Good credit cards for dinged credit scores

Array of credit cards

If your credit is less than perfect, a secured credit card is often thought of as the only option.

And while it is one path to carrying plastic, that’s not the only good choice for people with credit issues. There are some unsecured cards willing to give consumers a second chance.

What’s the difference?

Secured credit cards require consumers to provide a cash deposit as collateral. That’s because the bank isn’t willing to take the risk that you’ll cough up the cash to pay the bill.

So they have little to no risk extending you the amount of credit equal to the cash deposit you provide. Think of it as paying your bill in advance, before you make a purchase.

Unsecured cards are lines of credit that don’t have any collateral backing them. So the bank sticks its neck out and crosses its fingers that you’ll pay your bill. Thus the debt is unsecure.

Here are two unsecured options for people with fair credit (generally a score between 650 and 699) who are looking to bolster that all-important credit score.

The Capital One No Hassle Cash Rewards Credit Card ( comes with an annual fee of $39 and a 0% introductory annual percentage rate until April 2012.

The basics:

The standard APR after the intro period is a variable 17.9%, 19.9% or 22.9% (that's the prime rate of 3.25% plus 14.65%, 16.65% or 19.65%).

The Household Bank Rewards MasterCard ( is unique because there’s both an unsecured and secured credit version of the card.

Household Bank prequalifies applicants based on credit history for one or the other when they apply.

The unsecured card comes with a $39 annual fee, waived during the first year, and a 0% introductory APR for nine months.

The basics:

The standard APR after the introductory period is 19.90% (prime plus 16.65%).

Compare these cards to the credit card offers in our extensive database.

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