NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- You really can use a credit card to rebuild credit.
After lawsuits and medical bills, credit cards are one of the leading drivers towards bad credit. So it comes as at least somewhat of a surprise that credit cards can help on the back end of all that debt accumulation.
"It might sound a little crazy to suggest you can use a credit card to rebuild your credit history," Beverly Harzog, a nationally regarded credit card expert, consumer advocate and author of the new book, Confessions Of a Credit Junkie. "But as long as your bad credit problem doesn't stem from out-of-control spending, a credit card is one of your best tools for getting back into the good graces of the credit gods."
How so? Herzog offers the following strategies:
Get secured. Harzog advises consumers with bad credit to get back in the game with a secured credit card. "With a secured credit card, you make a deposit into a bank account and that 'secures' the card for you," she says. "The card issuer gives you a credit card and you use the card just like a regular credit card. It doesn't say 'secured' on the card, so there's no stigma attached to it."
Just make sure you get a secured card that actually reports card payments to credit agencies.
Don't apply for too many cards. Don't go into "panic mode" when you mount your good-credit campaign. "People tell themselves tell themselves that they need a lot of new credit cards to prove they're a good risk," she says. "This approach often backfires because they don't have good enough credit to get approved for the cards they're applying for."