7 Best Secured Credit Cards to Rebuild Credit – Reviews & Comparison

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How’s your credit these days?

If you’d prefer not to answer that question, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans have imperfect credit due to bankruptcy, foreclosure, crushing medical or student loan debts, and other financial black marks. A bad credit score can affect your ability to secure an affordable home loan, rent an apartment, get a cell phone, and even find a job. While credit counseling and debt management plans can help you repair your credit over time, there’s no magic cure.

For other folks, the problem isn’t bad credit so much as no credit. Consumers who haven’t previously used credit are ciphers to lenders and credit card companies, which are understandably wary about lending to people without a track record of timely repayments.

Whether you’re dealing with the negative effects of bad credit, or simply don’t have much of a credit history to speak of, applying for a secured credit card could end up being a critical first step on your path out of the credit wilderness.

What Are Secured Credit Cards?

Most credit cards are unsecured. Unsecured cardholders aren’t required to put up any collateral before using their cards.

Secured credit cards are different. They require cardholders to make cash deposits, usually equal to (and sometimes greater than) their initial credit limits, before making charges. These deposits, and the corresponding credit limits, are often low compared to unsecured credit cards’ spending limits – rarely more than $500 at the outset. Over time, issuers reward cardholders for timely payments by increasing their spending limits, in many cases without asking for an additional deposit.

Secured card issuers scrupulously report cardholders’ spending and payment patterns to consumer credit bureaus. For cardholders who use their cards judiciously and make timely payments, this builds and improves credit over time. For cardholders who pay their balances late or not at all, or max out their cards’ spending limits, this ongoing reporting can have negative consequences.

Many cardholders use secured cards temporarily, for credit-building or -improvement purposes. Once their credit is on better footing, they close their accounts and receive their deposits back. Many secured credit card issuers allow cardholders in good standing to graduate to unsecured credit cards after a year or two, eliminating the hassle of closing accounts and applying for new cards.

With these basics in mind, here is a look at the best available secured credit cards.

Best Secured Credit Cards

1. Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

Minimal Fees; Possibility of Credit Limit Greater Than Initial Deposit; Credit Limit Increases Without Additional Deposits

capital one secured mastercardThe Capital One Secured MasterCard is one of the few secured credit cards that entitles some cardholders to a credit limit greater than their initial deposit. It’s also noteworthy for comparatively low fees and a smooth process for qualifying for credit limit increases. Said increases don’t necessarily require additional cash deposits, further reducing the card’s cost. This card reports payments and credit utilization to all three major consumer credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

Deposit Requirements, Benefits, and Restrictions
The Capital One Secured MasterCard requires a minimum refundable security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, depending on your credit profile. You need to make the deposit within 80 days of applying for the card. Regardless of your deposit size, your initial credit limit is at least $200. It can range up to $3,000, depending on your creditworthiness.

To raise your credit limit, you can make additional deposits in $20 increments, up to the $3,000 maximum. If you demonstrate a pattern of reliable payments over several consecutive billing cycles, you may qualify for a credit limit increase without an additional deposit. Capital One has sole discretion over amount and frequency of these “free” credit limit increases.

  • Fees: There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3% of the advanced amount, plus a 24.99% APR. Late payments cost $35 each. You can’t use this card for balance transfers.
  • APR: The purchase APR is 24.99%. It varies depending on prevailing interest rates. Notably, there’s no penalty APR.
  • Other Perks: You get free, unlimited access to your credit score through the Capital One Credit Tracker, which also includes a “what-if simulator” that lets you run different scenarios to predict changes in your credit score and debt load.

See our Capital One Secured Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


2. Citi® Secured MasterCard®

Reasonable APR; Relatively High Credit Limit

citi secured mastercardThe Citi Secured MasterCard has roughly average fees and APRs. Its credit limit is above average, making it ideal for cardholders with high spending needs. However, the credit limit is always identical to the deposited amount – there’s no way to increase your credit limit without making an additional deposit. Also, Citi automatically denies card applicants who’ve recorded a bankruptcy within the past two years – a harsher position than some other secured card issuers.

Deposit Requirements and Benefits
Once you’re approved for the Citi Secured MasterCard, you have 30 days to deposit as little as $200 or as much as $5,000. You can make additional deposits to raise your credit limits, but your funds are tied up for at least 18 months and don’t earn interest during that time.

f you make timely payments for the duration, Citi may elect to return your deposit and allow you to continue using your card. Your payment and credit utilization patterns are automatically reported to all three consumer credit bureaus.

  • Fees. There’s a $25 annual fee. Foreign transactions cost 3%. Cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 5%, and balance transfers cost the greater of $10 or 3%. Late and returned payments cost $35 each.
  • APR. The regular purchase and balance transfer APR is 21.99% and varies depending on prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 25.24%, and the penalty APR ranges up to 29.99%.
  • Other Perks. Citi’s perks include complementary auto insurance on car rentals charged to your card, as well as zero-liability fraud protection.

See our Citi Secured Card Review for more information.


3. OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Low APR and Reasonable Fees; No Credit Check Necessary With Application

opensky secured visa cardAlthough it comes with a moderate annual fee, the OpenSky Secured Visa credit card boasts one of the lower secured credit card APRs around. It also doesn’t require a credit check with your application, meaning it’s a great choice for folks with poor or spotty credit. Negatives include a maximum credit limit lower than some competing cards and no balance transfers.

Deposit Requirements and Benefits
To get started with the OpenSky Secured Visa, you need to make an upfront refundable deposit of at least $200. Your deposit can be as high as $3,000, depending on your creditworthiness. Your credit limit is always equal to your deposited amount.

OpenSky reports to all three credit reporting bureaus. One significant drawback is that unlike some other issuers, the OpenSky Secured Visa doesn’t allow for a transition from secured to unsecured. You can keep your account open as long as you like, but you don’t receive your security deposit back until you request to cancel the card and pay your balance in full.

  • Fees. There’s a $35 annual fee. Cash advances cost the greater of $6 or 5% of the advanced amount. Late payments cost $27, and returned payments cost $25. Foreign transactions run 3% of total transaction amount.
  • APR. The regular purchase and cash advance APR is 17.64%, depending on prevailing interest rates. The penalty APR ranges up to 21.99%. Notably, OpenSky doesn’t charge interest during the first billing cycle. In other words, there’s effectively a one-month 0% introductory APR.
  • Other Perks. OpenSky has lots of credit education material for inexperienced credit users. It also has other financial products, including home loans and consumer bank accounts, through Capital Bank, its parent company.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.


4. U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

Reasonable APR; Laid-Back Credit History Requirements; Earn Interest on Your Deposit

us bank secured visa cardThe U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card’s biggest advantages include easy approval for applicants with poor credit and a reasonable APR (relative to other secured credit cards). The unusually long grace period of up to 30 days, compared with the more typical 20- to 25-day grace period for this card class, is a useful backstop against late payments. Drawbacks include somewhat high fees.

Deposit Requirements and Benefits
To get started with the U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card, you need to make a deposit of at least $300 and as much as $5,000, depending on your creditworthiness. Your credit limit is always equal to your deposit amount. Said deposit is held in an FDIC-insured, interest-bearing (0.05% to 0.10% APY) U.S. Bank savings account, rather than a no-interest escrow account, as is the case with the Citi Secured MasterCard.

If you make timely payments for at least 12 months, you’ll likely qualify for an unsecured credit card and receive your security deposit back in full, with interest.

  • Fees. There’s a $29 annual fee. Late payments cost $35, and returned payments run $38. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 3% of the transferred amount, while cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 4%. Foreign transactions cost 2% when denominated in U.S. dollars, and 3% when denominated in foreign currency.
  • APR. The regular purchase and balance transfer APR is 19.24%, variable with prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 24.24%.
  • Other Perks. The U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card comes with nice fringe benefits, including complementary insurance when you charge a car rental purchase to your card.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.


5. Wells Fargo Secured Visa® Credit Card

High Credit Limit; Reasonable APR

wells-fargo-secured-cardThe Wells Fargo Secured Visa Credit Card comes with a very high credit limit ($10,000) and boasts a reasonable APR (19.24%). Fees are a bit on the high side, but not overwhelming. Wells Fargo shares your payment and credit utilization information with all three credit reporting bureaus.

Deposit Requirements and Benefits
To get started with the Wells Fargo Secured Visa Credit Card, you need to make a deposit of at least $300 and no more than $10,000. Your deposit is your credit limit, and you can add more funds at any time. After 12 months of timely payments, Wells Fargo reviews your account and may upgrade you to an unsecured arrangement, refunding your security deposit in exchange.

  • Fees. There’s a $25 annual fee. Balance transfers cost the greater of $5 or 5% of the transferred amount. Cash advances cost $10 or 5%. Late and returned payment fees run $37. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount.
  • APR. The regular purchase and balance transfer APR is 19.24%, variable based on prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 24.24%.
  • Other Perks. Wells Fargo offers numerous fringe benefits, including a cell phone insurance policy (up to $600 to cover loss or damage) for devices purchased with the card.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.


6. Merrick Bank Secured Visa® Card

Relatively Low APR; Relaxed Credit Standards

merrick bank secured visa cardMerrick Bank’s Secured Visa credit card makes no bones about being for consumers with poor credit. Its approval standards are very laid back, so it’s definitely worthwhile to apply even if you’ve been denied by other secured credit card issuers. A relatively low APR helps with the ongoing cost of the card, though higher than average annual fees cut into those savings.

Annoyingly, you’re not allowed to make balance transfers with this card. Merrick Bank does report your payment and credit utilization information to all three credit bureaus though.

Deposit Requirements and Benefits
Merrick Bank lets you deposit as little as $200 or as much as $3,000. You’re encouraged to deposit as much as you feel comfortable depositing – your deposit isn’t limited by your credit profile, only by Merrick’s $3,000 limit. Your credit limit is always equal to your deposit amount. Your deposit is FDIC-insured, but doesn’t earn interest.

Merrick Bank doesn’t automatically convert its Secured Visa into an unsecured card. If you want to graduate to an unsecured card, you need to apply for a Merrick Bank (or other issuer’s) unsecured card. To get your deposit back, you need to close your Secured Visa Card account.

  • Fees. There’s a $36 annual fee for the first year and a $3 monthly fee thereafter. The cash advance fee is the greater of $10 or 4% of the advanced amount. Foreign transactions cost 2% of the total transaction amount. Late and returned payments both cost $38.
  • APR. The regular purchase APR is 17.70%, and the cash advance APR is 22.70%.
  • Other Perks. You’re entitled to a free FICO score every month your account is active. Merrick Bank also offers RV loans, which come in handy for folks who want to take road trips or cross-country driving vacations in comfort.

Find out how you can apply for this card here.


7. BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card

Low Regular APR; High Credit Limit

bankamericard secured cardThe BankAmericard Secured Credit Card has a relatively high credit limit (up to $4,999) and a relatively low regular APR (20.49%, which is less than many secured credit cards). Drawbacks include some pesky fees and a high penalty APR. Bank of America shares your account information with all three major consumer credit bureaus.

Deposit Requirements and Benefits
The BankAmericard Secured Credit Card requires a minimum refundable deposit of $300. Your actual credit limit can range between $300 and $4,999, depending on how much you deposit and your creditworthiness.

Bank of America automatically reviews your account after 12 billing cycles. If you’ve made timely, in-full payments for the duration, you’re eligible to receive your security deposit back and keep your current credit limit. Keep in mind that the somewhat high annual fee makes this card less than ideal for long-term use.

  • Fees. The annual fee is $39. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3% of the transferred amount. Foreign transactions cost 3% of the total transaction amount.
  • APR. The variable purchase and balance transfer APR is 20.49%, but may rise or fall with prevailing interest rates. The penalty APR ranges up to 29.99%, and the cash advance APR is 25.24%.
  • Other Perks. If you have a Bank of America checking account, you can use this card for overdraft protection – automatically drawing on it for a cash advance when you overdraft your checking account. Each overdraft cash advance costs $12 and is made for the exact amount of the overdraft.

See our BankAmericard Secured Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.


Final Word

Each secured credit card on this list is designed to boost folks with poor credit or spotty credit histories. However, they can’t single-handedly dig their users out of financial holes or accelerate them painlessly down the road to the promised land of easy, low-cost credit.

Building and improving credit takes time and discipline. In addition to applying for a secured credit card and making timely, in-full payments, follow these straightforward tips:

  • Pay all bills, including utility bills and rent payments, on time
  • Keep your debt utilization ratio – the sum of your credit balances divided by the sum of your credit limits – below 30%, if possible
  • Don’t open multiple accounts at once
  • Avoid closing too many accounts at once
  • Check your credit score regularly and remember to order your free annual credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com

If you play your cards right, you could find your credit situation significantly improved in less time than you ever thought possible.

Do you use secured credit cards? Which is your favorite?

  • Achmad

    How is everyone in this world can be easy to have and make a credit card even if they do not have a number of social as in AMERICAN? Can the USA state solve this problem.
    We are people INDEPENDENT.

  • Thomas Vargo

    If you have bad credit, your most likely going to have get a secured card. If you do get a unsecured credit card the credit limit will be low and the interest rate will be high.

    Your best option is to use a free consumer organization such as “Bad Credit MD” to locate the best card for your situation.

  • http://www.doctorofcredit.com/ doctorofcredit

    Just so you know, you can add BoA’s cash rewards to their secured card, this’ll give people with a low credit score (or no credit history) a chance to earn some cash back.

  • http://paycreditcardsonline.com Danny

    The security of credit cards is a huge deal. This is something that I want to do, you need to find better ways to deal with this.

  • TimBrunellivo

    like Clifford said I didn’t even know that a stay at home mom can profit $4409 in 4 weeks on the internet . you can try here

  • Nikki

    How old is this article? It mentions Orchard Bank and they are owned by Capital One now.

  • bouncingback21

    update ….I’m 30 days post discharge chapter7 and was approved for a Comerica Secured CC through Elan Financial Services

  • Guest

    jfty… I started working from home, doing various simple jobs which only required desktop or laptop computer and internet access and I couldn’t be happier… It’s been six months since i started this and i made so far total of 36,000 dollars… Basicly i profit about 80 dollars every hour and work for 3 to 4 hours a day.And the best part about this job is that you can decide when to work yourself and for how long and you get a paycheck weekly.—> ????? < W­­­W­­­W­­­.­­­J­­­o­­­b­­­s400­­.­­­C­­­O­­­M??????????

  • jw sears

    Thank you, followed all advise, have 5 cards approved. Small fee for a piece of mind.

  • Jé Be (Here but Gone)

    To Whom It May Concern:

    The Bank of the Divided States of
    America is a joke! What a waste of time. On 11/24/15 I learned
    the location in 30092 is a mess.

    Let me first say I realized I
    do not “need” a secured credit card as much as I thought I did. My ignorance of what a secured credit card
    was and how it functioned must only reside in the theoretical realm and not reality.

    I was recently given different
    credit card accounts; I have a FICO of
    682 so no real issues there. I have never been late on any of my credit
    card payments with any bank. In July my car did fall behind (unexpected family
    expenses, funeral, lost wages, etc.) But having had the loan for 4 years in my
    final year, this was the first blemish. Anyways I was denied for the unsecured credit card with Bank of the Divided States of America two
    weeks ago.

    I have multiple bank
    accounts/credit unions and while I have plenty of credit, I wanted a credit
    card from a major bank other than Chase
    and Capital One. So my credit union
    offers a secured visa, PNC offers, as well as SunTrust. However what I liked about Bank of Divided
    States of America is they have a graduate well stipulated notation that your
    account may be reviewed and may qualify for a unsecured card 6-12 months, not a guarantee but I preferred this option versus the aforementioned
    only providing a secured card where you still have to apply separately for an
    unsecured account at a later date.

    I go into the branch; I do not
    bank there, provided her $300 dollars
    cash. She had the audacity to
    ask me was I a United States Citizen
    (WTF!) I have never been asked that. Anyways, she completes the application,
    converted my cash into a cashier’s check, and stated she couldn’t
    set up the online account yet until I got the card in the mail which I should receive in 7-10 business days
    and to come back in to activate online access. She was being very coy, sarcastic, and patronizing,
    however I figured she is miserable and looked it so I paid her
    no mind (I’m not a bully), even when she rudely
    laid down my I.D and Capital One credit card for “verification” after I had handed it to her jarred nail n teeth having self, where is the customer service? If someone hands you something you hand it
    back.

    I get home and something told
    me to log on and check the status of my
    application. It showed denied for
    both the unsecured card from 2 weeks ago, and the one from today.

    1. My
    first thought, why thee p h u c k didn’t she tell me this when I was sitting in
    her face -_- she was trying to be funny and a pure b I tch, when she told me
    all the aforementioned THEN proceeded to take my cash deposit as if I were
    approved!? Why take my money if I wasn’t approved? Why not tell me THERE and
    give ME back my money where I can go bank with someone who wants to bank with
    me. It is no big deal; you say no they say yes. I obviously am not hard up for
    the money or why else would I have put it on a “secured” credit card o_0 it is
    the principle.

    I know from recent credit approvals, I have fraud alert and that deters instant approvals etc. so I
    presumed that may have been the issue. I
    called into the secured credit card department and spoke with two female agents
    who referenced a past due auto loan and utilization as the reason for denial
    for the secured credit card. Dumbfounded
    as I was, I proceeded to say yes, my auto loan did fall behind back in July due
    to unexpected family expenses, death in family, and loss wages, I have had the
    loan for 4 years, in my final year, and this is the first time I got behind. In
    regards to my credit card utilization I do carry a balance on my Amazon card
    for the promotional aspect; however I did remit payment to my credit accounts
    today for $1300 dollars, bringing my utilization
    down from 50% to 30% total. Why
    was my application not manually reconsidered and approved I met the requirements listed on the website.

    2. But
    what does ANY of this have to do with a SECURED
    credit card. Where is the risk o_0. I provide the CASH for my limit to “prove”
    I am credit worthy. If I don’t pay your bank doesn’t lose anything, you have MY
    money. It is contradicting what the h e l l is a secured credit card if it is
    treated like an unsecured credit card for approval o_0. SO you deny me for an unsecured credit card
    less than 2 weeks ago, why would your system run the credit again (hard
    inquiry) when it’s been less than 30 days since I last applied o_0. Credit
    doesn’t change in a two week time period and most reputable banks use the
    credit score 30 days at a time it is 2015 most systems can catch things such as
    this. I applied for a secured credit
    card for a reason, and if the secured and unsecure operate on the credit report
    factor how can one be approved for SECURED credit card and yet DENIED for an
    unsecured and credit has the same effect on both o_0… is secured NOT for
    blemished credit regardless to the severity. Does the security deposit not
    protect the bank from any liability, it’s not like you can spend over the
    approved limit.

    3. I
    called between 3:50pm and 4:00pm per the secured credit card lady so I can get
    my cashier check back before they mail it the next business day. I called and
    someone answered I hear brief typing then the phone and hung up on me !!!!!!! I
    was very infuriated by this! I could have been calling for ANYTHING for their
    safety, an emergency outside the building, etc. and you disconnect the phone on
    me? I called back to back for the 10 minutes and no one picked up the phone. If
    bank hours are 9am to 4pm they should be available for that duration. Is this
    the type of reputation you want for your bank.

    4. I
    will be there bright and early at 8:59am 11/25/15, hopefully to retrieve my d a
    m n money back and handle my business elsewhere where they have a higher level
    of intelligence, respect and competence. From the online reviews the branch
    manager is just a as much a joke so why bother voicing my genuine concerns.
    Perhaps this is a blessing in disguise. Hopefully all goes well and I retrieve
    my cashier check back instead of having to wait for MY money back in the mail.
    This is so stupid, I am so pissed!

    And
    you can tell her I said it…

  • MizzHotBlaze

    I think this article is old because there are plenty of secured cards with no Annual fee and cash back rewards like the Discover card for example