Alert Icon

FRAUD ALERT:  Members have reported receiving phone calls from scammers acting as our Fraud Department, asking for card numbers, PIN numbers, and secure access codes. As a reminder, we will NEVER ask you for this information. If you’re in doubt, hang up and call us at 540-663-2181.

Reset Password / First Time User

NCUA logo


Apply for a loan

Main Content

How to Build Credit With a Credit Card


How to Build Credit With a Credit Card

Having good credit isn’t optional. This is because your credit will be checked when you apply for any type of loan, and will likely also be checked when you apply for a job or try to rent an apartment, among other important things.

A woman holding a credit card happily wonders how to build credit with a credit card.


If you’re currently starting out in life and don’t have any credit or if you have bad credit, a secured credit card can be used to establish and grow your credit score. Secured credit cards are easy to obtain and they are used in the same way as unsecured credit cards.

How Do Secured Credit Cards Work?

A secured credit card is a card that is backed by a deposit you make with the issuing bank or credit union. The deposit acts as collateral that protects the financial institution if you’re unable to repay the balance on your account.

Your deposit will be held for as long as your account remains open. The full amount will be returned to you if you decide to close the account or upgrade to an unsecured credit card.

When you apply for a secured credit card, your credit limit will be equal to the amount that you deposit. If you want a card with a $1,000 credit limit, for example, you will deposit $1,000. The minimum deposit required to obtain a secured credit card will vary depending on the financial institution.

One of the most important benefits of secured credit cards is that a credit check isn’t required to obtain one. This is because the card is backed, or secured, by your deposit which makes secured credit cards ideal for those who otherwise wouldn’t qualify for a card.

How Do Secured Credit Cards Help Build Credit?

There are two ways that having a secured credit card can help you build credit. First, the payments you make each month will be reported to the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). 35% of your credit score is based on your credit history, so as long as you make your payments on time each month, you will improve your credit score.

Another important factor that makes up your credit score is your credit mix, which makes up 10% of your score. This refers to the different types of credit accounts that you have. If you currently have other types of loans—like a car loan, student loan, or something else—adding a secured credit card will improve your credit mix, which will in turn help your credit score.

Building Credit With a Secured Credit Card

There are some important best practices you’ll need to follow to build your credit with a secured credit card. But, it’s important to keep in mind that it may take several months to see a change in your score, so be patient!

Make All of Your Payments on or Before the Due Dates

Having a secured credit card won’t help your credit score if you don’t make all of your payments on time. To ensure your secured credit card will help your credit score, it’s best to make a payment on your account each month on or before the due date.

Don’t Max Out Your Card

The amount of available credit that you’re using at a time (credit utilization) makes up 30% of your credit score. Ideally, you don’t want to use more than 30% of your available credit. A higher card balance could negatively affect your credit score.  

Make Sure Your Payments Are Reported

Some credit card issuers may not report your payments to all three credit bureaus. They might only report your activity to one or two. Before you apply for a secured credit card, it's important to find out whether the card issuer reports your monthly payments to all three bureaus. This will ensure that your payments help your credit score as much as possible.

Don’t Apply for Too Many Credit Cards

If you decide to apply for an unsecured credit card after building your credit with a secured card, it’s important that you don’t apply for several at a time. Although seeing which cards you can qualify for may sound like a good idea, it will harm your credit score.

Each time you apply for an unsecured card, a hard credit check will be done. Hard credit checks cause your credit score to decrease a little for up to a year. If several hard credit checks are done in a short period, it could cause a significant decrease in your score.

What Should You Look for in a Secured Credit Card?

Before you sign up for a secured credit card, there are some features you should look for. This will help to ensure that the card meets your needs and also helps to boost your credit score. The secured credit card offered by Topside Federal Credit Union, for example, offers all of the following features:

No Annual Fee

The card you select should be affordable. You shouldn’t have to pay a lot in fees to build your credit. In addition to no annual fee, be sure the fees that are charged (e.g., late payment fee, returned payment fee, balance transfer fee, etc.) are low.

Competitive Interest Rate

If you carry a balance on your card, you want the interest rate to be low. This will help to slow the growth of your account balance if you are unable to pay off the full amount right away.

Mobile Account Access

Accessing your credit card account from an app on your mobile device can help you keep track of your balance. You can also set spending limits and receive alerts.

Secured Credit Cards With Topside Federal Credit Union

If you would like to obtain a secured credit card to either establish or build credit, Topside Federal Credit Union offers a Share Secured Visa card with a competitive interest rate. There is no annual fee or over-limit fee, and credit lines of $500 to $6,000 are available.

Click on the following link to learn more about our secured credit cards so you can start to build credit with a credit card.

Visa Share Secured Credit Cards



Swipe Smart with Topside FCU

Whatever credit card type works best for you, Topside Federal Credit Union has you covered. We offer our members low-interest cards with low or no-variable rates and no annual fees.

See Topside's Card Options

See more information below about our great card choices!

Topside cards in a circle



Visa Preferred Credit Card

A generous credit line and a premium rate. The same features as our Visa credit card PLUS credit lines from $10,000 to $30,000. 


Visa with Cash Back Credit Card

A credit limit between $5,000 and $30,000 with 1.5% cash back on qualifying purchases.

Visa classic card

Visa Credit Card

Control spending with a low-interest rate. Enjoy line amounts of $500 to $10,000 on top of many convenient features.

Secured Card

Share Secured Visa Credit Card

Establish or repair your credit with timely payments on your secured credit card. Credit lines of $500 to $6,000 are backed by your savings.