Credit Card Makeover: Christine’s Cards After Debt

I review dozens of credit card offers each week to find the best deals. Check out more on our credit card page. Want your own credit card makeover? Email me.

Christine is a young administrative assistant for a telephone sales company in Colorado. She has no credit history. Unfortunately, she’s been using sub-prime credit cards – which have harsh terms and are marketed to those with damaged or no credit – because she thought they were her only option. Thankfully, she’s about to pay off their entire balances. So what now?

Where Christine is…

“I have two First Premier cards – one purple, one gold. I got one in October 2008, the other in September 2009. I got them because they gave me credit cards when I had no credit history.

“Currently, I have a $550 balance between the two cards. I usually pay only $5 or $10 over the minimum, but I pay on time. In the past, I usually didn’t have the money to pay the balance in full, but I was told by First Premier it is not good to pay just the minimum. I plan on paying off all these balances soon. In the future, I want rewards and something that will help build my credit. I also want lower or no annual fees. The last time I checked, my credit score was about 680.”

Where Christine needs to go…

First, Christine should pay off her balances as soon as possible – and then cancel those First Premier cards. They have annual and monthly fees that total $150 per year! In fact, they’re so full of fees, they’ve been the subject of government scrutiny. Therefore, the sooner Christine can pay off her entire balance and cancel her account, the more money she’ll immediately save.

A better way to go would have been a secured card, also an option for those with no credit history or a bad history. (See Up-Front Credit Card Fees? Here’s a Better Option.)

Once Christine takes this advice, what next? The good news is that she’s been making her payments on time, and her credit score is now good enough that she shouldn’t have to bother with fee-heavy, sub-prime cards.

A great card for her to consider is the Chase Freedom Visa. It offers 1 percent cash back on most purchases and 5 percent cash back on charges to certain categories of merchants that change each quarter. There’s no annual fee for this card, and it’s eligible for the Blueprint program. With Blueprint, Christine can save money on interest if she ever needs to carry a balance on some purchases while paying others in full. This program also features powerful online budgeting and goal-setting features.

Bottom line…

If Christine had avoided those high-fee cards and gone with a secured card, she would’ve saved hundreds in fees – an important lesson for people building or rebuilding their credit. But now that she’s about to pay off those accounts, she can upgrade her wallet and make her credit cards pay her, instead of paying them.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021
15 Painless Ways You Can Cut Costs in 2021

Follow these tips to save, so you’ll have money for things that really matter.

7 Gadgets Under $60 That Can Boost Your Health
7 Gadgets Under $60 That Can Boost Your Health

These Amazon finds can help ease foot aches, boost energy and even protect your heart.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home
15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home

These free movie streaming sites offer thousands of movies and TV shows, including recent releases and beloved classics. If you love free movies, online sites are where you need to look for the best list of features that are just one easy click away.

8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report
8 Types of Companies That Check Your Credit Report

Federal law lets these entities peek at your credit — regardless of whether you’re borrowing money.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items
Prices Are Soaring on These 7 Items

Some surprise price jumps are making life more difficult for consumers.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

This iconic dinnerware is prized for everyday use as well as reselling for profit.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021
7 Home Improvements That Cost a Lot More in 2021

These projects will take a bigger bite out of your budget than in the recent past.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken
Beware This Hidden Ingredient in Rotisserie Chicken

Something foul may lurk in those delicious, ready-to-eat birds.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees
5 States With the Worst Health Care for Retirees

All of these states are located in the same region of the nation.

7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make
7 Big Purchases You Should Never Make

Sometimes a big-ticket purchase is nothing more than a big waste of money.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.