By Gerri Detweiler
NEW YORK (Credit.com) — It may sound like the stupidest financial move ever: getting credit cards after bankruptcy. But done right, it may be one of the smartest moves you can make for your credit.
The main purpose for getting new credit cards after bankruptcy is to help boost your credit scores, which most likely took a hit when you filed. While it’s difficult (though not impossible) to earn a super high score while the bankruptcy remains on your credit reports, it is possible to improve your scores significantly if you make an effort to add and maintain on-time payments. Current, positive information is critical if you want better credit scores.
There’s a good reason to invest time and effort into improving your credit scores now, rather than wait wait seven to 10 years until your bankruptcy is no longer reported: Older accounts tend to help your scores more than recently opened ones. If you get several years of payments under your belt, your credit scores will likely improve quickly once the bankruptcy is removed from your reports (in seven years in the case of Chapter 13, or 10 years in the case of a Chapter 7). But if you don’t, your credit scores may actually go down may actually go down once that negative item is no longer reported.
A secured credit card is a great way to start over. These are one of the few types of credit cards that tend to be easy to get if you’ve been through bankruptcy or other credit problems. In most cases, they are available as soon as your bankruptcy is completed (discharged). You’ll place a security deposit with the issuer and get a major credit card you will use just like any other major credit card. To make sure you get the maximum benefit from a secured card, do three things: