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Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa for Rebuilding Credit

Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa for Rebuilding Credit
Our Take:

For people with a less than sparkling credit history, we like this card gives you a much needed opportunity to boost your credit score and build responsible spending habits. It does this while offering 1% cash back rewards across all purchase categories, $0 fraud liability, complementary credit monitoring and a potential to increase your buying power. Skip to our full review

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  • Highlights
    • Automatically earn 1% cash back on eligible purchases.
    • Check your Experian credit score for free on a monthly basis.
    • Zero Fraud liability protection, so unauthorized transactions will not be your responsibility.
    • A fully functioning credit card, not a secured card, debit card or prepaid card.
  • Regular APR
    19.99% to 25.99% Variable
  • Credit level
    Fair and Bad Credit
  • Building CreditBuilding Credit
  • Bad CreditBad Credit
  • Cash BackCash Back
  • RewardsRewards
Fees
  • Annual Fee
    $0 to $99
    Intro: $0 to $75 for the first year
  • Cash Advance Fee
    Either $5 or 8% of the amount of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater, or $10 or 3% of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater.
  • Foreign Transaction Fee
    Either $1 or 3% of each purchase in U.S. dollars, whichever is greater
Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa for Rebuilding Credit Review

In a world driven by revolving credit, your worth as a consumer is judged by three little numbers. If you want to play in the big leagues, you need to build your credit. After all, your credit will impact whether or not you can qualify for a car loan, home loan or financing for emergency medical bills.

Even if you can qualify right now, a bad credit score will send your APR soaring out of left field on the big purchases you need the most. That kind of expense can cost you tons of money, and prevent you from reaching your goals of financial security. So what can you do?

That’s the million dollar question. In order to build your credit profile, you have to find one credit card you qualify for and use it strategically to raise your score. In all likelihood, if your credit is really bad, the options for the best card to use are probably pretty limited.

That’s where Credit One Bank comes in. With the Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa, you could be eligible for a card that allows you to build credit without a deposit and even offers small cashback incentives. Here’s what you need to know about building your credit with Credit One:

Credit One: The Good

Credit One is clearly a bank that believes in second chances. This is evidenced by their lack of a minimum credit score requirement to apply. That means even if your credit score is in the tank, or maybe you never started building credit, you can apply and possibly get approved!

Even better, the credit approval comes in the form of a soft credit check that doesn’t impact your credit score and can be done online in under a minute. You’ll know instantly if you’re approved for this card and can start planning your pathway to better credit.

The minimum amount Credit One offers is slightly more flexible than some other cards for bad credit, especially secured cards which typically match your deposit. The Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa doesn’t require a deposit to offer you a small amount to start spending right away.

It’s also a good choice for credit users who want to practice building credit on a card with some rewards. While the cashback incentive on purchases is below average, that’s still a lot better than many cards for bad credit which don’t offer any cashback rewards at all.

In addition, Credit One offers credit score monitoring through their custom dashboards. As you make timely payments, you’ll see your credit score improve and you may be allowed credit line increases if you show you can handle it responsibly.

Essentially, what’s great about this card is that it offers a path to redemption. Whether or not that path is clear, however, remains to be seen—and we’ll cover that in detail below.

The Bad and the Ugly

Since a desperate quest for gold isn’t likely to fix your financial woes, let's keep the focus on raising your credit score—which you can certainly do with Credit One. Still, there are a few things about this card that can seem confusing to consumers, so let's take a deeper look:

  • Rely on good graces? Perhaps not. The fine print suggests that some of the Credit One cards don’t offer a grace period, but it isn’t clear as to which ones or how this is handled, exactly. No grace period could mean paying interest from the time a purchase is made, even if you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Possible fees: If you have a low credit limit and an annual fee, Credit One could opt to deduct that fee from your limit from day one, making your credit limit smaller than it actually looks on your approval paperwork. There are other fees to be aware of also, so read the fine print.
  • The logo should go: Consumers have complained that the logo looks too similar to Capital One—a leader in premium credit cards. Some consumers and credit experts feel the misleading logo alone is enough to hard pass.
  • Unclear guidelines on late fees: Confusion around payments has added fuel to customer concerns. If you make a standard payment, it could take five business days to post. If your due date falls on a weekend, you may have to make a payment as many as seven days before the due date to avoid late charges. There is an express payment option, but it’s going to cost you.

In addition to the above concerns, you can also expect to pay a higher than average APR. This occurs simply because your credit score isn’t great. It’s a standard practice across the industry to offer higher APR to consumers with fair credit or below, or no credit at all.

That said, most of the complaints that Credit One receives are about the fine print being so confusing, misunderstood or tricky to navigate. That alone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad deal. If you understand these potential pitfalls and the limitations bad credit presents for you when applying for a credit card, you can still use this card to rebuild your credit.

Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa: Build Your Credit

So, how do you go about building your credit with Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa? Well, the same way you would with any card. It’s simple, actually:

Step 1: Charge only as much as you can reasonably afford

The first step to building credit is creating a budget and knowing what you can afford to pay off each month. Do everything you can to make sure you aren't spending more than you can afford in a few weeks when it comes time to pay the bill. Consider the amount you put on the card an advance to yourself. When it comes to advances, you need to pay them off within the allotted period. In this case, it’s each month. Once you have a budget and know what you can afford to put on the card and pay each month, you're on the right track.

Step 2: Decide what kind of expenditures to put on the card

If you know what you can afford, you can start to give yourself spending categories that make sense for your lifestyle. Perhaps you can afford to fully pay off a $75 balance each month and you want to use it for gas. Or you’re going to use your card to get lunch at work each day. Whatever the case, set boundaries around how you spend money on the card so you don’t end up in a bind thanks to impulsive shopping habits.

Step 3: Set a personal limit

It may go without saying that once you’ve created a budget and analyzed your spending habits and the reach of your income, you should set a limit on how much you can spend on your Credit One Bank Visa. But we’re going to say it anyway: Setting up a reasonable spending limit creates yet another boundary to protect you from yourself.

Only apply if you’re ready to be responsible

While not a physical step in the process of rebuilding your credit, it’s important to say you should only apply if you’re seriously ready to raise your credit score. If you aren’t responsible enough for credit or are trying to get a card to fund a big, non-essential purchase like new furniture or a vacation, you should really consider if you need this card in the first place.

A Home Run with Credit One

The Credit One Unsecured Visa may not be the best card, overall, but for consumers with credit that has been devastated by financial peril, it could be the best option right now. Our recommendation is, if you decide to apply for a Credit One card, be aware of the potential drawbacks we've described and be ready to use it to build your credit—and for that purpose only.

It may be the only credit card you carry in your wallet for a few years, so you'll need to be patient. Just keep in mind that building credit is a slow process. Once you’ve used it to create healthy credit card spending habits, you can eventually graduate to a better card with better rates and fee structure—and one that doesn’t have so many blind spots.

When it comes to rebuilding credit, the bottom line is simple: Your options are going to be limited. But with a consumer-friendly choice like Credit One offers, you have the opportunity to build your credit while reaping moderate rewards, provided you read and understand the fine print.

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Editorial Note:

This content is not provided by Credit One Bank. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed on this page are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by Credit One Bank.