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I am newly single with poor credit and on a limited income. What would be the best credit card to start off with?

By , CardRatings contributor
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Question: I am newly single and on a limited income. What would be the best credit card to start off with? My credit, I would imagine, is poor.

Answer: My highest recommendation is to search on CardRatings.com by selecting the criteria or credit card type for "Bad Credit." This would cover issues of both bad credit history and no credit history, as seems to be your case. Take a look at the secured credit cards offered there. The major benefit to a secured credit card is that it's the fastest way to establish or rebuild credit. The card itself can be used like any other credit card.

Similarly, you can go to any local major bank and they, too, will probably offer a secured credit card program. Regardless of the source--CardRatings.com or a local bank--you will be required to open a savings account with the financial institution issuing the card. The required deposit is usually $250 or more, and this balance will determine your maximum credit limit.

Over a third of your credit score is based upon on-time payment history, and payments made on a secured debt are usually reported monthly to the major credit bureaus. However, all issuers do not report, so be sure to verify that they will report account information to all three bureaus. At the same time be aware that a late payment is the fastest way to thwart your efforts. So always insure your payments are on-time.

A couple things you might check into when selecting a secured credit card are annual fees and interest rates. You can check CardRatings.com to see a comparison of the norms. Also, do find out if your savings will earn interest for you while securing your card, and whether or not an unsecured credit card will be automatically issued after a designated period of time. Again, be sure any secured card program you choose reports to all three credit bureaus monthly.

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