I spoke with 3 banks this morning and they all said that for the time I was on the secured card, they would not report me to the credit unions and companies. They would just keep the score internal to the bank!
Is this the norm with secured credit cards?
Are there some offerings where they also report your credit score, so that I could start building my credit history right away?
Updates : I have some updates on my question after doing a few rounds at stores, banks and CUs.
It seems that college students fall under a special risk category and have some additional rules for their safety.
Students without substantial credit history need to show a proof of income to be eligible for VISA cards. Plain and simple.
Now here is my impressions of stores, banks vs. a CU.
CU's are really there to help you out and listen to your needs. Atleast the two I have been to so far.
The managers at the CU's told me right away that given my scenario, esp. without income, I would be turned down for any type of credit card - be it secured or not.
This was in stark contrast to what I had been told by banks - they had given me an impression that a secured credit card was 100% guaranteed regardless of my history.
Loaded with this information from the CU's I re-visted the banks and stores. As always, they were very enthusiastic about my chances of getting a secured card, even after I repeated my circumstances - they kept on encouraging me to apply for the cards.
The real reason behind the enthusiasm surfaced only after I asked them to give me in writing that they would guarantee me a secured card, because this was exactly the opposite of what I had understood at the CU.
One of the store employees now confided that they get a nice commission for every person they refer for a card regardless of whether the person end up getting a card or not.
Same goes for the banks, I assume.
This means that it's in the self interest for the banks and stores to make me apply for the card even if I keep on getting declined!
Note that every query on my record affects my score in negative way (correct me if I am wrong)
My key takeaway from this : A secured credit card is for you if you have some substantial credit history, even if damaged. It's not for people starting out, esp. if they have no income.
I am discussions with a few credit unions regarding how I can go about building my history given my situation. I am still open to suggestions though!