If your credit score has taken a beating lately, you are not alone. Unemployment or under-employment has strained many budgets and caused credit score drops across the board in the American population. While many blame credit cards for ruining their credit as companies increased their interest to criminally-high levels, other people with bad credit are using credit cards to help repair their bad credit scores.

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Credit cards can help increase your credit score, but you have to be smart and careful in choosing and using them. First, you need to decide on an unsecured card or a secured card.

If you have a poor credit score, unsecured credit cards will likely only be available at a very high interest rates. That's fine, if you have learned to budget and manage credit as part of your rebuilding strategy. You should plan on never carrying a balance with this card, only using it for smaller purchases and paying it off each month. If you think you may not have the discipline to do this and a high interest card is your only option, you may want to pass and look into getting a secured credit card. Or get some credit counseling before you take on a high-interest rate card.

A secured credit card is great for building credit, and comes with a lower rate in most cases. However, it does require you to deposit money into an account that secures the card. Ian addition, fees can be prohibitive--don't pay $200 for a card with a $300 limit. Wait if you have to; better deals will come along eventually. In addition, remember your reason for getting the card -- make sure the creditor reports your good behavior (it IS going to be good, right?) to the credit bureaus before signing up.

When you figure out what credit card to use, make only smart and affordable purchases. You will want to stay within your personal budget so as to avoid missing a payment and be consistent with your credit card repayment plan. By doing so, you be able to more easily repair your credit score in a way that shouldn’t cause you financial strain.