So what's a safe way to go about getting a secured credit card? A great way to start is to visit your bank. Don't have a bank? Visit your credit union. Don't have a bank or credit union? Get one. Yes, you already know this, but it is possible that a less-informed friend of family member does not -- there are still banks and credit unions offering no-fee checking accounts, regardless of the minimum balance you keep, and you pay a whole lot less for services then you would by going to a check-casher. And if your pay is directly deposited into a bank, you have instant access to your money. Getting back to the secured credit cards, if your bank or credit union can't help you with one, there are many banks that can. You could consider the bank that was unfairly associated with the phony "Freedom 1st National Bank." Credit One Bank, N.A., offers secured credit cards through direct mail offers and also through their Web site. The bank provided plenty of customer service phone numbers. You can go to the Web site and consider the various secured credit card offers, and it is a very good idea to phone them as well, to have all your questions answered. Credit One Bank's secured credit cards have minimum opening credit lines and deposit requirements of $300 to $500, with a $75 fee for the first year, and annual fees $99 thereafter. Of course, your objective should be to restore decent enough credit relatively quickly, in order to obtain a non-secured credit card and avoid future fees. Bank of America ( BAC) offers secured Visa ( V) credit cards with a competitive annual fee of $39, and balances ranging from $300 to $4,900. The products are described on Bank of America's Web site, and the bank clearly states "After 12 months, you may qualify to have your security deposit returned while you continue to use your card." That's an excellent "fresh start" and could lead to other benefits if you build multiple relationships with the bank. For example, if you already have an account with Bank of America, you may qualify for a much lower auto loan rate than you would otherwise be offered, even if the loan is made through a car dealer.