A reader is feeling insecure about choosing the right secured credit card.
Question: I have terrible credit. Yes, it’s my fault, and I’m working on it. But I can’t qualify for a credit card, it’s so bad. That was cool for awhile, and I took your suggestion, Howard. I lived without one for a long time. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. And I did save.
But now I need a credit card so I can travel for this new job I got. So I looked up getting a secured credit card — and I found you quoted in this other website’s story! You said, “If your credit is poor and you need a secured card, choose the most boring one. That means the lowest interest rate and the lowest annual fee.”
But then I read Debt.com, and you guys recommended a whole bunch of cards, many with a lot of perks. So now that I need one, I’m confused. What should I do?
— Keri in Ohio
Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…
Because everyone’s debt predicament is different, there’s no single solution — or single credit card — to get you back on the path to financial freedom. That’s why Debt.com offers so may options. We do our best to explain them all, but it can indeed get confusing.
In your case, Keri, I asked you a few follow-up questions. I stick to my suggestion that you look for the “most boring” card you can get. Why? Because you don’t spend or travel enough to trade a low interest rate for reward points.
For instance, the LANPASS secured Visa card gives you 5,000 airline miles when you sign up and one mile for each dollar you spend — on South American carrier LAN. Is this a perk you really need?
The story you saw me quoted in was from GoBankingRates, and that helpful website was focusing on the Discover it secured card. As you read, it offers impressive cash-back rewards for a secured card. The interest rate is higher than its competitors, but not by much.
Still, you told me you plan to keep using cash as much as possible, Keri. I applaud that decision, but it also means you won’t be racking up big balances, which means you won’t earn a lot of cash back. That brings me back to my original suggestion: Find a boring card with a low annual fee (since most secured cards have one) and the lowest interest rate possible.
Have a debt question?
Email your question to email@example.com and Howard Dvorkin will review it. Dvorkin is a CPA, chairman of Debt.com, and author of two personal finance books, Credit Hell: How to Dig Yourself Out of Debt and Power Up: Taking Charge of Your Financial Destiny.