As you probably know, bad credit leaves you with few choices when it comes to credit cards. For this reason many people start with a “secured” program:
2013 Update: The Orchard Bank brand is no longer available. In 2012 Orchard Bank was acquired and merged into Capital One. Go here to learn more about their current secured card offers.
The older review of Orchard (below) I'll leave up for historical reference only.
For example if you opened the Orchard Bank secured card and put up a $500 security deposit, your credit limit would be up to $500.
But what do the reviews have to say in 2012?
1. The security deposit is not a “ripoff”
I have seen complaints saying it must be a “ripoff” or “scam” because of the security deposit. They wrongly assume this is money they will never see again.
Rest assured, the security deposit is 100% refundable. In the future when you cancel your account, you will receive back your security deposit in full (as long as your don’t have an outstanding balance or fees to pay). The benefit of Orchard Bank’s secured offer is that the minimum security deposit is only $200 (versus $500 on many other secured credit cards).
2. There are fees, but they’re reasonable
If your credit sucks big time, chances are you will have to cough up fees to get a card. That’s just how it is – and yes – it is a disadvantage.
The Orchard Bank secured MasterCard/Visa is $0 for the first year and $35 per year after that. There are no processing fees and the interest rates are reasonable (click link below to see the application’s current APR). So a drawback with this card is the fee, but at least it’s cheaper than what many competitors charge.
3. The customer service is middle of the road
Another drawback with secured cards is that you typically will get a customer service department that’s mediocre. Even though I haven’t seen many complaints specifically about Orchard Bank, I want you to be prepared nonetheless.
As is the case with any secured account, don’t expect to be treated like you are an AmEx Platinum cardholder!
4. Your account reports to all 3 credit bureaus
Banks actually have to pay money to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion to report accounts. This is why some of the shady fly-by-night secured cards don’t report… instead they skip this step to bolster their profits.
A good thing about Orchard is that you don’t have to worry about that. This bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Capital One (one of the world’s largest banks) so they don’t pull stunts like this. They report to all 3 credit reporting agencies.
5. The credit card application demystified
At first glance the application can seem confusing, but that’s because they have a unique approach (which in my opinion is better, because 1 application checks you for 4 offers). I'll explain below how it works.
The Orchard Bank secured credit cards are not a ripoff. Given the reasonable fees it's a good tool you can use for rebuilding credit. Here’s how the application works:
- Step One: Online Pre-Qualification Form - The Orchard secured credit card application will first check to see which offers you're actually pre-qualifieds that you can fill out the pre-qualification in a matter of seconds… instead of trying to guess which credit cards you might qualify for, they can tell you!
- Step Two: Choose Your Credit Card Offer - You can select which card you want from the ones you are qualified for. For example, if you qualify for secured than you can select that. Or maybe you will qualify for an unsecured?
- Step Three: Review Terms & Conditions - Once you’ve chosen the card you're pre-qualifed for, you can then review all the fine print to make sure it’s what you want (things like APR, annual fee, etc).
- Step Four: Additional Steps (If Applicable)
Sometimes there will be some extra steps or options, such as selecting a credit card design, etc. If there are just complete the steps. Once you do that (or if there are no additional steps) then you simply submit your application.
- Processing and Getting Your Card - Another great thing about Orchard Bank is they don’t dilly-dally with your application. They process it ASAP and get the card out to you pronto! In fact, it may be possible to pay a fee and upgrade to optional rush deliver – if you choose that option your card might arrive in as little as 3 days.
The process is simple, fast, and easy. You can check your pre-approval online for both MasterCard and Visa offers (the rates and fees are the same for both). Before you know it, you’ll be on your way to re-building your credit using one of the best banks around. This is why CreditCardForum is so proud to be sponsored by them.
2013 update: As mentioned Orchard Bank is no longer around so you can no longer apply.
Go here to see the top-rated secured cards for 2013.