Build your credit without worrying about a yearly charge.
Poor credit can be a roadblock to being approved for a card, but you have options to get around it. The first step you can take towards building your credit is applying for a secured credit card.
To use a secured credit card you’ll need to put down an initial security deposit. Once you use the card and begin making timely payments your credit score should slowly tick up — assuming your card reports to the major credit bureaus.
Top secured credit cards with no annual fees
We highly recommend looking into these three secured cards if you don’t want to pay an annual fee: the Discover it Secured Credit Card, the Secured Mastercard from Capital One, and SDFCU Savings Secured Visa.
|Secured credit card||Annual fee||Minimum deposit||APR|
|$0||$49, $99 or $200 (depending on credit)||24.99% variable|
State Department Federal Credit Union Savings Secured Visa
|$0||$250||as low as 7.99%|
We’ve scoured the market looking for the very best secured credit cards that specifically have no annual fees. Among these $0 annual fee cards, we also highlight what factors make these cards attractive.
1. Discover it Secured Credit Card
- Our pick for best rewards
The Discover it Secured Credit Card offers something you’ll rarely find in a secured card: cash back. Cash back is a percentage of money refunded on eligible purchases that you can redeem in the form of a bank deposit, statement credit, gift card or charitable donation.
For a secured card, the rewards are stellar. Of course, you may find that your Discover card is accepted at fewer locations than your Visa or Mastercard — but overall, the Discover it card is an excellent pick.
- Cash back: Earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations (up to $1,000 each quarter), and 1% on everything else.
- First-year sweetener: Discover will match the cash back you earn in your first year.
- Intro balance transfer APR: 10.99 for 6 months from date of first transfer.
- Minimum deposit: $200
- Watch out for: High purchase APR, potentially limited acceptance
2. Secured Mastercard from Capital One
- Our pick for lowest deposit
With a secured card, your credit limit will typically equal your security deposit. Not so with the Secured Mastercard from Capital One. Depending on your credit, you may be able to deposit only $49 or $99 and still get a credit line of $200.
- Various minimum deposits: Depending on your credit, you’ll make a cash deposit of $49, $99 or $200 to activate your card.
- Get an upgrade with timely payments: After you make your first five monthly payments on time, you’ll get a higher credit line.
- Platinum Mastercard perks: Get purchase benefits, travel insurance, roadside assistance and more.
- Watch out for: High purchase APR, no balance transfers.
3. State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) Savings Secured Visa
- Our pick for low interest rate
What makes the SDFCU Secured Visa a top contender is its APR of as low as 7.99% or purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. That’s incredibly low not just for secured cards, but credit cards in general.
To get this card, you need to be a member of the State Department Federal Credit Union.
- Low interest rate: As low as 7.99% APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
- Rewards: Earn 1 Flexpoint for every dollar you spend, and earn 5 Flexpoints when you pay through Bill Pay.
- Fewer fees: No balance transfer or foreign transaction fees.
- Minimum deposit: $250
- Watch out for: Must apply for the State Department Federal Credit Union
For honorable mentions, we have the Citi Secured Mastercard and the Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card. They’re edged out by our contenders above, but it’s worth comparing all your no-annual-fee secured card options.
|Credit card||Annual fee||Minimum deposit||Purchase APR|
|Citi Secured Mastercard||$0||$200||23.49%|
|Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card||$0||$5||12.75% variable|
4. Citi Secured Mastercard
- A no-frills secured card
The Citi Secured Mastercard is a secured card that gets the job done. It doesn’t offer perks that better cards do, such as rewards, a low APR or the possibility for a low deposit. On the plus side, however, it doesn’t charge an annual fee and it includes Mastercard benefits like travel insurance and purchase protection.
All in all, the Citi Secured Mastercard is outclassed by its flashier competitors. But at the end of the day, it’s a solid card that’ll help you build credit.
- Mastercard perks: Get purchase benefits, travel insurance, roadside assistance and more.
- Minimum deposit: $200
- Watch out for: High APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
5. Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card
- A low-APR card with fewer fees
The DCU Visa Platinum Secured card offers a relatively low 12.75% variable APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
Of course, the card’s main strength — the 12.75% variable APR — is eclipsed by the SDFCU Savings Secured Visa’s 7.74% APR. The card also doesn’t have rewards. But it’s still a reliable no-annual-fee choice, as long as you’re willing to join the Digital Federal Credit Union.
- Low interest rate: 12.75% variable APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
- Light on the fees: No balance transfer, cash advance or foreign transaction fees.
- Minimum deposit: None (borrow against DCU savings account)
- Watch out for: No rewards, must be a member of the Digital Federal Credit Union