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Police and Fire Federal Credit Union Review: Checking, Savings, CD, Money Market and IRA Accounts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s checking account options

Free PFFCU Checking

A high APY and low fees make this one of the best checking accounts on the market if you keep a relatively small balance.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.50%
$0.01
0.10%
$5,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: 12 free out-of-network transactions per month. Each subsequent transaction will be accompanied by a $1 fee.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $6 if you overdraw on a debit card purchase; $19 if you overdraw via check or an ACH transaction.

If you are eligible for membership with Police and Fire Federal Credit Union, you’re fortunate enough to qualify for one of the best checking accounts on the market. The interest on this account is phenomenal, especially for a brick-and-mortar financial institution. Many of the best rates today come from online-only financial institutions that have much smaller overhead costs and then pass on the savings to consumers. Police and Fire Federal Credit Union is one of the shining exceptions. Just bear in mind that your APY will go down if your balance hits over $5,000.

The low fees on this account also make it extremely attractive. There is no monthly maintenance fee, and you have to go through a lot of out-of-network transactions before incurring any costs at the ATM. On top of that, the overdraft fees at Police and Fire Federal Credit Union are some of the lowest around. You have to opt into the “Courtesy Overdraft” program when you sign up for the account to receive the service, but that’s as simple as checking a box.

If you are a new member, you can open a checking account with your initial membership application. Be prepared to provide your Social Security number, current address, date of birth and government-issued ID. If you are already a member, you will have to open your account over the phone or in person.

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How Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s checking account compares

Free PFFCU Checking ranks right up there with the best of the best checking accounts. High dividends and low fees make it one of the most competitive offers on the market.

That being said, if you plan on keeping more than $5,000 in checking, this may not be the account for you, as dividends drop after you hit that threshold. But if you’re living paycheck to paycheck like most Americans, this account is likely one of the best choices for you.

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s savings account options

Savings

There’s nothing too exciting about this mandatory savings account which establishes your credit union membership.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.10%
$5
  • Minimum opening deposit: $5
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $5
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: 12 free out-of-network transactions per month. Each subsequent transaction will be accompanied by a $1 fee.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $6 if you overdraw on a debit card purchase; $19 if you overdraw via check or ACH transfer.

While Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s checking account is exciting, its savings account is decidedly not. You will need to open this account in order to establish your credit union membership, though. The $5 you put in to open the account will have to stay there so you can maintain your membership.

Dividends on this account are decidedly low. While the fees are also low or even nonexistent, this isn’t the best account to stash your savings in. You can get much better rates elsewhere.

You can open this account online, over the phone or in person with your Social Security number, date of birth, current address and government-issued ID.

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Holiday & Vacation Club Accounts

Extremely flexible — but bear no interest.
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.01
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: N/A
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: 12 free out-of-network transactions per month. Each subsequent transaction will be accompanied by a $1 fee.
  • ATM fee refund: None
  • Overdraft fee: $6 if you overdraw on a debit card purchase; $19 if you overdraw via check or ACH transfer.

Club accounts are used to save for specific purposes. Traditionally, you would set aside a certain amount of money every month, and then your financial institution would release your funds to your checking account on a set date. For example, on a holiday club account, your funds may be transferred on Nov. 1. For a vacation club account, those funds may be released to you sometime in the late spring. If you decided to withdraw money early, you’d be hit with a penalty fee.

But Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s club accounts don’t work that way. Instead, they’re a simple savings account with 0% APY from which you can withdraw money at any time with no fees. Your money will not automatically be transferred to checking at any time. Essentially, they’re accounts that allow you to organize your savings rather than penalizing you for touching that savings.

These accounts are subject to federal Regulation D. This means that you are allowed to make up to six certain debits per month. If you go over this transaction limit enough times, Police and Fire Federal Credit Union will talk to you about converting this account to a checking account in order to stay compliant with federal regulations.

You will have to be an established member to open this account. If you are, you can open this account online, over the phone or in person with your Social Security number, phone number and email address.

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How Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s savings accounts compare

While no or low fees make Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s savings accounts appealing, that’s about where the benefits end. The interest is extremely low or nonexistent, and the fact that you can withdraw from a humdrum account at any time removes the main purpose of the account.

You will need the savings account to establish your membership. But after you’ve done that, look at this guide to high-interest savings accounts for your basic savings account needs.

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s CD rates

Certificates

Average dividends make shopping around a smart idea.
TermAPY
3 Months0.55%
6 Months0.60%
9 Months0.65%
12 Months0.75%
15 Months0.80%
18 Months0.85%
24 Months0.95%
30 Months1.00%
36 Months1.05%
48 Months1.15%
60 Months 1.25%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 3 month certificates will lose all dividends; 6 month certificates will be charged a penalty equal to 90 days’ worth of dividends; certificates with terms of 9 to 24 months will be charged the equivalent of 180 days’ worth of dividends; 30 to 60 month certificates will incur a penalty equal to 360 days’ worth of dividends.

Both the dividends and fees on Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s certificates are fair, but nothing more. While rates aren’t terrible and fees are on par with what you’ll find at other financial institutions, you can find a higher APY elsewhere.

You can open your certificate online, in person or over the phone with your member number, Social Security number, phone number and email address.

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How Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s CD rates compare

While rates aren’t tragically low, you’ll still be able to find better offers on certificates of deposit from other financial institutions. When you’re locking away your money for a set period of time, you want to make sure it’s earning the highest return possible, making shopping around a good idea.

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s money market account options

Money Market Plus

Dismally low rates mean you should feel comfortable passing on this money market account.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.25%
$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: None
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

Money market accounts have traditionally offered higher interest rates or dividends than your typical savings account in exchange for a higher deposit. While Money Market Plus does not require any set minimum deposit to open the account or earn its APY, this positive is canceled out by the fact that its interest is catastrophically low.

Believe it or not, you can find savings accounts with dramatically higher APY offerings. If you don’t have a ton of money to stash away, go for the higher rates with a savings account at another financial institution rather than buying into the label of “money market” at Police and Fire Federal Credit Union.

Bear in mind that both Money Market Plus and Premium Yield savings are subject to Regulation D, which means you are allowed to make up to six certain debits per month on either account.

Should you choose to open this account, the quickest way to do so is online. However, you can also open it over the phone or in person at your local branch. Be prepared to provide your member number, email address, phone number and Social Security number when you apply.

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Premium Yield Savings

If you can afford the minimum balance required for the second-tier APY, your dividend rates will be close to competitive.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.51%
$2,500
0.51%
$50,000
  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,500
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $2,500
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None
  • ATM fee: N/A
  • ATM fee refund: N/A
  • Overdraft fee: N/A

Compared with Money Market Plus, Premium Yield Savings is far more competitive. Despite that fact, it’s important to keep the high minimum deposit requirement in mind. You will have to maintain this amount if you wish to continue receiving interest at all.

However, if you do have a large amount of money you’d like to see grow, the second APY tier of this account is competitive with the market. It’s not the highest rate around, but it’s close to breaking its way in.

While this account falls under Regulation D, Police and Fire Federal Credit Union actually puts even stricter withdrawal rules on Premium Yield Savings than the federal government does. You are only allowed two free withdrawals per month; every subsequent withdrawal will garner a $10 fee.

You will have to establish membership before opening this account. Once you have, you can apply online, in person or over the phone with your member number, Social Security number, phone number and email address.

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How Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s money market accounts compare

Each of Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s money market accounts are separate beasts. On the one hand, Money Market Plus shouldn’t even be a candidate when you’re considering accounts to help you build your savings. Its interest rates are simply too low.

On the other, Premium Yield Savings pays a halfway decent APY, though its most competitive rates are only available to people who have $50,000 or more in savings.

Either way, you should shop around for other money market accounts before making any final decisions. You will find better offers with either higher APY offerings, lower minimum balance requirements or both.

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s IRA account options

IRA certificate rates

These rates are on par for the course, but you and your retirement account can do better.
TermAPY
3 Months 0.55%
6 Months0.60%
9 Months0.65%
12 Months0.75%
15 Months0.80%
18 Months0.85%
24 Months0.95%
30 Months1.00%
36 Months1.05%
48 Months1.15%
60 Months1.25%
  • Minimum opening deposit: $1,000
  • Minimum balance amount to earn APY: $1,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: 3 month certificates will lose all dividends; 6 month certificates will be charged a penalty equal to 90 days’ worth of dividends; certificates with terms of 9 to 24 months will be charged the equivalent of 180 days’ worth of dividends; 30 to 60 month certificates will incur a penalty equal to 360 days’ worth of dividends.

The barrier to entry on Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s IRA certificates is on the low side, which is a good thing for consumers looking to save for retirement when they don’t have a lot of cash. However, IRA CDs are by their very nature a conservative investment. Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s rates currently lag behind those of the competition, making this already conservative investment not the best bet.

To open an IRA, you usually have to visit a branch in person. However, Police and Fire Federal Credit Union lets you jump-start the process by filling out some basic information online, and then allowing you to print your forms out so you can send them in via snail mail.

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How Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s IRA CD rates compare

Just as Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s traditional certificates don’t carry the best rates, certificates inside of an IRA aren’t the most lucrative place to stash your money. You can find worse offers out there, but there are also plenty of financial institutions offering better. While it’s always important to check rates before making a commitment to a deposit account, the red tape and paperwork behind an IRA makes it even more important to shop around for other IRA CDs and get it right the first time.

IRA Money Markets

This account’s APY almost earns it a spot in the top 10.
APYMinimum Balance to Earn APY
0.51%
$0.01
  • Minimum opening deposit: $0.01
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $0.01
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: None

Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s IRA Money Markets account comes with no fees and no minimum balance requirements. To top things off, the rates aren’t shabby. When we look at APY in isolation, this account is just shy of being in the top ten offers on the market. It is important to remember that a savings or money market account inside of an IRA is just about the most conservative investment you could make. You may want to shop around as the difference in APY could add up over time.

You can open this account in person or by printing out and mailing paperwork, which can be found on Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s website.

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Overall review of Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s banking products

When you take all of Police and Fire Federal Credit Union’s products into consideration, they come out quite average, with just slightly disappointing rates. Its certificates give you ho-hum returns, and the same goes for its IRA accounts and Premium Yield Savings.

Almost making up for these deficiencies is Free PFFCU Checking, an account that offers great rates on your checking account with no maintenance fees and some of the smallest overdraft fees we’ve seen.

Ultimately, your decision to bank with Police and Fire Federal Credit Union will depend entirely on your banking needs. Those seeking the best rates on savings will want to look elsewhere, but those seeking a checking account with great returns can safely call Police and Fire Federal Credit Union home.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

Reviewed By

If you’re in the market for a quick, affordable and hassle-free way to finance your next car, a LightStream auto loan should definitely be on your radar. It’s particularly well-suited for deal-seekers with good credit who don’t mind working with an online company when it comes to financing their cars. If you’d rather work with a local company that can offer in-person support, however, you might want to skip this lender.

How LightStream auto loans work

LightStream offers a wide range of options for financing your next ride, including:

  • Purchase of a new or used car, either from a dealer or an individual
  • Auto loan refinance (except it does not refinance its own loans)
  • Auto lease buyouts
  • Loans for motorcycles, as well as boats and RVs
  • Classic car loans

Auto loans at a glance:

  • Starting APR range: 3.49%–9.49%
  • Fees: None
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Terms: 24–84 months
  • Credit requirements: Minimum 660 credit score
  • Mileage or vehicle restrictions: None

LightStream offers the same starting rate whether you’re buying a new or used car from a dealer, something you don’t see at other lenders. But keep in mind that the lowest rates go to those with the best credit who opt for the shortest loan terms possible and use autopay to make their car payments.

Satisfaction guarantee

If you see a lower rate elsewhere, LightStream will beat any verified offer with a rate that is .10 percentage points lower. It also promises a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience.

How to apply for a LightStream auto loan

The only way you can apply for a LightStream auto loan is through its online form. It is an online lender, after all, so you should be comfortable with handling your business details — including the loan application — online. You’ll need to:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s statement on the use of electronic records.
  2. Agree to receive electronic records.
  3. Agree to use electronic signatures to sign your loan documents.

You’ll also need to have a Visa or Mastercard credit card to apply, which LightStream uses during the verification process.

You will be asked to provide:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

From there, LightStream may contact you for more details and documentation. If approved, you’ll need to sign your loan documents electronically and provide LightStream with your bank account details. The money will then be deposited into your bank account, which means you’ll need to pass it along to the seller, whether that’s a dealer or private seller. LightStream will not send the money to the seller directly.

It’s important to note that LightStream doesn’t offer any preapproval options, but if you apply and are approved for a loan, you are under no obligation to accept the loan.

How to qualify for the best rates

LightStream requires good credit at a minimum, but looks for excellent credit when giving the best rates. It defines excellent credit as:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save as shown by some or all of the following: liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Pros and cons of LightStream auto loans

LightStream offers the convenience of an online lender with the backing of a brick-and-mortar bank as the online arm of Truist, the bank created by the merger of  SunTrust Bank and BB&T. But it’s important to weigh all of your options carefully when choosing an auto loan. It’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, after all.

Pros

  • Wide variety of loans: New, used, refinance and lease buyouts loans are available on a wide range of vehicles. Unlike other lenders, LightStream doesn’t place restrictions on your vehicle’s age, make, model or mileage.
  • Decent rates: We’ve seen lower starting rates at credit unions, but you’ll have to meet membership requirements. LightStream has no membership requirements and provides the same starting rates for new and used vehicles as well as refinance loans.
  • No down payment required: LightStream finances up to 100% of the car’s cost. Of course, it’s always best to put down as much as you can afford on an auto loan. This will help you save money over the life of your loan and avoid becoming underwater on that loan.
  • Quick funding: If you complete the application process and are approved by 2:30 p.m. EST, you could receive funds the same day.
  • Good reviews: LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive.

Cons

  • Good credit required: To qualify for a LightStream auto loan you’ll need a credit score of at least 660 or better.
  • No preapproval process: Unlike many lenders, you’ll have to complete a full application in order to see your rates and terms. Still, the process is fast, and if you complete your rate shopping within a certain time period, multiple applications should not impact your credit any more than a single application.
  • No face-to-face service: If you’re the type of person who likes to seal the deal with a handshake after signing the documents, you’ll want to stick with some place local.

LightStream vs. Capital One

If you’d like a bit more of a guided approach to the car-buying process,  Capital One’s Auto Navigator loan options might be better for you. Rather than sending you cash directly that you can use on whatever car you want to buy, Capital One’s Auto Navigator service lets you first get prequalified for financing, and then shows you which dealers in your area may offer based on the type of car you want to buy and the financing you can afford.

If any of the offerings pique your interest, you can then finish the application and buy the car. It’s still a good idea to compare the offer with other new and used car loan rates.

LightStream vs. Carvana

Carvana works similarly to Capital One Auto Navigator in that you can prequalify for financing and browse real cars in your area that you may then be able to buy. It’s important to remember that Carvana only sells used cars and its financing is only available on Carvana cars. But it is possible to finance here with poor credit — Carvana requires borrowers to be 18 years old, have no active bankruptcies on their credit report and earn at least $4,000 per year.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Credit Cards, Reviews

CreditStacks Mastercard Review

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Written By

The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a unique opportunity for individuals with little or no U.S. credit history – such as recent college graduates or professionals relocating to the U.S. for employment – to be approved for a credit card.

That’s because instead of requiring a Social Security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN) as most traditional credit cards do, the CreditStacks Mastercard allows applicants to apply using a valid passport or U.S. government-issued ID, a U.S. visa or a permanent resident “green” card (if applicable), as well as proof of income. The CreditStacks Mastercard also allows you to apply up to 60 days prior to starting your new job in the U.S.

We break down the pros and cons of the CreditStacks Mastercard, and show how it compares to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which is also designed to help individuals establish or rebuild credit.

CreditStacks Mastercard pros

No credit history required. With the CreditStacks Mastercard, you can apply without a Social Security number and with little or no U.S. credit history. Once you obtain your Social Security number, you must provide it within 60 days of account opening. At that point, CreditStacks will begin reporting your credit activity to the Equifax and TransUnion credit bureaus.

Note, if you have been living in the U.S. for more than one year, you will be required to provide a Social Security number when applying for the card. A credit check may also be performed.

Decent credit limit. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a credit line of up to $5,000 – which is a generous amount for an unsecured credit card that doesn’t require credit history.

Your credit limit will be determined by the proprietary underwriting procedures of CreditStacks, which will consider your current employment situation and additional factors, instead of your credit score.

No annual fee. The CreditStacks Mastercard comes with a $0 annual fee.

Additional CreditStacks Mastercard benefits:

  • Mastercard ID Theft Protection(™). Access free identity theft resolution services, as well as Mastercard ID Theft Alerts(™).
  • Extended warranty. Receive an extended warranty of up to one year past a manufacturer’s warranty of 12 months or less.
  • Purchase protection. If you are dissatisfied with a purchase, you may be eligible to receive a full refund for up to 60 days from the date of purchase.
  • Price protection. Get reimbursed for the difference if you find a lower price for an eligible new item within 60 days of purchase using your CreditStacks Mastercard.
  • Purchase assurance. Cardholders receive coverage if an item is lost, damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase.
  • Travel protections. The CreditStacks Mastercard offers a MasterRental(R) collision damage waiver, lost or damaged luggage insurance, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance and trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance. Plus, receive access to exclusive experiences and offers through Priceless Cities and special travel offers through Mastercard’s online booking tool.
  • Cellphone insurance. If you use your CreditStacks Mastercard to pay your monthly cellphone bill, you can receive coverage against theft or damage of up to $600 per claim and up to $1,000 per 12-month period.

CreditStacks Mastercard cons

No rewards program. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a sign-up bonus or rewards on the purchases you make using the credit card. That said, when trying to build or rebuild credit, it’s best to focus on paying your bill on time and in full (when possible) each month, rather than racking up rewards.

No intro APR on purchases. The CreditStacks Mastercard does not offer a 0% intro APR on purchases – meaning, if you don’t pay your balance in full each month, you will be subject to interest charges at a rate of 15.49% Variable APR.

That said, the card’s ongoing APR for purchases is reasonable – considering that some cards designed for individuals with little or no credit come with APRs upwards of 26.99% (variable).

Compare it to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Similar to the CreditStacks Mastercard, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is designed for individuals with little or no credit. However, because it is a secured credit card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, for an initial credit line of $200.

If you deposit more money before your account opens, you may be eligible for a higher credit line, up to $1,000. Additionally, you can be given access to a higher credit line after demonstrating responsible card usage by making your first five monthly payments on time.

While the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® does not require U.S. citizenship to apply, it does require a valid SSN or ITIN, as well as a residential address in the U.S. or a U.S. military location.

See how the cards compare side-by-side in the table below.

CreditStacks Mastercard vs. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

 CreditStacks MastercardCapital One® Secured Mastercard®
Annual fee$0$0
Rewards rateN/AN/A
Credit lineUp to $5,000$200-$1,000
Deposit requiredNone$49, $99 or $200
Regular purchase APR15.49% Variable26.99% (Variable)

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® also comes with a number of benefits, including auto rental collision damage waiver, travel accident insurance, extended warranty and 24-hour travel assistance services. As a Capital One member, you will also have access to virtual card numbers and account alerts from Eno, as well as access to your credit score and fraud monitoring through CreditWise.

But if you plan to carry a balance on your card, you’ll be better off with the CreditStacks Mastercard, since the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® comes with a substantially higher APR of 26.99% (Variable).

Read our: Capital One Secured Mastercard review

Which credit card is best for me?

If you haven’t yet established credit in the U.S., the CreditStacks Mastercard could be a good fit. In addition to not requiring a Social Security number for approval, the card helps build your credit by reporting to two major credit bureaus.

But if you’re in the market for a secured credit card and already have a SSN or ITIN, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good alternative. While the card offers a much lower credit line than the CreditStacks Mastercard, it does offer a variety of useful benefits that aren’t common for a secured credit card.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.