In Mercator Advisory Group’s research on secured cards, we noted how the market changed since the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) eliminated a series of unfair practices.

Before the regulation, the market was filled with hard money lenders who took advantage of borrowers with sky-high interest rates and even worse junk fees. Things like application fees, activation fees, and risk fees tainted the product.

The CARD Act cleaned up the business, and now top lenders, from Bank of America, Chase, Discover, and US Bank, offer worthwhile cards, with interest rates ranging from 11.65% to 24.99%, and reasonable, in-range fees.  Mastercard and Visa also came out with more rigorous standards for their franchisees.

We peg the U.S. market at almost 5 million cards today, with the potential to embrace 500 percent more, given the number of low-banked, underbanked, and unbanked in the market.

Working in credit for decades often brings friends and acquaintances with questions about “what is the best card for me to get?” Many times my answer is something along the lines of a Chase Freedom card, which I like because it carries an excellent reward structure, and the quarterly bonuses are always attractive.


Discover It is often an option, also, because Discover’s customer service is exceptional. Also, nothing beats American Express’ Blue Preferred card if you manage rewards for grocery purchases, which pays 6%.

And, then there was my middle adult child who needed a card a few years ago. He asked me to put him on one of the mine cards as a secondary user. Sorry, I co-sign for no one!

Instead, I set him up with a secured card, which I funded at $350. His to manage, but I figure I got off cheap. So did he.

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