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This offer is no longer available on our site: Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Hear from our editors: Best secured credit cards of May 2021

Updated April 30, 2021

This date may not reflect recent changes in individual terms.

Editorial note: Credit Vana receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.

Written by: Ben Luthi

Secured credit cards and the upfront cash deposits they require to secure the account aren’t always ideal. But with the right card, you can start building your credit to increase your chances of qualifying for a better, traditional credit card. What’s more, you may get access to great benefits along the way.

Here’s our take on the best secured cards.



Best for rewards: Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Here’s why: The Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers 2% cash back on your first $1,000 in combined gas and restaurant purchases each calendar quarter, and 1% cash back on every other purchase you make (including after you hit the quarterly spending cap). What’s more, at the end of your first year Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned as a new card member, even if you’ve already redeemed some of those rewards.

The card requires a minimum security deposit of $200 if you’re approved, and your deposit must equal your credit limit. Your maximum credit limit (up to $2,500) will be determined by your income and ability to pay. Once you’ve been a cardholder for eight months, Discover will review your account and consider returning your security deposit.

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card has no annual fee.

Read our review of the Discover it® Secured Credit Card to learn more.

Best for a low deposit: Secured Mastercard® from Capital One®

Here’s why: With the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One® , you may qualify for an opening credit line of $200 with a deposit of $49, $99 or $200, depending on your credit.

You could be considered for a higher credit line after the first six months. The card doesn’t offer a rewards program, but it does come with some decent benefits.

For example, this card has a $0 foreign transaction fee, so purchases abroad won’t incur any additional costs to you. And since it’s a Mastercard, you won’t have to worry much about international acceptance. The annual fee is $0.

Get more details in our review of the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One®.

Best for high potential credit limit: BankAmericard® Secured credit card

Here’s why: The BankAmericard® Secured credit card offers the potential for an exceptionally high credit limit for a secured card — up to $4,900.

Of course, there’s one big string attached: the security deposit.

Your security deposit determines your credit limit. So if you want a $4,900 credit line, you’ll be required to deposit that much money in advance. As long as you pay back what you spend, plus any interest and fees you incur, your security deposit is fully refundable. But if you can’t afford that much upfront, you can also opt for a smaller deposit of as low as $300.

Fortunately, there’s no annual fee.

To learn more, check out our review of the BankAmericard® Secured credit card.

Best for no credit check: OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card

Here’s why: The OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card isn’t one of our favorite secured cards overall, but it has one big advantage over the other cards on this list. It doesn’t require a credit check to get approved, or even a checking account for that matter.

This feature makes the card a great fit for people who may have negative items on their credit reports or who are underbanked.

The minimum deposit amount is $200 (with a maximum of $3,000), and your deposit will set your credit limit. But you’ll also need to pay a $35 annual fee on top of that deposit.

That’s one clear drawback. But if your credit is in bad shape and you’re not sure you can get approved for a secured card with no annual fee, this card could give you access to the credit you need.

Read our review of the OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card to learn more.

Best for tracking your FICO® score: Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Here’s why: The Citi® Secured Mastercard® lets you track your FICO score online.

This is especially helpful for educational purposes while you’re building credit, so you can keep tabs on your progress. Citi will also report your credit history to the three major consumer credit bureaus, which can help you build your credit if you make on-time payments, keep your balance low relative to your credit limit, and don’t carry a balance.

Your security deposit could be as low as $200 or as high as $2,500.

Plus, there’s no annual fee.

To learn more, check out our review of the Citi® Secured Mastercard®.

How we picked these cards

There are many secured credit cards on the market. But many of them don’t offer special perks or exciting benefits that make them stand out. While that may not matter much if your primary goal is to build credit, it’s nice to have features that can help you save money — or even earn some.

As a result, we selected our top choices based on how they can either keep money in your wallet — through low fees, APRs and deposit requirements — or return it to you in the form of rewards.

How to make the most of secured credit cards

The ultimate goal of applying for and using a secured credit card is to build or rebuild your credit. While some secured cards may return your deposit to you before you close the account, that’s not always the case. As a result, it’s essential to start practicing good credit habits as quickly as possible to help improve your credit health.

One of the most important things you can do to keep your account in good standing is pay your monthly bill on time each month. And if you want to avoid interest, make sure to pay the balance in full, too. Also, try to keep your balance relatively low. Your credit utilization rate — the percentage of your credit limit that you’re using — is another important factor in your credit scores.

As you do these things and build your credit, you may have a better chance of getting approved for an unsecured card in the future.


About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Cr… Read more.

FAQ: Editors’ answers

Editorial Note: Credit Vana receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted. Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about our team.

What’s the difference between a secured credit card and a regular (unsecured) credit card?
A regular credit card is different from a secured card in that it’s unsecured — meaning you’re not required to put down a deposit.
If you get approved for a secured credit card, you’re required to put down a deposit with your card issuer before being granted a line of credit. Credit issuers use this deposit as collateral in case you’re unable to pay your credit card bill. In most cases, the amount of your deposit is equal to your credit limit. So if you put down a security deposit of $500, your credit line will also be $500.
Once you’ve made your deposit, you’ll use the secured card like a regular credit card — you can use it to make purchases and you’ll be required to make monthly payments.
Secured cards are typically easier to qualify for than unsecured credit cards and can be used to build your credit history. But they generally come with lower spending limits — and fees.
Typically, secured cards are used for only a limited period of time while you’re working to build your credit so you can qualify for an unsecured credit card.
How do secured cards help you build credit?
If you have bad credit or a limited credit history, a secured card can help you build a history of good credit. Most secured cards report to the three major consumer credit bureaus, so if you use the card carefully, you can demonstrate that you are a responsible borrower.
To start building good credit using your secured card, you should make all your payments on time and shouldn’t spend more than you can comfortably afford to repay. And you’ll want to be sure to pay your credit card off in full each month to help avoid carrying a balance and making interest payments.
Be patient, as building good credit can take time. By making regular, on-time payments with your secured card, you could start to see your credit scores increase over time. As your credit improves and you are able, pay attention to other factors that impact your credit, like keeping your credit use low.
Can you get turned down for a secured credit card?
Secured credit cards are easier to qualify for than an unsecured credit card, but that doesn’t mean everyone will qualify for them. Each credit card issuer could have different criteria for assessing your application, but some common things they may look at include …
• Your age
• Your income
• Your credit reports
You need to be at least 21 years old — unless you’re able to show that you have steady income to make payments, or if you apply with a co-signer who is 21 or older. If you don’t have steady income or if you have a history of missing payments, these could be red flags that could result in an issuer turning you down for a secured credit card.
If you do get turned down for a secured credit card, the issuer should provide you with a reason why, in writing. If it doesn’t provide that information, be sure to ask for it. That way, you can work on improving your credit to be in a better position to apply again in the future.
Can you get your deposit back?
Yes, the security deposit that you make with your secured card is refundable as long as you don’t have an outstanding balance with the issuer. If you decide to close your account and have paid your account balance in full, your security deposit will be refunded to you.
Another way that your security deposit may be refunded to you is through a process called graduation. If you’ve demonstrated responsible borrowing by making consistent on-time payments, a credit card issuer may consider converting you to an unsecured card. When this happens, it’ll return the deposit to you as you graduate to your new unsecured credit card.
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†† The opinions you read here come from our editorial team. Credit Vana receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when it’s posted.