Posted on

The Best Credit Cards for Those With Fair or Average Credit

You don’t have to have a perfect credit score to get a credit card, there are certainly options for those with less than stellar scores, or scored in the “fair range.” Here are a few examples of credit cards that we have found that offer customers the option for credit while their scores are still in the “fair” range.

Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard

This card is targeted toward those with fair to average credit scores. With no annual fees and plenty of great perks—including cash back rewards—this card is certainly a front runner when it comes to a middle range credit card. You can earn one point per dollar spent, with two points earned for every dollar spent on gas, groceries and utilities. The points that you earn can be redeemed for flights, dining, hotels and more. Enjoy no cash back limits, and no blackout dates when you are ready to redeem your points.

Link to Apply : Barclaycard® Rewards MasterCard® – Average Credit

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

This card offers a fantastic 1.5% cash back on all purchases, with no spending limit. When you figure in the fact that there is no annual fee, as well, this card can offer those with average credit a great deal. Accumulating a nice little cash back account is not going to be difficult at this rate! The Capital One Quicksilver Rewards Credit Card offers an introductory special of 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers until December 2014.

Discover It for Students

Students often need a special break when it comes to credit cards, and this is something Discover is recognizing. With the Discover It card, card holders pay no annual fee and can earn 1% cash back on every dollar spent, with bonus categories earning 5% per quarter on a rotating basis. There is no penalty for late payments, and you get your FICO score reported on every monthly statement. This is something that can be especially helpful to those trying to improve their credit scores.

Link to Apply: Discover it® for Students

Credit One Bank Credit Card 

Although this card has a somewhat higher annual fee that ranges from $35-99, it does offer some unique advantages that are not as commonly found on other credit card programs. You will earn 1% for every dollar spent on gas, which can certainly add up over the course of a few months, with gas prices so high! The APR for this card ranges from 17.9-23.9%, depending on your credit worthiness.

Which One is Best?

The Barclaycard Rewards MasterCard is clearly a front runner in this race, offering no annual fee and great rewards. When you factor in the savings of no fees and bonus rewards, the competition barely stands a chance. Each of the others listed certainly has advantages that should be considered, from higher cash back percentages to rotating bonus categories.

When it comes to choosing a credit card that is available to those with average or fair credit, the choices may be limited, but the benefits can still be extensive.

Posted on

The Most Common Credit Report Errors and How to Correct Them

You might be surprised to realize how common it is to have errors on your credit report! This is one of the most important reasons that you should be monitoring your credit, at least once per year, to ensure that all the information contained within is accurate and true.

Mistakes are easily made, so do yourself a huge favor and make sure that the information in your credit report reflects your own credit history and that there are no mistakes. Here are some of the most common credit report errors, with information that can help you get them corrected quickly.

1. Fraudulent Activity

The biggest problems when it comes to credit report errors are those related to identify theft and fraud. Checking your credit report regularly means that you can ensure all of the reported debts, loans, credit cards, etc., all actually are legitimate and belong to you. Should you discover any fraudulent activity, such as cards that you did not apply for, you will immediately need to contact the credit bureau to report the discrepancies.

They will require that you file a written dispute, providing any information that you may have. Some of the credit agencies allow you to file these disputes online, others may require that you actually file a paper report. When you initially report the fraudulent activity, you will receive clear instructions regarding how to proceed.

2. Identity Errors

Unfortunately, identity errors are all too common in credit reports. They may be even more prevalent for people with very common names, like John Smith, and even more likely when a person shares a name with a family member (e.g., Jr., III., etc.) when the family members have ever shared an address. This type of mistake is easy to make for the credit bureaus, as multiple pieces of information will match up.

Again, contacting the credit bureau and filing a dispute can usually clear this type of error up.

3. Unpaid Loans

Make sure that any loans that you have satisfied are marked accordingly on your credit report. This is a very good reason to keep any documents pertaining to loan payoffs for a long time. Don’t simply toss that letter in the trash once you pay off a loan—keep it until you are absolutely certain that it is marked as paid in full on your credit report.

If you discover this type of error, you will want to contact not only the credit bureau (and provide them with the documentation to support that you paid the loan), but also contact the lender to make sure that their records also reflect that you have paid the loan. Unpaid loans, or loans that you have defaulted on, can seriously affect your credit history and you need to make sure these are all accurate.

4. Non-Divorced Credit

After a divorce, it takes some time to get your ex-spouse’s credit history separated from yours. But, if you are still seeing credit accounts that are open in both of your names, you want to contact the credit bureaus to clarify.

Any time you go through a divorce, you want to be very careful about making sure that all joint credit accounts are properly closed so that an ex-spouse’s credit (whether good or bad!) cannot continue to follow you.

5. Incorrect Notations for Closed Accounts

As you review your credit report, you should make notes about any open accounts that are no longer being used. Contact the lenders or banks and officially close the accounts, so that they are reflected as closed on your credit report. Once you do this, ensure that the notations on your credit report indicate that the accounts were closed by the customer, and not the lender.

Accounts closed by a lender can suggest that you were delinquent—and, if you were not, then you need this to be correct on your credit report. Contact lenders to correct information if you find that there are incorrect notations.

Keep Your Credit History Clean!

A clean credit history is a priority. You want to make sure that your credit report is an accurate document that shows your personal credit history—and only yours. Don’t ignore discrepancies and inaccuracies and assume that they really don’t matter, even when you have a great credit score. Keeping a great credit score requires you to be diligent about not only making your agreed-upon payments on time, but knowing what the credit bureaus know about you, too!

Posted on

Secured Credit Cards for Bad or No Credit

Bad credit or no credit, it can be hard to get an issuer to cut you some slack. Secured credit cards are a good option for those who ready to start building or re-building credit.

Think about it: if you have bad or no credit, lenders see you as a risk. With no credit history, there’s no evidence to show that you will repay your debt. Even worse is a bad credit history. Would you lend money to someone who has a record of not paying it back? Even close friends and family would have a hard time getting you to hand over that cash.

Now imagine if your uncle, who in the past hasn’t been paying his debts, comes to you for money. But first, he hands you a hundred dollars, then asks to borrow fifty dollars. You would probably agree, and leave fifty bucks richer.

That’s the basic idea of a secured credit card.

The Concept

In real life, nobody, uncle or otherwise, would do that because it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Why give your lender just as much or more money than you’re going to borrow, when you could just keep all your cash? Well, in the case of secured credit cards, the reason is right in the name. You are getting a genuine credit card when no one else will give you one.

Essentially, what you are doing is paying for the privilege to have a line of credit. In turn, your lender will report your credit activity to the major credit bureaus, which over time rebuilds your credit and raises your credit score. After some time passes, your credit will be high enough for you to graduate to a better, “real” credit card.

Some people disparage secured credit cards as being functionally like prepaid cards, in terms of cash in-flows/out-flows, and as you can see, this is sort of true. But that line of thinking misses the point. If your credit score has taken a beating, you shouldn’t be in the mindset of looking for more “real” credit. You should be taking hold of your finances, accumulating cash and security, and rebuilding your reputation with lenders.

Don’t be spooked away from credit cards just because you made mistakes in the past. Without a good credit score, you are going to be paying out the nose in interest rates on future loans such as mortgages, auto loans, etc. Not to mention that most hotels, airlines, and rental car agencies require a credit card to make reservations. Those who take debit cards usually require a deposit. Even many employers use credit scores to gauge potential employees for hire.

How It Works

Enough of theory. Let’s get down to specifics.

  • When you open a secured credit card, you put down some cash. Ever had to pay a security deposit when you signed a lease? It’s the same idea. In the case of an apartment, if you took care of the property and left it clean and undamaged, you got your deposit back. Otherwise, your landlord took some or all of your deposit to pay for the damage. It works the same way with a secured credit card. If you pay all your credit card bills on time, you will get your deposit back when you close the card.
  • Typically, your credit limit will be no higher than your deposit, and sometimes it will even be less. Some cards allow you to increase your credit limit by putting down more money into your deposit, while others will increase it after you’ve made consistent monthly payments for a certain period of time.
  • The card issuer usually won’t tap into your deposit after just one or two late payments. But if you fall seriously delinquent (think about 150 days), they will close your account and take the deposit. By that point, interest charges have likely caused your balance to exceed your deposit, so not only is your credit worse than before, but you have additional debt. This is not a pretty road. Don’t go down it.

Getting a Secured Credit Card

  • The most important thing when looking for a secured credit card is that the card issuer will report your credit activity to the major credit bureaus. Absolutely do not apply for any secured card that does not do this for you, because that’s the entire point. Reporting your activity is what will rebuild your credit.
  • Compare interest rates, fees, and all other costs. Secured cards are a market of their own, and good lenders will be competing with each other to secure your business. Since so many people with bad or no credit are feeling desperate, many card issuers take advantage of that by charging ridiculous fees and interest rates. Just say no to such schemes.
  • With that said, many will charge processing fees, application fees, and annual fees. You probably can’t avoid annual fees, but try to find one with no application fee.
  • Secured credit cards typically have higher APRs than normal cards.
  • Some secured cards will put your deposit into an interest-bearing account.
  • Check whether the card you’re interested in will allow you to convert it into a normal card after a certain period of time. This is a nice thing to have, but not necessary.
  • Credit unions often have the most favorable fee schedules for secured credit cards, so give your local one a look.
  • Sometimes secured cards can even come with a rewards system! This is a nice bonus, but it should be a low priority, since fees can easily undo rewards.

Obviously, it pays to compare and contrast many secured card options before making a decision. Here’s one we like to get you started, the Capital One Secured MasterCard. Good luck!