Rebuild your rep with a secured credit card

Man holding credit report

If you have bad credit and can't qualify for a regular credit card, a secured card may be the answer.

It not only allows you to charge purchases, make hotel reservations and do just about everything else you can with a regular card, it can also help raise your credit score.

To get started, you give the bank a deposit of at least $300 to $500. Then you're allowed to charge between 50% and 100% of the amount you deposit.

You can carry a balance on the card and pay interest on it, so you don't have to pay off your entire bill each month. You'll just need to regularly make a minimum monthly payment.

The bank reports those payments to the three major credit reporting agencies, and that will improve your credit history and raise your credit score.

The deposit isn't touched, and usually earns interest, unless you default.

As you make regular payments, you'll be able to get a higher credit limit without putting down a bigger deposit. After about a year, you should be able to get a regular credit card that doesn't require a deposit.

But you need to avoid secured credit cards that take advantage of consumers with ridiculously high fees and interest rates. You want a card that has no application or maintenance fees.

Our advice on where to find the best secured credit cards will steer you in the right direction.