I'm starting college soon.. can I get a credit card?
Why do my credit card applications keep getting denied?
If you find yourself asking any variation of these questions, I have an answer. Credit is essentially a credit card company giving you money to spend. You'd do that for a friend or someone you know because you know they'll pay you back. You probably wouldn't do it for a stranger though, so why should Chase or Citibank?
Let's say then that a stranger wants to borrow $50 from you, but lets you hold on to his gold watch until he pays you back. This is known as collateral or security. You'll probably be more willing to lend him the money. After awhile, once he has borrowed money and paid you back consistently, you'll become more willing to lend him money without as much collateral.
As expected, the banking world works the same way. If you have no job or history with credit, you'll need to put up collateral or get a secured line. This is how it works: if you want a $200 line of credit, you deposit $200 into your account, similar to a bank account. When you spend with your card, it deducts from your account. You can refill and make payments just like a credit card, as well as purchase online and in stores. And over time, your credit report will show that you handle your finances responsibly and you will be able to open the normal or unsecured credit card.