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Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit – Credit Score of 640-680- What Cards Can I Get?

by Mr Credit Card

We got this email from one of our readers Nancy :

Hi Mr Credit Card,

Can you recommend a good secured (or even unsecured) card for a person with a credit score in the range of 640-680? Trying to rebuild credit. I recently applied for a card through CHASE (my current deposit bank) and was rejected, even though they said the required minimum credit score should be low to mid 600s. Thanks!

Nancy Chang

Answer – Hi Nancy – Firstly, I just want to point out that with your credit score, you should be able to get a regular unsecured no annual fee credit card. But it appears that your credit has taken a hit (I infer that when you said you were looking to rebuild your credit), hence, that is why I think Chase declined your application. There are several cards that you can consider applying for. You essentially have two choices, a regular unsecured credit card or a secured credit card.

But first, a warning. Do not get “sub prime” credit cards that charge high fees. Your credit score is actually OK and good enough that you do not have to apply for sub prime cards. OK – with that out of the way, here are a couple of suggestions that our readers have had success with.

1. Citi® Simplicity Card – In the past, I know folks who have got approved for this card with a mid-600 score. This is a decent card to get. One of the things I like about this card is that you are given a secure number that is different from your credit card number when you shop online. Hence, there is the extra layer of security that Citi offers on this card.

2. American Express Rewards Gold Card – This was my first card out of school. I think you need to have a good income to get this card. It is a charge card with a $125 annual fee (first year waived). But if you pay your bills fully every month, you may want to consider this. Probably has the best reward program around.

Aside from these, there are lots of other cards to consider. You can check with your local credit union or local banks if you wish to.

Secured Credit Cards – I really think that with your score you should be able to get a regular no annual fee credit card. But if it does not work, then secured credit cards are the way to go. Normally, I would recommend something like Orchard Bank, but since they have pulled out of this market (or wish to have less presence, I would stay clear of them. Most banks (perhaps with the exception of Chase!) should be able to issue you with a secured credit card. But here, folks have found success with the following cards:

Applied Bank Secured Visa – This one comes with a $50 annual fee.

Other Considerations – You mentioned that you want to rebuild your credit. Presumably, your score was much better and it has taken a hit. That is a different situation than say a college student with the same score, but coming off a lower base. Before you apply for a card, I would first get copies of your credit report from each of the credit bureaus, TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Check for accuracy and dispute any negative inaccurate information.

Secondly, consider if you really need a credit card now. If your credit has been damaged, only timely payments and time can heal your score. If you already have a mortgage or a car loan, just simply paying on time with those will improve your credit score. You don’t exactly need a “credit card immediately” (though it is good to have one) to rebuild you credit. What I’m saying is that if you have loans already, maybe you can wait a month or two. Just use your bank’s debit card or check card in the meantime.

Final Thoughts – I would like to think that with your score, you should be able to get a no annual fee unsecured credit card. I would try some of the cards suggested, and if you are not approved, wait a couple of months. Each hard pull on your credit may reduce your score by about 5 points give or take.

If you are going the secured credit card route, I suggest you get a couple of cards rather than one and put as much deposit as you can afford because credit utilization ratio (balance versus available credit) is important.

Readers’ Feedback – We would like to hear from our readers what cards you have got approved for if you have a similar situation with Nancy. The more details, the better. Please comment below.

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3 Responses to “Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit – Credit Score of 640-680- What Cards Can I Get?”

  1. Cynthia Says:

    You state “if you are going the secured credit card route, I suggest you get a couple of cards rather than one and put as much deposit as you can afford because credit utilization ratio (balance versus available credit) is important”, can you explain why one would need a couple of cards?

  2. Lu Says:

    In 2009 i filed chapter 7 bankruptcy. It was discharged. i have three credit cards. one with a limit of 350.00-i owe nothing on it; the second has a 500.00 limit on it, i owe nothing on it, the third has a 300.00 limit-i owe 297.00 on it. trying to rebuild my credit. should i get another credit card. my score right now is 646. I need help.

  3. Karoline Littlefield Says:

    Cynthia…it’s better to have two credit cards for reporting to Credit Bureaus than just one cc…Also, you would have more funds availability with two cards than one and you don’t have to “MAX” either card, which is all reported to the Credit Bureau.

    Lu…your credit score may stay low for a long time no matter how many credit cards you have and it’s because of the bankruptcy in last 3 years…Your 3 credit cards have very low limit to account for a better score…

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