want to flash plastic from one of the most famous companies.
For those who prefer a financial institution which focuses on building a credit rating, then try the Fifty Third cards. In my opinion, these are the best no credit credit cards on the market right now. If you’re looking to repair your credit or build credit history for the first time, these are the best offers to start your search. You might find better promotions with a little bit of research time spent on the Internet or on your iPhone.
VISA OpenSky Secured Credit Card
OpenSky has credit lines between $200 and $3000, which is determined by the amount of your security deposit. This can be increased at any time, though the increase is subject to approval.
The benefits include an interest-free grace period, total accessibility at vendors which accept VISA, help in controlling your finances, and the ability to build credit at your own pace. Establishing our history is a quick and easy process and, most important, no credit check is required.
OpenSky’s Fees and APR Rates
The annual percentage rate (APR) for purchases is 17.39%, though this will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. The APR for cash advances is also 17.39%, which also varies with the Prime Rate. The penalty APR is 21.50%. This applies if you make a late payment. This applies indefinitely, unless you make 6 consecutive payments on time.
The due date on charges is 25 days after the close of each billing cycle. No interest will be charged on new purchases, if you pay your previous balance in full by the due date each month. Interest begins on cash advances on the transaction date, though. OpenSky Secured also has a minimum interest charge of no less than $1.00.
The annual fee is $35. The transaction fee on cash advances is $6 at minimum, or 5% of the cash advance, whichever is greater. Also, you’ll pay a 3% transaction fee on in U.S. dollars on foreign transaction and cash advance payments. Penalty fees are up to $30. Returned payment fees are up to $25.
Special Terms by US State
California residents may apply for an account in name alone, regardless of your marital status. Ohio residents are given special protections, because they state requires all creditors to make available to all creditworthy customers on each individual. If you need more questions answered involving these rules, contact the Ohio Civil Rights Commission. Married Wisconsin residents should know that any marital property agreement will not adversely affect a creditor’s interest rate. This is subject to the 766.59 and 766.70 of the Wisconsin Statutes.
Residents in Vermont, Rhode Island, and New York may have to submit a credit report, due to the laws in those states. Capital Bank (CB) can tell you whether such a report was obtained by the issuer of the OpenSky Card. New York residents should contact the New York State Banking Department (1-877-226-5697) to obtain a comparative list of all rates, fees, and grace periods.
VISA OpenSky Secured Review
The OpenSky program is easily accessed with a quick 4-step application process which takes about 10 minutes. All it requires is basic personal and financial information. The online application allows a number of standard ways to fund your security deposit. Once you’re in the system, VISA offers online credit education and an e-newsletter for cardholders.
The big rival to the VISA OpenSky option is a program designed by the partnership of Capital One and MasterCard, so let’s take an in-depth look at that option.
The Capital One Secured MasterCard
The Capital One Secured MasterCard® receives high marks from cardholders on Credit Karma Inc. The 5-star ratings are at 48%, while the 4-star ratings are at 21%, for nearly a 70% approval rate. Take a look at the ratings for the cards further down this page to see a comparison.
Some of the statistics on this charge card from Capital One are not that great, such as the 24.9% variable APR on regular balance transfers (the intro APR is not applicable). The regular purchase APR is also a whopping 24.9% variable, meaning that is the low limit. The annual fee is $80. You’ll be able to get your line of credit increased, if you make regular payments.
Reports to All 3 Credit Reporting Bureaus
The main reason for the positive reviews are the quick reporting to the agencies. Several claim their activity was reported within a week of their transaction. This is a gateway into approval for the Capital One Platinum Card and the Capital One Quicksilver One, which is why it is so useful to consumers. You’ll pay for that usefulness, but it’s a good way to jump-start your FICO score if you can control your spending habits. Also, the ability to apply with a low-500 score and receive approval is helpful for those who might have destroyed their credit history in the recent past. If you dispute the old claims on your annual report and maintain your payment schedule, you’ll be able to get your score in the 600 to 625 range in the near future. This is one path to getting your Fair Isaac score in the 800 range, but not the only one.
This is a good card for the first time holders, because it’s easy-to-use and even easier to pay on. Because it’s CapitalOne, he service department is good. You’ll get 24/7 service from a company representative over the phone or online. Also, you can use it virtually everywhere: swipes work at almost any vendor in the world, both on the Internet and in your offline consumer activities.
Capital One Secure Review
The best reason the Capital One Secured program is so well-liked is how easy it is once in the system. The annual fee is $0. The required security deposit is either $49, $99, or $200, depending on your creditworthiness. This is a refundable deposit, so long as you maintain the terms and conditions. The initial credit line is $200 to $3000, though increases are allowed if you remain a customer in good standing. Anywhere you see the MasterCard logo, your plastic will spend. Also, you enjoy 100% free unlimited access to your credit score, meaning you can check on your status without getting a penalty from the reporting agencies. The credit tracker has a what-if simulator that teaches you the cause-and-effect of bad spending.
This is called the “Capital One Credit Tracker” and it’s a 100% free tool. This includes the aforementioned simulatr, credit alters on TransUnion report changes, and a grade overview which helps you learn your grades on key factors which impact your score. Finally, this program reports to all three agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and EquiFax. Capital One’s reporting is among the quickest in the financing business, so it gets you started on repairing the financial damage as quickly as possible.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
This page is only meant to be a preview of the information you can find on this website, so I’ll leave off with the details reviews for now. Instead, I’m going to give a pitch that readers of this site should begin to master what’s called financial literacy in the industry. If you want to learn more about the basic borrowing information or the factors used to decide whether an application is accepted or not, read the tips section at the U.S. government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.
Now that I’ve made my pitch, let’s discuss other options for borrowers. The two suggestions above are just a couple of examples of the financing available to those repairing or building their financial reputation. Once you know these cards exist and do a little research, you’ll be astounded at how many of them exist.
Secured Lending Programs in the United States
In fact, special secured lending programs exist for newbies and so-called credit ghosts starting out their finance history. Those dealing with bad payment histories can find ways to rebuild their score. More affluent debtors dealing with bankruptcy or liens can find high dollar cards from Amex to help start the road to financial recovery. Even businesses can use this method to build their business score fast.
Here are some of the brands you should research:
- First National Bank Secured Visa Card
- primor® Secured Visa Gold Card
- Fifty Third Platinum from Fifty Third Bank
- First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
- UNITY® Visa Secured Credit Card – The Comeback Card™
- USAA Secured Card® Platinum Visa®
- First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
- primor® Secured Visa Classic Card
- USAA Secured Card® Platinum MasterCard®
- First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
- The Secured Visa® from Merrick Bank
- USAA Secured Card® American Express® Card
With such a glut of programs to consider, you may find it difficult to select just one. There are so many to choose from, and such a variety of terms and conditions, that it can be difficult to know what you want or need.
For that reason, I’ll provide a few basic details of each of the cards, to get you started in your research. Only you know your private situation, so any expert can only help so much. The important thing is to ask questions anytime you aren’t certain, but ask them before you sign-up for a program. The FAQ section on lenders’ websites might not always give you the information you need, so call for help. Government websites exist to provide more information.
My advice is to keep things simple. The best cards satisfy a few simple requirements, and may even provide a few perks that make your ownership of the secured card even more enjoyable. To help differentiate basic differences, here’s a quick review of 10 to 15 of the top programs for shoppers like yourself.
UNITY Comeback Card
The Unity Comeback Card was designed by VISA to help you rebuild your credit. It reports to all 3 major credit bureaus. The low fixed interest rate is 17.99%, so you know the rate up front. The UNITY Comeback has a security deposit ranging from $250 minimum and $10,000 max. “The Comeback Card”, as it is called in the financial industry, also allows you to manage your account online, gives no application fee or penalty rate, and has a credit line secured by a fully-refundable FDIC insured deposit. The annual fee is $13 with a 9.95% intro APR on balance transfers for the first six months.
The 53rd Bank Platinum Card has a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers. The introductory APR lasts for 15 billing cycles. It also offers Zero Liability, MasterCard Airport Concierge, Master RoadAssist Service, and price protection.
Secured VISA from Merrick Bank
The Secured VISA from Merrick Bank provides a FICO score every month at no charge. You determine the credit line up to $3,000. It has easy funding options, with several convenient options to easily submit your security deposit. Once again, performance is reported to all three major credit bureaus, unlike the standard prepaid card. It also can be used anywhere Visa is accepted worldwide. This Merrick Bank plastic also has no processing or application fees. The annual fee is $36 with a variable 17.45% regular APR.
1st National Bank Secured VISA
First National Bank of Omaha’s cardholders gets automatic reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus. Deposits range from $300 to $5,000 in $50 increments. This can become a deposit-free card in as little as 15 months, though you need a good payment history to make it so. This may be the best card for non-citizens, because you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to be accepted. You’ll need a valid SSN or ITIN, along with an address for your U.S. residence.
1st Progress Platinum Select
This is the first of three secured cards offered by First Progress, though it is not a popular one. It has a variable rate of 14.99% for purchases, along with a 19.99% APR for cash advances. The program also has a 3% transaction fee on cash advances. Note that the interest begins immediately, so never get a cash advance unless you have to. The annual fee is $39. The foreign transaction fees are 3 percent. The grace period is 25 days. If you don’t make a payment within the twenty-five days, you’ll have to pay the penalty rate. Security deposits are the same as the credit limit (minus $39), which is $300 min and a $2000 maximum. The max limit over a period of time is $5000. I do not recommend this card, because 54% of reviewers on Credit Karma give it 1-star. 18% give it 5-star reviews, along with another 15% giving it 4-star reviews. The main complaint is the technical support appears to be from “1999”, meaning you won’t have the ease of use and convenience people have come to expect in 2015.
1st Progress Platinum Prestige
1st Progress Platinum Prestige is issued by Synovus Bank, which reports your payment history to Experian, EquiFax, and TransUnion. The variable APR on purchases is 11.99%. Balance transfers are not allowed. The APR for cash advances is 18.99%, along with a 3% transaction fee. No penalty rate exists, while the card has a 25-day grace period. The annual fee is $44, which isn’t so great. The foreign transaction fees are 3%. The late payment fee is $25, or $35 if you’ve had another late payment within the last 6 months. Expedited phone payment requires a $10 fee, with returned payment fees up to $25 (or more).
The security deposit is between $300 and $2000, depending on preferences. The credit limit is the security deposit minus the $44 annual fee. If you have an account in good standing over time, then the max limit is $5,000. Also, residents of Arkansas, New York, or Wisconsin are not accepted for the Platinum Prestige card program. The Credit Karma 1-star review percentage is at 50%, with the 5-star and 4-star ratings at 20% apiece.
1st Progress Platinum Elite
The Elite card from 1st Progress has a 19.99 percent APR on purchases and a 24.99 percent APR on cash advances. The latter transaction also costs a 3% processing fee. Like the other cards in this promotion, it has a 25-day grace period on payments and a 3% foreign transaction fee. The annual fee is $29, while the late payment fee is $25 or more. In New York, Arkansas, Iowa, or Wisconsin, you will not be able to sign up for the 1st Progress Platinum Elite card. This card is given better reviews than the Select and Prestige. It’s 1-star reviews are 31% of the total, while the 5-star reviews are 26%. 4-star reviews represent 23%, so the negative ratings are still relatively high. I would not get the 1st Progress Platinum cards as a first resort, but they are viable as a last resort.
Primor Secured Classic
Primor is issued by First Choice Bank of Trenton, New Jersey. It issues two cards: Classic and Gold. Both get around the requirement for a credit check. Each has its advantages. Of the two, the Gold Card tends to get better marks from reviewers.
Primor Classic has a low fixed interest rate and does not have a penalty rate of any kind. he regular APR is 13.99% and the annual fee is $39. Primor reports to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Also, the classic card has a fast and easy application process with guaranteed approval.
That is, if your monthly income exceeds your monthly expenses by $100 or more, you are given automatic approval. If you need a cash advance, the fixed rate of interest is 18.99% with a 5% transaction free. This program has a 25-day grade period, too. Late fees are $29, while a credit increase fee is $49. Finally, if you need an expedited phone payment, you’ll need to pay an additonal $10.95.
The minimum deposit is $200, while the max deposit is $5000. When you make a deposit, you’ll earn 0.15% interest, though you can’t close the account before the interest is added, or you’ll lose the amount.
Primor Secured Gold
An even better option for many consumers is the Primor Gold Card, which has a 9.99% regular APR. The annual fee is $49, which is $10 more than the classic deal. Once again, Primor reports your monthly transactions to all three bureaus, while taking no processing or application fees when you appy. The guaranteed approval program means you are approved for a card when your income exceeds your spending by $100 or more each month. The cardholder reviews on Credit Karma for the Primor Gold is 5-star ratings at 25% and 4-star ratings at 33%, with 1-star reviews at 25%. That’s a much better range of feedback than the card we discussed above.
By the way, I had to look up the word “primor” to see what it means. In Spanish, “primor” means: delicacy, treasure, marvel, a fine thing, spick and span, or “with skill”. It’s a good name for a program, if you don’t mind words you have to thumb through a dictionary to know.
USAA Secured Platinum MasterCard
The United States Automobile Association also provides a couple of programs to help build or improve credit. The USAA Platinum MasterCard has a variable APR rate of 9.90% to 19.90%, with the same rate on purchases, cash advances, and money transfers. An additional 3% fee is taken for balance transfers and cash advance transactions. No penalty APR exists, while the annual fee is $35.
The USAA credit cards are not prepaid or debit cards, but actually allow you to build a FICO score. You’ll need to open a 2-year Certificate of Deposit (CD), which is an interest-earning deposit account. The minimum initial deposit is $250, with a max at $5000. The CD is a security deposit, meaning the bank can take the deposit if you fail to uphold your end of the bargain. Earn interest while you build a credit score, as the deposit is guaranteed to grow. The money is yours, so long as you don’t default on the loan. The foreign transaction fee is 1% of each transaction in US dollars. The maximum fee for each convenience check is $200, though the fee is waived when the funds are being transferred electronically to a USAA deposit account. The over-the-credit limit is $0, by the way.
New York residents might have different rates. New Yorkers should contact the New York State Department of Financial Services at the toll-free number 1-877-226-5697 to get more information.
USAA Secured Amex Card
The USAA Secured American Express Card offers the exact same terms as the MasterCard option described above. The APR ranges between 9.99 percent and 19.99 percent. That applies to purchases, transfers, and cash advance payments. The transfers and advances require an additional 3% transaction fee. The annual fee is $35.
Also, the security deposit doubles as a small savings account, because it generates interest during the time it is in the account. To enter the program, you’ll need to open a two-year Certificate of Deposit. The min deposit on this CD is $250, while the max payment is $5000. These security deposits are some of the best ways to rebuild your credit score. Again, New York residents should call ahead to learn information about their particular terms.
Review of the Best Charge Cards
That completes a short review of each of these secured credit card options. Consumers reading this website will need to learn about security deposits and “secured credit” soon. This is the safest option for banks, which means distressed financial institutions are likeliest to offer this card type. More cards exist, so I’ll add to our database as we continue. I eventually expanded this website to all sorts of other financial transactions and programs, but the focus of this website always was and always will be those in economic distress, who need financial acceptance sooner rather than later. None of the subjects we cover are particularly complicated, once you become familiar with the mathematics underpinning the financial industry.
For instance, the math behind these credit-building secured cards is simple, so people with all levels of financial literacy can get a start. For example, if you apply for a secured credit card with a $500 credit limit, you will be required to put a $500 deposit in the bank that is linked to the card. If you fail to make your credit card payments, the bank takes your deposit. In this case, your bank deposit is the asset that the secured credit card companies can bank on if your account becomes delinquent.
Choosing Deals through Bankrate
When choosing one of these deals, check the fine print to be sure that your creditor is reported to all three credit bureaus . That one act assures that the regular payments you make will have a positive impact on your credit score. Lending companies which report to credit bureaus are useful tools in the fight to establish credit history. After you maintain an account in good standing for a period of time, your FICO score will improve to the point that you may be able to obtain an unsecured line of credit. The same method is useful in securing a loan from the bank.
The best place to start your search for such deals is at Bankrate. Look around their site for secured credit cards that meet your needs. You don’t have to pay to apply for a secured credit card, so look for a card which doesn’t charge any application fees. Every secured card charges an annual fee, there’s no way around this fact, but you can save yourself a ton of money by comparing these annual fees and choosing a secured card that isn’t going to wipe out your credit limit before you’ve even had a chance to use it.
Features to Consider: APR, Annual Fees, Security Deposits
Other features to consider when selecting a no credit credit card — deposit amount, purchase points or bonus programs, and any “hidden” fees that may exist.
Each secured credit card is different. Until the last few years, the best offers had a deposit amount between $300 and $500. The company would offer customers a credit limit that is a certain percentage above this low deposit amount.
These, days VISA offers plastic with a maximum of $3000 in the spending limit.
If you can find a secured card that also offers their customers rewards or a “purchase point” system, so much the better. You can use these purchase rewards to literally “reward” yourself for making your payments on time. Do be aware that some no credit credit card offers are little more than scams, and the existence of hidden fees will pretty much let you know right up front that a particular card is one to be avoided.
For example, many secured cards require their customers to purchase what is called an “insurance policy” at the staggering rate of $50 or $60 monthly. At this rate, you will have spent as much on this unnecessary insurance policy as you did on your deposit in a short 5 or 6 months. Do not apply for programs which require you to purchase insurance or has built-in monthly fees. Remember, every secured card charges an annual fee — but you shouldn’t have to pay much more than that.
As you can see, there are many more that are perfectly viable, and really want to help their customers establish or build credit. When looking, take the time to read the fine print. Avoid offers which stack up hidden fees, monthly fees, “card fees”, or require you purchase an expensive insurance policy in order to obtain your card. There’s no need to get involved in a bad business deal just to put a credit card in your wallet.
The previous discussion of secured credit is just a sample of the types of advice you’ll find on this site. Keep reading and you’ll find many other topics to help you plan a better household budget and build a financial future. When I began writing back in 2011, I wanted to discuss one particular form of creditor-debtor relationship. As time has passed, I’ve expanded NoCreditCreditCard into a full discussion of the subject of credit repair, sound living, and financial literacy.
Financial Literacy 101
Now that I’ve presented readers with a selection of secured charge cards they might choose, I want to introduce the subject of “financial literacy”.
Financial literacy is the ability to understand how money works in the world. The subject covers personal finance, debt repair, savings, investment…a whole range of money topics. When you educate yourself about the way our banking system works, you’ll start to make more informed decisions. Don’t beat yourself up for making self-destructive decisions in the past. Financial intelligence isn’t fixed; you can always improve your understanding.
This website offers helpful tips for those dealing with a bad FICO score. Those suggestions help you deal with a bad financial situation. I want to do more than that, though. Many of the pages of this site are meant to provide a deeper understanding of how economics work. You can skip over those pages, if you aren’t interested or you think those topics are a little too abstract for your current situation. I hope you read the material and start to consider your fuller cash situation. It can only help. For the time being, I want to offer just a bit of insight and inspiration. Let’s discuss the evolving state of personal finance. Many reasons for optimism exist, my friend.
How Credit Has Changed Since 2008
Borrowers should know that credit has changed a lot in just the last few years. The banking crisis of 2008 and 2009 forced many new solutions. These can be pitfalls for the unwary, but opportunities for those with a little bit of knowledge.
For a quick introduction to what I’m talking about, watching this YouTube video from Doug Merrill on the TED Talks series. It’s called “New Credit Scores in a New World: Serving the Underbanked“, and a lot of it applies to new credit card owners just like you.
Teaching Personal Finance
Part of the evolution of this website has been a reaction to the Global Recession and the plight of many of the millennials who were first leaving college and coming into the mainstream economy at the time the economic recession happened. I decided at a point consumers needed more than just a healthy start; they needed a complete guide to modern budgeting. I’ve published how-to guides for renting cars, boats, furniture, and apartments when a credit check is likely to make renting hard. Over the years, I’ve added tutorials on bankruptcy, lists of frugal dating tips, a small directory of free dating websites, articles about investment strategies, and ways to access cash online .
If you have read about these subjects for a while, it’s time for a refresher course. Many of these options didn’t exist a few short years ago.
Read on and you’ll find discussions on crowdfunding, peer-to-peer loans, credit unions, extreme couponing, and online coupon codes. While I won’t say this site is comprehensive yet, we’re still building a resource for a person in financial straits. I want this site to be a tool you can use to make your life a little easier.
To get you started on the oldest material on this site, which is the basics of living life without the help of good credit, I’ll direct you to the original 20 to 25 articles on this site. I removed them from the sidebar, because it seemed like too much, but I don’t want people forgetting where they are. These were produced between 2003 and 2009, if I’m correct, but I’ve updated them for 2015 and going forward into 2016.
AccountNow Prepaid Visa Card
Next Millennium Credit Card
Silver Prepaid Mastercard
Vision Premier Prepaid Debit Card
Tips for People with No Credit History
Electricity and Energy Bills
In the end, I’ve tried to keep in mind the original intent of this website: finding secured credit cards and helping Americans build (or rebuild) a FICO score. I’ll continue to mix in reviews of credit cards, but you’re getting more than you bargained for when you navigated to this website.
There is a lot for the newbie to learn about their finance industry. Keep reading and learn what you need to know. To read more about how credit checks work, click on the link and check out our sister site.