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What to Do If You’re Denied a Secured Credit Card

March 25, 2016
Credit Card Basics, Credit Cards, Credit Cards for Bad Credit
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Being denied for a secured credit card can come as a surprise. After all, you’re putting down a security deposit to protect the card issuer in case you don’t make your payments. Shouldn’t that mean approval is guaranteed?

It’s not so simple. You still have to apply for a secured credit card. In most cases, the credit card issuer will still check your credit. You may not get approved if you have a bankruptcy on your record, a history of missed payments or other red flags.

But don’t give up hope yet. You can still rehabilitate your bad credit and get approved for a credit card. Several alternatives to secured cards will still build your credit.

Why were you denied for a secured card?

If you are denied credit, you have a legal right to know exactly why. Is it because you recently declared bankruptcy? Do you have a history of missed payments? Ask the credit card issuer why it denied your application. If a lender denies you credit based on information from a credit report, you’re entitled to a free copy of that report. (The issuer should tell you how to get it.) And if the denial stemmed from an error on the credit report, it may be worth disputing the error.

» MORE: After credit card rejection, here’s what to do

Consider your bank or a credit union

If you have a checking account, you might find it easier to qualify for a secured credit card with the bank where you’ve already built a relationship. Rather than apply for a secured card from a new bank, go to your current bank in person (if possible) and ask about its secured credit card offerings.

Alternatively, you may want to check out your local credit union. Credit unions are nonprofit organizations and often have more affordable products than big, for-profit banks do. Community development credit unions in particular are great for helping you rebuild credit.

If you still can’t get a secured card

Each credit card application reduces your credit score slightly, so it’s not a good idea to keep applying for more cards if you’re likely to be denied. If you’ve tried and failed to get a secured credit card, we suggest you consider another type of loan.

It’s vital that you build up your credit score, so the alternative to a secured card should:

  • Extend you a line of credit.
  • Report your on-time payments to the credit bureaus.

The following products can help you raise your FICO score and eventually “graduate” to good credit cards. Other options, such as prepaid debit cards, do not report to the credit bureaus, so don’t bother with those if your main goal is to rebuild your credit.

Here are some alternatives to secured credit cards:

Share-secured loans from credit unions. These are basically like secured credit cards. You deposit your money into a savings account, then borrow against that money. Because there’s no risk to the lender, you get a low interest rate, but it still helps build credit. Here are a couple of options:

Credit builder loans from credit unions. These loans are meant for people looking to build up their credit, and usually range from $200 to $1,000. Check your local credit union to see what’s offered.

No-credit-check secured cards. This can be an expensive option if you want a secured credit card. The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card has no credit check, but still reports to the major credit bureaus. Its $35. This can be a decent option if you’ve previously been denied a secured card, but have the money to post the security deposit.

Even though you’ve been denied for a secured credit card, don’t give up hope just yet. You can still build up your credit and get on the path to financial fitness.

More from NerdWallet:
How do secured credit cards work?
NerdWallet’s best secured credit cards
How to get an unsecured personal loan
Credit cards for bad credit

This article has been updated. It was originally published Aug. 2, 2013.

Image via iStock.