Not having a credit card can be a huge annoyance. Credit cards make paying for most everything easier, instead of having to deal with transaction limits on debit cards or paying with cash.
However, it can be hard to find a credit card after bankruptcy — though it is not impossible.
The following tips will help you get a credit card after you’ve gone through a bankruptcy, and allow you to start building your credit rating again.
How to Get a Credit Card After Bankruptcy
There’s no way around the fact that bankruptcy will hurt your credit score, which will limit which credit cards and the credit limit you are able to qualify for. You won’t be able to apply for a credit card until after your bankruptcy has been completed.
How long this takes depends on the type of bankruptcy that you declared. Chapter 7 bankruptcy will take up to six months, while Chapter 13 bankruptcy can last up to five years. Once your bankruptcy payments are paid off, you can then start the process of getting a new credit card.
Checking Your Credit Score
The first thing that you should do is check your credit score. Depending on how bad your bankruptcy was, and how high your credit score was before, you could be faced with a very low credit score.
You can request a credit report from one of the major credit reporting agencies, like Equifax. This will give you an idea of where you stand, and will also alert you to any outstanding debts that you may still have to pay off.
Building Your Credit Score with Secured Credit Cards
If your score is extremely low, you need to focus on bringing it up again before you can apply for a regular credit card. The best way to do this is through a secured credit card. These are credit cards that are secured against a specific amount of money, usually a few hundred or thousand dollars.
Your credit limit will be equal to the secured amount, and you will usually be able to get a lower interest rate as a result. Paying your balance off regularly will build your credit score, and allow you to apply for a normal credit card at a later date.
Building Credit as an Authorized User
Beyond getting a secured credit card, you can also have a friend or family member add you as an authorized user to their credit card. You don’t necessarily even have to get a physical card.
Instead, their credit card payments will show up on your credit report. So long as they make their payments on time, your credit score will increase with no effort on your part either.
Applying for a Credit Card
After you’ve spent some time building your credit score back up through one of the above methods, you can apply for a credit card after bankruptcy. In fact, if you’ve already built your credit score, it’s likely that credit card companies have begun to mail you offers anyway.
For more information about choosing the credit card you want to apply for, check out the Credit Cards section of our website for offers.