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Secured credit cards

Compare secured credit cards that help you build your credit score.

Compare secured credit cards to rebuild credit

Use our table to compare secured credit credits for bad credit. These cards are designed to help you build your credit. Note, you may need to pay the security deposit when you apply for a card.

1 - 5 of 16
Name Product Filter values Minimum deposit required Annual fee Minimum credit score
Chime® Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Chime® Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card
N/A - See terms
A unique secured card with no annual fees, no interest, and no credit check to apply.
Current Credit Building Card
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Current Credit Building Card
New / limited credit
Build credit with every swipe using only the money in your account, no matter your credit history or score.
Varo Believe Secured Credit Card
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Varo Believe Secured Credit Card
A path to better credit from an entirely new kind of credit card. No minimum security deposit No annual fee No APR
Cleo Credit Builder card
Cleo Credit Builder card
Starting at $1
Build your credit score with this secured charge card with a minimum deposit of only $1.
Pesto Secured Rewards Mastercard®
Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5: ★★★★★
Pesto Secured Rewards Mastercard®
Refundable cash deposit or item(s) like fine jewelry, diamonds, gold and watches
New / limited credit
A unique secured card that allows you to use cash or items such as fine jewelry, diamonds, gold and watches as your refundable security deposit.

The best secured credit cards of 2024

Too many options? If you’d like a curated guide of the best secured cards, check out our editors’ top picks.

How secured credit cards work

A secured credit card is designed to help you build your credit score and works similarly to a traditional credit card. The main difference is you need to put down a security deposit before you can open a secured card.

The deposit helps protect the issuer in the event you default or fall behind on your payments. It allows the bank to extend credit to you when you otherwise wouldn’t qualify for a credit card. This gives you the opportunity to build your credit by showing you can responsibly manage a credit card.

These are the three basic steps for how secured credit cards work.

  1. Compare and apply for a card. Browse all secured credit cards and choose the one that seems most appealing. You may have to provide your bank credentials during the application to pay the deposit.
  2. Raise your credit score. Now that you have a card, use it to raise your credit score by paying your full balance on time each month.
  3. Graduate to an unsecured card. Once you raise your credit score, you’re ready for a new card. Contact the bank to see if you can upgrade your card and get your deposit refunded.

What should I look for in a secured credit card?

When researching what card will best fit your needs, there are a few main factors to take into consideration:

  • How much do you have to deposit?
  • What’s the annual fee?
  • How high is the APR?
  • Is there a grace period for interest payments?
  • What are the fees?
  • Is your payment history reported to the three major credit bureaus?

A provider’s website should clearly list a card’s deposit, annual fee and APR. When you’re confident you understand all of the card’s details, it’s time to submit an application.

How to effectively use a secured card

Here’s how to use a secured card to effectively build your credit:

  • Pay your balance on time. And pay it in full. This is the best way to build your credit and potentially graduate to an unsecured card.
  • Avoid maxing out your credit limit. The chances are you’ll get the minimum credit line of around $300. Maxing out your credit limit could send the wrong signal to other lenders. The recommended utilization ratio for credit-building is less than 30%, but in this case, you can safely go to 50% as long as you always pay off your balance in full before the due date.
  • Put your subscription services on the card. Get your Netflix account or any similar service and automate your payments so you always use your card and always pay off your balance.

How to fund a secured credit card

Once you’re approved for a secured card, you need to fund your security deposit before using your card. Most secured cards expect you to choose your deposit, though some do have minimums and maximums. Funding your deposit can be done in a handful of ways:

Fund your card by mail

Lenders will typically allow you to fund your new card by sending a check or money order by mail. Generally, you’ll complete a security funds to be mailed with the deposit check. Find the address and any other necessary information on the credit card website or by following the instructions in the package you received from the issuer.

Fund your card by phone

Most new credit cards have a sticker on the front or back of the card with a number to call to activate the card. If the issuer uses an automated system, follow the prompts to fund your deposit and activate the card. If you’d like to speak to a representative, they can walk you through the process.

Fund your card online

Many secured credit cards offer an online system to manage your account, often with the option to pay your deposit. Once you’ve receive your card, follow the instructions to set up your online account. Once your account is set up, navigate to the section dedicated to deposits, then fill out and submit all required information.

Who are secured credit cards good for?

A secured credit card can be a useful financial product for a handful of different people in a variety of situations, whether they need to build credit or learn how to use a credit card responsibly. Here are a few situations where you might benefit from a secured card:

  • First-time credit card user. A secured card in this case can be useful for numerous reasons. Using it will help you build credit, learn smart spending habits and teach yourself how to responsibly manage an account with your own money.
  • Bankrupt. The best way to combat being denied after declaring bankruptcy is to apply for a secured credit card with no credit check.
  • Student. A secured card can be useful for a student in teaching responsible spending habits with a limited balance.
  • Poor credit. It’s a great way to rebuild your credit is to use a secured credit card and make on-time payments and clear your balance each month. Learn more about how to determine your credit score.
  • Building credit. If you have minimal credit history, a secured credit card can put you in a good position to start pushing your credit score up the hill.
  • Identity theft. While this may not be your fault, traditional lenders may be unwilling to lend to you. In this case, apply for a secured credit card with no credit check and frequently monitor your account.

Five ways secured credit cards rebuild your credit

  1. Secured cards are a quick first step. These cards typically don’t require credit checks, and you won’t be subject to a soft or hard inquiry. You’ll likely be green-lighted for a card unless you’ve recently claimed bankruptcy or you have a history of frequently missing payments.
  2. Most secured cards report to credit bureaus. When bureaus see you’re responsibly using your credit card, they’ll reward you with higher credit scores. Be sure to confirm with your lender that your spending and payment history will be reported, otherwise the card will do nothing for your credit history.
  3. They lower your credit utilization ratio. After you’re approved for a secured credit card, your credit utilization ratio should go down. Credit utilization is so important that it makes up 30% of your credit score. Credit bureaus want to see you have a lot of available credit relative to your card balances.
  4. They increase your total number of credit accounts. Just like your utilization ratio affects your credit score, so does your total number of open credit accounts. Credit bureaus generally like seeing more accounts because it indicates that more lenders find you creditworthy.
  5. Secured cards help you build better financial habits. When you open a secured card, you put down a security deposit that’s equal to your credit limit. That means you can control the amount you deposit, thus setting your credit limit on your own terms. After you build your financial habits, you’ll be ready to obtain unsecured cards with higher credit limits.

Secured cards pros and cons

Because secured cards are designed for building credit, there are some trade-offs to consider.


  • Low credit score requirements. Apply with a poor credit score of 300 or no credit history and still get approved for the card.
  • Good for building credit. Use your card responsibly, pay your balance when it’s due and on time, and it will build your credit. Once you’re back on track, you can easily apply for a better card.
  • Rewards. Earn cash back on your purchases with some secured cards. However, the rewards rate is lower compared to their unsecured counterparts.
  • Control over your credit limit. Make a secured deposit that acts as your credit line. That way you can control the size of your credit line. Unfortunately, all card providers impose limits on the amount you can deposit.
  • Upgrade to an unsecured card. You do more than simply build your credit with a secured card. You’ll likely also get an upgrade to an unsecured card if your provider finds your card activity worth rewarding.


  • Upfront costs. Deposit a required sum to use the card. If you decide to close your account, the card issuer often returns this deposit.
  • Annual fee. Pay an annual fee of up to $49 for the card. Luckily, not all secured cards come with an annual fee.
  • Foreign transaction fee. Pay foreign transaction fees of up to 3% for each transaction made abroad or online with foreign merchants. That’s because secured cards aren’t designed for international travel.
  • No intro APR period. It’s hard to find a secured card that offers a 0% intro APR period on purchases, balance transfers or both. Those cards that do offer this perk will likely have 6% or 9% intro APR period instead of 0%.
  • No signup bonus. Often, you won’t get to earn a signup bonus of any kind. However, there are some cards that offer this perk, the Discover it® Secured card being one of the more generous options.

How to apply for a credit card after bankruptcy

Before applying, know that your options may be limited. But it’s possible to get a credit card post-bankruptcy, especially if you work on improving your credit over time. Follow these steps to get your first credit card after bankruptcy.

  1. Take stock of where you’re at. If you want to open a credit card post-bankruptcy, one of your main goals is to restore your credit to a reasonable standing.
  2. Prepare to apply for credit cards after bankruptcy. When you apply for a card, the provider initiates a hard inquiry on your credit report. This will typically drop your credit score by a few points. That’s why it’s important to find the right card and apply one at a time.
  3. Compare credit cards. Explore your options by comparing credit requirements, annual fees, APRs, reward opportunities and reporting to the major credit bureaus.
  4. Rebuild your credit. Now that you have a fresh start, it’s a great time to build the right financial habits. These include keeping your card’s balance below 30% and paying your bill on time and in full each month.

Do secured cards come with rewards?

You may have heard of reward credit cards — cards that offer bonuses for spending.

For example, a cashback card returns a portion of your spending back to you. If your card offers 2% cash back on all purchases, spending $10,000 means you get $200 back.

Meanwhile, a travel card offers points or miles based on your spending. Maybe your card offers 2 points per dollar you spend at restaurants: If you spend $5,000 on dining, you’ll earn 10,000 points. Redeem these points for hotels, flights, car rentals, cruises and more.

Rewards for unsecured and secured cards: It’s lopsided

Here’s the thing about rewards: You’ll almost always find them with unsecured cards.

Secured cards with rewards do exist, but they’re rare. Lenders largely offer rewards to attract consumers with good credit. In the secured-card space, they offer few bonuses.

If a card comes with rewards, check if your points or miles might be diminished by an annual fee. To decide if the annual fee is worth paying, calculate how many points or miles you need to earn to break even. Then find how much you must spend to obtain them.

Are there low-income secured credit cards?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently amended the Credit CARD Act to make it easier for stay-at-home spouses and partners to get credit cards. Card issuers can now consider third-party income if the applicant has access to that money — for instance, a stay-at-home spouse who has access to their spouse’s income. If this applies to you, you may list your spouse’s income on your application when applying for a credit card.

Even with low income, you can still get your hands on a few terrific credit cards, such as the Discover it® Cash Back. Just know that your income can affect your total credit limit.

What if I’m turned down because of my income?

There are still options available to those with low income if you’re turned down for a secured credit card.

  • Become an authorized user. If your income is keeping you from the credit card you want, consider tagging along on a loved one’s application as an authorized user. While the card account won’t be in your name, you’ll reap the benefits of the card as and good credit habits will reflect on your credit score.
  • Find a co-signer. Similar to becoming an authorized user, you can also find a co-signer to vouch for you and apply alongside you. In this case, you’ll both take responsibility for the card account.

Secured credit cards vs. unsecured credit cards

The primary difference between a secured card and an unsecured card is that a secured credit card requires a security deposit. This security deposit can range from $50 to more than $200 and acts as collateral for the issuer (and sometimes acts as your maximum credit limit).

It’s a type of guarantee that if you go belly-up on your payments and your account is closed, the issuer is covered for losses. And don’t worry: Assuming you used your secured card responsibly, you’ll get your deposit back after you close your account.

Otherwise, secured credit cards are nearly identical to unsecured credit cards in how they function, including how they affect your credit score. Remember that a secured card will typically have a lower credit limit and higher APR than an unsecured card.

Secured credit cards vs. prepaid cards

Secured credit cards and prepaid cards may look similar, but they have notable differences. Here’s a quick rundown of a few of the main features that separate the two:

Secured credit cardsPrepaid debit cards
Deposit is collateral and your spending limitDeposit is your spending limit
Annual, transactional and maintenance feesActivation, withdrawal and deposit fees
Interest charges on monthly balanceMonthly service charges
Build credit as you use the cardDoesn’t build credit
Funding through bank accountMultiple funding options
Can be used almost anywhereLimited online use and access
Interest and fees on cash advancesATM balance inquiry fees
Rewards programs and card benefitsGuaranteed approval
Only available through financial institutionsNo bank account required

When are secured cards better than prepaid debit cards?

Secured credit cards allow you to use the lender’s money on credit with the promise to pay it back later. The greatest advantage secured cards have over prepaid cards is that it helps you build your credit score as you use it.

Secured credit cards also offer more flexibility in your spending, and some offer rewards programs, benefits and other perks that aren’t available on prepaid debit cards.

Which banks offer secured credit cards?

BanksDo they offer a secured card?
Bank of AmericaYes
Capital OneYes
U.S. bankYes
Wells FargoNo

Ask the experts

Andrei Simonov profile picture
  • Andrei Simonov
  • Chairperson of the Department of Finance
  • Michigan State University
Travis Davidson profile picture
  • Travis Davidson
  • Associate Professor of Finance
  • Ohio University
Daniel Folkinshteyn profile picture
  • Daniel Folkinshteyn
  • Associate Professor
  • Rowan University
Neel Das
  • Neel Das
  • Associate Professor
  • Appalachian State University
Al Kamienski
  • Al Kamienski
  • PhD Professor of Finance
  • North Park University
Julio Sevilla
  • Julio Sevilla
  • Assistant Professor in the Terry College of Business
  • University of Georgia

Tips to save money on your secured credit card 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. 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. Some mobile banking app work by moving money from your checking account to a separate account when your transactions trigger preset rules.
  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.
  4. Get programmable thermostats and energy-saving appliances. Install a programmable thermostat to lower home heating costs or seek out Energy Star–labeled appliances. Many utilities offer rebates that partly cover the installation cost.
  5. Reexamine your phone bill. Examine your phone’s service plan, and talk to your provider about ways to bring down your cost. Consider a stepped-down plan or use a prepaid carrier or join 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 streaming services 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 telecommuting is possible to save on gas costs. Evaluate public transportation, particularly if you live in or near an urban center where trains, buses, carpooling and carshare services, are available. If you do drive, apps like GasBuddy and Gas Guru can steer you to the best gas deals along your route.

What if my application for a secured credit card was denied?

The first course of action to take once you’ve been denied for a secured credit card is to identify the reason why you’ve been denied. Do this by contacting the lender directly and asking for answers. There may be inaccurate information on your credit report — if this is the case, contact the credit bureaus to dispute the misinformation.

You could also consider applying for a secured credit card at a credit union or with a lender that doesn’t conduct a credit check. Another option is to become an authorized user on someone else’s credit card account.

Why your secured credit card application might have been denied

You’re legally entitled to know exactly why your application was rejected. Within seven to 10 days of a rejected application, you should receive an adverse action letter from the issuer, which explains the reasoning behind your denial. This letter is the key to understanding exactly why you were denied, as you can use it to make changes that will increase your chances of approval.

While there are many reasons why your application could have been denied, here are a few of the most common causes:

  • Poor credit score. Credit card issuers often require a minimum credit score to verify your ability to pay your bills.
  • Outstanding loans. Outstanding loans may be a sign that you are unable to pay off debts, which can be a red flag to some issuers.
  • A history of inadequate income, missed payments or bankruptcy. Issuers want to make sure you’re able to pay your bill. If you have inadequate income or you have a bankruptcy on your history, they may doubt that ability.
  • Spotty employment history. Just like inadequate income, a spotty employment history may be seen as a sign that you’re unable to pay your bill.
  • Error on your application. This could be as minor as a spelling error or a wrong phone number. Always check to make sure all of your information is correct before submitting your application.
  • Error on your credit report. Your application may also be rejected due to errors on your credit report, which can be resolved by contacting the relevant credit bureau.
  • Security deposit. Sometimes, the reason for a denied application may prove as simple as failure to pay the security deposit.
  • Too many applications or inquiries. Too many credit card applications or inquiries in a short period can decrease your credit score or indicate that you are relying too heavily on credit.
  • Credit card is not eligible in your state. Every state has different laws and regulations surrounding credit cards, meaning that not all cards are available in every state.

Things you can do if your application was denied

If your secured card application is denied, you have several options available:

  • Apply with a different bank. There are plenty of secured card options available. If you weren’t able to qualify for your first choice, give it a month and then try applying for your second choice – ideally with a different issuer. You can also look for secured cards that don’t check your credit.
  • Improve your credit score. Focus on paying down any existing credit balances before trying again. That means making your payments on time, keeping your utilization ratio at 30% or less and paying off any balances you can. Even a few small improvements to your score can help you qualify for a secured card.
  • Become an authorized user. If you have a loved one with good credit, ask if they’ll let you become an authorized user on one of their cards. The primary cardholder will remain responsible for payments, but your credit score will enjoy the benefits of on-time payments.
  • Look into credit-builder loans. A credit-builder loan serves the same purpose as a secured card and is a great alternative if you can’t find a secured card you want. The major difference is you won’t be able to access your “loan” until you pay off the balance in full.
  • Personal loans. A personal loan can also help you build your credit as you pay it back. However, this option isn’t ideal compared to a secured card. Consider this only if you also need cash for an important purchase.

How long should you wait before reapplying for a secured credit card?

Most credit card issuers suggest waiting about six months to reapply after being denied for a credit card application. Instead of rushing to fill out another application, take your time to build your credit over the next few months. Doing so can increase your chances of getting the best secured credit card possible.

However, there is no definite timeline. The six-month rule is just a suggestion, as the ideal timeframe may vary depending on your current credit score, the required score for the new card you want and a handful of other factors.

When can I ask for an upgrade to an unsecured card?

Secured credit cards can be used just like any other credit cards, often with the goal of graduating to an unsecured card.

If your provider doesn’t contact you with the opportunity to upgrade, call them after about a year of responsible payments to ask about trading up to an unsecured card. At that time, you can also ask about a refund on your deposit.

Plan to use your card for small purchases that you can pay off each month. Remember that payment history is 35% of your credit score, making it the largest single item factored into your credit score.

Bottom line

Secured cards are a useful tool for building or rebuilding your credit score and moving on to an unsecured card. Your main goal is to spend responsibly, pay your balance on time and graduate to more beneficial credit cards as soon as possible.

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