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Information about all aspects of finances affected by a serious health condition. Includes income sources such as work, investments, and private and government disability programs, and expenses such as medical bills, and how to deal with financial problems.
Information about all aspects of health care from choosing a doctor and treatment, staying safe in a hospital, to end of life care. Includes how to obtain, choose and maximize health insurance policies.
Answers to your practical questions such as how to travel safely despite your health condition, how to avoid getting infected by a pet, and what to say or not say to an insurance company.


If you do not have a credit history, or if your credit history is so poor that you cannot get a regular credit account, you can start to change things by considering the following ideas, each of which are discussed in other sections of this article.

Once you show a good record repaying either of these accounts, lenders will begin to trust you with larger and larger amounts of credit. Whether you will get to keep those new amounts or continue to increase them, will depend on you're your future timeliness of payments.

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Low Limit Credit Cards

A low limit credit card is a credit card with a low credit limit, such as $200 - $250.

Most of the large credit card companies offer low limit credit cards. A company particularly in the market is Capital One, offsite link.

Many local department stores or other stores offer low limit credit cards which are worth seeking out if they report their accounts to the national credit bureaus.

If you take a low limit card:

  • Watch for excessive fees. For instance, one company charged "an annual fee, an account processing fee, a program participation fee, and a monthly account maintenance fee." By the time all the fees were accounted for, the $300 credit limit meant the account holder really only had $53 credit available at issue.
  • Be aware of the normal credit card fees -- annual credit card fees, late payment fees, and fees for charging more than the credit limit.
  • Watch the limit. You would think that given sophisticated computers, a credit card company wouldn't allow you to charge more than your limit. However, this doesn't seem to be the case. Instead, the credit card companies often let you charge above the limit -- and add an extra fee because you did!

To turn the low limit card into an ever larger credit limit, pay on time each and every month. After three months, ask the company if you can increase the limit. Keep up timely payments, and keep asking for increases in the credit limit.

There is no obligation to tell the company about your health condition. If it seems to be in the past, you can use it to explain what happened to your credit and that it's in the past. This fact then sets the stage for arguing that the company should increase your limits sooner than it usually does.

In addition to searching for companies that offer low limit credit cards, see: offsite link

Secured And Prepaid Credit Cards

Secured Credit Cards and Prepaid Credit Cards are similar to each other. Both work the same way in that you put up money before you can use them.  Both can be used in the same places that credit cards can be used.

Both have the same theft and loss protections as a credit card. If you report a loss or theft of a registered card to the issuer, most will restore your original balance and issue a new card. The money in a bank account is insured by the FDIC up to $250,000.

Yet, there are significant differences which are noted below.


A secured credit card is a credit card for which repayment is guaranteed by cash you leave in an account with the credit card company. If you don't pay the debt as due, the credit card company can pay itself from the asset it is holding as security.


  • Legitimate secured card companies will request you to open a bank account or purchase a CD. Your credit on the card will match the amount in the account or CD.
  • Secured credit cards involve a credit check.
  • Limits on secured credit cards can be set by the bank or you but are limited by the amount of money you put up. 

Once you start using a secured credit card, purchases go against your credit limit. You receive a monthly bill. Until the bill is paid, the amount of your credit is lowered by the amount you didn't pay. As soon as you pay, the credit limit is topped off again- just like a regular credit card.

Shortly after you begin using secured credit cards and have a positive payment history, it is likely that you will begin receiving offers for the more traditional credit cards (even if you have a negative credit history or bankruptcy).

Issuers of secured credit cards typically report to all three credit reporting agencies, helping you build or rebuild credit.

Fees for a secured card are similar to those of a typical credit card. Fees can include an application fee, an annual fee, a finance chage and a late fee.


Prepaid credit cards are considered to be prepaid debit cards that carry an American Express, Discovery, MasterCard or Visa logo. They can be used anywhere credit cards from these companies can.

Prepaid cards can be purchased from national chain stores or from the Internet. Prepaid credit cards do not require a credit check.

Despite their name, these cards are not really credit cards. There is no credit limit for a prepaid card. You make a deposit onto the card and it goes into an account. When you swipe the card for purchases, the amount is deducted from your balance. Once you spend all of your deposit, you must redeposit money before you can spend again.

The limit on a prepaid card is determined by how much you load onto the card. 

Issuers of prepaid cards do not report to credit bureaus because you aren't paying back borrowed money.  Because there is no credit, this kind of card does not affect your credit rating. 

Some prepaid cards are free. Otherwise fees range from moderate to high. Fees can include: activation fee; monthly maintenance fees for each montht he account is open, a fee to reload money onto the card, to withdraw money from an ATM, or to use bill pay. There are no interest charges or late fees with a prepaid card.


Secured Credit Card

  • A secured credit card can improve your credit score. If this is your goal, make sure that the issuer reports to the three major credit bureaus.
  • If you are looking for an unsecured card, some credit card issuers will convert your secured credit card to an unsecured one after a periof of on time payments - such as 12 to 18 months.

Prepaid Credit Card

  • A prepaid card works for people who can’t get a checking account or want to avoid banks all together. 
  • Many employers can direct deposit your paycheck onto a prepaid card and some prepaid cards even let you send a few checks each month or enroll in online bill pay. 
  • Prepaid cards are good for teenagers and students who get an allowance from parents. They cannot spend beyond the loaded value. 


For a list of companies that issue secured credit cards, see: offsite link. On the top navigation bar, click on "credit cards." Then click on "find a credit card" by type. In the pull-down, either click on Secured Credit Cards or Prepaid Credit Cards.

NOTE: Check the fees and other aspects of a card you care about before moving forward. For instance:

  • Can you withdraw cash from an ATM? (If so, you will be sent a PIN number)
  • Can you pay bills online?
  • Can you st up payments for recurring monthly bills?
  • How can money be reloaded? (For example, aside from your adding cash, can you transfer money from a bank account or financial institution? ACan your employer direct-deposit your paycheck? Can you transfer money from a PayPal account? Can you reload the amount in a retail store such as Wal-Mart?
  • What are the fees? (If there is a monthly fee, the money can be gone over time even if you don't touch it).

How To Choose A Secured Credit Card

If you have a choice among various secured credit cards, look for one that:

  • Has no application fee.
  • Allows a credit limit greater than the amount of money you deposit with the company.
  • Does not charge excessive interest on the outstanding debt.
  • Has no annual fee.
  • Is reasonable with respect both to the amount of other fees and when they are charged.
  • Pays interest on the money held as collateral for repayment of the credit.
  • Sends in reports to the credit bureaus. Ideally, the company won't report the account as a secured account.
  • Offers credit life and disability insurance, and waives premiums if you become unable to work.
  • Does not require you to purchase insurance.

Co-Signers and Guarantors

A co-signer is a person who co-signs an application for a credit card. From the credit card company's point of view, it is as if the two of you will use the account in a manner that benefits both of you. You are both liable for the entire debt (including interest and usually costs of collection.)

  • If you're late on or miss a payment, the credit card company can include both names when reporting to the credit bureaus. Thus, a late payment could effect the credit rating of your co-signer.

With a guarantor, the credit card is solely in your name. The guarantor only comes into the picture if you default on your payment obligation. In that case, the guarantor has to make good on the money -- including principal and interest.

  • If you're late on or miss a payment, the credit card company will usually only report the situation to your account with the credit bureaus. There is generally no effect on the credit or your guarantor unless the loan is called, and the guarantor doesn't paid as agreed.

If you're going to approach friends or relatives about being a co-signer or guarantor, read: How To Approach Friends And Relatives.

Buy Personal Property On Time

If you need expensive items such as furniture or home appliances, look for a seller that not only provides credit, but also reports what happens to the national credit bureaus.

Read Evaluating Credit Cards.

When you find national sellers that fit this profile, please let us know so we can pass on the information. Please e-mail to Survivorship A to Z.