If you’re looking for a secured credit card, you may wonder whether you should pick Visa over Mastercard. Or vice versa.
Both card networks offer many choices: You’ll rarely find a secured card that’s not a Visa or Mastercard. Beyond the Discover it Secured and the USAA Secured Card, there aren’t any contenders from Discover or American Express.
Once you’ve decided to get either a Visa or Mastercard, don’t worry about picking the wrong one. For secured cards, both providers offer similar benefits.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards in the world. In this regard, they have an advantage over their competitors: Discover and American Express aren’t as widely accepted.
Here’s the bottom line for Visas and Mastercards: If a merchant accepts one, they’ll most likely accept the other. So regardless of which secured card you choose, you can probably use it anywhere credit cards are accepted.
Credit card networks are companies that dictate the usage of credit cards between merchants and card users — think Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express. Networks set fees that allow merchants to accept their product.
Credit card issuers are companies who lend credit out to the consumers. For example, you have a Visa credit card that is issued by Chase bank — in this case, Chase is the issuer and Visa is the network. However, American Express and Discover are both networks and issuers.
Chances of approval
It isn’t easier to get approved for one over the other. Instead, it’s more important to consider your card issuer. For example, some issuers have tight approval standards, while other issuers accept consumers with poor credit.
If you’re worried that you could be denied for a card, look for a secured card that doesn’t require a credit check.
Depending on which product you’re approved for, Visa and Mastercard may offer:
- Zero liability for unauthorized purchases. If your card is used without your knowledge, you won’t pay anything.
- Cardholder assistance. Call a 24/7 hotline whenever you have problems with your card.
A Visa or Mastercard may come with additional features, especially if it’s a Platinum card:
- Auto rental collision damage waiver. An auto rental collision damage waiver (CDW) will reimburse you if your rental car is damaged or stolen.
- Roadside assistance. If you have problems with your vehicle while you’re on the road, give a call to the roadside assistance hotline. Services include towing, tire changes, jump-starts, lockout service, fuel delivery and more.
- Extended warranties. In many cases, your item’s original warranty is doubled if you’ve purchased it with your card.
- Travel insurance. You may be covered for travel emergencies like trip cancellation and medical evacuation.
To see if a card offers these benefits, check with your issuer. Cards may offer different perks depending on issuers’ agreements with the card networks.
Look for these benefits instead
Generally, secured cards from Visa and Mastercard offer similar benefits. More important is what you’ll get from your issuer.
When considering a secured card, look at these factors:
- Annual fee. You’ll find great secured cards with no annual fees.
- Security deposit. Typically, you’ll pay $200 to $300 to open a secured card. However, there are cards that require lower security deposits.
- Reporting to major credit bureaus. A secured card can help you build credit, but only if your provider reports your payment history to the major credit bureaus. Ask if your provider reports your payments to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian.
- Potential to graduate to an unsecured card. Some card providers will return your security deposit after a specified period of time. This effectively makes your secured card an unsecured card.
Compare Visa and Mastercard secured credit cards
For a few top Visa and Mastercard picks, look into these cards.
- Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU) Visa Platinum Secured Card. This card has no annual fee and a relatively low APR of 12.50%. You can open your account for as little as $15 — $10 to join the credit union and $5 to open a savings account. Visa benefits include auto rental collision damage waivers, travel insurance coverage and extended warranties.
- State Department Federal Credit Union (SDFCU) Secured Visa Platinum Card. You’ll pay no annual fee and a receive very low APR of 13.24% variable. Join SDFCU for as little as $5 along with a minimum $1 deposit into a savings account.
- Secured Mastercard from Capital One. This card has no annual fee. You may qualify to deposit only $49 or $99 and still get a $200 credit line. After you pay your bill on time for the first five months, you’ll automatically qualify for a higher credit line. Because the card is a Platinum Mastercard, you’ll get benefits like:
- Extended warranty.
- Auto rental insurance.
- Travel accident insurance.
- 24/7 travel assistance.
- 24/7 roadside assistance.
- Price protection.
- Citi Secured Mastercard. A solid option with no annual fee. Like the Capital One Secured Card, it includes Mastercard benefits like extended warranties and auto rental insurance.