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The Big Resume Mistakes That Can Kill a Good Job Opportunity

There is a line in the novel “Anna Karenina,” that says, “be bad, but at least don’t be a liar, a deceiver.”

Tolstoy most likely didn’t intend for that to be applied to the working world, but it does. And it’s something more people should probably take note of. In fact, a recent survey conducted for CareerBuilder, an online job board, found that 77% of human resources (HR) managers reported discovering a lie on a resume.

While many outright lies were spotted, those surveyed also noted that they discovered several errors on resumes they received. These were two of the most notable.

  • An applicant’s name was auto-corrected from “Flin” to “Flintstone.” His name was Freddie.
  • An applicant stated they had great attention to detail, but “attention” was misspelled.

Some other resume cringe-worthy blunders reported in the survey included:

  • An applicant listed a skill as “taking long walks.”
  • An applicant claimed he would work harder if paid more.
  • An applicant wrote the following at the end of their resume: “I didn’t really fill this out, someone did it for me.”
  • An applicant used a resume template with cats in the corners.
  • An applicant listed smoking under hobbies.



To gather this information, CareerBuilder used Harris Poll to survey 2,153 hiring and HR managers ages 18 and older. All those surveyed were full-time employees who are not self-employed and do not work for the government. The survey, which was conducted from May 11 to June 7, 2016, has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.11 percentage points at the 95% confidence level, according to the press release.

What Employers Really Want to See

The survey reported that more than two in five hiring managers spend less than a minute looking at a resume, with nearly one in four saying they spend less than 30 seconds. To stand out, 63% of those surveyed said they are more likely to pay attention to a resume that is customized to the role they’re applying for, while 41% said they look at those with skill sets listed first. Other items that caught their eye is when a cover letter is included, an application is addressed to the specific hiring manager and a resume includes a link to a candidate’s blog, portfolio or website.

It’s also important to remember that many employers look at a version of your credit report as part of the application process and your credit is certainly something you can’t fib your way around. So, it’s a good idea to take a look at your credit reports and get an idea of what’s on there — and to dispute any errors that may be weighing you down. You can see a free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, on


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Can I Use One Loan to Pay Off Another?

Many of us have been there. Just when debt payments seem to storm down on you in an insurmountable way, you receive an offer for a lower interest loan or credit card. Sometimes the offer comes with 0% interest for a certain period of time. Sometimes, the line of credit extended is enormous. At least for a little while, the clouds of debt seem to part to allow a view of sunny skies. But before paying off one loan with another, there are some things you should consider.

While you can often use one loan to pay off another, be sure to read the fine print of your contract first and be wise about your spending habits. Although there aren’t many rules to govern debt consolidation loans or how the money is used, there may be lender-specific policies to be aware of, says Michael Bovee founder and president of the free online self-help guide, Consumer Recovery Network.

For example, “a bank may require the money be used to pay off existing debts, and even facilitate the payments to other lenders,” he said. You’re about to take part in a “balance transfer boogie, a dance with your debt that wears you down and can exhaust your finances,” says Bovee.

Before Making Any Decisions

It may be best to speak with a credit counselor who can help you to create a loan repayment plan to meet deadlines. Those tempting 0% transfer offers can be a good tool if you plan on repaying the debt. But they often expire, and if your loan isn’t repaid by the expiration date, it may get nailed with high interest, making your debt even higher. You also often pay a transfer fee that can be 3% of the transfer, which might also be costly (3% of $2,000 is $60,) but perhaps not as costly as what you’re paying in higher interest each month. It’s a good idea to check the interest category of your credit card statement to compare.

If You Tend to Overspend

Find a way to curb your impulses when you’ve cleared the credit card or extra cash or you may find yourself in even higher debt.

“I often see the problematic side of debt consolidation loans,” says Bovee. “My biggest caution is how tempting it can be to use credit cards after the balances are paid off. Too many find themselves in trouble with the loan to pay, and credit card balances that grow to unmanageable.”

Be sure to always make timely loan payments, and know that taking on too many debts can also ding your credit score, which can interfere with your ability to get lower interest loans in the future. If you’re curious about what your credit score is now, you can check your credit report card summary, for free, on, where it is updated every 14 days.

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Should I Pay Extra on My Student Loans?

When you start repaying a student loan, it’s a bit of a buzzkill to see a large chunk of money come out of your bank account. Month after month, you kiss that $350 goodbye (or whatever your regular payment is), trying not to think about everything else you could’ve used it for. Eventually, you get used to it, for the decade or more you make that same payment.

At least, that’s how it works if you enter a standard repayment plan on a fixed-rate student loan, like most borrowers do. It’s monotonous but predictable: Keep making that $350 payment on time, and after 10 years (or whatever the repayment term is), you’ll be out of student loan debt.

You can speed it up, if you want, and if you can afford to. Paying more than your minimum student loan payment can be a good financial move, but there are a few things you need to know before you decide to do it.

Consider the Benefits

First, the perks: If you pay extra on your student loans each month, you can get out of debt faster, save money in the long run, give yourself a little budget flexibility and improve your credit. Here’s a quick explanation of each of those advantages.

Get out of debt faster: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The more you pay in addition to your minimum student loan payment, the faster you’ll drive down your outstanding student loan balance. You can use a student loan payoff calculator (there are all sorts of them online) to help you figure out how much to pay to get out of debt by a certain date.

Save money: The faster you pay off your student loan debt, the less time it has to accrue additional interest. So if you have multiple student loans at different interest rates and saving money is a high priority for you, you may want to focus on paying more on the high-interest loans first.

Flexibility: Say you have a 10-year repayment term, but you want to get out of debt in five years. You can calculate what your loan payment would be for a five-year repayment term, and plan to pay that much each month. But if you run into financial difficulty at any point in your loan repayment, remember that your required loan payment will be less than you’ve actually been paying. You can go back to paying the minimum, which allows you to use that money you’d been putting toward paying off your loan faster toward another financial obligation, all while keeping your student loan in good standing.

Improve credit: One of the most important aspects of your credit score is the amount of debt you have, and while that’s mostly determined by your use of revolving credit, installment loans like student loans also have an effect. Credit scoring models look at how much money you’ve borrowed and how much of it you’ve repaid — the more of your debt you’ve repaid, the better. Paying down your debt faster also improves your debt-to-income ratio, which isn’t part of your credit scores but is often factored into loan decisions, like a mortgage application.

Do the Math

If you’re lucky enough to be in a position where you can afford to pay more than you need to on your student loans, make sure you’re doing what’s best for you financially. This requires a little math. Ask yourself, Is the money I’ll save in interest on my student loan greater than the return I’ll get by putting more into my 401K? If not, maybe you want to put that extra money toward saving for retirement, rather than attacking your student loan debt.

Numbers aren’t always the answer. Sure, you might make more money by investing your extra resources, but some people just want to get out of debt as fast as they can, no matter what. That’s fine, too. It’s a personal decision, but it’s important to make that decision after considering all your options. Above all, make sure you can really afford to put extra money toward your student loans, because dedicating financial resources to student loan payments while you’re going into credit card debt for everyday purchases doesn’t make a lot of sense.

Pay Attention to the Details

If you’re planning to do something different with your student loan repayment, communicate with your student loan servicer. Make sure any extra payments go toward the principal balance by making your desire known to the servicer in advance of payment and check your account after it’s gone through. These things get messed up all the time, so if you want to do it right, you need to put in a little extra work.

It’s also important to keep an eye on your credit standing, in addition to your student loan statements every month, to make sure everything is going as planned. You can keep tabs on your credit by getting a free credit report summary, updated every two weeks, on

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Five Fun Financial Facts: Marvel - #1 of 5


Season 4 of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres on September 20, 2016. The series pilot is one of the most expensive ever made at a reported cost of $14 million. Next Photo ©

Will Yahoo Breach Compromise Credit Cards? Probably Not

It’s password-changing time again.

Yahoo’s announcement that a “state-sponsored actor” had pilfered data, potentially including concealed passwords, from half a billion accounts in late 2014 represents one of the largest such security breaches ever disclosed. The “good” news — if we can call it that — is that the passwords were concealed and that the hack doesn’t appear to have directly involved credit cards or bank accounts, according to Yahoo’s announcement.

Credit card accounts probably won’t be affected. But “probably” is not “certainly.” If you tend to reuse passwords across multiple sites, now’s the time to stop, and to change those passwords. And Yahoo is still encouraging people to check their credit reports.

Not another Target

When you hear “data breach,” you might think of what happened to Target in 2013. About 70 million customers were affected, and — worse — 40 million credit card numbers were stolen. Millions of customers had to worry about fraudulent activity on their cards as a result.

The Yahoo breach is roughly seven times as big as the Target one, but for affected consumers, it’s not seven times worse.

The difference has to do with what was stolen. In Yahoo’s case, the stolen information included names, email addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, concealed passwords and, in some cases, security questions and answers both unencrypted and encrypted, according to a news release from the company. Yahoo also notes that the ongoing investigation suggests that “stolen information did not include unprotected passwords, payment card data, or bank account information.”

The passwords were also “hashed,” according to Yahoo. That means they were run through a “mathematical function that converts an original string of data into a seemingly random string of characters,” according to Yahoo.

Signs of a potential hack reportedly emerged earlier this summer on the “dark web” — a space of the internet unreachable by search engines, where illegal dealings can go undetected. A hacker tried to sell what was supposedly 200 million Yahoo accounts for 3 bitcoins, or roughly $1,860, Motherboard reported in August. That’s on the cheap side, if you consider that login credentials for banks around the world go for “between US$200 and US$500 per account” in marketplaces like these, according to a white paper by Trend Micro.

What could happen

The credentials stolen in the Yahoo breach aren’t that valuable as long as the passwords are concealed. But there’s still a risk that hackers could glean more information from the breach than we think.

Take the passwords, for example. When passwords are hashed, they’re essentially useless. But it’s possible that hackers could “unhash” those passwords, says Al Pascual, senior vice president and head of fraud and security at Javelin Strategy & Research.

“There is software such as Hashcat and John the Ripper which is designed to crack passwords,” Pascual says. “It takes time and processing power, and even then not every password is typically decrypted.”

If hackers were successful at unhashing some of the passwords, they could run scripts to hit as many websites as possible to see where those passwords work, Pascual says. That could affect consumers who use the same password for every account.

Even if that proved successful, though, hackers probably wouldn’t be able to get at your financial accounts. Major banks and issuers have security software that locks users out after multiple failed sign-in attempts. However, Pascual says some smaller issuers don’t have this capability.

Phishing scams are another potential result of the breach, and one that Yahoo is anticipating. The company stressed that the email it sent to those affected by the breach “does not ask you to click on any links or contain attachments and does not request your personal information” — requests that are common tactics in phishing emails. Your credit card information might not be affected by the Yahoo breach directly, but it might be compromised if you give your log-in credentials to someone pretending to be Yahoo via email.

» MORE: Crooks want your credit card points

What to do about it

If you received notice from Yahoo that you were affected by the breach, here are three things you can do to guard against potential fraud on your credit cards and other accounts:

  1. Change your passwords. “People tend to not update their passwords unless they absolutely have to,” Pascual says. Hackers see that as a major opportunity. So if you use the same password for all your accounts, don’t just update your Yahoo password — update your other passwords, too. At the very least, make sure the passwords you use on your credit card and bank accounts aren’t the same ones you use on websites that look like they were designed by sixth-graders in 1999.
  2. Read emails carefully. Don’t reply to emails purporting to be from Yahoo — or any company, for that matter — if they prompt you to provide a password, username or any other personal information, or ask you to click a link. Fraudsters use urgent-sounding emails like these to get valuable information out of unsuspecting consumers.
  3. Check your credit report and financial accounts. Although Yahoo’s breach didn’t include financial data, “we encourage you to remain vigilant by reviewing your account statements and monitoring your credit reports,” according to a statement from the company.

You can get a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Go to If you detect signs of fraud on your credit card account — say, unfamiliar purchases — call your issuer right away and report it. The law sharply limits your financial responsibility on bank account fraud and credit card fraud. Even if your credit card is indirectly affected by this breach, you probably won’t have to pay for it.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @ideclaire7.

Billion-Dollar Party Boats


Boats mean different things to different people. For the average person, a boat is an enabler for relaxation when the hustle and bustle of life gets too stressful. Whether it is a solitary haven for bass fishing and beer drinking or a party barge for a get-together with a group of friends, your boat is primarily used for entertainment. For the billionaires of the world, a boat takes on a different meaning. It is still used for entertainment and enjoyment, but the correct word is "super-yacht" and its main purpose is competition. Who can own the biggest and most opulent boat in the world? At the moment, the race is on to see who can build the largest and most expensive super-yacht to supply billionaires with maritime bragging rights. The 465-foot vessel Admiral X Force 145, a super-yacht in the conceptual stage from The Italian Sea Group, is est...

What Students Can Do When For-Profit Colleges Close

It’s an uneasy time for students of for-profit colleges. Mass school closures have dominated the headlines recently, and more uncertainty is on the way: The Department of Education said Thursday it will no longer recognize the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the largest accreditor of these colleges.

That’s significant because without accreditation, for-profit colleges can’t receive federal student aid, which is their primary source of revenue. Without that funding, these schools won’t be able to operate.

Fallout from Corinthian, ITT

The Department of Education’s announcement was a response to a recommendation made to it in June by the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. The committee ruled that ACICS should no longer be recognized by the federal government, citing a lack of oversight of its institutions, including the now-shuttered Corinthian Colleges and, most recently, ITT Technical Institute, which closed in September and left 40,000 students high and dry nationwide. Both schools’ closures left thousands of students without degrees, burdened by loans and with their educational futures in limbo.

ACICS says it will appeal the department’s latest decision, leaving final say in the hands of Secretary of Education John B. King. Experts say King is likely to announce a final decision by the end of the year, before his term concludes. If the appeal is rejected, colleges accredited by ACICS will have 18 months after the decision is finalized to secure accreditation by another federally recognized agency. Schools that can’t find a new accreditor are likely to close.

A changing landscape

Accreditation recognizes that a college or university upholds the standards of quality necessary for its students to earn credentials in a professional field or be admitted to other recognized institutions.

Increased scrutiny of accreditation agencies and the for-profit sector has altered the landscape for these institutions and their students, according to Kevin Fudge, director of consumer advocacy and ombudsman at American Student Assistance, a nonprofit centered around education finance.

Vocational and trade schools once typified for-profit colleges, until the industry ballooned with the advent of online education. Schools such as University of Phoenix — now a nonprofit — considerably broadened the reach of for-profit schools by attracting nontraditional students. In recent years, for-profit colleges have been chastised for their high price tags and low completion rates, as well as lower-paying jobs and high instances of student loan default among graduates.

ACICS first received federal recognition in 1953 and most recently was the accrediting agency for nearly 250 schools and hundreds of their campuses. It’s unclear which accreditors those schools will turn to now. Schools with sound practices or existing accreditations from other agencies aren’t likely to have a problem maintaining accreditation. But institutions with shakier foundations, such as those already being monitored for their financial and recruiting practices, may have a more difficult time finding an agency to accredit them.

Fudge advises students to carefully weigh their options. “It illustrates the importance for students to be wise consumers,” he says. “If you think your school is one that might be under scrutiny, you can check with the school about its current accreditation status.”

Unfortunately, the federal government is offering no independent means of assessing or obtaining information about a particular school’s status, except for its list of schools under financial scrutiny, known as Heightened Cash Monitoring.

What you can do

Obtain your educational and financial records early so that if your school closes — or is on the brink of shutdown — you’ll have the documents you need to move forward. Graduates will want to obtain copies of their transcripts. Here are your options and the consequences if you have federal loans.

Apply for closed school discharge

Under a closed school loan discharge, all of your federal loans will be dismissed. That amount discharged will not count as taxable income on your federal return. If your school loses accreditation but doesn’t close, this option won’t be available.

If you’re eligible, you can apply with your federal loan servicer only if a school closes while you’re enrolled and haven’t completed your program, or if the school closes within 120 days after you withdraw from a program without a degree. However, you are not eligible if you completed a comparable educational program through a teach-out program elsewhere (more on that below) or have completed all coursework for your intended degree.

Seek borrower defense to repayment

To receive relief under a provision called borrower defense to repayment, you would have to demonstrate, in court, that your school violated laws in its state when it came to educational services or loans. The Department of Education is expected to soon release guidelines about borrower defense, since the right has not been exercised en masse in the past.

Reid Setzer, deputy director of policy and legislative affairs at Young Invincibles, a nonprofit focused on engaging young adults in political issues, pointed to the lack of structure when Corinthian Colleges closed. “When Corinthian went down, there was no playbook,” he says, citing the sheer volume of students eligible for the option. But by the time more closures occur after the start of the 18-month clock, borrower defense regulations may be available.

You can submit a claim for loan forgiveness as well as reimbursement for any payments already made. You can work with an attorney, but it’s not required. After submitting a claim, your loans will be placed into forbearance and collections on any defaulted loans will be suspended. However, interest will continue to accrue.

Transfer to another school or teach-out

While your school is finding a new accreditor, you can continue to access federal aid, but you might want to consider transferring.

“If a school isn’t soluble, you might not want to keep funneling money to them,” Setzer says. “You have a right to get out of those schools and attempt to transfer, which we know can be difficult.”

Transferring can be problematic because credits obtained under a school that is no longer accredited or has closed may not be transferable to another institution.

If your school is on the path to closure, it may offer students a teach-out program in which you finish your coursework at another institution that has agreed to take on students from your school. Be sure to check on the status of a new institute using College Scorecard.

Transferring or enrolling in a teach-out program will render you ineligible for a closed school loan discharge, but you may be able to pursue borrower defense.

Options for private loans, grants, military

Federal loan borrowers may have options in the event of a school closure, but if you have private loans or grant funds for education, or if you paid cash for your tuition, little relief is possible.

Private loan borrowers: While federal loan borrowers may have options, private loan borrowers will still be responsible for repayment. Contact your lender or servicer to see what assistance may be available.

Pell Grant recipients: There’s no way to reimburse students for distributed Pell Grant funds, which means the amount already disbursed will still count toward a student’s six-year maximum eligibility.

GI Bill benefit recipients: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs doesn’t have the authority to reset GI Bill benefits for a student when a school closes, even if a student cannot transfer credits. If a school is no longer approved by the VA as an institution where GI Bill benefits may be used, students can’t continue to use those funds at that location. Students can transfer to a new school and continue to receive GI Bill benefits.

State tuition recovery funds

For students who don’t qualify for federal debt assistance, there may be one last resort. If your state offers a tuition recovery fund or student protection fund, you may be able to receive some compensation for lost costs and educational opportunity due to a school closure. Fund availability and qualifications will vary from state to state, so check with your state’s post-secondary or licensing agency.

Once the clock begins ticking for ACICS accredited schools to find a new agency, you’ll have 18 months to make your decision about your educational future. Contact your school to learn more about the status of the process.

Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @AnnaHelhoski.

Wisconsin To Launch Student Loan Resource Website


In March, the governor of Wisconsin created the role of student loan debt specialist. This was in response to the growing number of student loan debt graduates in the state. A new website has been developed to help students and graduates learn more about student loans, and how to deal with the debt. The website, called Look Forward to Your Future, provides information on topics including college planning and financial resources. Cheryl Weiss has been named as the manager of the site. As the state’s student loan debt specialist, Weiss will work with the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, specifically with its Office of Financial Literacy. Her position is described ...

Marriott Officially Owns Starwood: Here's How It's Affecting Your Rewards Program

Marriott International has officially completed the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the hotel chain announced in a press release on Friday. This makes Marriott the largest hotel company in the world.

If you are a member of the Marriott Rewards program — which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards — or Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) program, here’s what you need to know about this change.

Merging the Rewards Programs

Starting Friday, you can visit to link your Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts, according to the acquisition press release. With this merge, account status will be matched between both plans and members can transfer and/or redeem points across programs. The points are transferrable at a three-to-one ratio (three Marriott Rewards points are equal to one SPG point). These points are redeemable for travel and merchandise through the loyalty shopping mall. Member benefits will include discounted rates, access to exclusive “money-can’t-buy events and experiences,” free in-room Wi-Fi and more.

According to the website, the programs will “continue to operate as separate entities for some time,” and it’s expected to remain that way until at least 2018.

What About Credit Cards?

“Everything is additive, there will be no change to the credit card programs at this time,” Thom Kozik, vice president of loyalty for Marriott International, said in an email.

For now, Marriott Rewards will remain paired with Chase for its credit card, and the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card will stay with American Express. An email from a Marriott spokesperson said that “current card holders should continue to use their cards as usual” and that “no new cards will be issued.”

Choosing a Hotel Rewards Credit Card

If you’re considering getting a new credit card tied to your hotel loyalty program (you can see some of the best hotel rewards credit cards here), it’s important to keep in mind that this type of plastic generally requires a good credit score in order for you to qualify. Before you apply, it’s a good idea to take a look at where your credit currently stands so you can determine your chances of getting the card. (You can see a free snapshot of your credit report, updated every 14 days, on

If you find that your scores aren’t in great shape, you can do something about it — pay down your current debts, repair any errors on your credit reports and limit credit inquiries until your scores have time to rebound.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly. Related Articles

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What You Need to Qualify for a Credit Card for Bad Credit

When you have damaged credit, those “easy-to-get” credit cards aren’t always easy to get.

Even with credit cards for bad credit, issuers vet applicants carefully against several requirements, known as underwriting standards, to find customers who are less likely to default. In some cases, federal law also requires issuers to get certain information before extending credit to a borrower.

If you want to qualify for a secured credit card — that is, a card that requires a cash deposit — or an unsecured card for bad credit, here’s what you’ll need.

An identification number, an address and other personal information

Required for all U.S. credit cards.

No matter where you apply for a credit card, your issuer will always want to know who you are. Provisions of the USA Patriot Act designed to combat terrorism and money-laundering require issuers to get your personal information.

For most people, providing name, address and birthdate is the easy part. But if you’re new to the U.S., filling out the Social Security number field might be a stumbling block. If you don’t have an SSN, you can get an individual taxpayer identification number. If you skip these sections altogether, or if you’re under 18, your application will be rejected.


Required for all U.S. credit cards.

Issuers must check that borrowers have an “ability to pay” before extending them credit, under the Credit Card Act of 2009. But depending on the issuer, that can mean different things.

At the very least, your issuer is going to ask about your annual income, to make sure you have one. If you’re over 21, this includes all the income to which you have “reasonable expectation of access.” That means you can include your partner’s income.

Most secured cards don’t have minimum income requirements. But some take your debt and monthly living expenses into consideration. The Capital One® Secured MasterCard®, for example, will deny your application if your monthly income doesn’t exceed your rent or mortgage payment by at least $425, according to its terms.

If you’re applying for an unsecured credit card from a major issuer, you’ll likely have to meet a minimum income requirement — usually $10,000 or $12,000 per year. If your income is too low, or you’re carrying too much debt, your application might be rejected.

A security deposit

Required for all secured cards.

Unlike “regular” credit cards, secured cards require cash collateral when you open a new account. Typically, you need to put down at least $200 or $300 for a security deposit, which then determines your credit limit. For example, a $300 deposit would get you a $300 limit. If you fall behind on payments, the issuer keeps that deposit. Otherwise, you’ll get your money back when you close the account in good standing or upgrade to an unsecured credit card.

If you’re having trouble coming up with that kind of money, it’s usually best to save up for a secured card with a lower deposit requirement. Unsecured credit cards from subprime specialist issuers — or issuers that focus on borrowers with bad credit — may seem appealing, but could end up costing you over $100 more in fees each year, according to a NerdWallet study.

A checking or savings account

Requirement varies by issuer.

A checking or savings account gives you a secure place to store money and can help you build an emergency fund. But often it’s also required for funding a secured card’s security deposit or used by issuers to determine your financial stability. If your ChexSystems record is keeping you from opening an account, look for a bank or credit union that offers a second-chance checking account in your area.

A credit history without serious negatives

Requirement varies by issuer.

Some credit cards, like the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, don’t run credit checks. But most do. Usually, issuers do this to look for red flags that your financial life might be getting worse, not better. For instance, for the Discover it® Secured Card – No Annual Fee, “Factors such as income, bankruptcy, debt and judgments” — for example, liens or lawsuits — “may impact your ability to be approved,” according to a statement from Discover. Among major issuers, these types of warnings are typical.

Try to improve your credit as much as you can before applying for cards — say, by getting caught up on payments on your existing accounts. If a recent bankruptcy is keeping you from an approval, find out whether you can get a credit card with your local bank or credit union. While cards that skip credit checks are an option, they tend to be more expensive.

» MORE: Applying for a credit card after bankruptcy

A clean history with the issuer

Requirement varies by issuer.

Bad blood can sometimes get in the way of a credit card approval. If you’ve defaulted on your payments with a certain issuer before, that issuer likely won’t approve your application for a new card. Instead of dwelling on the past, start a clean slate by working with a different company. Remember, many banks are happy to get your business. Look for a lender that gives you a chance to rebuild your credit on good terms.

Claire Tsosie is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @ideclaire7.

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