Credit cards are useful in that they help build good credit, book hotel accommodation, rent cars, and purchase goods and services online. Interest rates have been low since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic but some people with bad or tarnished credit may not qualify for regular cards. This is where secured cards come handy in allowing users to build good credit and shop in-store or buy products online.
Best Secured Credit Cards for Canadians
Major banks no longer offer secured credit cards which means that choices are more limited for Canadians. Still there are some good offers to look into if you have no or blemished credit like the cards that Home Trust and Refresh Financial feature.
Refresh Secured Card
Refresh Financial offers a secured card that helps users to get a credit boost by making timely monthly payments. There is even a feature that allows you to get an idea how your repayment and spending patterns affect your credit rating. You can use their handy online calculator to check your utilization rate. For example, if the balance is $100 and the limit $600, then you have an optimal credit utilization rate (17 percent). There are other benefits for users, one being that payments are reported to both bureaus. Another is that the higher your credit score is, the lower your interest rate.
- Interest rate: 17.99 percent
- Maintenance fee: $3/month
- Annual fee: $12.95
- Credit limit: $200 – $10,000
Home Trust Secured No-Fee Visa
Also a good choice to fix your score fast, the Home Trust Secured No-Fee Visa has been voted 2020’s Best Credit Card for Rebuilding Credit. You will not only benefit from a zero annual fee but you only pay interest on your outstanding balance. The card allows you to make purchases and pay online up to your deposit limit. Home Trust also allows you to choose a deposit limit that works for you, and it can be as low as $500 and as high as $10,000.
- Purchase interest rate: 19.99 percent
- Annual fee: none
Home Trust Secured Visa
This is a low interest option to rebuild credit as long as you keep your account active and make timely payments. There are many benefits for holders such as the option to set your limit, set accounts online, pay utility bills, and make purchases online. The card also comes with purchase security coverage so that all eligible purchases are insured against damage or theft for 90 days. You can use the card to make payments in more than 200 territories and countries and with merchants that accept Visa cards.
- Interest rate on purchases: 14.90 percent
- Fee: $5 per month or $59 annual fee
What Is a Secured Credit Card?
Secured cards work much like standard ones in that they allow holders to build a positive credit history and make purchases, whether they buy groceries, book flights or cruises, or repay other outstanding balances. The most common varieties are American Express, MasterCard, and Visa. Whatever the brand of choice, users have to make a deposit which is used as a safeguard by the issuer as to cover any outstanding balances in case of missed or late payments.
Are Secured Credit Cards for You?
If you have bad credit and can’t qualify for a standard unsecured card, this is a good option to rebuild credit by making small purchases and paying the balance in full and on time. Using the card responsibly also means that you won’t incur interest payments. Interest rates are higher on average, and paying more than the minimum will save you a lot of money.
Benefits of Secured Credit Cards
The main benefit of secured cards is that they offer the chance to rebuild credit and apply for a wide variety of products with preferential terms and affordable rates. Your account history is forwarded to the major bureaus and goes toward your credit report. Not only this but you can use the card to shop online and make secure payments. Some issuers also offer added incentives such as upgrading and rewards points.
Security Deposit, Credit Limits, and Card Fees
When you get approved for a secured card, you will be asked to make a cash deposit which is equal or larger than your credit line. This means that credit limit is based on the deposit made. Some issuers offer the option to increase the credit line after a certain period provided that you use the card responsibly. Secured cards typically come with annual fees but there are some issuers that advertise zero fees.
Alternatives to Secured Credit Cards
If you can’t get a secured card, one option is to apply for a prepaid card that you can use to pay for services and goods. It is not linked to a credit, checking, or savings account and allows you to keep cash for later use. A major drawback is the fact that your payment history will not be reported to the credit bureaus. Still, they offer some benefits such as ease of use and safe and secure payments. Prepaid cards are easy to reload, and there are different ways to do this – in person, online, by direct deposit, or via bank account transfer.
Getting an unsecured card for bad credit is also an option, albeit the choice is more limited. Some issuers offer unsecured cards to Canadians with fair and good credit, regardless of their annual income. Added benefits for customers are low annual fees and interest rates, no fees for supplementary cardholders, and zero fraud liability.
A third option to look into is payday loans, and there are some benefits to consider such as fast and easy application, borrowed amount based on income level, and no credit check guaranteed approval. Still, getting a payday loan can be risky because of the very high interest rates and short terms that finance providers offer.
Other alternatives that financial institutions offer include guarantor and short-term loans, secured loans, overdrafts, and debit cards. The choice of product depends on your credit score, income, occupation, and financial circumstances.
In general, getting a secured card is a good choice for customers with little or no credit exposure, including young people and newcomers to Canada. It is also an option for borrowers with blemished credit who are refused a loan or credit card because they have past delinquencies, recent missed or late payments, or for any other reason. Borrowers with low or no income and high balances on cards and loans are also likely to get their application denied. A secured credit card is a good alternative for borrowers with a tarnished credit history who need a fresh start and a card to make daily purchases. We all know what having poor credit means – higher home and auto insurance premiums, difficulty securing a home lease, higher loan rates, and even strained personal relationships. A secured credit card offers users the chance to master good money management skills by borrowing responsibly.