Citi® Secured Mastercard® review
Limited or no credit? This might be the card for you.
finder.com’s rating: 4.3 / 5
- Get this card if you want a no annual fee secured card from a reputable provider.
- Pick something else if you have severely damaged credit.
- Apply if you’re new to credit or have limited credit history.
Purchase APR (variable)
Kevin Joey Chen is a credit cards, banking and investments writer whose work and analysis have appeared on CNN, U.S. News & World Report, Business.com, Lifehacker and CreditCards.com. He's passionate about helping you get your finances in order by expertly navigating cutting-edge financial tools — including credit cards, apps and budgeting software.
Getting a credit card can be tough if you have limited or no credit. A product like the Citi® Secured Mastercard® — issued by Citi, a finder.com advertising partner — can help, but not without a few caveats. It requires an initial deposit that acts as your credit limit and your deposit won’t accrue interest.
That said, it’s a no-frills product, which can be refreshing to some cardholders. But its real value comes from its credit-building power — which comes without an annual fee.
Each month, Citi will report your payment history to the three major credit bureaus. By keeping up with payments, you’ll steadily build solid credit that you can later leverage for more lucrative credit cards and better rates on loans.
How to apply for the Citi® Secured Mastercard®
- Click Apply now.
- Complete the application with details like your name, Social Security number, address, financial information and security deposit amount.
- Review your information and click Submit.
- It may take up to four weeks to receive a decision while Citi manually approves your application. After you’re approved, it typically takes seven to 10 business days to receive a card in the mail.
What credit score do I need?
According to Citi, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® is for consumers with little or no credit. If you have severely damaged credit, the card might not be the best choice.
- Annual fee: None. A $0 annual fee is helpful when you’re building credit.
- Apply with limited or no credit. Because it’s a secured card, it may be available to you even if you’re new to credit. If you have severely damaged credit, you may want to consider a secured card from another brand.
- Build your credit. Citi reports your payment activity to the three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. This helps you build credit as you make on-time payments and use your card responsibly.
- Citi perks. Get assistance through Citi Identity Theft Solutions if your credit account is compromised. You won’t be liable for unauthorized charges on your account.
What to watch out for
- By default, Citi will keep your security deposit for 18 months. When you put down your security deposit, Citi will keep it in a Collateral Holding Account for 18 months. You must keep this account open for 18 months unless Citi deems you eligible to have your deposit returned.
- Security deposit between $200 and $2,500. Consider these limits before applying for the card. You’ll find other secured cards with lower minimum deposits and higher maximum deposits.
- Penalty APR. If you make a late or returned payment, Citi may assess up to a 29.99% variable penalty APR to all of your balances. This can be tough as you’re building your credit, so try to avoid it. If you’re worried about the penalty APR, don’t be afraid to shop for other secured-card providers. Many of them don’t have penalty APRs.
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Compare Citi® Secured Mastercard® with other cards
What should I know before I apply?
Before applying for this card, check that you meet the eligibility criteria and have the required information on hand.
- You’re at least 18 years old
- You don’t have any bankruptcy history within the last two years
- You have at least $200 for a security deposit
- Your full name
- Your date of birth and Social Security number
- Your citizenship status
- Your address and contact information
- Your total annual income and monthly mortgage or rent payment
Is Citi® Secured Mastercard® right for me?
To find out whether the Citi® Secured Mastercard® is the right call, consider the following:
- Do you want to build credit? In general, secured cards are the cheaper credit-building options compared with unsecured cards because they come with fewer fees. This can help you minimize your credit card cost and focus on building your credit.
- Do you want a no-annual-fee card? The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is one of the rare credit-building cards with no annual fee. Most other secured cards come with an annual fee of up to $49. On the other hand, unsecured cards for building credit can cost you up to $300 annually.
- Can you put up a cash deposit? This is the only drawback of secured credit cards. However, you can deposit as low as $200 and as high as $2,500 with the Citi® Secured Mastercard®, which should be enough to start rebuilding your credit.
Citi® Secured Mastercard® reviews and complaints
Cardholders generally have good things to say about this card. Many of them say the card helped them build credit.
Some unhappy cardholders say the application process is slow and Citi customer service can be unhelpful. Other customers report overly sensitive security measures that prevent them from using the card.
Alert Citi when you travel to avoid getting a hold placed on your card.
I got the card. Now what?
- Activate your card. Call the number printed on the sticker attached to your card, or activate it on the Citi website.
- Register an online account. Log in to your Citi account to view your balance, make payments, set up automatic payments and more.
- Make a plan to pay your bill consistently. Paying on time is key to raising your credit score. Consider setting up automatic payments so you never miss one.
- Check your credit score. Sign up for services that let you check your FICO score. Typically, you can check your score from one credit bureau every month.
- Avoid interest. Strongly consider paying your balance in full each month, as this will help you avoid interest. It’s also an excellent habit to develop while you’re building credit.
- Avoid fees. Consider avoiding balance transfers, cash advances and foreign transactions. These transactions come with fees. Balance transfers and cash advances will start accruing interest immediately.
Late and returned payments come with fees of up to $40.
The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is overshadowed by mainstays like the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
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