Is secured card best for rebuilding credit post-bankruptcy?
By Erica Sandberg | Published: August 17, 2016
Dear Opening Credits,
A bankruptcy clears off my credit report Sept. 22, 2016. My credit score today shows 670. Should I apply for a secured credit card after this date to re-establish credit? – Roberta
How fantastic! After 10 years with the bankruptcy blinking on your file like a big, red flag, you can finally move on. Soon no one will ever know that you discharged your debts unless you confide in them, nor will the notation be calculated into your credit scores. Not that it’s doing too much damage any longer. When it comes to credit scoring, what you've done in the past year or two is far more significant than activity that occurred many years ago.
After filing, you must have been treating other obligations that have appeared on your reports responsibly or your scores wouldn't be as positive as they are. When the bankruptcy notation is gone, your scores may increase further, but they’re high enough now that a large number of credit card accounts should be available to you at this time.
Credit card offers for people with fair credit show you have plenty of options from which to choose. Many of them have no annual fees and come with great rewards programs. With a steady income plus no or low debt, you should be eligible for the majority of accounts in this category.
You asked about secured credit cards, though, and there is nothing wrong with them. In fact, they’re great for people who are trying to establish a credit history or who need to recover from past problems. Because your score is pretty decent, I doubt you need to start with a secured card, but there are reasons you may want one. First, the chance that you’d qualify is extremely high. No futzing around, wondering if you’ll be rejected and then have a useless hard inquiry on your reports (too many of those will decrease your credit scores).
Second, secured cards demand a security deposit, which can act as a guaranteed savings account for you. It may be comforting to lock up some cash, since you’ll know you have it in case a crisis comes up. To break the emergency glass and claim the funds, all you’d need to do is close the account with no balance or fees owed.
The key is to choose a credit card based on your desires as well as your level of creditworthiness.
That said, if you are aiming for a card that requires an excellent credit rating, wait for the bankruptcy to be purged and then follow this simple plan: Get the best card you can qualify for, use it regularly, pay on time and never carry over a balance. All that will be listed on your credit reports and your credit scores will improve as the months pass. When your scores are in the mid-700s and higher, go ahead and check out the premium credit card deals – at least a few should be strong contenders. The caveat, as always, is that issuers don’t just use credit scores as a way to determine qualification – your overall financial well-being is assessed.
What are the issuers looking for? Evidence that you’re a low-risk borrower who can easily cover any debt you can rack up with the card.
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