Orchard Bank Credit Card Review: The Best for Bad Credit - NerdWallet
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Orchard Bank Credit Card Review: The Best for Bad Credit

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Once upon a time, the Orchard Bank credit card was our favorite choice for bad credit. With a low APR and very reasonable fee chart, it was, without a doubt, a top secured credit card. Unfortunately, the Orchard card is being discontinued. It’s a sad day at NerdWallet as we bid farewell to one of our oldest, most trustworthy friends. While you can never truly fill the gap left by a close pal, we realize the need to move on and find a new BFF. For folks trying to rebuild bad credit, allow us to introduce the Capital One Secured credit card. We think you’ll like him.

The Capital One Secured is an excellent credit building tool. It MIGHT even be a little better than the Orchard Bank card, but don’t tell Orchard we said so. The cost is low and the terms are great. Even with an abysmally low credit score or a recent bankruptcy on your record, you can still qualify. Let’s take a look at the details and see how the CapOne stacks up against its predecessor.

Why we dig the Capital One Secured

Let’s start with the most important aspect: cost. This guy is cheap. Seriously. The Orchard Bank card was good at $35, but the Capital One is even lower at $29. As far as secured credit cards go, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better.

Secured credit cards require you to put down a security deposit before you can spend. The deposit sets your credit limit and ensures the bank won’t lose money from missed payments. Generally, if you put down $200, you’ll start with a $200 credit limit. If you put down $300, you’ll start with a $300 credit limit (and so on). One of the cool features about the Capital One Secured is you don’t always have to put down a full deposit. Depending on your credit, they’ll ask you for $49, $99 or $200. Regardless of your minimum, you’ll start with a full $200 limit. If you so choose, you can then deposit more money to increase your limit (up to $3,000). Eventually, you’ll qualify for a better card and be able to close your account. When you do, all money you’ve deposited will be refunded.

APR is where Orchard clearly had the competition beat. It was only 7.99%, which is sort of unbelievable. With the Capital One Secured, you’ll pay 22.9%. It’s considerably higher but still very fair for a secured credit card. Not everyone is so forgiving.

Capital One enables you to monitor your credit with Capital One’s free Credit Tracker, a service that provides you access to a credit score as well as credit tools and information. When repairing credit, caution is key. Capital One provides the access you need to keep your finances in check. They’re also kind enough to report your account activity to the 3 major credit bureaus, which is absolutely essential if you want your credit score to move.

Don’t like Capital One’s fees? Just wait till you see the other guys

When hunting for a credit card to build or rebuild credit, be smart and guard yourself against predatory offers. People with poor credit are often targets of scams and bogus deals. However, don’t assume you’re without options. Feel free to shop around. Just please be careful. Another great secured card is the Citi Secured. Like the CapOne, the Citi has a low $29 annual fee. It’s APR is pretty impressive at 18.24%, a bit lower than Capital One.

All in all, they are very similar cards. Even though it has a slightly higher APR, we prefer the Capital One Secured because of its partial security deposit option. Additionally, if you can’t pay the whole deposit upfront, Capital One allows you to pay in installments. As long as the whole amount is posted within 80 days, you’re set.

Now let’s take a look at some less-than-savory cards. When you’re looking for a credit card straight after bankruptcy or when burdened with a dreadful credit score, you should first  learn what is reasonable and what is absurd. You should expect a few small fees and a security deposit around $200-$300. Stay away from offers that sound too good to be true.

To put the Capital One Secured into perspective, take a gander at the Aventium and Centennial credit cards from First Premier Bank. These abominations offer a $300 line of credit with a $95 security deposit. There’s a $75 first-year annual fee, a $6.50 monthly fee that kicks in your second year, a $45 annual fee on top of the monthly fee and a $3.95 fee to use First Premier’s online services. Want to know the APR? You probably don’t. It stands at a staggering 49.99%. Holy inconceivable interest rates, Batman!

Then there’s the Platinum Zero from Applied Bank. It has a good pitch going: 0% APR, even if you’re late on a payment; no application fee; and a “choose your own credit limit” feature. Alluring. BUT… fees. More precisely, $119 a year. Interest-free borrowing is certainly enticing, but the cost is untenable.

As you can see, secured cards are the pits. Stick with a name you can trust, build your credit quickly and graduate fast to an unsecured card. The Capital One Secured is your best bet. There are no gimmicks, no tricks, no buffoonery. Just $29 a year with a $49-$200 refundable deposit.

 Should you get a secured card?

Folks with less-than-pristine credit histories may not quite qualify for a no-fee or rewards credit card. Secured credit cards are for establishing credit. Eventually, you’ll be able to move on to a regular card with no annual fee (if you choose) and lower interest rates. To this end, the Capital One Secured is a good, well-rounded option. Yes, paying a security deposit isn’t much fun. But remember, Capital One may let you get away with a lower deposit, and they’ll give you 80 days after approval to come up with the money.

The most important thing to remember with a secured credit card? Make payments on time. We’re not kidding. Make payments, build credit. It’s that simple. Miss payments, and your credit will worsen. If missing a payment is a real possibility, you may want to re-think getting a credit card. Stick with a checking account until you’re sure. Checking and debit won’t raise your credit score, but you really don’t want a credit card you can’t pay.

Secured credit cards and prepaid debit cards: a background

There are two common alternatives to the traditional credit card, and neither is particularly appealing: secured credit cards and prepaid debit cards.

Regular Credit Card Secured Credit Card Prepaid Debit Card
Improves Credit Score Yes Yes No
Upfront Deposit No Yes Yes
Line of Credit? Yes Yes No

A secured credit card demands upfront collateral often equal to your line of credit. The deposit is returned when you finally close your account. In the meantime, you still have to pay interest on purchases if you carry a balance month-to-month. Secured cards often come with a fee or two. Annual fees are a given. Once in a while, you’ll see a processing fee, too. Fortunately, a secured credit card does build your credit score. With good behavior, you can eventually qualify for a regular, unsecured credit card.

Prepaid debit cards are similar in that you have to deposit money up front. But once the money is down, it acts just like a standard debit card. You aren’t technically “borrowing” money – you can only spend what’s in your account. When you run out, you have to reload. Unlike a secured card, there’s no credit line. Prepaid does not build credit. It will not help you qualify for a regular credit line. It’s exactly like a checking account but with a brutal fee system. You can expect monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, reload fees and even usage fees for many cards.

In case you haven’t drawn the correct conclusion, we’ll help you out. Stay away from prepaid. Get a secured credit card if you want to build credit. Get a checking account and debit combo if you’re just looking for a piece of plastic.

Shop & Compare Credit Cards:

  • Karen Stryker

    I need a secured credit card with an international chip. What are my options?

  • Alex

    Depending on what State you are in you have from 3 Business days to 10 Business days to cancel any kind of financial contract. This includes auto, home, personal loans or credit cards.
    You do have some protection from fees if you change your mind. Go to your State’s comsumer protection web page and see what laws apply under credit terms and laws.
    Hope that helps a little.

  • dugd

    This 3 day thing for the most part is an urban legend. Back in law school I did a law review article on it, it has been many years so I dont remember any of the exact cases.

    As it turns out, the 3 day remorse period was a statute passed by the California legislature shortly after WWII. This statute was passed due to the rise of door to door salesmen and attempted to protect families from wives buying extremely expensive vacuum cleaners (like kirby or electrolux) which were sold door to door, were often financed, and could cost as much as a months salary.

    During the rise of early TV, these door to door salesmen would often come and sell the stay at home wife a vacuum, then she would have some ” ‘splanin to do” when the husband came home. The tv’s family finances would be saved by the 3 day remorse clause, and everyone would live happily ever after in syndication.

    What is strange is that this law was originally designed to protect only the single class of person who financed a high priced item, which was sold door to door, in the state of California. Because of tv’s influence however, people for some reason began to believe that ANY financial transaction, in any state, could be cancelled in 3 days. This is simply not true.

    What is amazing is that over half a century later, people still have a fuzzy idea that they can sign contracts and have them invalidated or use newly bought items for three days before returning it; all because some old black and white tv shows told them they could.

  • Nicole Jewell Brewer

    Because there is no reason why I would want to pay to spend my own hard earned money

  • twostickmack

    Capital one is great.I got the secured version,then a year later they gave me the unsecure version.most of the complainers don’t make the payments on time,so why would they upgrade them?you have to be wise with the secured card.don’t run max it out,send minimum payments,mail payment only a day or two before its due,and then complain.they watch and see if you have learned your lesson and are wiser than when you ruined your credit in the first place.

  • twostickmack

    its OK.that’s the price you pay for having bad credit.I got the cap one secured card 4years ago,and its the best you can get with bad credit.steer clear of all the first premier cards.

  • twostickmack

    Orchard is still way better than first premier Bank.

  • John Williams

    I’m thinking Jeffrey mixed it up–Greendot is a debit card, not a credit card, so it doesn’t help with credit.

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

    Hi Karen – Feel free to email us at support@nerdwallet.com and we’ll be happy to point you in the right direction. Alternatively, you can use our chat box to speak with us during normal business hours.