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Good news! There is no penalty for checking one’s own score. In fact, you may check it as many times
Good news! There is no penalty for checking one’s own score. In fact, you may check it as many times as you’d like within any time period and your score won’t be affected.
There are two types of credit checks: soft inquiries and hard inquiries.
- Soft inquiries, or “soft pulls,” do not harm your credit score. A soft pull is triggered when you check your own credit through a credit bureau or through a monitoring service like myFICO or CreditKarma. Employers use soft pulls during background checks. Credit card companies and mortgage lenders use soft pulls to pre-approve potential customers for financial products. Soft pulls occur frequently and often go unnoticed.
- A hard pull, on the other hand, takes a bite out of your credit score. A hard pull occurs when you apply for a new loan, credit card, or apartment rental. The pull stays on record for a limited amount of time (up to a year or two) and adversely affects your credit score.
A few credit cards companies now offer free credit scores to their customers. Our favorite cards that come with this feature are the Discover It (http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2012/discover-it-best-discover-do/) and the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard (http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/barclaycard-arrival-world-mastercard-review/).
If you need help building your credit, check out our advice on http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-score/building-credit/.
You might find it easier to qualify for a secured credit card if you already have an existing relationship
You might find it easier to qualify for a secured credit card if you already have an existing relationship with a bank (such as a checking account). Alternatively, check out your local credit union as Andy suggested. Community development credit unions in particular are great for helping you rebuild credit.
If you still can't get a secured card, don't worry -- you're not out of options! Just make sure the alternative to a secured card will extend a line of credit and report to credit bureaus (prepaid debit cards don't fit these criteria). All of the following options will help you rebuild credit:
1) Secured share loan from a credit union. These are basically like secured credit cards. You deposit your money into a savings account, then borrow against that money. Since it’s no risk to the lender, you get a low interest rate, but it still helps build credit. Here are a few options:
2) Credit builder loans from credit unions. These loans are meant for people looking to build up their credit, and usually range from $200-$1,000. Check your local credit union to see what’s offered.
3) No credit check secured cards. This can be an expensive option if you want a secured credit card. The OpenSky Secured has no credit check, but still reports to the major credit bureaus. It has a $29 annual fee, and its interest rate is pretty high at 17.50%, so try not to carry a balance.
The Andrews FCU GlobeTrek Visa Rewards has no annual or foreign transaction fees, making it one of the
The Andrews FCU GlobeTrek Visa Rewards has no annual or foreign transaction fees, making it one of the best cards to use overseas. The rewards aren’t phenomenal – just one point per $1, and the redemption options are limited – but it sounds like it would be a great fit for your particular needs. Anyone can join by becoming a member of the American Consumer Council. Check out the details here: https://www.andrewsfcu.org/credit_cards_and_loans/credit_cards/globetrek_rewards.html.
The PenFed Promise card also offers all of the benefits you are looking for, but without a rewards program. It now comes in a chip-and-PIN version upon request. This card requires excellent credit, although it doesn't sound like that would be an issue for you. See our summary of rates and fees here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/card-details/card-name/PenFed-Promise.
You should check out the Simplicity card from Citibank: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/citi-simplicity-review/.
You should check out the Simplicity card from Citibank: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/credit-cards/citi-simplicity-review/. It offers an outstanding 18 months of 0% intro APR on balance transfers and purchases. It also has no late or annual fees and no penalty APR, so even if your mother or you forget to make a payment on time one month, you won't get slammed with penalty charges.
Best of luck!
This is a great question! A lot of balance transfer credit cards offer 0% introductory APR on balances
This is a great question! A lot of balance transfer credit cards offer 0% introductory APR on balances and balance transfers, but charge a 3% balance transfer fee. The Chase Slate lets you have your cake and eat it too -- not only does it currently have a no balance transfer fee offer, but it also has 0% interest on purchases and balance transfers for the first 15 months.
Check out our complete review of the Chase Slate here: http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/top-credit-cards/no-balance-transfer-fee-credit-cards/.