Secured Credit Cards
|Credit Card||Best For||Credit Score||Annual Fee||Welcome Bonus||Apply Now|
|Discover it® Secured Credit Card||Secured Overall||300–850||$0||Cashback Match||Apply|
|OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card||No Credit Check||300–850||$35||N/A||Apply|
|Self Visa® + Credit Builder Account||Beginners||300–850||$25||N/A||Apply|
|BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card||No Annual Fee||300–850||$0||N/A||Apply|
|First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card||Bad Credit||350–850||$39||N/A||Apply|
|Citi® Secured Mastercard®||Rebuilding Credit||300–850||$0||N/A||Apply|
Table of Contents
Best secured credit cards
Our experts have gathered the best secured credit card options around. These cards frequently report to all three credit bureaus, allowing you to build your credit, and because their issuers require a refundable security deposit, they’re available to almost everyone.
Best for No Credit Check
Best for Beginners
Best for No Annual Fee
Best for Bad Credit
Best for Rebuilding Credit
What is a secured credit card?
A secured credit card is a type of credit card that requires you to put down a security deposit when you open your account. This deposit acts as collateral that the credit card company will keep if you fail to make your payments, and usually also sets your credit limit.
Secured credit cards have several pros and cons.
Pros and cons of secured credit cards
Secured vs. unsecured credit cards
In general, secured credit cards operate in the same ways as unsecured credit cards.
|Minimum credit required||Available for nearly all credit scores||Fair to excellent credit required (601–850)|
|Security deposit||Average minimum deposit of $200||No deposit required|
|Rewards programs||Rewards are frequently not offered||A wide range of rewards are often available|
|Interest rates||Higher than average APR||Average to below-average APR (based on creditworthiness)|
Secured credit cards require a minimum deposit upon opening your account, and generally have higher interest rates than unsecured cards while lacking any special rewards and benefits.
In contrast, unsecured cards don’t require a security deposit. They also adjust their interest rates based on applicants’ credit scores and histories and offer an assortment of rewards suited to different spending habits and lifestyles.
Although secured cards don’t have as many rewards, they’re usually better credit cards if you have bad credit, as the qualification thresholds tend to be lower than those of unsecured cards.
How does a secured credit card work?
A secured credit card works exactly the same way as a normal (unsecured) credit card, the only difference being that you need to pay a deposit to get one, and you can lose that deposit if you fail to make repayments.
With a secured credit card:
- You can purchase any goods and services
- You’ll be asked to make a minimum payment on your charges every month
- If you don’t pay your credit card bill in full, you’ll pay an interest rate on the amount you didn’t pay off
- Your payment history will be reported to the credit bureaus, either helping or hurting your credit score depending on if you make on-time or late payments
Will a secured credit card raise my credit score?
Yes, a secured card can improve your credit score, as long as you use it responsibly.
Your new card has the potential to:
- Build your payment history: In the future, whether you’re applying for a credit card, mortgage, or even an apartment, anyone who checks your credit will see your payment history on your secured credit card. Using it responsibly (which means making the required on-time payments each month) will reflect positively on your credit report, raising your score over time.
- Lower your credit utilization: Your credit utilization rate also impacts your score. Your utilization rate indicates how much available credit you have across your revolving credit accounts. For example, if you have one secured card with a credit limit of $200 which you spend $60 on, that translates to a 30% utilization rate. If you avoid overusing your card (keeping your utilization rate in the single digits, if possible), it will benefit your score.
Note that to get the maximum benefits, you should apply for a card that reports to all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian), since you don’t know which bureau a particular lender will use.
How do I apply for a secured credit card?
Once you’ve compared the interest rates and benefits of a few secured cards and selected the one you want, applying for a secured credit card involves the following steps:
- Submit your application
- Pay your security deposit
- Look for alternatives if you’re denied
1. Submit your application
You can apply through your card issuer’s website or by mail. Be sure to fill in all of the information required to give yourself the best chance of acceptance. The card issuer’s underwriters may evaluate your credit history to determine if you’re too risky to give credit to. Fortunately, because you’re applying for a secured credit card, it’s more likely that you’ll be approved even if you have a nonexistent, limited, or bad credit history. In some cases, they may not even check your credit at all.
If an issuer does check your credit, the hard inquiry they conduct will have a slight and temporary negative effect on your credit score. To avoid dropping your score too far, it’s best to apply for cards one at a time. If you get rejected, find out why and target your next application more carefully.
2. Pay your security deposit
Before you can open your account, you’ll need to pay your security deposit. Depending on your card issuer, this may be immediately withdrawn from your checking account or you may be given time to gather the necessary funds.
Your deposit defines your credit limit—you won’t be able to spend more on your card than you paid to begin with.
Failing to pay your security deposit will lead to your application being rejected.
3. Look for alternatives if you’re denied
If your application for a secured credit card is denied, find out why (this should be easy—card issuers are legally obligated to explain their reasons for denying credit card applications). Many issuers will also tell you what credit score they saw and which credit bureau they got it from.
You can request a free copy of your credit report whenever your credit card application is denied. It’s best to take advantage of this and to promptly dispute items on your credit report if there’s an error.
If your secured card application is denied, you can also try:
- Speaking with your local bank or credit union: These are institutions you’ve already built relationships with. An in-person visit to a bank or credit union will allow you to explain your financial situation in detail and improve your chances of being approved for a secured card provided by them.
- Applying for secured cards that don’t require a credit check for approval: Because these don’t take your credit score or history into consideration, it’s more likely you’ll be approved.
How do I use a secured credit card?
Using a secured credit card is no different from any other card. However, it should be considered a stepping stone to getting cards with higher limits, better benefits, lower interest rates, and no security deposits.
To graduate from using a secured credit card to an unsecured one, you should:
1. Maintain good credit habits
Once your account is open and you start using your card, you’ll be billed for your charges on a monthly basis. Because secured credit cards typically have higher interest rates than unsecured cards, it’s even more important to keep track of your spending and pay off your balance in a timely manner.
Regularly hitting your credit limit—“maxing out” your card—can make it harder to pay your balance on time, leading to interest charges that quickly add up. Maxing out your card will also push your credit utilization well past 30%, damaging your credit score.
Overusing your credit card also makes it easier to overcommit financially and miss payments, which is a serious problem. Having a negative payment history on your credit report can damage your credit score significantly.
2. Upgrade your credit card
Once you’ve built up a positive credit history with your secured credit card, you have up to three options for upgrading to an unsecured credit card:
- Automatic upgrade: Many secured cards have a built-in upgrade that your card issuer will offer when they’re comfortable with your payment history.
- Request an upgrade: If your card issuer doesn’t automatically upgrade your account, you may need to request an upgrade yourself.
- Apply for a credit card from a different issuer: If your issuer doesn’t offer unsecured credit cards, you can always try to apply for a different company’s credit card.
FAQs about secured credit cards
We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about secured credit cards below.
Is a secured credit card good for beginners?
Yes, a secured credit card is a good choice for beginners. Secured cards don’t impose many limits on applicants, and are marketed towards people who are trying to establish a credit history or fix a damaged credit score, or anyone else who wants quick, no-fuss access to a line of credit.
As credit cards go, secured cards tend to have the most straightforward cardholder agreements, making them easier to understand for people unfamiliar with credit cards. Since secured cards generally don’t offer rewards programs or other kinds of benefits, you don’t have to worry about wasting rewards points or missing out on cash back.
What is the minimum deposit for a secured credit card?
Exactly how much money you’ll need to put down for your deposit depends on your card issuer. Typically, secured credit cards require a minimum deposit of $200.
Where can I get a secured credit card?
While we’ve tried to compile the best secured cards for different kinds of spenders above, the market for secured credit cards is huge.
For example, many banks and credit unions offer their own secured cards. If you have a savings or checking account, take a look at what cards your financial institution offers to existing members.
Can you request a credit limit increase on a secured credit card?
Typically, the only way to request a credit limit increase on a secured card is by increasing the amount of your deposit.