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Secured Credit Cards
Build your credit rating with a secured credit card until you can graduate to an unsecured card.
Using your secured card responsibly and paying your balance in full each month will start improving your credit score so you can graduate to an unsecured credit card.
The 4 best secured credit cards in Canada
- Best for building credit with no credit check: Refresh Financial Secured Card
- Best for ongoing low interest rate with no credit check: Home Trust Secured Visa (low-interest option)
- Best for rewards with no credit check: Plastk Secured Visa Card
- Best for benefits with no credit check: Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard
Best for building credit with no credit check
Refresh Financial Secured Card
Min. credit score
Balance transfer APR
Recommended minimum credit score
Best for ongoing low interest rate with no credit check
Home Trust Secured Visa
Min. credit score
Balance transfer APR
Recommended minimum credit score
Best for rewards with no credit check
Plastk Secured Visa Card
Min. credit score
0% intro for the first 3 months (then from 17.99% fixed)
Balance transfer APR
Recommended minimum credit score
Best for benefits with no credit check
Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard
Min. credit score
Balance transfer APR
Recommended minimum credit score
What's in this guide?
- What is a secured credit card?
- Can I get a secured credit card with no credit check?
- Who should consider getting a secured credit card?
- What are the pros and cons of secured credit cards?
- How to choose a secured credit card
- Compare secured credit cards you can apply for now
- What you'll need to apply for a secured credit card in Canada
- How to apply for a secured credit card in Canada
- When can I ask for an upgrade to an unsecured card?
- Why do I need a deposit for a secured credit card?
- 7 tips to help you save for your secured credit card deposit
- Alternatives to getting a secured credit card
What is a secured credit card?
A secured credit card is designed to give people with no credit history, or a bad credit score, access to a credit card in order to build up their credit rating. A secured credit card is much easier to qualify for than a typical unsecured card because lenders are less concerned about your credit score when determining your eligibility. Instead, you provide a security deposit on the card, which serves as “collateral” for the card. Lenders can collect that security deposit if you default on your payments, making them much more willing to approve you for a credit card, even if you have a bad credit score.
Other than the security deposit, a secured credit card works exactly like an unsecured card: You build your credit score by making purchases on the card and paying your balance on time each month.
The money you deposit as collateral — usually between $200 and $10,000 — often becomes your monthly credit limit. After a few months of on-time payments, you may be eligible to increase your limit. Your deposit will be returned to you once you pay off your balance and cancel your card. Keep in mind that unlike unsecured cards, secured cards rarely offer additional perks such as cash back, rewards points or travel insurance.
How does a secured credit card help build my credit?
Most secured cards report your activity to the two major credit bureaus in Canada: Equifax and TransUnion. Many secured cards also offer monthly credit score checks so you can track your progress. Providers occasionally offer educational tools as well to help you get back on track.
Using your card regularly and responsibly can help your credit score increase. Providers tend to see a credit score of 650 as the “magic number”, which, once you’ve reached or surpassed this number, may open you up to the world of unsecured credit cards. Some secured card providers offer an opportunity to graduate to an unsecured version of the card – provided you show financial responsibility over a certain period of time.
Can I get a secured credit card with no credit check?
Yes, many secured credit cards don’t require credit checks for approval. And no credit check secured credit cards work like all other secured cards – the deposit you put down on the card becomes your credit limit. Your provider can use that deposit to pay off your balance if you default on your payments. Otherwise, you’ll get it back when you close out your card and make your last payment.
Secured credit cards with no credit check are ideal to build up your credit score, as you won’t need to have good credit score to qualify. Unfortunately, you have to pay interest on most secured credit cards with no credit checks and they usually don’t come with benefits or rewards.
Why does the number of credit checks matter?
Multiple hard credit checks, or “inquiries,” in a short time could lead lenders to consider you a high-risk customer. If you’re applying for multiple credit cards at once, it may suggest that you’re short on cash or preparing to rack up a lot of debt. That’s why it can be helpful when you’re shopping around for secured credit cards to apply with lenders that don’t do credit checks.
Who should consider getting a secured credit card?
Secured credit cards can be ideal for the following people:
- Those looking to rebuild a poor credit score.
- Those with no prior credit history whatsoever.
- Students or young adults who are ineligible for a student credit card.
- New immigrants who are ineligible for an unsecured card.
- Those who have filed for bankruptcy.
- Those who misused credit cards in the past and have a history of missed payments.
Even if you fall into one of these categories, it’s still possible to be denied for a secured credit card.
What are the pros and cons of secured credit cards?
Because secured cards are designed for building credit, there are some trade-offs to consider.
- Low approval requirements. These cards are designed for individuals with a poor credit score or little to no credit history. Find out more about how your credit score impacts your credit card eligibility in our full guide here.
- Good for building credit. Use your card responsibly, avoid making late payments, and it will help build your credit. Once you’re back on track, you can easily apply for a unsecured card that offers greater benefits and rewards.
- Rewards. Earn cash back on your purchases with some secured cards, although the rewards rate will be lower compared to a unsecured rewards credit card.
- Control over your credit limit. Your deposit acts as your credit line. Although limited by the card issuer, you essentially control the size of your credit line via your deposit. This can help you manage your spending and payments responsibly.
- Potential to upgrade. You’re not stuck using a secured credit card forever and you can do more with it than simply build your credit. You could get upgraded to an unsecured card if your provider approves of your card usage and activity. This opens the door to greater rewards, perks, and benefits.
- Upfront costs. Secured cards require a deposit to be issued a credit limit, usually between $200 – $500, but this deposit is usually refundable if you close your account.
- Annual fee. While some cards offer a $0 annual fee, others charge an annual fee of $12.95 or higher.
- Foreign transaction fee. Expect to pay foreign transaction fees of up to 3% for each transaction made abroad or online with foreign merchants. Secured cards aren’t generally designed for international travel.
- No intro APR period. It isn’t common to find a secured card that offers an intro APR period on purchases, balance transfers or both.
- No signup bonus. Generally, secured cards do not offer a signup bonus of any kind.
How to choose a secured credit card
Choosing the right secured credit card is important for making sure you end up with a card that will help you rebuild your credit score. Once you’ve reviewed your options, follow these simple steps to applying for a secured card.
- Minimum security deposit. If you don’t have a lot of money to put toward a security deposit, you’ll want a secured credit card that will allow you to pay a low security deposit. You’ll be able to get a secured credit card without having to come up with a lot of money.
- Maximum security deposit. Perhaps you have several thousand dollars and want a secured credit card with a large credit limit. In this case, look for a secured credit card that requires a high security deposit. Some providers limit the security deposit to $5,000, but there are a few that allow security deposits as high as $10,000.
- Annual fee. Annual fees are fairly common with secured credit cards. When you compare secured credit cards, look for one with a low or no annual fee.
- Interest rate. Many secured cards have interest rates of 19.99% and higher, with many imposing a penalty APR for late or declined payments. Avoid paying APRs by spending only what you can afford and paying your balance in full each month by the due date. If there’s a chance that you’ll carry a balance rather than pay in full each month, choose a secured credit card with a low interest rate.
- Reporting to the major credit bureaus. The goal of having a secured credit card is to build a new credit history or rebuild a bad credit history. However your goal may be to prove that you can manage money on a low income. Having a card that reports your account details to Equifax and TransUnion is a must. This way, your payment history will be included in your credit report and will help improve your credit score and ultimately your chances of being approved for a different credit card in the future.
- Transaction fees. Transaction fees refer to things like balance transfers, cash advances, foreign transactions and late fees. If you plan on using these features, consider how the fee will affect you.
- Upfront fees. The best secured credit cards do not charge any upfront fees. You’ll only have to pay your security deposit to receive your credit card. Tread carefully with any credit card that asks you to pay additional fees to get the card.
- Authorized users. If you plan on letting a family member or significant other use your card, check with the lender to make sure this is allowed. Some lenders allow you to apply for an extra secured card at no additional cost, but others will charge a flat fee or require you to provide a higher security deposit.
- The credit card provider. Picking a secured credit card from a major credit card provider is often a safe choice. Choose a secured credit card from a well-known, reputable credit card provider to avoid falling for a scam.
Compare secured credit cards you can apply for now
What you’ll need to apply for a secured credit card in Canada
While it can vary between providers, you’ll typically need to provide the following information when you apply for a secured credit card:
- Personal information. Full name, phone number, date of birth and Social Insurance Number (SIN).
- Housing information. Address, type of residence, rented/owned, how long you’ve lived at your home and your monthly mortgage/rent payments.
- Financial information. Banking information including assets and liabilities.
- Income information. Employers name, your job position, length of employment and annual income.
Eligibility requirements for secured credit cards
The exact requirements to qualify for a secured credit card will vary depending on the type of card and the specific lender you choose to go with. That being said, most providers require you to meet these basic eligibility criteria:
- Be 18 years old or the age of majority in your province or territory.
- Have a working bank account (this is sometimes not a requirement – it varies between providers).
- Have enough money to provide a deposit to secure your credit limit (usually between $200 and $10,000).
How to apply for a secured credit card in Canada
You can follow these 5 steps to apply for a secured credit card:
- Compare secured cards. Compare a number of secured credit cards with no credit check to find the best one for your personal situation.
- Apply for the card of your choice. Apply for the credit card of your choice by visiting the main site of the provider you’re interested in. You can navigate to the application page by clicking the “Apply now” button in the table below.
- Fill out application details. Provide personal information such as your full name, address, email and phone number to start your application.
- Review final details. Read the fine print of your contract so that you understand the terms and conditions of your no credit check credit card.
- Click submit. Click submit on your application or call your credit card provider directly to apply over the phone.
When can I ask for an upgrade to an unsecured card?
Secured credit cards are often used with the goal of graduating to an unsecured card as soon as you’ve improved your credit score enough.
Some secured card providers will offer you the chance to upgrade to an unsecured card once you’ve increased your credit score and proved that you’re a responsible and trustworthy borrower. If you’re provider doesn’t offer an unsecured card, consider applying for one with a different provider once your credit score is in the good range: about 650 or higher.
Once you decide to close your secured credit card account, you’ll need to pay off your balance in full before you receive your deposit back.
Why do I need a deposit for a secured credit card?
A secured credit card’s deposit is similar to the deposit you put down when renting an apartment. Just as a rental deposit protects a landlord if a renter doesn’t pay, the deposit on your secured credit card protects the provider should you find yourself unable to make payments.
The amount you provide as a deposit will usually serve as your monthly credit limit. So if you provide the lender with $300, your monthly credit limit will likely be $300.
Do all secured credit cards require a deposit?
Yes, most secured credit card providers require a deposit which serves as collateral in case you fail to pay your balance. If you’re looking for a low minimum deposit, consider getting the Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard offers a minimum deposit amount of just $75, with a credit limit of $2,500. However, if you’re looking to pay a bigger deposit in order to get a higher monthly credit limit, a card such as the Refresh Financial Secured Card offers a minimum of just $200 and a maximum limit of $10,000 – which can prove valuable if you’re looking to make a big purchase.
Before receiving your secured credit card, you’ll need to save up some cash to put down as your deposit. Your plan to get a secured credit card must involve a saving strategy that begins with knowing your fixed expenses. Developing new spending habits can yield a lot of savings, but a little assertiveness won’t hurt either.
1. Download a free budgeting app
To avoid late payments, set up payment alerts and autopay for your bills. A free budgeting app such as Mint can be particularly helpful. Use it to set financial goals, track your spending, view your credit score, keep tabs on your investments and balances, pay bills and receive alerts.
2. Download a free mobile banking app
A free mobile banking app can also help you set aside money. For instance, the Nomi Find & Save by RBC works by moving money from your chequing or savings account to a separate account when you receive your pay or other regular income.
3. Look into low-income assistance
Many communities offer low-income assistance programs for gas, electricity and other utilities. Also, if you initially put down a deposit for your utility accounts, ask if you can have it refunded after about a year of timely payments. Some utility providers automatically refund deposits after you’ve established a reliable track record of payments.
4. Get programmable thermostats and energy-saving appliances
Reducing your overall expenses is key to taking control of your personal finances. Even seemingly small steps like installing a programmable thermostat to lower home heating costs, changing your lightbulbs to LEDs or seeking out Energy Star–labelled appliances matter to your long-term financial success. Some services even offer rebates that partially cover the cost of a programmable thermostat.
5. Reexamine your phone bill
Examine your cell phone and landline service plans, and talk to your providers about ways to bring down the costs. To get a clearer sense about whether your cell phone plan is right for you, install a free app to track your data use. If you’re not close to hitting your limits, consider a cheaper no-frills plan. Using a prepaid carrier or joining a friend or family member’s plan can also reduce your monthly smartphone tab.
6. Ditch cable
Join the growing number of cord cutters by exploring whether Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, hayu or Crave can replace your cable bill. If you aren’t ready to ditch cable, call your provider to negotiate a cheaper deal.
7. Look into your transportation options
If you live far from work, consider asking your employer if working from home — either one day a week or several — is possible.
For good measure, evaluate public transportation, particularly if you live in or near an urban centre where trains, buses, carpooling and carshare services are available. For those who don’t need a car daily, taxis, rideshare services — like Uber and Lyft — or simply renting a car or using a carshare here and there can save money.
If you do drive, apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru can steer you to the best gas deals along your route. Also, check if your auto insurance provider offers multiline policies: Bundling your auto and home or rental insurance into a multiline policy can typically shave 10% to 15% off your overall bill.
Alternatives to getting a secured credit card
Secured credit cards should always be the secondary option to unsecured credit cards when it comes to building and utilizing credit, because unsecured cards come with more perks and don’t require a security deposit. As such, secured cards should be one of your first fallback choices if you’re denied an unsecured credit card.
You could also consider these other financing alternatives instead of getting a secured credit card:
- Personal loans offer money quickly, but often charge hundreds of dollars in interest over the course of your loan. Alternatively, secured cards give you quick access to cash and the opportunity to avoid interest altogether by paying your balance in full each month.
- Prepaid cards are another option that require a deposit. The main difference between a prepaid card and a secured credit card is that prepaid cards can’t help build up your credit rating because your payment history is not reported to the either Canadian credit bureau. You can think of a prepaid card more like a gift card.
Secured credit cards are designed for individuals with a poor credit score, limited to no credit history and who have difficulty qualifying for an unsecured credit card. These cards are structured to operate on a security deposit with a smaller credit limit to encourage responsible use and help you build your credit.
Depending on the card, you may not have to pay an annual fee and you could be offered limited cash back rewards. But most secured cards do not offer rewards, signup bonuses, and could come with a annual fee. If you’re not sure this kind of card is right for you, compare other credit builder cards here.
Frequently asked questions
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