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Compare secured credit cards for new immigrants

Building credit in a new country can be difficult, but these credit cards can help.


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You may have a strong credit score in your home country, but that history doesn’t follow you when you arrive in Canada — you’ll need to start building your credit again from scratch. That’s because there’s no international credit reporting agency. The earlier you start building credit in Canada, the better. Over time, you can build a strong credit score which can help you get approved for housing, credit cards, loans and more.

Many banks offer packages catered toward newcomers in Canada. These welcome packages can help you get started with unsecured credit cards, bank accounts, loans and other products, however if you aren’t eligible for an unsecured card, a secured card may be your next best option.

How to build credit with a secured credit card

You build credit by responsibly borrowing money and making your payments on time. However, if you have poor or no credit, few lenders will approve you for a loan, credit card, mortgage or auto loan. But your situation is not hopeless: Your best option may be a secured credit card.

With a secured credit card, you put down a security deposit — typically anywhere from $75 to $10,000, with the average deposit around $200 to $500 — before opening an account. Your deposit then becomes your credit limit. Since this deposit serves as collateral, your card provider is guaranteed to get paid for any unpaid balance even if you fail to make a repayment.

For this reason, secured cards are much easier to get approved for than unsecured credit cards. Once you obtain a secured card, you gain a great opportunity to build credit. With timely payments, you could steadily increase your credit score and then graduate to a more powerful and rewarding unsecured credit card.

Compare secured credit cards

Name Product Required Deposit Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Reward
Refresh Financial Secured Card
$200 - $10,000
The Refresh Secured Card has no credit check, a low annual fee and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with anywhere from $200 - $10,000.
Take advantage of a low annual fee, with no credit check and guaranteed approval once you secure your card with some funds.

Compare up to 4 providers

How to choose a secured credit card

Without a credit history, you could still be denied for a secured card. Each time you apply for a credit card, the respective provider initiates a hard pull on your credit report.

To avoid too many hard pulls, apply for one card at a time, make sure you meet the eligibility requirements and apply with providers who are likely to approve you based on your situation. If you’re rejected, wait a few months before applying for the next one. Here are considerations to review when choosing a secured credit card:

  1. Does the card require a credit check? Those that don’t check your credit history will prove much easier to obtain as a new immigrant.
  2. What is the required security deposit? Choosing a card with a low minimum security deposit could help you start building credit without hurting your savings. You can always request a credit limit increase later on and provide a higher deposit.
  3. Does the card report to both credit bureaus? Using a secured credit card that reports to both bureaus – Equifax and TransUnion – is the fastest way to build your credit score.

What languages can Customer Service representatives speak?

Most providers will offer English and French speaking options for over the phone customer service. Banks usually have employees who can collectively speak a variety of different languages such as Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin, Arabic, Hindi, Punjabi, Vietnamese and more. The specific languages spoken will depend on the bank branch.

Larger companies such as Visa or Mastercard may be able to offer a wide range of languages too since they’re based throughout the world.

If you’re in need of another language option that your bank branch or credit card provider doesn’t offer, your best bet is to use a translator.

Bottom line

If you’re not eligible for an unsecured credit card for new immigrants, a secured credit card can help you build credit – so long as you spend responsibly and pay your balance in full each month.

Compare your secured credit card options to find one that suits your needs. Once you’ve used your secured credit card responsibly, you’ll be able to graduate to an unsecured credit card, where you can earn rewards like cash back, points or miles.

Frequently asked questions about secured cards

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