Citi Secured Mastercard Review: Good Starter Card If You Have Little or No Credit History

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Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Learn More externa link icon
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Editor’s Score: (3.0/5)
Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site.
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Editor’s Score: (3.0/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    23.24% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit score:
    (No Credit History)

NextAdvisor’s Take

Pros
  • Available to individuals with little or no credit history
  • No annual fee
  • Payment reported to all three credit bureaus
Cons
  • High penalty and cash advance fees
  • High variable APR
  • No rewards
The Bottom Line
The Citi Secured Mastercard* is a good starter card option for consumers with no credit history. You can use this secured credit card — which Citi reports to each of the three credit bureaus — to improve your credit score while making timely payments and practicing other credit-building habits like keeping a low credit utilization rate and paying balances in full each month. To get started, you’ll need to put down a cash deposit of at least $200 after approval. The amount you chose to deposit will serve as your new card’s credit limit.

Additional Card Details

  • Establish credit and payment record with limited or no credit history
  • Choose your own due date
  • Access your FICO credit score online
  • Account alerts and access to Citi Identity Theft Solutions
  • Security deposit between $200 and $2,500 required
  • Standard variable APR of 23.24%

Citi Secured Mastercard Full Review

Card Type

The Citi Secured Mastercard is a secured credit card. Secured credit cards are primarily credit-building tools for people with limited or negative credit histories, so they’re more useful for building good habits than reaping benefits and rewards. 

Annual Fee

This card charges no annual fee, but you’ll need a minimum deposit of at least $200 to open your account. 

Welcome Offer

Citi Secured Mastercard has no welcome offer or 0% introductory APR offer.

Rewards

This credit-building card has no rewards or added perks.

Fees 

The standard variable APR for the Citi Secured Mastercard is 23.24%. If you make a late payment or your payment is returned, you may take on a fee of up to $40 and variable penalty APR up to 29.99%. There’s a 3% foreign transaction fee.

How to Use Citi Secured Mastercard

When you sign up for the Citi Secured Mastercard, you’ll be asked to put down a cash deposit of at least $200 and up to $2,500 (you must provide your bank information for this deposit within 14 days of approval). This amount will also be your credit limit. If you put down $200 in cash, you’ll have a $200 credit limit, while a $600 deposit equals a $600 credit limit, and so on.

It’s important to choose your deposit amount wisely, because your credit limit can impact your credit utilization, one of the main factors in your credit score. If you only put down a $200 deposit, and you spend up to that limit each month, you’ll carry an extremely high utilization rate, which can hold down your credit score. Experts recommend keeping a utilization rate under 30%, and ideally under 10%, for the best credit results. In other words, keep your total charges under 30% of your available credit. Put another way, if you can put down a $1,000 security deposit, you’ll be able to spend $300 on your card each month and maintain a good utilization rate.

Once your new account is set up, begin using your Citi Secured Mastercard like a debit card. Only charge purchases you can afford to pay off each month, and make sure you always pay your bill in full and on time. This will help boost your credit score each time Citi reports your activity to each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion).

You should also avoid any of the high fees that come with this card. If you pay late, for example, you’ll incur a fee up to $40 and may even take on a variable penalty APR up to 29.99% (compared to the already high 23.24% regular variable APR). 

If you’re worried you’ll forget about your payment due dates, you can use Citi’s free account alerts to get updates when you make a purchase, when you’re close to your credit limit, and when you need to make a payment.

Citi Secured Mastercard Compared to Other Cards

Learn More externa link icon
Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Editor’s Score: (3.0/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    $0
  • Regular APR:
    23.24% (Variable)
  • Recommended credit:
    (No Credit History)
  • Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site
Learn More externa link icon
BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card

BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card

Editor’s Score: (3.3/5)
  • Intro offer:
    N/A
  • Annual fee:
    None
  • Regular APR:
    22.99% Variable
  • Recommended credit:
    (No Credit History)
  • Learn more externa link icon At our partner’s secure site

Is Citi Secured Mastercard Right for You?

The Citi Secured Mastercard is a solid credit-building option for anyone with limited or no credit history. Citi specifies that applicants must meet certain credit qualification criteria, including no pending bankruptcies or bankruptcy within the past two years and review of the information you submit when applying.

Since it’s a secured credit card, you will be required to make a security deposit between $200 and $2,500 (this amount acts as your credit limit), but unlike some credit-building cards, there’s no annual fee. 

Secured credit cards can be a useful tool, offering the chance to build credit and improve your creditworthiness over time. And when your secured credit card is closed in good standing or you upgrade to an unsecured card, you’ll receive your security deposit back.

Pro Tip

Secured credit cards are great tools for building credit with no credit history or repairing a damaged credit score. With any credit card (including secured cards) remember to practice smart credit habits that can benefit your credit score over time, like paying your balance in full and on time each month and spending only what you can afford to pay when your statement is due.

*All information about the BankAmericard Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by NextAdvisor and has not been reviewed by the issuer.

EDITORIAL INDEPENDENCE

As with all of our credit card reviews, our analysis is not influenced by any partnerships or advertising relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Citi Secured Mastercard Good?

Citi Secured Mastercard is a good credit-building option for consumers with limited credit history. There are no rewards or added benefits, but this card can help you establish a solid credit foundation for no annual fee.

Can a Citi Secured Card Become Unsecured?

If you are able to prove your creditworthiness and your credit score by establishing a history of timely payments in full, you may be able to upgrade your Citi Secured Mastercard to an unsecured Citi credit card. Once you’ve established a solid credit history, you may also qualify for great credit cards from any issuer offering perks and benefits that match your spending.

Can I Add More Money to My Citi Secured Card?

You may be able to increase the limit in your secured credit card by putting down a larger deposit as collateral. Call Citi using the number on the back of your credit card to see if you’re eligible.