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Best secured credit cards of 2021

Our top 7 picks for building your credit score.

Finder’s credit card experts spent hundreds of hours evaluating and comparing nearly 100 secured cards to find the top-performing secured cards within seven categories. We considered features such as credit check requirements, credit reporting, fees, deposit requirements and interest rates. Finder’s experts provide unbiased, trustworthy evaluations of all secured credit cards and providers, not just those we partner with on the site.

What are the best secured credit cards?

Best secured card for no credit check
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-669)
Apply now
on Capital Bank N.A.'s secure site
300
Min. credit score
$35
Annual fee
17.39% variable
Purchase APR
From $200
Min. deposit
Most credit-building cards will check your credit when you apply. This can knock a few points off your credit score. Luckily, with the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, you don't have to worry about that.
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card also comes with a reasonable purchase APR.
  • No credit check. OpenSky uses your ID to confirm your identity and it won't do a credit pull.
  • Build your credit. The card reports to all three major credit bureaus, which can help strengthen your credit. All you have to do is keep your utilization low and make timely payments.
  • Credit line. You have full control over your credit line, as it's the sum of your security deposit. You can make a deposit from $200 up to $3,000.
  • Annual fee. The card comes with a $35 annual fee. A small price to pay for no credit check.
  • Foreign transaction fee. Every transaction made abroad or online with foreign merchants will cost you 3% of the amount.
  • No rewards. You won't earn rewards on your purchases.
Annual fee $35
Minimum deposit required Starting at $200
Purchase APR 17.39% variable
Balance transfer APR N/A
Recommended minimum credit score 300

Best secured card for low deposit and no annual fee
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One® Secured Mastercard® logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (580-669)
Read review
580
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
26.99% variable
Purchase APR
From $49
Min. deposit
With most secured credit cards, the amount you deposit acts as your credit line. With this card, however, you can deposit $49, $99 or $200 and get a $200 credit line.
  • Low secured deposit. Depending on your credit, you may pay a security deposit as low as $49 and still get a $200 credit limit.
  • No annual fee. There's no annual fee to use this card.
  • Potential credit limit increase. Capital One will automatically review your account after your first six months. If they like what they see, you could see an increase in your credit limit.
  • High interest rates. This card features a high APR of 26.99% variable.
  • No rewards. You won't earn any rewards on your purchases.
Annual fee $0
Minimum deposit required $49, $99 or $200
Purchase APR 26.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 26.99% variable
Recommended minimum credit score 580

Best secured card for signup bonus
Discover it® Secured

Discover it® Secured logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-669)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
22.99% variable
Purchase APR
From $200
Min. deposit
This card offers the same signup bonus as you would earn with any other Discover card. Given that secured cards rarely offer signup bonuses, this is a great option to earn rewards on your purchases.
  • Cashback match. Instead of a signup bonus, Discover will double the cash back you earn during your first year of card membership. This means if you earn a $250 cash back during your first year, at the end of the year you get an additional $250 bonus.
  • Cash back. Earn 2% back on dining and gas on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. On everything else, you earn 1% cash back.
  • Intro APR period on balance transfers. Get a 10.99% intro APR period on balance transfers for 6 months. After that, a variable APR of 22.99% applies.
  • Balance transfer limitation. You must make your balance transfers by a rolling deadline to use the intro APR period.
  • No intro APR period on purchases. You don't get an intro APR period on purchases.
Annual fee $0
Minimum deposit required Starting at $200
Purchase APR 22.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 10.99% intro for the first 6 months (then 22.99% variable)
Recommended minimum credit score 300

Best secured card for military members
nRewards® Secured Credit Card

nRewards® Secured Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-579)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
18% variable
Purchase APR
From $200
Min. deposit
This card features rewards on all purchases, no annual fee and a relatively low APR, all of which is rare with secured cards. However, only military personnel who are Navy Federal Credit Union members can apply for the card.
On top of small reward opportunities, the Navy Federal Credit Union will review your account after six months to potentially upgrade you to an unsecured card.
  • Rewards. Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all purchases. This may not seem like a spectacular rate, but for a credit-building card it's quite decent.
  • No annual fee. There's no annual fee for the card.
  • Few miscellaneous fees. There are no fees for balance transfers, foreign transactions or cash advances.
  • Membership required. You'll need to be a NFCU member to qualify for this card.
  • No intro APR period. The card doesn't have lower interest-rates period on purchases or balance transfers. But most secured cards don't have this perk anyway.
Annual fee $0
Minimum deposit required Starting at $200
Purchase APR 18% variable
Balance transfer APR 18% variable
Recommended minimum credit score 300

Best secured card for cash back
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured logo
Finder Rating: 4.2 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-669)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
23.99% variable
Purchase APR
From $300
Min. deposit
No other secured card offers as heavy cashback rewards as the Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured. In essence, this is the same card as the unsecured version with the same name, except you can get this one with a lower credit score.
  • Cash back. Earn 3% cash back on one category you choose and 2% back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on up to $2,500 each quarter. After reaching the cap and on all other purchases, earn 1% cash back. This is the highest rewards rate offered by a secured credit card.
  • No annual fee. The card costs $0 to own, which is surprising considering the rewards it offers.
  • Deposit return. Bank of America will monitor your account. Based on your card activity and credit score, you could get your deposit back, thus turning this card into an unsecured card.
  • Foreign transaction fees. Every purchase made abroad or online with foreign merchants will cost you 3%% of the amount.
  • No welcome offer. Despite the generous rewards rate, there's no bonus you can earn upon signup.
Annual fee $0
Minimum deposit required Starting at $300
Purchase APR 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 23.99% variable
Recommended minimum credit score 300

Best secured card for highest potential limit
U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card logo
Finder Rating: 3.9 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-669)
Read review
Rates & fees

300
Min. credit score
$0
Annual fee
23.99% variable
Purchase APR
From $300
Min. deposit
The amount you can spend on your secured card is limited by your secured deposit, which tends to max out at a few hundred dollars on most secured cards. This card however has a maximum security deposit of $5,000. A high deposit is useful if you want to focus on building credit, but still have a lot of essential purchases you need to make on your secured card.
  • Highest maximum secured deposit limit available. You can deposit anywhere from $300 to $5,000 in US Bank savings account to act as your credit limit. This is the highest maximum deposit available on the market.
  • Choose your due date. U.S. Bank gives you the option to choose your due date, which gives you better payment flexibility.
  • Deposit return. Bank of America will monitor your account. Based on your card activity and credit score, you could get your deposit back, thus turning this card into an unsecured card.
  • No rewards. You won't earn any rewards with this card.
Annual fee $0
Minimum deposit required Starting at $300
Purchase APR 23.99% variable
Balance transfer APR 23.99% variable
Recommended minimum credit score 300

Best for balance transfers
UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card

UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card logo
Finder Rating: 4.1 / 5

★★★★★

Credit recommended (300-669)
Read review
300
Min. credit score
$39
Annual fee
17.99% fixed
Purchase APR
From $250
Min. deposit
It's hard to find a secured credit card that comes with a balance transfer offer. With the UNITY Visa® Secured Credit Card, you get six months of lower interest rates to help you consolidate your debt.
  • Intro APR period on balance transfers. You get 6 months months of 9.95% intro APR period on balance transfers from the day you open your account. After that, a fixed APR of 17.99% applies.
  • Low ongoing APR. Most secured cards have an APR on purchases of above 20% variable. This card has a 17.99% fixed APR.
  • Annual fee. You'll pay $39 annual fee each year. A small price to pay to use the balance transfer offer.
  • No rewards. Unfortunately, you won't earn any rewards on your purchases.
Annual fee $39
Minimum deposit required Starting at $250
Purchase APR 17.99% fixed
Balance transfer APR 9.95% intro for the first 6 months (then 17.99% fixed)
Recommended minimum credit score 300

What’s changed in 2021

In 2021, we added three new categories: best secured card for cash back, best for high secured deposit and best for balance transfers.

Compare all secured credit cards

If you’re not seeing a product that fits your financial needs on our list of top picks, you can compare even more secured credit card options. See more secured credit cards to find the right one and build your credit.

How to choose the best secured credit cards

To find the right secured card, keep these points in mind:

  • Find the right security deposit for you. The required security deposit depends on the card and can range from $200 to $5,000. If you need a lot of credit to work with, you’ll want a card with a high deposit limit. But if you don’t have much cash on hand, you’ll want a low deposit.
  • Check what credit bureaus the card reports to. You’ll want to make sure the secured card reports to all three major credit bureaus. If a card only reports to one bureau, providers may not have a full, updated view of your credit history.
  • Avoid the fees. Watch out for secured cards with annual or monthly fees. These can make it difficult to keep up on your payments, which defeats the purpose of using a secured card in the first place.
  • See if the card offers graduation. Some secured cards will let you “graduate” to an unsecured version or will upgrade your credit limit after you demonstrate strong financial habits.
  • Check if the secured card performs a credit check. If you’re worried you won’t qualify for a secured card because of your credit, look for one that doesn’t check your credit score for qualification.
  • Consider a card that offers rewards or similar perks. While rare, some secured cards let you earn rewards while you build your credit. Such cards are a great way to reward yourself for building strong credit.

How do secured credit cards work?

A secured credit card is designed to help you build your credit score and works similarly to a traditional credit card. The main difference is you need to put down a security deposit before you can open a secured card.

This deposit helps protect the issuer in the event you fall behind on your payments or default. Because of this, the bank extends you credit when you otherwise wouldn’t qualify for a credit card. This gives you the opportunity to build your credit by showing you can responsibly manage a credit card. Read our guide to learn how secured credit cards work.

  1. Compare and apply for a card. Browse all secured credit cards and choose the one that seems most appealing. You may have to provide your bank credentials during the application to pay the deposit.
  2. Raise your credit score Now that you have a card, use it to raise your credit score by paying your full balance on time each month.
  3. Graduate to an unsecured card Once you raise your credit score, you’re ready for a new card. Contact the bank to see if you can upgrade your card and get your deposit refunded.

Pros and cons of secured cards

Because secured cards are designed for building credit, there are some trade-offs to consider.

Pros

  • Low credit score requirements. Apply with a poor credit score of 300 or no credit history and you can still get your card approval.
  • Good for building credit. Use your card responsibly, pay your balance when it’s due and in time, and it will build your credit. Once you’re back on track, you can easily apply for a better card.
  • Rewards. Earn cash back on your purchases with some secured cards. However, the rewards rate is lower compared to their unsecured counterparts.
  • Control over your credit limit. Make a secured deposit that acts as your credit line. That way you can control the size of your credit line. Unfortunately, all card providers impose limits on the amount you can deposit.
  • Upgrade to an unsecured card. You do more than simply build your credit with a secured card. You can also get an upgrade to an unsecured card if your provider finds your card activity worth rewarding.

Cons

  • Upfront costs. Deposit a required sum to use the card. If you decide to close your account, the card issuer often returns this deposit.
  • Annual fee. Pay an annual fee of up to $49 for the card. Luckily, not all secured cards come with an annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fee. Pay foreign transaction fees of up to 3% for each transaction made abroad or online with foreign merchants. That’s because secured cards aren’t designed for international travel.
  • No intro APR period. It’s hard to find a secured card that offers a 0% intro APR period on purchases, balance transfers or both. Those cards that do offer this perk will likely have 6% or 9% intro APR period instead of 0%.
  • No signup bonus. Often, you won’t get to earn a signup bonus of any kind. However, there are some cards that offer this perk, the Discover it® Secured card being one of the more generous options.

When is a secured credit card worth it?

Using a secured card can help raise your credit score and teach you effective spending habits. Once you’ve established your credit history, you can apply for way better cards down the line and earn generous rewards on your purchases.

  • Get a secured card if you want to build your credit score and you can afford at least a $200 secured deposit.
  • Don’t get a secured card if you qualify for a better and an unsecured card.

You asked, we listened: Top 5 common questions

Secured credit cards function similarly to standard cards, but with some important distinctions. Here are the five most common questions we receive on the subject.

  1. Do secured credit cards really help you build credit? With responsible use, yes. They’re designed to limit your total credit card spending while you work on improving your credit score. They also typically report to all three credit bureaus.
  2. How much will I need to deposit for a secured card? The deposit amount depends on the specific credit card as well as your existing credit score. Typically, the lowest amount you can deposit is either $200 or $300.
  3. Why do I need to place a security deposit? Your security deposit serves as collateral for the card issuer in the event that you fall behind or default on your account.
  4. Can you get denied for a secured card? Yes. Depending on your financial and credit history, an issuer can deny you a secured credit card. Read our guide on what to do if your application is denied.
  5. How many secured cards should I have? If you can manage and use them responsibly, having more than one secured card can increase your total limit and improve your utilization ratio.

Alternatives to secured credit cards

Although secured credit cards are one of the best financial tools you can find, there are three similar options you can choose from:

  • Unsecured cards for bad credit. This type of card is the most similar to secured cards because they both help you build credit. Aside from that, unsecured cards for bad credit could be more expensive in the long run. But if you can’t make a $200 or $300 deposit for a secured card right away, unsecured cards are the next alternative.
  • Prepaid cards. Prepaid cards are another alternative to secured cards if you don’t want to carry cash around. However, you can’t build your credit with prepaid cards.
  • Debit cards. Similar to prepaid cards, debit cards are used as a substitute for cash to pay for online purchases or make travel reservations. But just as prepaid cards, debit cards don’t report your activity to credit bureaus. This makes them useless for credit-building purposes.

Bottom line

A secured card can help you build up your credit score, but you’ll often face higher fees and lower rewards. If you’re on the fence, compare alternative credit cards to find the right pick for you.

Credit card ratings

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Subpar

★★★★★ — Poor

Our team evaluates credit cards to determine their value against similar cards on the market.

We rank card types — travel, cash back, business — on a set of factors that are most relevant to that type of card. We create these rankings to help you narrow down a credit card that best suits your spending and budget.

Learn the details of our methodology and scoring.

More guides on Finder

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