Build a credit score to be proud of with secured cards | finder.com

Compare 7+ secured cards starting at 9.99% APR

Your guide to secured credit cards

Build your credit with ease.

Secured credit cards present a great opportunity to raise your credit score and build a good credit history. With a low security deposit, you can start adding positive information to your credit history.
primor® Secured Mastercard® Gold Card

Our Pick: primor® Secured Mastercard Gold Card

Have little or poor credit? The primor® Secured Mastercard Gold Card has no minimum credit score requirements and no processing or application fees to worry about.

  • $49
  • Up to 25 days interest free
  • Minimum Income Requirement of at least $100 higher than your monthly expenses p.a.

Compare secured credit cards

Rates last updated February 19th, 2018
Name Product Product Description APR for Purchases ( Purchase Rate ) Annual fee Interest Free Period
primor® Secured Mastercard® Gold Card
Low fixed interest rates with no penalty rate.
9.99% variable
$49
Up to 25 days
First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
You can increase your credit limit by adding funds to the initial deposit.
9.99% variable
$49
Up to 25 days
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
A secured Visa® credit card that helps you build your credit quickly.
18.64% variable
$35
Up to 25 days
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured
With just a security deposit and 19.99% variable APR, start building or rebuilding your credit history.
19.99% variable
$29
Up to 25 days
UNITY Visa Secured Credit Card
Borrow up to $10000 and get your credit score back on track.
17.99% fixed
$39
Up to 25 days
Applied Bank Secured Visa Gold Preferred Credit Card
This secured card can help you rebuild your credit with an initial deposit of $200 to $1,000.
9.99% fixed
$48
0 interest free days
State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card
Created to help you establish or rebuild credit.
13.24% variable
$0
Up to 21 days
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
Earn SKYPASS miles while building your credit history in the United States.
17.49% variable
$50
Up to 24 days

Compare up to 4 providers

What is a secured credit card?

A secured card is a credit card that requires a security deposit to be made against the credit limit for the card. The credit limit is usually equal to the amount of the security deposit. If you make a $500 security deposit, for example, you will have a $500 credit limit.

Besides the security deposit, your secured credit card behaves just like a regular credit card. Your purchases are charged against the credit limit and you’re required to make at least the minimum payment each month. Your security deposit is held in case you default on your payments. As long as you pay as agreed, your security deposit will be returned to you.

Just some of the secured card brands we compare

Green Dot Bank logoFirst Progress bank provider logoOpenSky provider logo
usccf-one-united-bank-provider-logoApplied Bank provider logoCapital One provider logo
Discover provider logo

How secured credit cards work

The primary difference between a secured and unsecured credit card is that a secured credit card requires an upfront security deposit as cash collateral. Other than that, you’ll still be able to us the secured credit card in the same fashion as an unsecured credit card.

Why does a secured card require a deposit?

Credit card issuers want to be certain that you’ll be able to make your payments. If you have no credit or bad credit, a security deposit alleviates some of the risk from the credit card issuer and offers collateral in case you default on the credit card agreement.

For example, you may need to deposit $200 in a separate account to access a credit line of $200 on your card. You cannot touch the $200 you deposited but you get it back after you close your card.

Why would I want a secured credit card?

Some consumers have a tough time getting approved for a credit card because they’ve had past credit problems or haven’t established a credit history yet. A secured credit card is typically used to establish new credit or to rebuild poor credit — so spend wisely and make payments responsibly to push that credit score in the right direction.

Once you’ve become a master of your credit handling capabilities and begin to see improvements in your credit score, you may no longer need to be tethered to a card with a security deposit — meaning you can apply for an unsecured card.

26 million Americans are “credit invisible,” meaning one out of every 10 Americans doesn’t have any credit history with the major credit bureaus.

Pros and cons of secured credit cards

Pros

  • Get one even if you have new or damaged credit.
  • You set your credit limit.
  • Secured cards can come with no annual fee and low deposit requirements.
  • Rebuild your credit score.

Cons

  • You must put down a security deposit.
  • Cards typically come with high interest rates.
  • Credit is limited by your deposit.
  • Cards tend to offer few rewards.

5 simple ways secured cards help rebuild credit

It helps to think of secured credit cards as training wheels, a way to add a little stability to your credit habits while at the same time proving that you’re responsible and are following the right steps toward financial independence.

Below are five simple ways a secured card can help you repair your credit.

  • A first step. Secured cards can be the first taste of credit for some borrowers. It serves a great trial for credit cards because you’re using your own money.
  • Credit bureau reporting. Almost all secured cards report to credit bureaus, so you can be sure that your timely payments and sensible account management will be noticed.
  • Increased credit limit. You’ll instantly lower your credit utilization ratio. This could bump your score as it shows that you have available credit and you’re not maxed out.
  • More lines of credit. It’ll increase your total number of credit accounts, and more accounts generally points out that you’re a creditworthy borrower.
  • Creating positive habits. Secured cards will likely help you build better financial boundaries because you’re using your own money and not a line of credit.

How secured cards rebuild credit

Tips for using secured credit cards

Ideally, your secured credit card is only a stepping-stone to a better credit card. In the meantime, it’s important to use your secured credit card in a way that improves your credit score. Otherwise, it will take you longer than necessary to qualify for an unsecured credit card.

  • Choose a secured credit card that reports to the major credit bureaus. A card that reports to all three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – is best, but if the card only reports to one credit bureau, that’s OK as long as the rest of the terms are favorable.
  • Always make your payments on time. Payment history is the most important factor affecting your credit score. It makes up 35% of your FICO score. You can’t afford even a single late payment when rebuilding your credit score.
  • Make multiple payments. The more payments you make while using your card is going to keep your balance low. This is especially important because large balances can increase your debt to limit ratio, and that can put a small dent in your credit score. You never know when a credit card lender is going to report to the credit bureaus, so you might as well stay on top of it.
  • Make small purchases. It may be tempting to swipe your secured credit card for a large purchase, but that’s the type of spending that may present problems when it comes to paying the bill. Use your card for multiple smaller purchases that you can pay off at the end of the month.
  • Keep your balance at a reasonable level. The amount of debt you’re carrying is the second most important factor for your credit score – accounting for 30% of your credit score. The lower your balance, especially relative to your credit limit, the better. Aim to charge no more than 30% of your credit limit.
  • Automate your payments. Setting a monthly reminder a few days before the bill is due or enrolling in an autopay billing system are two surefire ways to make sure your payment is being made on time.
  • Minimize any other applications for credit. Credit card issuers judge you based on the number of credit applications you make. Keep your secured credit card as your primary credit card for six months to a year before applying for an unsecured credit card.

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 with a low deposit.
  • Maximum security deposit. Look for a secured credit card that requires a high security deposit if you want a secured credit card with a large credit limit. Many limit the security deposit to $5,000, but there are a few that allow security deposits as high as $10,000.
  • Interest rate. Ideally, you will pay your balance in full each month. This is the best way to build a good credit score and avoid getting into debt. 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. You’ll pay less in finance charges if you have 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. Having a card that reports your account details to the major credit bureaus is a must. This way your payment history will be included in your credit report and will help improve your credit score.
  • The credit card issuer. Picking a secured credit card from a major credit card issuer is often a safe choice. Choose a secured credit card from a well-known, reputable credit card issuer to be sure you’re not falling for a scam.

Understanding secured credit card fees

Secured credit cards have the same fees as credit cards, but can affect your spending limit much differently. Tread carefully with any credit card that asks you to pay additional fees to get a credit card.

  • Annual fee and upfront fees. An annual fee is a fee that is charged once a year by your card provider that allows you to use the card. You may also run into secured cards that charge an application fee. The reason these fees matter is because it’s taken directly out of the initial deposit.
  • How much will these fees cost? Annual fees can cost nothing or be as high as $49. Most secured credit cards won’t have an application fee, but the ones that do will typically cost around $25.
  • How can I avoid these fees? As you compare secured credit cards, look for one with a low or no annual fee. This will lower the cost of having a secured credit card. Also, you won’t have much trouble finding a card without an application fee — so look elsewhere if the card you like charges this fee.

Let’s say that you’re putting a $400 security deposit on a card and the annual fee is $50 and the application fee is $25, you’d only have a credit limit of $325 left. Research different cards that appeal to you and apply for the one that allows you to get the most for your buck.

Secured credit card deposit amounts and payment windows

Credit cardDeposit amountDeposit windowFunding method
AeroMexico Card$300 – $5,000Fund when you apply

Print an application and mail along with your deposit payment.

Cashier’s check

Money order

Applied Bank Card$200 – $1,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund an account with Applied Bank.
Armed Forces Bank Card$300 – $3,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund a Credit Builder Savings Account with Armed Forces Bank.
BankAmericard Card$300 – $4,900Fund when you applyBank transfer
Bremer Bank Card$300 – $5,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund an account with Bremer Bank.
Capital One Mastercard$49, $99 or $200, based on your creditworthiness.90 daysBank transfer
Citi Secured Mastercard$200 – $2,500Fund when you applyBank transfer
Digital Federal Credit$500 – $1,00045 daysBank transfer
Discover it Secured Card$200 – $2,500Fund when you applyBank transfer
Excent Secured Card$200 – $5,00030 daysBank transfer
Fifth Third Bank Card$300 – $5,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund an account with Fifth Third Bank
First Progress Elite$200 – $2,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund an account with Synovus Bank
First Progress Prestige$200 – $2,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund an account with Synovus Bank
First Progress Select$200 – $2,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund an account with Synovus Bank
Harley-Davidson Card$300 – $5,000Fund when you applyBank transfer

Cashier’s check

Money order

Justice Federal Credit$100 – 110% of pledged shares.Fund when you applyBank transfer
Merrick Bank’s Card$200 – $3,00030 daysBank transfer

Cashier’s check

Money order

Navy Federal nRewards$500 – $50,000Fund when you applyBank transfer (Applicant must be an NFCU member)

 

OpenSky Secured Visa$200 – $3,000Fund when you applyBank transfer
primor Classic Visa$200 – $5,00030 daysBank transfer
primor Gold Visa$200 – $5,00030 daysBank transfer
primor® Gold Mastercard$200 – $5,00030 daysBank transfer
primor® Classic$200 – $5,00030 daysBank transfer
Green Dot® Platinum$200 – $1,00060 daysBank transfer

Check or money order

Pay at a Green Dot partner retail store

SDFCU Savings Platinum$250 – $100,00030 daysBank transfer
SKYPASS Visa®$300 – $5,000Fund when you applyBank transfer
SunTrust Secured Card$300, maximum deposit depends on your creditworthinessFund when you applyMust open and fund an account with SunTrust Bank
Surge Mastercard®$50 – $50030 daysUndisclosed
TCF Bank Secured$300 – $5,000Fund when you applyBank transfer
Union Bank Visa$300 – $5,000Fund when you applyUndisclosed
Unity Visa Card$250 – $10,000Fund when you applyBank transfer, check or money order
UNITY UGET 25 Promotion$300 – $5,000Fund when you applyBank transfer
US Bank Card$300 – $5,000Fund when you applyBank transfer

Cashier’s check

Money order

USAA American Express$250 – $5,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund a USAA Bank 2-year Certificate of Deposit
USAA Platinum Visa$250 – $5,000Fund when you applyOpen and fund a USAA Bank 2-year Certificate of Deposit
Verve Mastercard®$50 – $50030 daysUndisclosed
Wells Fargo Card$300 – $10,00030 daysBank transfer from Wells Fargo account

Check or money order

Cashier’s check

How to apply for a secured credit card

To apply for a secured card, follow these steps to apply online or at your local bank:

  1. Personal information. Be at least 18 years old, provide your Social Security number, residential status and contact details.
  2. Employment and income information. List your occupation, employment status and income.
  3. Submit application. Depending on the lender, it can take anywhere from less than a minute to a few business days to review your application.
  4. Provide bank account information. If approved, the lender will need your bank’s routing and account number to deposit the funds for your minimum security deposit to open the card.

What type of secured credit card do you need?

Compare secured cards by…

Secured cards by minimum deposit

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Bottom line

No matter what your choices are, you should carefully consider all costs involved when getting a credit card, whether it’s secured or unsecured. The way you use your credit card can directly affect your credit score, so it’s important to be finacially responsible and set realistic budgets to prove your creditworthiness in the future.

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