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

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Advertiser Disclosure: This post includes references to offers from our partners. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. However, the opinions expressed here are ours alone and at no time has the editorial content been provided, reviewed, or approved by any issuer.

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, and a debt consolidation loan (a common type of unsecured personal loan) can streamline your ongoing debt service, 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, let’s take a look at the best secured credit cards on the market today.

Best Secured Credit Cards

1. Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Up to 2% Cash Back on Select Spending; Minimal Fees

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is one of the few secured cards with a bona fide cash back rewards program. Like the Discover it® Chrome Credit Card, Discover it Secured earns 2% cash back on the first $1,000 in gas and dining purchases each quarter, and unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, Discover matches all cash back earned during the first 12 billing cycles, with no limit.

Like most secured credit cards, Discover reports payment patterns and credit utilization to all 3 major credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

Deposit Requirements, Benefits, and Restrictions
The Discover it Secured Credit Card requires a minimum refundable security deposit of $200, subject to credit approval. If your credit and income qualify you for a higher limit, Discover may allow it, up to $2,500. To start, your security deposit is equal to your approved credit limit.

Beginning at 8 months, Discover periodically reviews your account activity and other credit information to determine whether you qualify for an upgrade to a non-secured card. If you’re approved for a non-secured card, Discover refunds your security deposit within 2 billing cycles plus 10 business days. You’ll also receive a full refund of your security deposit when you close your fully paid-off account.

You can also apply for a credit limit increase at any time, subject to credit approval. Discover reserves the right to require a corresponding security deposit.

  • Sign-up Bonus: Discover does not have a traditional sign-up bonus. Instead, during the first 12 billing cycles, Discover automatically doubles all cash back earned on the account, with no limits or restrictions.
  • Earning Rewards: Earn 2% cash back on the first $1,000 in quarterly spending on gas station and restaurant purchases. Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases, including gas station and restaurant purchases above the $1,000 quarterly spending cap. Once earned, rewards don’t expire.
  • Redeeming Rewards: You can redeem accumulated cash back in any amount for statement credits or bank account deposits. If your account goes dormant for more than 18 moths, Discover automatically redeems all cash back accrued to date.
  • Fees: There’s no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, though Discover is not widely accepted abroad. Cash advances cost either $10 or 5%, whichever is greater. Balance transfers cost 3% of the transfer amount.
  • APR: The standard variable purchase APR is 24.74%. There’s a 6-month introductory balance transfer promotion, during which balance transfers accrue interest at 10.99% APR. Following the end of the intro period, the balance transfer APR is identical to the purchase APR.
  • Other Perks: You get free, unlimited access to your FICO credit score and free Social Security number alerts that may indicate identity theft or compromise.

See our Discover it® Secured Credit Card Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.
Learn More


2. Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

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

capital one secured mastercardCapital 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
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 $1,000, depending on your creditworthiness.

To raise your credit limit, you can make additional deposits in $20 increments, up to the $1,000 maximum. If you demonstrate a pattern of reliable payments over several consecutive billing cycles, you can access a higher credit line 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 $10 or 3% of the total amount, whichever is greater. Late payments cost up to $38 each.
  • 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. You also get full access to Capital One CreditWise, 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 Mastercard Review for more information. Find out how you can apply for this card here.
Learn More


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.
Learn More


4. 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.


5. 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.
Learn More


6. 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.
Learn More


7. 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.
Learn More


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?

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Brian Martucci
Brian Martucci writes about frugal living, entrepreneurship, and innovative ideas. When he’s not interviewing small business owners or investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, he’s probably out exploring a new trail or sampling a novel cuisine. Find him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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