How to get a secured credit card

Build good credit by following these three easy steps.

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Having little in the way of credit can limit your credit card options. Often, secured cards are the only choices you’ll have with low or no credit, meaning you’ll rely on them to help build your credit. Thankfully, the path to getting a secured card in your hand and knowing what to do with it can be taught in three simple steps.

1. Find the right secured credit card for you

There are many secured card options, so consider which type of secured card you need. Our guide to secured credit cards can help you do just that. Just like travel and cashback cards come with different strengths, secured cards can bring different perks to the table as well.

Here are a few types of cards you might like:

  • No annual fee.
    You already have to put down a security deposit to open a secured card. To avoid paying more money up front, a no-annual-fee card is a great choice.
  • Low deposit.
    Secured cards aren’t exactly cheap — it’s not uncommon for providers to require deposits of $250, $300 or even $500. If you don’t anticipate spending much with your card, consider a low-deposit card. You can build credit without tying up a lot of money in your deposit.
  • No credit check.
    Even secured-card providers can decline you if your credit score is too low. To get around this possibility, consider applying for a card that doesn’t require a credit check.
  • Low APR.
    A secured credit card with low APR can save you a nice chunk of cash that you’d otherwise be paying in interest if you were using a card with a high APR.

2. Apply for the card

Once you’ve narrowed it down to the card that is a perfect fit for you, click Go to site and head to the card provider’s website. Next, you’ll have to complete the application with your personal and financial information that can include:

  • Your Social Security number and date of birth
  • Your contact information, including email address and phone number
  • Your banking details
  • Your employment status
  • Your total annual income
  • The cost of your monthly rent

You’ll likely need to indicate how much you want to put down as a security deposit. If you’re approved, your card provider will draw that amount from your bank account. If you’re not asked to provide a deposit amount, your card provider will collect the deposit from you later.

Once you send your application, sit tight while the provider reviews your application. In some cases, you’ll receive an immediate decision — if not, you’ll need to wait a few days or even a few weeks to receive word on your application.

3. What to do now that I’ve got the card

Whether you’re building or repairing your credit, using a secured credit card responsibly can help push your credit score in the right direction. In order to effectively use your card, you should make timely payments, maintain a low credit utilization ratio and pay your balance in full each month.

Your credit score will only go up if the bureaus see that you’re using your card responsibly. And because you want to build your credit, it’s crucial your payment history is reported to the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. If the card you’re considering doesn’t report to the three main credit bureaus, look for a different card.

Our pick for a secured credit card

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

  • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
  • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
  • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
  • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
  • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
  • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 23.99%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
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Compare secured credit cards

Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Purchase APR Annual fee Recommended minimum credit score
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Starting at $200
23.99% variable
A no annual fee secured card for people who are new to credit or have limited credit history with a fair to average credit score.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Starting at $200
18.89% variable
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card
Starting at $200
9.99% fixed
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
CardMatch™ from
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See issuer's website
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Can't decide on a card? Get personalized credit card offers with CardMatch™.
First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
Starting at $200
19.99% variable
Build your credit with all three major credit bureaus.

Compare up to 4 providers

What if my application for a secured credit card was denied?

The first course of action to take once you’ve been denied for a secured credit card is to identify the reason why you’ve been denied. You can do this by contacting the lender directly and asking for answers. There may be inaccurate information on your credit report — if this is the case, contact the credit bureaus to dispute the misinformation.

You could also consider applying for a secured credit card at a credit union or with a lender that doesn’t conduct a credit check. Another option is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account.

Secured credit card

What should I look for in a secured credit card?

When researching what card will best fit your needs, there are a few main factors to take into consideration:

  • How much do you have to deposit?
  • What’s the annual fee?
  • How high is the APR?
  • Is there a grace period for interest payments?
  • What are the fees?
  • Is your payment history reported to the three major credit bureaus?

A provider’s website should clearly list a card’s deposit, annual fee and APR. When you’re confident you understand all of the card’s details, it’s time to submit an application.

Bottom line

Once you receive your secured card, it’s time to build your credit. Use your secured card responsibly by monitoring your spending and paying off your balance in full at the end of each month when possible. Before long, you’ll be well on your way to graduating to an unsecured credit card.

To get started on your credit building journey, compare your secured credit card options to find the card that best fits your financial needs.

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