Capital One Secured MasterCard

The interest rate is on the high side at a variable 22.9%, but it has a low annual fee of $29. Detweiler points out that the bank supplies the cardholders with a credit-monitoring tool, so customers can easily keep track of their credit scores.

Anisha Sekar, vice president of credit and debit products at NerdWallet, a credit card comparison website, likes that the bank allows you to make the deposit (at least $200) over the first 80 days after being approved. "It's helpful if making that $200 deposit is a big weight," Sekar says. You can also potentially earn credit-line increases based on your payment and credit history.

Wells Fargo Secured Card

The annual fee is just $25. However, it has a variable 18.99% APR, so try not to carry a balance, says Harzog. Your deposit can be anywhere from $300 to $10,000. If you use the card responsibly, you'll be considered for an unsecured credit card. "That's helpful, because that's why people are doing this -- they want to get an unsecured card," Harzog says.

US Bank Secured Visa Card

It has an affordable annual fee of $35.

Like Wells Fargo, US Bank provides an accelerated path toward an unsecured card with its secured offering. Depending on your credit behavior, you could qualify for an unsecured card in as little as 12 months. "It's a steppingstone to get a low-interest credit card," says Sekar.

Be aware the APR is high: 20.99% on purchases and 23.99% on cash advances.

Platinum Zero Visa Card from Applied Bank

The big drawback on this card is that it comes with a $9.95 monthly maintenance fee ($119.40 annually), which is going to sting. But Hardekopf says the Platinum Zero is ideal for someone who expects to carry a balance, since the bank charges 0% interest on purchases. There's also no credit check required.

The bottom line: There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Says Sekar: "It's a long, hard slog, but there's no credit score that's beyond repair."

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