What Are Secured Credit Cards?
Secured credit cards are credit cards that require a cash deposit to use them. To obtain a secured credit card, you’ll have to deposit a particular amount of money with the credit card issuer. The deposit is typically one to two times the amount of the credit card limit.
For example, if you wanted a secured credit card with a $1,000 limit, you would need to make a deposit of $1,000 to $2,000. The deposit is security to the credit card issuer in the event that you do not repay your credit card debt.
Who Uses Secured Credit Cards?
Secured credit cards are frequently used by individuals who have no credit history or are in the process of repairing their existing credit. Other people who might use a secured credit card are new immigrants to Canada, people who want to conceal a particular purchase or individuals who aren’t old enough to apply for regular credit cards yet. Regardless of who is using a secured credit card, the primary use of them is to show lenders that you can responsibly manage debt.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Secured Credit Cards
As with all financial products, secured credit cards have their own set of pros and cons. Let’s explore them in depth below.
- Build or repair credit: If you have poor or no credit history, a secured credit card can help you build or repair your credit. This is a necessary step for individuals with big financial goals, such as to purchase a car or home.
- Opportunity to obtain a regular credit card: Some secured credit card issuers offer their customers a regular credit card after a certain period of responsible credit management. If your goal is to get a regular credit card, this is a great way to segway.
- Approval not an issue: Unlike with regular credit cards, there are no approval requirements aside from having a security deposit available.
- Higher interest rates: Secured credit cards have higher interest rates than regular credit cards. Typically, the rate is higher than 20%.
- Security deposit unaccessible: Once you’ve paid the security deposit, you cannot access the funds unless you hand in the secured card.
- Setup fees: Some lenders require a setup fee when you first obtain the card. The fee is usually a small percentage of the credit limit, but nonetheless, it's another cost to consider.
What Happens to the Security Deposit?
More often than not, your security deposit earns interest while you use the secured credit card. So long as you always pay your secured credit card on time and in full, the total security deposit plus earned interest will be returned to you when you hand in the secured card. If you don’t pay your secured credit card on time and in full every month, you’re risking losing your entire deposit.
How Long Until I Can Apply for an Unsecured Credit Card?
A good rule of thumb is 12 to 18 months, but it really depends on the credit card provider and your credit situation. While you wait, do your best to pay on time and in full every month. You should also take the time to work on your financial habits to ensure that you’re ready for more financial responsibility when you do obtain an unsecured credit card.
Is a Secured Credit Card Right for Me?
Unfortunately, no one can tell you what’s right for you, you’ll have to figure that out on your own! However, secured credit cards are ideal for those building or rebuilding credit. If you can get approved for a regular credit card, that is a better option which can also help you build or rebuild credit. If not, then a secured credit card is probably best for you. Before making a final choice, assess your finances and determine which credit card type makes the most sense for your circumstances.