Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit
While your options are unfortunately limited when you have damaged or bad credit, you need to start from somewhere in rebuilding your credit. Our Editor's Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit is the perfect place to do so because the products listed below are all tailored to building credit in an efficient, inexpensive manner.
We consider them to be the best bad credit credit cards because they have some of the lowest membership and one-time fees and they all report monthly to the major credit bureaus. While there are occasionally some unsecured options on this page, we always recommend getting the best secured credit card if you're willing to place a refundable security deposit. Read more about our Editor's Picks for the Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit.
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- Min Deposit: $49 - $200
- Annual Fee: $29
- Monthly Fee: None
- One-time Setup Fees: None
- Regular APR: 22.9% (V)
- Editor's Notes: While the Capital One Secured MasterCard charges a higher annual fee than certain other cards in its class, the fact that it can be a partially-secured card makes it quite an attractive option for many consumers. With a partially-secured credit card, your credit line may exceed the amount of your security deposit, thereby providing you with an emergency line of credit, if needed, and enabling you to maximize your available credit. The more credit you have available, the faster your credit standing will improve. The Capital One Secured MasterCard Credit Card is therefore an option that at least merits consideration if you have bad or limited credit.…more
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- Min Deposit: $300
- Annual Fee: None
- Monthly Fee: None
- One-time Setup Fees: None
- Regular APR: 22.99% (V)
- Editor's Notes: Don’t let the branding fool you, the Harley Davidson Secured Credit Card is one of the best secured cards on the market given that it doesn’t charge an annual fee. Secured cards are most commonly used by people who have damaged or little credit, and the most important thing to look for in either situation is a card with low fixed costs for which you can qualify. Low interest rates and rewards are of lesser concern because secured cards don’t tend to offer them. The fact that the Harley Card does offer some rewards therefore makes it that much more attractive.…more
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Wilhelm Vain: This is partly my story and partly my mother's. When I was younger, say 18, and needed a credit card--before I went to college and got my amazing Citi forward card--I found out that my mother also had horrible credit. No company would even give us the light of day. I was struggling to maintain my bills with my lower income job when my boss told me about the Credit One Bank Visa Platinum card. I told him "I've given up on finding a credit card. They'll just reject me." he insisted that I call and get a second opinion from an actual rep. When on the phone I mentioned that my mother had bad credit and they offered to call and talk to her about it. From that point on we started building (and rebuilding) our credit.
The only thing we did not like about this card is that the fees are pretty high compared to other cards but there has to be some sort of trade-off for a card that offers you a line of credit and helps you rebuild your own credit.
May 14 at 1:35pm
Heather James: The card I could recommend for bad credit without a second thought, would just have to be from Orchard bank. It is super easy to get approved. There is no deposit required. You start out with between $100- $300 credit limit. You can access your card online and view statments and make payments. There are no hidden fees and a small $49 annual fee. This card is the best for rebuilding credit because they report to all 3 credit companies. Since I have been making my ontime payments my credit score has been on the rise. When you need to call and talk to a person, it is quick and easy. The customer service department is very friendly and helpful. I highly recommend this card.
May 7 at 3:28pm
Connie O'Brien: The Capital One Secured Mastercard is the best credit card for people with bad credit in my opinion. My husband and I both had pretty rotten credit but this card gave us a chance. There are no fees to get started and the APR is comparable to other cards. Once you have the card for 12 months and have made your payments on tie you may be able to get an unsecured card, and from there your credit will improve even more. Capital One also reports to all three credit bureaus and that helps your credit improve your score even more. This was definitely the best starter card for us.
May 7 at 12:20pm
Peter Gibson: If there is one card I could recommend for bad credit without a second thought, it would definitely be the Capital One Secured MasterCard. It doesn’t matter if you have no credit, little credit, or just bad credit, this card will help remedy that in time. In my personal experience it has the lowest annual fee of all secured cards. When I was having credit issues, a friend told me about it and I thought I would take the chance rather than live with a poor credit rating. Using it responsibly for a year, it had helped immensely. If you’re looking to recover your credit history, this card is invaluable. The only negatives I can really mention are the high APR, and the fact that this is essentially a recovery card, so don't expect a real credit limit increase. In the end though, it really helped my scores.
April 22 at 2:59pm
Anonymous User: For just starting out or with bad credit Capital One Secured Mastercard is a life saver. When I was a student, my credit got blemished pretty badly from stupid choices. I thought I would have to wait seven years like I was told. A friend of mine casually mentioned Capital One, the card he had at the time. He said they gave him a card with a small security deposit. I needed a card so badly; I looked into it and put up a security deposit which wasn't much, I think about $100. My limit was set at $100. I paid on time every month and within about a year, I was eligible for a full return of my deposit and now had a fully functioning credit card! About every six months I put in for an increase and it usually was granted. Can’t beat it if you need to build your credit.
April 1 at 1:51pm
Skylar Mcdougale: I think the new Discover it card is great for bad credit/no credit users. I have no credit built up so it was hard for me to find a good card that I could actually use, but discover it gave me one and it's features are awesome for a starter card. First of all it has no annual fee, which people with bad credit would not want to pay. The are completely U.S. based, which is important to me. You can pay and do everything online and that is a huge plus in my book. The best thing about the card though, is that is has 0% intro APR for 14 months, so someone with new or bad credit can get the card and use it without intrest for 14 months to help build up their credit.
April 1 at 1:15pm
Katherine Pharis: Due to a divorce, my credit is pretty shot. While I have always had a soft-spot for Capital One, I have to say that I prefer the Harley Davidson Secured card. For one thing, there is no annual fee. I also like some of the benefits it has to offer, such as redeeming points for Harley Chrome cash (can you tell I’m a Harley Davidson fan?) Also, after twelve months of good payments, you may qualify for an unsecured card (I still have a few months to go). They also report to credit bureaus, so hopefully, this will repair my questionable credit score. I’m not knocking Capital One, but for me, I prefer the HD card. Just my humble opinion.
April 1 at 1:4pm
Adrienne Dowling: There were quite a few marks on my credit report that I couldn't just wish away, although that would be nice. I had to find a card that would accept my credit but not try to rob me. I went with the Capital One Secured Mastercard because I had Capital One in the past and I knew what kind of company they were to deal with. Always had wonderful experiences with their customer service. The neat thing was I put a deposit of 100 down for the secured card and they added $100 in credit for me. I thought it was great that they had let me have a line of credit with them, no matter how small it was. My credit score as steadily been going up and I am getting better offers on things now.
March 25 at 3:49pm
Martin Poles: The best credit card for bad credit hand's down has to be the Capital One Secured MasterCard. Basically it's a secured credit card which means you give them a certain amount up front and it's added to your card. Unlike a prepaid credit card this card you can pay the initial installment over a period of a few months and it also builds up your credit until Capital One moves you onto a "real credit card" This is great for those looking for an easy fix to their credit but be aware there is an 29.00 annual fee for this card, but it's a small price to pay for what this card can offer you in the future and much less in what other cards would cost you to add your own money onto them.
March 25 at 3:38pm
Jimmy Postier Jr.: At a time I was going through a funk on my credit, I decided to try to build it back up with a new credit card. I really wasn’t sure if I would even be able to get approved for one, but I started searching. The search led me to the Capital One Secured Mastercard. It seems like it was designed just for me at the time. It helped a lot that there wasn’t any kind of processing fees, that is great when you don’t have any money. It automatically reports your credit so you have instant results. I used this card for 2 years and it produced amazing results on my score. This card single handily saved my credit report and made me a better person with money.
March 25 at 3:16pm
Amanda Smith-Adams: how do I get my 250 back I paid for the applied bank visa secured card.
March 17 at 1:5pm
Card Hub: You should call Applied Bank at (561) 982-9111. Their customer service should be able to file a return for the security deposit you placed.
March 24 at 5:32pm
Jessica Borron: The capital one secured master card was my first credit card. After having less than perfect credit due to unpaid medical bills in the past, it has made it almost impossible to acquire a credit card. I was required to put down a deposit of $200 to start up, but based on your credit, it may be different. The low annual fee of $29 was also a plus for me. This credit card is making it very easy for me to get my credit score up. I make small purchases each month, pay off the balance and repeat. I have also received great customer service from capital one. The representatives have been very helpful in making sure I understand everything that I need to know about my card.
December 18 at 3:58pm
Bob Hanson: After I had messed up my credit with some stupid financial decision, I needed a good way to start getting my credit back to the point where I could get a car loan. My first step towards doing this was getting a secured card. After a decent amount of comparison shopping I decided on the Capital One secured Mastercard. I primarily chose them because of their relatively low annual fee and because the people at Capital One seemed very accommodating of my situation. I ended up keeping the card for a couple of years until my credit was back in the good category thanks to their help.
December 18 at 3:15pm
Chris Wilson: When I was a young and reckless college student, I decided that since I wanted to own nice things, and didn't have the money right then, that I would put it on a credit card and make monthly payments. The debt started racking up by the thousands, and soon I was way in over my head. I wasn't able to make my monthly payments anymore. The letters and phone calls started coming in and my credit score took a nosedive. Fortunately for me, the Capital One Secured Mastercard saved me, and thus is my choice for the best credit card for people with bad credit. Once I got my head on straight and started battling my debt, I applied for the Capital One Secured Mastercard in order to try to get my credit on the right track. Thanks to Capital One, my credit is greatly improved and has even allowed me to apply for other cards, which continues to help my credit rating.
November 14 at 4:41pm
Sin LnStyle: We wanted to buy a house. We had some credit issues due to school loans and medical bills. On top of that my credit is non-existent because I don't use plastic. I am more of a cash kind of guy. So this is bad for your credit because you don't have any history that creditors can look at and say hey we can trust him.
So we both went and got a Capital One Secured Mastercard and it did wonders. The card reports back to all 3 credit raters. You can put down just $50 to get going and can increase this if you feel the need in the future. By point just a few dollars on your credit card every month and paying it off is enough to get those credit points rolling. Customer service is great and the card has no issues anywhere. It really is a great starting point on the road to a good credit report.
November 14 at 4:34pm
Anonymous User: We had to file bankruptcy and wanted a credit card that would help us rebuild our credit. We found capital one and they were very helpful to us. This is the best card because they gave us a card, even though our credit was awful. They didn't penalize us but denying us credit. When Hurricane Sandy hit they sent an email letting us know they were there for us and since our area was hit, we would have any late fee's this month waived. That is above and beyond good service, especially considering our credit is bad. Most companies would deem us not trustworthy. They have helped us quickly put us on the right track, we have been rebuilding our credit and without Capital One this would not have happened.
November 7 at 3:55pm
Anonymous User: After coming out of a messy divorce and already being in a pretty tough financial situation, my credit had taken a hit going through the process and I needed some help rebuilding it. I signed on with Capital One to receive their Secured Mastercard. I spoke with a customer service agent and discussed my situation. They quickly put me on the right track, discussing how much I should try to spend each month and then the proper monthly payment to make to regain my credit score as quickly as possible. I followed their suggestions, and over time, before I knew it, my credit had recovered to an acceptable level, allowing me to progress from there back to where my original credit level was before everything fell to pieces. I feel very thankful to Capital One and the Secured Mastercard, as with it, and the advice they gave me, I was able to restore my credit and move on with my life!
October 23 at 3:18pm
Erin Rep: When I first started college I had a very limited credit history, which is considered the equivalent of a bad credit history for many credit card companies. I knew that I needed to start building my credit so I applied for and opened a First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard. While I did have to put down $300 to open the card, the annual fee of $29 was low and the APR was around 20%, which was competitive compared to other cards for customers with bad or limited credit history. Overall, my experience with the card was a positive one. It allowed me to build a good credit history with a secure card. The card was widely accepted and the customer service was also good. I would recommend this card. It’s definitely the best card out there for those that are looking to build up a limited credit history or improve a bad credit history.
October 23 at 3:15pm
Anonymous User: I don't have the best credit after having gone to collections a few times, however I will say that CapitalOne has been more than fair with me. I have their Secured Mastercard (I didn't even know it was called that before looking at this page, call me scatterbrained!), and yes, I did have trouble paying for it for a while. They helped me work through it and now I'm at a $0 balance and pay it in full each month. :) I would definitely recommend it to people with bad credit because CapitalOne really cares about helping you repair your credit as well as just giving you the card.
October 17 at 3:1pm
Anonymous User: The Mastercard First Progress card is a great card for people like me who are trying to rebuild their credit rating. I had gotten into some trouble with the first credit cards that I had during college, and this card helped me rebuild some of what I had harmed in terms of credit. The minimum deposit is larger than other cards, but the APR (which is variable) is lower than most. This may not affect you much if you pay your balance off each month, though. It was easy to set up this card and I have had no problems with it thus far. In my opinion, it is the best card out there for improving your credit rating.
September 11 at 8:57pm
Anonymous User: As someone who tends to use their credit card more often than cash, I’ve seen my credit constantly fluctuate up and down throughout my entire life. As a result, I’ve always found that the Capital One Secured Card as being the best card for my moments of bad credit. From its starting credit line of $200 to its fairly low monthly payments, I’ve managed to slowly rebuild my credit and increased my account. Also, their customer service tends to be more thoughtful and genuine whenever I asked them questions regarding interest or annual fees. Hence, I would highly recommend the Capital One Secured Card primarily because of its great rates and top-notch customer service.
September 11 at 5:10pm
Anonymous User: The best card for anyone with bad credit would have to be the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card. Although it requires a higher minimum deposit, it offers the lowest interest rate when compared to all of the other options out there. When I had bad credit and was looking for a way to get out of the whole, I applied for First Progress card and was accepted right away. With responsible money management and patience, I was able to once again have a good credit score. None of that would have been possible if not for the First Progress credit card.
September 11 at 3:33pm
John Rea: The best card for anyone with bad credit would have to be the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card. Although it requires a higher minimum deposit, it offers the lowest interest rate when compared to all of the other options out there. When I had bad credit and was looking for a way to get out of the whole, I applied for First Progress card and was accepted right away. With responsible money management and patience, I was able to once again have a good credit score. None of that would have been possible if not for the First Progress credit card.
September 11 at 3:30pm
Frank Papageorgio: In my experience I've found that Capital One is a pretty good company to go to if you do not have good credit and need a card. They were the company I went with for my very first credit card, and even though I had an incredibly low limit, as I used the card more and paid my bills on time they started increasing my limit more and more as I did business with them. I wouldn't say any card in specific is best, because they are always changing their cards every couple years, but chances are they will have something for you if you called them up and asked.
September 11 at 3:21pm
Katie Lynn: The best credit card I've used for those with poor credit is definitely the HSBC MasterCard. I had little credit at the time, and the credit I had acquired wasn't that great. I looked online and found a card by HSBC. At the time, they required a small deposit of $200, which was completely understandable and fair. I used this card for small purchases every month, such as gas, cell phone payments and a meal or two, with the intention of paying off the balance every month. My credit score went up over time and when I decided to transfer my balance to another card, I received my full deposit back. Their customer service was excellent, even though I barely needed it. Highly recommended.
September 7 at 11:27pm
Anonymous User: The best card for bad credit to me seems to be any Capital One Card. I have a no hassle card but have other Capital One cards in the past. My credit has been up and down in different stages of my life but it seems the only company that really kept consistent in dealing with me was Capital One. When my credit was not as good Capital One was still willing to work with me, and kept my credit lines up. I prefer them much more to any of the secured cards because you have to watch as a lot of them will rip you off financially.
September 5 at 5:6pm
Anonymous User: If your credit is bad (or nonexistent) and you want to start repairing or building your history, the Capital One Secured credit card is the way you want to go. The annual fees and security deposit are both low, so you can really focus on using it as a tool to get your credit score up. This card will help you get out of the range that you have to worry about your credit score. It's still on you to be diligent and pay what you're supposed to, but Capital One will actually give you a chance and let you prove that you can be trusted.
September 5 at 5:5pm
Shannon Scott Johnson: If you have bad credit, no credit, low credit and are looking to build that credit. These cards are the way to go. Secured cards offer a credit rating when paid but keep you out of credit card trouble since they make you put in the deposit in which you can use for credit. A lot of kids take advantage of credit cards leading to problems down the road. These cards are a way to prevent that while building credit at the same time. So when you are ready to start purchasing cars and or houses you have the credit to do it but have not gotten yourself in debt trouble. Capital One Secured cards are the best option to choose when looking for one of these types of cards.
September 5 at 4:4pm
Katie Lynn: The best credit card I've used for those with poor credit is definitely the HSBC MasterCard. I had little credit at the time, and the credit I had acquired wasn’t that great. I looked online and found a card by HSBC. At the time, they required a small deposit of $200, which was completely understandable and fair. I used this card for small purchases every month, such as gas, cell phone payments and a meal or two, with the intention of paying off the balance every month. My credit score went up over time and when I decided to transfer my balance to another card, I received my full deposit back. Their customer service was excellent, even though I barely needed it. Highly recommended.
September 5 at 3:58pm
Anonymous User: The best card I have ever had is the Capital One Secured Card. It was relatively easy to get is a great credit rebuilder for those who have less than fair credit. They offered an awesome rate and my payments weren't bad at all! I had been using prepaid cards for a while to make my credit card purchases however I wasn't making any improvements on my credit rating. In no time I was able to increase my credit limit. The reps are very helpful whenever I call and I'm always treated respectfully despite the fact that I have a secured card. The low annual fee is also a great perk of this card as many other competitors require a lot more. It's a good card to have if you're serious about rebuilding your credit.
September 5 at 3:58pm
Mike Van de Water: I don't see the card pictured here on this page, but in my experience the best credit card for people with bad credit is a card from Orchard Bank. They start out with small limits, but it gradually increases if you make your payments on time. Of the cards I see pictured here, The Capital One secured card is probably the way to go. The upfront deposit is a little high, but with no monthly fees and only low annual fees, it's still a pretty good deal.
No matter what card you get, remember that rebuilding bad credit is about only doing what you can easily handle, so stay on top of it!
September 1 at 12:50am
Card Hub: Unfortunately, after CapitalOne bought HSBC and the Orchard Bank credit card portfolio they discontinued what used to be the best secured credit card in the market.
September 2 at 8:45pm
Amanda Grace: I am a big fan of Capital One credit cards. My credit was not the best, however they gave the opportunity to prove myself with a starting credit line of $200 with the Capital One secured Mastercard. I was able to quickly increase this amount, and now have reached an limit of $500! The annual fee on the card is just $29.99 per month, another awesome feature that I love! If you want a credit card but do not have credit, this is one that I suggest. The guys at Capital One are always great and you will love them just as much as I do!
August 29 at 9:58pm
Anonymous User: Returning to the US after living abroad for ten years, my credit rating and history wasn't well enough established to get sign up for very many credit card offers. After making numerous appications to Visa, Mastercard and American express, I finally realized that a prepaid card would be the best in my situation. I had heard some mention of Walmart Prepay cards, so I went to the store and picked one up. expecting large fees and other inconvieniences. The Walmart Money card ended up working out much better than I had expected. I have to pay three dollars a month in fees and another three to top it up, but that's better than I would be getting with the interest rates on many other cards. It works great for online purchases too since I never have to worry about the details gettig stolen and running up a huge bill and headache.
August 29 at 8:56pm
King Rome: The Capital One Secured Mastercard is the best card to get if your credit isn't as good as it should be at the moment. Their monthly payments are fairly low, and the interest rate isn't too high. In fact, I managed to get a deal at the time in which I did not pay any interest for the first 6 months. Furthermore, if you make 5 monthly payments on time, they will raise your credit limit. Their customer service reps are also genuinely helpful and very courteous. I would definitely recommend this card for anyone currently having some problems with their credit and trying to bounce back.
August 29 at 8:13pm
Traci Carson: I think the best card to get for those of us with bad credit is definitely the Capital One Secured Mastercard. I've had a lot of experience with Capital One in the past, and never have had any trouble with them before. Their rates are great, their CSRs are amazing, and they're very willing to work with you on payments and things.
I also think that the deposit and annual fees are very low and fair, and when I applied for my card I only had to pay a $100.00 deposit and my card was ready to go. If you make your payments on time and keep yourself in good standing, they'll raise your credit limits and the rates are still fantastic. I don't think I'd want to go with any other kind of secured card; Capital One can have my business for the foreseeable future if they keep up their great service!
August 25 at 12:53am
Sam Wood: I had very good credit at one time and paid on may cards regularly every month. Unfortunately, I lost my job and was unable to continue making payments. By the time I got a new job and was back on my feet my credit rating was bad and I assumed I would never obtain credit again. However. I was able to get get the Capital One with a reasonable deposit and start rebuilding my credit. Although I am not yet back to where I was before my job loss, my credit rating has gradually improved.
I am grateful to Capital One for giving me this opportunity to restore my credit and recommend their secured MasterCard for anyone struggling with bad credit.
August 25 at 12:30am
Anonymous User: The best card for bad credit is 100% definitely the Capital One secured mastercard. They have good rates, a great online payment system and fantastic customer service. On top of that, you are almost guaranteed to be approved as it is a secured card. Also, the initial deposit is much lower than most companies out there, some are $200 to $300, with the Capital One secured card you may qualify for only a $75.00 deposit like I did.
After a year with the card and making payments on time, not only did it raise my credit score significantly, but they also emailed me to let me know they were raising my credit limit on the card without me having to deposit more money. That's just amazing, I had no idea they were going to do it either. I recommend this card to anyone who has bad or no credit and wishes to rebuild it.
August 24 at 10:6pm
Anonymous User: I have the Capital One Secured Mastercard and have found this card to meet my credit needs quite well. The initial deposit was fair and did not present a big financial burden to me. The annual fee was about average for this type of card, and also did not require a big initial outlay. In addition, they did not even require a new setup fee. The only negative I can say is that the interest rate is somewhat high, and should be a little lower. I do believe that once you have a had the card for a while with a good payment history, that you can probably get the interest rate lowered.
August 24 at 9:17pm
Margie Cole: First of all, let me say that I’m kind of bummed that the Orchard Bank Secured Card is no longer available because that used to be my favorite credit card for people with bad credit. It didn’t charge any fees during the first year! I guess it was a casualty of the HSBC-Capital One merger, though. Now, my favorite card is the Fifth Third Bank Secured Card. It only charges $24 per year, which makes it slightly better than the Capital One Secured Card in my opinion. It’s cheaper and even though it has a higher interest rate, I don’t think people with bad credit should be revolving a balance anyway.
August 24 at 12:9am
How do I know if I have bad credit?
There are a few easy ways to check your credit standing. First, you can pay to check your three major credit scores (a score between 300-619 is considered bad). Alternatively, you can use a free credit estimator that will give you an accurate approximation of your credit standing. Finally, if you are late on any kind of bill, your credit usage consistently approaches your limit, you have declared bankruptcy in the last three years and/or you have been more than 60 days late on a bill in the last nine years, you most likely have bad credit and should consider getting one of the best credit cards for bad credit.
How do I build credit?
Credit building is all about diluting negative information with positive information. Credit cards are great for this purpose because information about their use is reported to the major credit bureaus on a monthly basis. Therefore, by using a credit card responsibly, you are increasingly surrounding past mistakes with information about responsible use, thereby devaluing its importance. Interestingly, you don't even need to make purchases in order to build credit. It's considered responsible use to simply maintain a card at zero balance and in good standing. This is why when our editors look for the best credit cards for bad credit, they focus on identifying the credit card offers that report to all three credit bureaus and have the lowest fees rather than those with the lowest interest rates.
What's the difference between a secured credit card and an unsecured credit card?
Secured credit cards require you to place a refundable security deposit in opening them, but have lower fee structures than unsecured credit cards as a result. They are generally regarded as the best bad credit credit cards because they are fairly cheap and they make it impossible to spend beyond your meansan important feature for people who have made mistakes using credit in the past. Unsecured credit cards do not require security deposits and have high fees but provide revolving lines of credit, making them the best credit cards for people with bad credit who need access to credit because of an emergency.
About the Editors' Picks — Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit
Our editors' recommendations for the Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit are a reflection of their own subjective opinions, and they should not be relied upon as the sole basis for choosing your credit card. Certain offers originate from paying advertisers, and this will be noted on a card’s details page, when applicable. We work hard to present you with the most accurate credit card information, however, the credit card terms and conditions do not originate from us and thus we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information. Before applying for a credit card we recommend that you verify the credit card terms and conditions on the credit card company's web site. Please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions.