The 5 Best Secured Credit Cards


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Secured credit cards have a bad reputation, and most of these products deserve it. Too often, the companies that offer secured cards do so to prey on those with poor or little credit history by charging exorbitant interest rates and outrageous fees. Yet, the more I researched these products, the more convinced I became that the concept of a secure credit card is a sound one. Using the right product from a reputable institution, holders of secured cards can enjoy many of the benefits of standard credit cards that they might not qualify for. (See also: How to Pick the Best Secured Credit Card to Repair Your Credit)

How a Secured Card Works

Many loans are secured by collateral, such as those taken out for the purchase of a car or a home. In contrast, standard credit cards offer borrowers loans that are not secured by any property or deposits that can be repossessed in case of default. Therefore, applicants for unsecured loans must first be able to show banks a significant credit history. On the other hand, almost any applicant will qualify for secured credit card. With these products, the cardholder must first pay a security deposit that protects the bank against the risk of default. In all other ways, a secured card operates just like a standard credit card. Cardholders receive monthly bills that they must pay on time or incur interest and penalties. At the same time, banks will report payment information to the credit bureaus, allowing cardholders to build their credit history.

What to Look for in a Secure Card

Your first priority in shopping for a secured card will be to stick with a reputable bank and avoid the numerous products with high interest rates and unreasonable fees. Shoppers should look for a card with a low annual fee and perhaps one that might earn interest on their deposit. Finally, applicants should be aware that not all banks guarantee acceptance, so those with outstanding liens or a recent bankruptcy will not qualify for some of these cards.

Top 5 Secured Credit Cards

1. Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

credit cardSince Capital One may extend you a credit line in excess of your deposit, it will consider the applicant’s ability to pay before acceptance. This card’s standard interest rate is 22.9% variable APR, and there is a $29 annual fee. Like all Capital One cards, there are no foreign transaction fees.

Click here to apply for the Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

2. Citi Secured MasterCard

credit cardThis secured card comes with many of the benefits of a standard credit card including car rental insurances and retail purchase protection. In addition, Citi places cardholder’s deposits in an interest-earning account. The standard interest rate is equal to the Prime Rate plus 14.99%, and there is a $29 annual fee for this card. Unfortunately, Citibank says that it does not automatically accept all applications for this card.

You must visit a branch to apply for this card.

3. Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card

credit cardWells Fargo offers their secured card to applicants with any credit history, so long as they have not declared bankruptcy in the last 12 months and have no unsettled liens. Once accepted, cardholders must make a deposit of between $300 and $10,000, which becomes their credit limit. This card comes with standard Visa benefits including auto rental insurance. The APR for this card is currently a variable 18.99%. There is a $25 annual fee for this card.

4. U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

credit cardThis card offers customers the ability to earn interest on their security deposits. Although the rates these days are not great, it is still nice to feel like the interest earned is going to you instead of the bank. On the other hand, if you carry a balance, you will incur interest at the rate of prime plus 17.74%. There is a $35 annual fee for this card.

5. Credit One Bank® Visa® Platinum

This isn't a secured credit card — you don't have to deposit money in order to get credit. It's a standard credit card that's offered to those with less than stellar credit. It also offers 1% in gas rewards. The speicfic terms of the card ranges, depending on your credit worthiness. You may end up with a 17.90% APR, and a $35 annual fee. APR can go as high as 23.90% and the annual fee up to $99.

Click here to apply for the Credit One Bank® Visa® Platinum

When You Should Get a Secured Card

Those who have poor credit or no credit history may be tempted to just wash their hands of the entire credit card business. Unfortunately, that would be a mistake. Obtaining a secured card and making on-time payments is a critical way to rebuild one’s credit. Whether it is right or wrong, companies today use credit scores for background checks when hiring and for setting rates for services such as car insurance. Furthermore, travelers will find it difficult or impossible to reserve a hotel room or rent a car without holding a credit card, even if it is a secured card. (See also: How to Rebuild Your Credit)

By choosing the right secured card, you can build your credit history while enjoying many of the benefits of standard credit cards.

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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Guest's picture
Nicole L.

Are there other ways to re-build credit other than credit cards?

Guest's picture

You can always piggy bank off someone's account, but other than that, secured credit card is the best way to go.

Guest's picture

Great information, I didn't know some banks actually had underwriting guidelines for secured credit cards. I was under the assumption that since it's secured by cash, there guidelines would be pretty lax.

Guest's picture

At CreditSense we help people with their credit recovery. There's a problem with your #1 pick. People who are forced to get a secured card are typically in a credit rebuilding mode. They go secured because they need a card to report positively on their credit. The Orchard card, although they typically report to all three bureaus, have a natural cap on the positive they contribute to a person's credit score. Readers are far better off if they go with a major bank secured card like your #2-#5 picks.

Guest's picture
AltNrg4U

I am shopping for a secured credit card right now. Orchard was recommended and sounds great (except for the annual fee).

Could you explain further what you mean by "The Orchard card... have a natural cap on the positive the contribute to a person's credit score."?

Guest's picture

The capital one secured card is a good one. We tend to recommend that one for consumers starting out. It works wonders and will help with your credit later down the road, give it a s hot.

Guest's picture
Al

I have the Capital One secured card, as well as the Wells Fargo secured card. The main problem with the Capital One card, is that your stuck with it. It will never migrate to an unsecured card, no matter how good your score is. You either have to apply for another of their cards (read...hard pull on your credit=score drop) and close the secured card (additional hit to your credit score) or keep the card , and continue to pay $29 a year for as long as you have the card(in addition to the interest they continue to make off your deposit) Say what you want about Wells Fargo, at least my card was migrated to an unsecured card after six months of RESPONSIBLE use (keep reported balances below 10% people)

Capital one falls short by not having a mechanism in place to graduate its secured card. whether this is deliberate or not, you guys can decide

Guest's picture
Lanie

I got a secured Capital One card to rebuild my credit. Three years later I called and was going to cancel my card, but they refunded my deposit and change it to an unsecured card....there's still that nagging annual fee though.

Guest's picture

Orchard Bank is really fantastic. Deposit is just $200, but the interest is very low, namely 4.74%. It is very atractive. Thank you.

Guest's picture
Duh

How about a debit card instead? My debit card works just fine reserving hotel rooms and rental cars. Plus no debt and no dumb annual fee.

Guest's picture
Guest

Duh,
Debit cards are fine and I use them as well. Secured credit cards help you on a path to establishing good credit. If you ever want a car loan, house loan, or just save on insurance or make it easier to rent an apartment, or a variety of other uses, then you will want good credit.

Guest's picture
Guest

The other problem with using a debit card is that when renting a car or reserving a hotel, they hold a deposit. Usually from $200 - $500. Since I travel for work, I can't afford to have $1000 held up in deposits that take 2-10 business days to be returned.

Guest's picture
Tyler

You can not get a rental car without credit card. No company ever did this when I rented a car. Not sure about large deposits as described below... but I wouldn't want to fork over 500 Dollars, either.

Guest's picture
Guest

Duh, I agree with you as far as not having a problem at hotels or renting a car using only a Debit card.

Tyler, yes rental companies let you rent cars with a debit card. I have done this several times with Enterprise and Alamo. The only thing is you may need to provide additional documents, such a plane ticket, etc., and you are good to go. Same goes with hotels, but they will simply put a hold on your debit card as stated above.

However, having a secured credit card would certainly cut down on all the additional hassle.

Guest's picture
Guest

You forgot USAA. They're great as well!

Guest's picture
Lack of critical information is rude

Maybe next time you make a comment like that you will provide more information. I saw your comment and thought, "Great, I will check them out."

Turns out you can ONLY use them if you or your parent served in the military. Well mine did, but I didn't want to put that down (didn't know it was necessary information - just thought they were being nosy). Since I didn't do the form right the first time, I can not go back and edit it after the fact. Now I can't use them without calling in to even try.

There was no info on their site that said this, except when you get to the end, if you didn't acknowledge the relationship, then you simply can not apply for the card.

Waste of 1 hour of my life that would have been better off if you simply said....

"You forgot USAA. They're great as well! Provided you or your parents are veterans and you tell them on the application."

Argh!!!!

Guest's picture
AltNrg4U

I know it doesn't help with the time wasted already, but USAA has they most helpful, easy to talk to, and enjoyable customer service I know. I think you would definitely enjoy the experience on completing anything if you just go through them. Good luck.

Guest's picture
Guest

USAA does have one of the best secured credit cards. Yes, you do have to have parents that are with USAA or have to be in the military yourself. (Sorry guys)
The CD can start out at $250 and members can add up to $5000 at any time. The best part about this card is that anyone who owns this card is 9.9% APR. (Most companies range between 18.99-22.99) Many companies like Bank of America pull your credit at the time of opening the card and any time you want to add more to the CD to up the limit. USAA never does do a hard hit to members credit when they get a secured credit card.
The only downsides are that there is a $35 annual fee and the card can never graduate to an unsecured credit card. (Which from what I hear USAA is working on)

Guest's picture
Guest

My late husband was military, am I eligible for USAA? either insurance or a secured card? I don't want to do it wrong, but don't have time to waste if I'm not eligible either. Thanks :-)

Guest's picture
dennis cooper

Great information!!!

Guest's picture
tasha

Thanks for the advice. Just read somewhere else that Citi was horrible but I have been banking with them for years with no problems. Will go into a branch and see about a card.

Guest's picture
angel

Ok im new to this credit card stuff i need good advice and real help i have no credit and looking to build an i dont know who to go with and i heard doing secured is good to start and how much perecntage do i look for? is chase good?

Guest's picture
quest808

As of right now Chase does not offer a secured credit card. I have been banking with chase for over a year and have asked if they had one and it turns out that they dont.. Wells Fargo and Bank of America have some pretty decent secure credit cards that will surely help you to establish a credit history.

Guest's picture
Guest

Angel! I would go with Capital One, with their cards no need to deposit any money up front. Just you will pay the processing fee $49.00. and some cards no processing fee at all.

Guest's picture
Randy

In this article, under "When you should get a secured card ...," Jason states, "obtaining a secured card and making on-time payments is a critical way to rebuild one’s credit." I'd like to know how? Banks don't report secured credit cards to my knowledge so how would any credit bureau know of the favorable experience?

Guest's picture
Guest

Many - though not all - secured cards nowadays do report to all three major credit bureaus. You just have to look for that in the listed features or FAQs and usually it'll turn up. Secured cards are almost always marketed to those with poor or limited credit and promote themselves as a viable way to build positive credit history to rebuild or establish one's credit. It would pretty much be false advertising if they didn't back that up with reporting to the bureaus.

Guest's picture
Guest

I think somebody needs to step up and put a petition in that if they can report bad credit they should also have to report good credit. Its a double edged sword and the credit system has failed more people then help. Companies can report bad credit at a drop of a dime such as the utility companies don't pay and they report you to the credit companies pay them on time for 50 years and they report nothing to your credit........ Seems like a little unfair to the american people if you ask me. My advice to you stick to debit cards if you can't pay cash then don't buy it. Cash is king in my household.

Guest's picture
Guest

ORCHARD does not follow the rules. After 1 1/2 years of paying on time and more than minimum, they said they would graduate to unsecured. They changed the rules and decided not to. And there isn't anything you can do about it except close the account and get your money back, which defeats the purpose of long time credit.

PUBLIC SAVINGS was the best secure card, but they went out of business and absorbed by Capitol Bank. There was low interest rate for paying on time (6%) and no annual fee. I had 2 cards from them at $200 limit each.

After Capitol took over, the increased interest rate to 25% and added a $50 annual fee! I ended up closing both accounts.

Watch out for Capitol one. Late on one payment and they will hound you, your family and friends to the ends of the earth!

Guest's picture
jen

Can you recommend any Secured Credit Cards that give you airline miles as well? That's really my only reason for wanting a secured card. Thanks!

Guest's picture

There is a card by Korean Air that is backed by US Bank and is secured. You will earn Korean Air miles, which can also be used for Delta if you prefer.

Guest's picture

Does anyone know of a a minimum credit score that is needed to obtain one of these secured credit cards? Thanks.

Guest's picture
Guest

There usually is no minimum credit score needed. Most people who apply for these types of cards have low credit scores to begin with and are trying to create or reestablish their credit history and raise the score.

Guest's picture
Guest

Some banks do, however, have a minimum credit score requirement.

Guest's picture
Guest

My wife has bad credit and we have been thinking of get a secured card... Is that the way to go or should I get her a card on my amex account... Would that help her the same or more???? Could that damage mine????

Guest's picture
Gabrielle

I'm not sure if your question was answered, but I was reading somewhere that adding someone as an 'authorized user' to your credit card account will improve their credit score. Adding her will not damage your credit score as long as the credit utilization stays low and payments are made on time. Now - if she uses the card and forgets to tell you how much she charged, that could drive your credit utilization up = lower credit score. Even if you pay off your credit card in full each month, getting too close to your credit limit will hurt your score.
Also, I would encourage her to sign up for www.CreditKarma.com
It's *FREE*(no gimmicks & no cc needed), will show your credit scores, and has tons of articles about how to manage/improve your credit!

Best of luck!

Guest's picture
Guest

my bf put me on his credit card as an authorized user. they report to my credit and its helped. getting her a secured credit card will help her too.

Guest's picture
cge1234

I would avoid the U.S. Bank card at all costs, unless you have money laying about you wouldn't mind them holding onto. I initially applied about 3 weeks ago. I was sent to a "sorry we cannot approve you at this time" screen. Never received an email, snail mail or even a phone call. After about a week I decided to just up my line of credit with my capitalone card. Which, I absolutely love by the way. Just a few days ago I went to check my bank account, and guess what? USBank took out $300 for a deposit leaving me with overdraft fees. After speaking with tons of representatives who all made me feel like crap, one in particular who told me I shouldn't have "blown my money" and should have left it for their disposal at any time. It was my personal account I use for household items, not my joint account, so keeping an extra $300 for a card I was told I wasn't approved for seemed a tad silly. After speaking with several USBank employees I have been told it isn't their "policy" to communicate with you unless they approve you. And now, for the REAL kicker of the whole thing. They haven't even approved my application. Even with my $300. They are currently still "reviewing" my application to determine whether they will give me a card. And, it gets better. I was told on February 1, 2013 that I will have an answer in about 3 days. On February 6, I was told the same thing. Once they "decide" they will either a. send my money back to my bank if they deny me, which will take 10-14 days or b. assign me a card number and issue a card within 7-14 days, then once I have a card number, THEN I will be mailed, finally, a card to use with my money. So, in 14-28 days I will finally have access to, if I am lucky.

Guest's picture
MFF81

To cge1234 - that is the most horrible thing I've ever heard a company do. Thank you for the warning for U.S. Bank. I hope you reported them.

Guest's picture
Guest

Us bank did this to me too they said I wasn't approved and then turned around and took the money out and I had overdraft fees and such. Stupid on their part

Guest's picture
Guest

I have US bank secured debit card and I agree with you about them "holding your deposit." However, what you failed to mention is you DID NOT read the fine print. According to US BANK, they will hold your money for a few days until the decision is made. If you are approved, they will take money, if not then they will bring it back to you. YOU SHOULD HAVE READ EVERYTHING IN THE FINE PRINT AND YOU SHOULD NOT HAVE APPLIED FOR ANOTHER CARD AFTER IF UNLESS IF YOU HAVE ADDITIONAL EXTRA CASH LAYING AROUND , NOT BEING HELD IN THE BANK.

Guest's picture
Doug

It's amazing how you didn't say anything about local community Banks or Credit Unions in your home town. They will help you in more ways and NOT charge you 20% or more like the Big Banks. They are ripping all of us off in so many ways. Wake up people and stay local in your community and quick supporting the Big Banks. They don't care about you.
Thanks for listening.

Guest's picture
Guest

The issue is those banks don't usually report to the 3 credit bureaus and therefore an improved credit score is likely to take much longer.

Guest's picture
MissM

DITTO to Doug! Well put and right on from someone else who knows (former bank employee)

Guest's picture
Bobby

You've stated that the WF Secured Visa card comes with standard Visa benefits including auto rental insurance.
I was told that the WFSV does not cover auto rental insurance.

Guest's picture
Guest

It does list this as a benefit on the WF website: https://www.wellsfargo.com/credit-cards/secured/index

Guest's picture
Porter

Can you recommend any Secured Credit Cards that give you airline miles as well? prefer, United...That's really my only reason for wanting a secured card. Thanks! Porter

Guest's picture

I want a secured credit card with no annual fee; can you point me to one ? Thanks.

Guest's picture
Guest

Bill, I am not aware of a secured credit card that does not have an annual fee. Typically, secured cards will have some type of annual fee and higher interest rates because the bank is still taking on some risk, even though they are taking a security deposit. I haven't seen a secured card with an annual fee lower than $25 recently. Here are some other secured cards: http://www.creditcardbroker.com/secured-credit-cards/ to view

Guest's picture
Kelly

I would recommend the State Department Federal Credit Union Visa. It has no annual fee and low (6.9% I believe) interest rates. It also has an EMV chip, which comes in handy when travelling to Europe. You have to become a member and open a savings account before you apply - $250 min/no max. There is no credit check as long as you apply via phone and you can add to the savings account anytime you like. Note that it will never graduate to unsecured, but once your credit is better you can apply for their unsecured card or others. Also, it does report to all 3 bureaus.

Guest's picture
Louanne Cox

I am having a hard time finding a credit card of any kind....I get SSI each month but I have bad credit from 13 yrs ago...I know how to work it now but they want give me a chance w/ a card.....

Guest's picture
Amy

You might also want to review the USAA Secured Credit Card for Military Members and their families.

Guest's picture
guest

This article is not telling the truth. I became ill again due to a long standing recurring illness which is now controlled by will never go away. My credit went bad because I was too sick to pay my bills.

I've had an account with Bank of America for years. Their own site says they want to help you rebuild credit, yet I recently applied for a secured card and they denied me one.

Other people have had the same problem with Chase as well even though they are customers of Chase.

Guest's picture
Guest

When did Chase start offering a secured CC? I believe they favor above average credit, correct?

Guest's picture
Guest

I agree with the above statement I work for a bank ten years now have multiple accounts with them I may add, had a credit card with them but couldnt keep up with the payments because of a sick child I am currently paying on the card which is at a low balance now and I have been denied twice when I applied for a credit card so in a nut shell doesn't matter what type of relationship you have with them they will deny without hesitation.

Guest's picture
Kelly

It's true that the BofA secured card is fairly hard to get. This is from their site:

"To be eligible for a secured account, you must meet the following requirements:

Minimum age 18

Must be an U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid social security number or Tax payer I.D. number with a US mailing address (for nonresident alien, refer to Non-Resident Alien policy)

No Unpaid Bank of America charge-off

No Bankruptcy No Repossession (voluntary or involuntary) < 36 months

No Foreclosure (includes deed in lieu) < 36 months

No known unpaid charge-off accounts > $1000 with any financial institution including retail cards and student loans < 36 months

The Secured Credit Card account will be reviewed for graduation at 12 months. Accounts passing the graduation criteria will be upgraded to an unsecured account. At that that time, notification is sent to advise you that the collateral funds (secured savings) have been released. If the account fails the graduation criteria, the account will be reviewed against specific policy criteria for graduation twice a year."

However, there are plenty of secured cards that will approve you, some without a credit check. It just takes a little research.

Guest's picture
Tyler

I just canceled my Capital One secured credit card. I got in in January of 2012. So I had it for 22 months. Even after always paying on time ( I also never carried a balance over to the next month ), they still refused to convert it to a regular credit card. So I just canceled it. When I was starting out with credit in 2007, I got the BoA one. After one year, they converted it.
I just read that someone below lamented the same thing. Not sure if they do this intentionally so that you keep paying the fee.
I also hated the lack of benefits ( NOT rewards. I know those cards don't have any ). But I mean benefits such as purchase protection or rental car protection etc. I did not have any of that. At least Wells Fargo has the rental car protection.
Although I must admit I extensively used the card outside the country. So the no foreign transaction fee perk came in handy.
I'm trying to figure out which one to get now. Looks like Citibank is out of the question ( no branch anywhere near me ) and BoA is quite expensive for not having any benefits.

Guest's picture
Ben

Does all 5 suggested credit cards report to the 3 bureau monthly?
I need to rebuild my credit so bad.

thanks for the helps guys

Ben

Guest's picture
Albert

Ive had a secured card with Applied Bank for over a year now. It works fine, interest rate is very low 9% I believe, however they strangely only report to Transunion and Experian. They do not report to Equifax which is considered probably the most important and widely used of the three. Ive been wanting someone to answer why in the world would they choose to report to 2 and not all three.? Anyone out there know.?

Guest's picture

It's surprising to see none of the cards with no annual fee (Harley Davidson, DCU secured & nRewards secured) not making this list. Especially the HD card since it's backed by US bank.

Also, for those who end up getting the BankAmericard, you can call up and request to be added to their cash rewards program (1-3% cash back) which makes it one of the best secured cards in my opinion.

Guest's picture
Guest

I had an excellent experience with the Capital One Secured Mastercard. I deposited 50 dollars and was given a limit of 200. Every month I made one charge of 20-25 dollars (to keep a low debt-to-limit ratio) and then put the card in a drawer. They allow you to enroll in their CreditInform credit monitoring service as a free bonus to track your score. By 6 months my score had sky-rocketed from 0 (no score) to 720. I was able to qualify for my first unsecured card, and cancel the secured card before I was required to pay the annual fee. Less than 2 years later I have 4 premium rewards cards, like the Amex Blue Cash Everyday, and Chase Freedom. This is a very easy way to build your credit quickly.

Guest's picture
Guest

I applied for a Wells Fargo card based upon what you indicated above. I was denied even though I met the stated criteria. The reason: I had a Wells Fargo mortgage with my now-ex husband, that was foreclosed several years prior.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am trying to rebuild my credit and I already have a Capital One Secured Credit card. What I am wanting to know is should I obtain more than one card to help boost my credit rating

Guest's picture
Guest

Discover "IT" card has cash back on certain purchases (5% on restaurants right now for example), 1% back on all purchases and NO annual fee. Not sure why all of these "Top 5" cards all have an annual fee. Found the Discover It card after about 2 minutes of searching for cards without annual fees. =)

Guest's picture
Guest

I am astounded that at the top of your list is the worst offender of abuse to consumers - Capital One. While they run parallel to Bank of America credit card in terms of tactics used to incur fees, they exceed Bank America tactics by making sure you stay with their brand or suffer stiff abuse to your credit rating strictly because you no longer want to do business with them.

I was so bummed out when they took over my Sears account and I told them so. They made me reapply for my card which I have had for 35 years and then denied it. I am 73 years old and have a fixed income and always paid my bills on time. Would you do business with them at 22.3% interest rate and don't mind the record of abuse (*which remains anonymous). How about a consumer rating for credit card companies?

Guest's picture
Pablo

Capital one never give you the money back. you have to cancel the secured credit card to get the deposit back and that will destroy the credit again. So what is the deal with them???

Guest's picture
AC

I have the Capital One secured card and was under the impression I would get my 2k deposit back after a year of good standing but you will not receive it back unless you close your account. Whats the point of building a credit history if you have to close your account to get your deposit back. I was really thrown off by this and am now looking for another card to apply for.

Guest's picture
Guest

Disappointed with Capital One bank. My credit took a beating a couple years ago and now i'm in a process of rebuilding it. I do have an account in collection and know that my score is less than desirable right now. That's why i turned to a secured card. I went to my bank, Capital One, where i've had an account for many years. I sat down with a branch representative and told her that my score is low right now. She should have advised me not to apply if the bank has credit score standards for secured cards. I was declined for their secured card. This beats a point of having a secured card where i'm prepaying in advance while repairing my credit. I was very disappointed by their action and it just lowered my credit score even more.
Can anyone recommend a secured card that will take me with a low credit score so i can rebuild my credit?
Thank you.

Guest's picture
Guest

Apply for opensky.

Guest's picture
Alex @ Credit Card Xpo

Secured credit cards are really the best way to establish credit or rebuild bad credit.