How to repair poor credit history using credit cards

6 ways to improve your scores with credit cards.

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Building your credit score can be a challenge. But it can be done with helpful tools such as a credit-building credit card. If you already have one, you may have to adjust your spending habits. Other steps you should take are:

  1. Make payments on time. Your balance payments are included in your credit report, so make this a priority. Consider setting up a reminder or automatic payments.
  2. Dispute any errors you notice in your credit history. Errors happen. But if the error affects your credit score and the ability to get better loan terms, you should fix them. Contact the credit bureau and the organization that gave them your credit information. Tell them which information you believe is inaccurate and include copies of your documents that support your claim. The credit bureau must investigate your claim within 30 days.
  3. Check credit utilization. Credit utilization is the ratio of your outstanding credit card balance to your credit limit. Anything below 30% is recommended if you are to improve your credit score. This may be easier said than done, especially if you already have a low credit line. However, you can improve this by either paying your balance on time or by getting another credit card and using it responsibly.
  4. Treat your credit card as a debit card. Any money you spend that you can’t pay off will add to your balance, increasing your credit utilization and incurring penalty fees and APR. Treat your credit card as a debit card and don’t make any unnecessary purchases.
  5. Keep your existing credit cards open. Closing your credit cards will increase your credit utilization. If it goes beyond 30%, it could have a serious impact on your score. Also, keep in mind the age of your credit card. Closing your oldest account could give lenders the impression that your credit history is too short. However, if you do decide to close a credit card, make sure you already paid off your balance and you took the card’s age into account.
  6. Find a credit card that works for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to credit cards. But when you’re trying to repair poor credit, your options are often limited to secured credit cards and credit cards for poor credit. Consider which fits your financial needs and consider shooting for a basic, no-frills card to keep things simple as you get back on your feet.

How secured credit cards can help rebuild credit

Secured credit cards act like normal credit cards, except you have to put up a deposit first. Your deposit becomes your credit line. With responsible use, some banks will upgrade you to an unsecured credit card. If you’re building your credit, this may be a good first step toward rebuilding your financial health.

Compare secured credit cards

Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Recommended minimum credit score
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Starting at $200
23.99% variable
A no annual fee secured card for people who are new to credit or have limited credit history with a fair to average credit score.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Starting at $200
18.89% variable
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card
Starting at $200
9.99% fixed
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
CardMatch™ from
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Can't decide on a card? Get personalized credit card offers with CardMatch™.
First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
Starting at $200
19.99% variable
Build your credit with all three major credit bureaus.

Compare up to 4 providers

Bottom line

You can rebuild your credit using a credit card, but you have to take some steps, including making payments on time, keeping an eye on credit utilization, keeping your existing cards open and adjusting your credit card spending.

You can also consider using a secured credit card, which can help you build your credit — especially if you can’t get another card.

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