As things stand right now, there are millions of American consumers who have subprime credit scores, or bad credit. If you are one of those folks it may be tempting to believe that you have to simply deal with your low credit score, until it starts to improve over the years. There are, however, some steps that you can take to improve your credit score a little faster. One of those things is – believe it or not – getting a new credit card.

Most people know that they have to use lines of credit and make prompt payments to improve their credit scores. Some of these people also believe that they have to settle for whatever terms credit card companies offer them. In other words, people with bad credit often settle for bad credit cards. This is not the way that you should handle the process of rebuilding your credit score. Just because you’ve had credit problems in the past that does not mean you have to settle for a credit card with terrible terms.

Here are some things you should look for when opening a new credit card when your credit score is low:

Make sure it is a card that will improve your credit score!

People often get new lines of credit, use the credit properly and pay their bills on time and then they find that the account activity is not even being sent to the credit bureaus. That is like doing a lot of hard work and never getting any kind of payoff. Check with credit card issuers to make sure the card you apply for reports activity back to the major credit bureaus, like Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. You don’t want to spin your wheels on cards that won’t help you rebuild your score, so don’t waste your time applying for any credit card that doesn’t provide you with this perk.

Choose a Credit Card with Affordable Fees

Many times, people with bad credit wind up stuck with credit cards that charge expensive fees. The last thing you want to do is pay too much for the card you use regularly. Look for a credit card with no annual fees. If you cannot get one, then don’t pay more than $30 or so for a secured credit card. If you have bad credit, expect balance transfer fees to be between 3 and 5 percent. Don’t use a credit card for balance transfers if the cost is any more than 5 percent. And look out for “extra” fees. Some credit card companies try to hit consumers with maintenance fees, processing fees and other added costs that you simply shouldn’t have to pay.

Move from Secured to Unsecured

Many people with lower credit scores find that they have to start off the process of rebuilding their credit by opening secured lines of credit. This is sometimes a necessary evil, but if you have had a lot of problems with credit in the past, you may have to use a secured card for a while. Make sure, though, that the secured card you choose to open lets you graduate to an unsecured card in the future. When you open a secured credit card, you have to pay a deposit. The ideal credit card in this type of situation would allow you to open the account, check your credit activity for improvements over time and then to get your deposit back as you progress to an unsecured account. This can be a confusing process, so you may want to speak with a customer service representative to make sure this option is available to you.

Keep these tips in mind as you work toward building a higher credit score and a more promising financial future.

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