Issuers of secured credit cards have historically been regarded either as Good Samaritans or bottom-feeders-some helping re-establish credit to those who lapsed, and others seeming to rip off the guileless.

The number of Samaritans seems to be larger than ever as the secured card market gets a boost from the ever-growing presence of big-name banks, the continued interest in subprime lending, and the industry's effectiveness at avoiding the worst credit risks.

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