This product is very similar to a secured card, except that it's in the form of a loan.
One example: Your bank makes you a small loan, which you use to purchase a CD, says Tescher. The bank holds the CD, and you make monthly payments. At the end of your loan, you own the CD. Your gain: a small nest egg, plus a record of good credit, she says.
The price: any fees and interest you pay on the loan.
For a long time these and similar loans were a staple, particularly at small or community banks, she says. Now institutions "are taking them off the shelf and dusting them off because they are becoming increasingly relevant," she says.
Paying for money you don't need can be counterproductive -- the point of good credit is to save money -- so reserve this step as a last resort. If you use it, look for low rates, minimal fees and a lender that reports good behavior.