The number of points you can raise your credit score by opening a secured credit card depends on whether you are starting with no credit or trying to rebuild credit. By using your secured credit card and making your payments on time, you can improve your credit score on multiple fronts. Just make sure you choose a card with features that will make it easier for you to maintain good credit habits.
When you’re just starting to build credit, a secured credit card can help you raise your score by a lot of points in a short period of time. Similarly, if you have a low credit score, a secured credit card can help you raise your score enough to achieve a good or even excellent credit score. It may take a little more time, but if you practice good credit card habits, you will see results.
What is a secured credit card?
A secured credit card is different from an unsecured credit card in that it requires you to put down a security deposit before you can use the card. Typically, this security deposit will become your credit limit — for example, if you put down a $500 deposit, your secured card will typically have a $500 limit. Usually this deposit is fully refundable, but it’s always a good idea to check with your credit card issuer.
Secured credit cards are a good option for two types of consumers: a) those who have not had a chance to build credit yet, and b) those who have poor credit and cannot get an unsecured credit card.
How can a secured credit card improve my credit score?
There are five factors that determine your credit scores:
- Payment history (about 35% of the score)
- Amounts owed on credit accounts, or credit utilization ratio (about 30% of the score)
- Length of credit history (about 15% of the score)
- New credit, or credit inquiry frequency (about 10% of the score)
- Types of credit/credit mix (about 10% of the score)
By using your secured credit card responsibly and making on-time payments each month, you can build up your credit history and improve your credit score over time.
Fixing bad credit
The two most commonly used credit scores are the FICO Score and VantageScore. They each have different ranges that determine a poor, fair, good, excellent, or exceptional score.
You can typically check each of your three credit reports for free once per year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Using the FICO score as an example, by raising your credit score 100 points from 650 to 750, you could go from a fair score to a very good score. By monitoring your credit, you can stay on top of changes in your score and know when you move up to a better credit range.
Practice good credit card habits
Your payment history accounts for the largest portion of your credit scores. So if you have gotten into trouble for making late payments in the past, your credit scores have certainly taken a hit. Be sure to make all payments on your secured credit card on time. If you can show a pattern of making on-time payments over several months, your scores should start to improve.
How much will a secured credit card raise my score?
It’s hard to say exactly how many points your score will go up and how long it will take. But in addition to improving your payment history, responsible use of a secured credit card can also help improve the credit utilization ratio and the length of credit history portions of your scores.
A lot depends on your past credit history, but in general, you can expect an increase of 50 to 200 points after 12 months, if you keep your credit utilization low and don’t miss any payments.
If you’re starting with no credit, you can reach a credit score of 500 points or more within one to six months. On the other hand, if you’re rebuilding your credit from a bad score, you may need 12 months or more to reach the fair or good ranges.
Don’t get too close to your credit limit
The credit utilization rate refers to the amount of credit you are using on all of your cards combined. Ideally, you want to stay below 30% of your credit limit. If you can keep the balance on your secured credit card low, it will improve that portion of your credit score.
Time is on your side
The longer you have your secured credit card, the more you will contribute to the credit history portion of your credit score. The damage from making late payments can take several months to repair. So if you need to recover lost points, you will have to be in it for the long haul.
When you are first starting to build credit, you may be able to increase your credit score by hundreds of points. A secured credit card can help you show lenders that you can make payments on time, keep your balance low, and maintain a good credit history. It also adds to your credit mix.
After at least six months of practicing good habits and establishing credit, you’ll probably have a score within the 500 to 700 range.
How to choose a secured credit card
Don’t just take the first secured credit card that comes along, especially if you are eager to rebuild damaged credit. Read the fine print and look for features that will make it easier for you to maintain good credit habits. Here are some features to seek out:
- Low minimum security deposit
- No annual fee or other hidden fees
- A reasonable interest rate
- The option to eventually upgrade to an unsecured card
- Cash-back rewards
- A full refund on your security deposit after a certain period of time
- Credit card issuer reports to all three credit bureaus
Ready to find a secured card? Start with these five secured credit cards that can help you build credit, and read our guide to secured credit cards to learn more about the application process.
Can increasing my secured credit card limit improve my credit score?
Increasing your secured credit card limit could help your credit score, as long as you don’t use too much of your credit. For example, if you raise your limit from $500 to $1,000, that will increase your available credit, which is good for your credit score.
The key is to keep your credit utilization rate below 30% — below 10% is even better. With a $1,000 limit, you should try not to use more than $300 of credit at a time. If you can’t avoid big expenses, make sure to pay down your balance as soon as you can.
Are there alternatives to secured credit cards?
One alternative to a secured credit card is a credit-building loan. Instead of receiving the money from the loan right away, you will make monthly payments that get deposited into a savings account. Once you’ve made all the payments, you’ll receive the loan amount plus interest, and all of those on-time payments will give your payment history a boost.
Upgrade to an unsecured credit card
As long as you use a secured credit card responsibly, you should eventually be able to upgrade to an unsecured card. Your credit card company may even offer a path to this as one of your secured card’s benefits. If you have been making on-time payments for a few months to a year, you may want to ask your credit card company about your options for upgrading.
Should I let my kids get a secured credit card?
A secured credit card is a good way for kids to start building credit, as long as they can be responsible for making on-time payments each month. If they have not been able to build credit in other ways, such as taking out a car loan, they may not be able to get an unsecured card, so a secured credit card may be their only option to have their own credit card.
How can I raise my credit score by 100 points in 30 days?
That may be a tall order, but there are some things you can do. Make payments on time as much as possible, and make sure to pay down or pay off any outstanding balances as soon as possible. You can also check for any errors on your credit report and send a dispute letter.
How fast will a secured card rebuild credit?
You can start rebuilding your credit right away. However, depending on how low your credit score is, it could take six months to a year to see your credit climb by 100 points or more. The longer you show a pattern of making your payments on time, the higher your score will rise.
How do I wipe my credit clean?
You can dispute any errors on your credit reports, start building back your credit with secured credit cards, or seek out the help of a credit repair company.
How many secured cards should I have to build credit?
One is enough to get you started. You can get more than one secured credit card, but keep in mind that you have to pay a deposit on each one. On top of that, you will need to make sure that you pay every bill on time to avoid further damage to your credit.
- A secured credit card requires a security deposit and is a good option for consumers who have not had a chance to build credit yet or who have poor credit and cannot get an unsecured credit card.
- You can start improving your credit within one month by paying your secured credit card bill on time, keeping your balance low, and practicing responsible credit behavior.
- If you keep up your good habits over a few months to a year, you could see your credit score improve by 100 points or more, putting you into the good or even excellent credit ranges.
- You may be able to raise your credit score even more by getting multiple secured credit cards or combining your cards with a credit-builder loan.
View Article Sources
- 5 Tips for Improving Your Credit Score – The Federal Reserve Board
- How do I dispute an error on my credit report? – Consumer Finance
- All about credit reports – AnnualCreditReport.com
Cara Corey is a writer and editor who loves to help people make sense of confusing topics. Her work has been featured in many blogs, newspapers, and magazines, including the Des Moines Register, Boulder Daily Camera, Better Homes and Gardens, and Parents Magazine.