In 2009 I decided to go back to college to obtain my Bachelor’s degree in Information Technology. Then in 2010 the bills started pilling up and school got to be more expensive. I ended up having to default on 3 credit cards and they were later considered “charged off” in late 2011. I hired a law firm to negotiate my debt on my credit cards. Therefore, I had to stop making payments on my credit cards and then after 6 months when I was sent to collections for all ┬ácards, I was able to pay off each debt by working with the law firm who in return negotiated on my behalf with the collection companies. Let’s just say my credit score took a nose dive and I wasn’t even getting approved for a checking account with Ally Bank! So how did I bounce back and get to where I’m at today so I can get credit cards with great signup offers?

In 2012 I applied for a Capital One secured credit card. What is a secured credit card? You still have to apply for the card, and once approved you send it a deposit. You credit limit is determined by how large of a deposit you send to the credit card company. Since I didn’t need a very large credit limit, I only sent in $200 and I Received a $350 credit limit, which was later increased to $451 after making 6 months of payments on time. The benefit of a secured credit card after recovering from a charge off is that the card is supposed to report to all 3 credit bureaus to help raise our credit score. Well the Capital One card did just that! I was approved in June of 2012 and only had it until February of 2014, so just shy of 2 years.

This is something long term you have to work towards. However, if you were like me and were able to settle your debts and move on, then I would highly recommend getting a secured credit card for at least 12 months. Then after making payments successfully for 12 months, you should be able to get some sort of unsecured credit card. For example, I made my payments in full each month with my Capital One secured credit card. I eventually applied for a Capital One Venture card and was approved for $5,000! Whoever you get your secured credit card with, try sticking with that company when you decide to take the plunge and apply for an unsecured credit card. That way you have history with the company and can show them you’re more responsible now.

Again, if you have poor credit and you’re being declined for credit cards, this article is intended to guide you towards a secured credit card which will eventually lead you into an unsecured credit card so you can eventually join the travel hacking game.