BB&T secured credit card roundup

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In a Nutshell

BB&T Bank offers several secured credit cards that may help people who are looking to build or rebuild their credit and earn rewards.
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BB&T doesn’t offer these cards anymore. For additional options, check out secured credit cards on Credit Karma.

BB&T Bank offers secured credit card options that come with certain perks you can typically find with an unsecured rewards card.

Secured credit cards are designed to help people build or rebuild their credit. These types of credit cards require a cash deposit — the amount of which can vary by lender — to “secure” the account and help reduce risk to the lender. But secured credit cards tend to lack rewards and can come with costly fees.

We analyzed three BB&T Bank secured cards that might be worth considering, depending on your needs.

Best for earning cash back: BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

Here’s why: The BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card is an option with some potential for people who are looking to build or rebuild their credit and want to earn rewards.

The BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card offers cash back rates that are competitive with many other unsecured cards.

  • 3% cash back on eligible gas purchases
  • 2% cash back on eligible utilities and grocery purchases
  • 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

Just be aware that you can only earn the 2% and 3% cash back rates for the first $1,000 you spend in eligible purchases each month. After that, you’ll no longer earn those rates — you’ll earn 1% cash back. The good news is that there’s no monthly spending cap for that 1% cash back rate.

This card also adds a 10% bonus to your cash back redemption amount if you have your cash back electronically deposited into your eligible BB&T checking or savings account. That’s a point particularly worth noting for existing BB&T customers.

The BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card also allows you to redeem rewards for gift cards and other merchandise.

Keep in mind, though, that this card has a $19 annual fee. If you think you can make up that fee by earning enough in cash back rewards, this card may be for you. Just be sure you only use the card to buy what you need. Spending beyond your budget just to earn rewards can be a recipe for debt disaster.

Best for travel perks and rewards: BB&T Spectrum Travel Rewards Secured Credit Card

Here’s why: Credit cards that offer travel rewards often come at steep price, sometimes in the form of a super-high annual fee. The BB&T Spectrum Travel Rewards Secured Credit Card gives people with less-than-excellent credit a chance to earn travel rewards — and at a reasonable cost.

This card allows you to earn miles for purchases: You can earn two miles per $1 in qualified spending on airline tickets, hotel lodging and car rentals, and one mile per $1 in qualified spending on all other purchases made elsewhere. You can also earn 20,000 bonus miles when you spend $2,000 in qualifying purchases within your first 90 days from account opening.

Another perk: You can earn one $85 statement credit per account toward either the TSA PreCheck ($85) or Global Entry ($100) program. The statement credit can be earned every four years and applied to either program.

You can also get $50 each calendar year for qualifying airline “incidental” transactions — things like seating upgrades, in-flight food and drinks and baggage fees.

All in all, the perks just might make up for the card’s $89 annual fee, depending on your travel and spending habits. We recommend taking some time to do the math and see if the rewards you’re likely to earn will be worth the fee.

Best for a lower interest rate: BB&T Bright Credit Card

Here’s why: The BB&T Bright Credit Card doesn’t offer the travel perks or notable cash back rewards that the other BB&T secured cards do. But its 17.24% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers is potentially the lowest interest rate of the three — something to keep in mind if there’s a chance you’ll need to carry a balance.

The BB&T Bright Credit Card does offer some cash back rewards. With the BB&T Deals program, you can earn cash back for card purchases at certain times with participating stores — it’s up to you to go to the U by BB&T site on your computer or mobile device, look at the list of offers and shop with your card if you want to purchase anything.

Keep in mind that there may be other secured cards out there that offer a lower APR for purchases.

How to make the most of secured credit cards

If you’re in the market for a secured credit card, it’s likely your priority is to strengthen your credit and later transition to an unsecured card, or get a different card that’s unsecured. Transitioning your card from a secured to an unsecured card typically means getting your security deposit back. And many unsecured cards charge lower or fewer fees and offer better interest rates and rewards.

The good news is that using a secured credit card to help build or rebuild your credit is pretty simple. One key piece is paying your bill — ideally the full balance — on or before the due date every month. Companies that offer secured credit cards may report your payment history to the three major consumer credit bureaus, which can help build your credit if you use the card responsibly. Before you apply for a secured card, it’s a good idea to check with the issuer to make sure it does report payment history.

About the author: TJ Porter is a Boston-based freelance writer who specializes in bank accounts, credit, and credit cards. He’s written for Bankrate, CardCruncher, DollarSprout and My Bank Tracker, among others. In his spare time, TJ e… Read more.