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Secured credit cards can help you build or improve your credit. When you apply for a traditional credit card, the issuer will check your credit history and score as part of the approval process. If you don’t have a credit history, or your credit score is subpar, your application will likely be denied.
With a secured credit card there’s typically no credit check, so approval is much easier. Upon approval you put down a cash security deposit that acts as collateral in the event you default on the card. This makes approving a secured credit card much less risky for card issuers. If you have a thin credit history or a low credit score, a secured credit card can help you establish a credit record or get back on your feet financially. Here is a look at some of the best secured credit cards available today.
|Card||Best for||Deposit Range||Regular APR||Annual fee||Min Credit|
Best for rebuilding credit
$49 - $1,000
Best for cash back
$200 - $3,000
Best for increased credit line
$200 - $3,000
Best for flexible credit line
$200 - $3,000
Applied Bank Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card
Best for quick approval
$200 - $1,000
Best for low deposit
$100 - $2,000
$25 the first year, then $35
Best for credit education
$200 - $2,000
25.24% variable APR
Best for no checking account requirement
$200 - $3,000
PREMIER Bankcard® Secured
Best for cash advances
$200 - $5,000
Our recommendations for the the best secured credit cards
Best for rebuilding credit: card_name
With a annual_fees annual fee and security deposit choices of $49, $99, or $200, the card_name is an excellent option for those who want to rebuild their credit. Payments are reported to the three main credit bureaus, so using this card responsibly will have a positive effect on your credit. If you pay your bills on time each month, you could earn back your deposit and be upgraded to an unsecured card. In addition, after six months of responsible use, Capital One will automatically consider you for a higher credit line.
Best for cash back: card_name
When you use a card_name, you can earn 1.5% cash back on all purchases—and there’s no limit on how much you can earn. This card has a $200 deposit requirement and a annual_fees annual fee, making it ideal for those who want the benefits of a secured credit card without spending too much out of pocket.
Best for increased credit line: card_name
When you first open a card_name, you’ll deposit $200, which will be your credit limit. If you make payments on time for the first seven months your account is open, your credit line will double to $400. Other cards may require you to put extra money down to increase your limit, but not this Merrick card.
Best for flexible credit line: card_name
The card_name offers a range of credit limits—from $200 to $3,000. This range makes it a good option if you have a large sum of money to put down in exchange for a higher credit limit. This flexibility allows you to choose your own credit limit, making the card_name a good choice for a wide range of customers.
Best for quick approval: Applied Bank Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card
When you apply for an Applied Bank Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card, you could be approved in as little as 60 seconds. There’s no credit check required. You’ll just need to fill out a form with your basic information, including name, address, Social Security number, monthly income, and deposit amount.
Best for low deposit: First Latitude Secured Mastercard® Secured
While many secured credit cards require you to put down at least $200 as a security deposit, First Latitude only requires a $100 cash deposit when you open a Platinum Mastercard Secured credit card. This makes it a good option for those who don’t have a lot saved up to use as a security deposit.
Best for credit education: First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
It can be difficult to understand how credit works, especially if you’re just starting out. If you open a First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card, you’ll get access to free credit education through the First Progress Card mobile app. The app also lets you check your VantageScore for free, so you can keep tabs on how your credit score is changing as you learn how to build credit.
Best for no checking account requirement: OpenSky® Secured Visa®
Most secured credit card providers will require you to have a checking account in order to be approved. OpenSky has no such requirement for its Secured Visa. Instead, you can pay your security deposit and fund your account using a money order or Western Union. This makes it a more accessible option for those who are unbanked or haven’t yet opened a checking account.
Best for cash advances: PREMIER Bankcard® Secured
If you’re short on cash, you can get a cash advance when you have a PREMIER Bankcard Secured credit card. The advance is limited to 10% of your assigned credit limit when the card is first opened, but that increases to 50% once the account has been open for 90 days, provided the account is current. For example, if your credit limit is $500, you’ll be able to get a cash advance of $50 when you first open the card and up to $250 after 90 days.
To come up with our list of the best secured credit cards, we looked at several important features. We reviewed each card’s annual fee, giving priority to those with low (or no) annual fees. We also looked at the annual percentage rate (APR) of each card to determine which could be the best fit for customers who want to avoid paying high interest rates. Finally, we looked at the application process and gave preference to cards with online applications and quick approval times.
Who can get approved for a secured credit card?
Being approved for a secured credit card is much easier than getting approved for an unsecured one. In fact, most secured credit card providers don’t even check your credit history as part of the approval process because the card is secured by collateral in the form of a cash deposit. This means there’s less risk for the card issuer. If the cardholder defaults, the card issuer can keep the cash deposit and won’t lose any money. For this reason secured cards are usually the best credit cards for people with a thin or poor credit history who want to work on improving their credit score.
How to select the best secured credit card for you
Everyone has different needs when it comes to a secured credit card, which is why it’s important to do research to find one. Some offer cash back on purchases, which could be an important factor for those who want to earn money back. Others could have low APRs, allowing cardholders to pay lower interest rates and fees.
In order to select the best secured credit card for you, ask yourself these questions:
- Do my short-listed options report to the three main credit bureaus?
- What security deposit amount am I comfortable with?
- What are the annual and recurring fees?
- Are there options to upgrade to a higher credit limit or an unsecured card?
- Are there late fees or is there a grace period for late payments before being charged a fee?
Alternatives to secured credit cards
A secured credit card is an excellent tool if you want to build or improve your credit score, but it’s not the only option. Below are some alternatives to secured credit cards to consider.
- Become an authorized credit card user. Become an authorized user on a family member’s credit card. Just don’t take advantage; you may damage more than just your credit score.
- Get a cosigner. Some credit card providers may allow you to open a card with a cosigner, who promises to pay the bill if you can’t.
- Take out a secured loan. If you need a lump sum of cash, consider a secured loan. Just be aware of interest rates, terms, and conditions to make sure you can pay back the money borrowed.
- Open a retail store card. Getting a retail store card may be easier than a regular credit card if you have a poor credit score. Your activity will be reported to the major credit bureaus to help boost your credit.
TIME Stamp: The best secured credit cards help you build or improve your credit score
If you have poor credit or no credit history, a secured credit card is a good tool to help you improve your financial standing. The cards listed here will help boost your credit by reporting your payment history to the major credit bureaus. As long as you use your card responsibly and pay your bill on time, you could see an increase in your credit score within a few months.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Should I get a secured credit card (pros and cons)?
Secured credit cards are helpful for those with poor credit scores or a lack of credit history. Like any type of credit card, a secured credit card has several pros and cons to consider when deciding whether or not to get one.
- Easy approval
- Reporting to credit bureaus
- Lower APR than unsecured cards
- Fully refundable deposit
- Potential to upgrade to an unsecured card with responsible behavior
- Security deposit required
- Low credit limits
- Less potential for rewards
- No guarantees for upgrades
What is the average interest rate for secured credit cards?
As of July 2023, the average interest rate for a secured credit card is 22.37%, though the exact APR will depend on the credit card issuer.
What’s the difference between secured and unsecured credit cards?
The main difference is the requirement for a cash deposit. While unsecured credit cards are approved based on an applicant’s credit score, secured credit cards are approved based on the amount of cash you can put down as collateral. This allows secured credit card issuers to approve applicants without running a credit check—a huge benefit for those with no credit history or whose credit score falls in the “bad” or “fair” credit categories.
What’s the difference between secured and prepaid credit cards?
A prepaid credit card requires you to load money onto the card before you can use it. Once you’ve spent the money you’ve loaded, you will need to load more money to keep using the card. A secured credit card also requires you to put money down in the form of a security deposit, but the money you spend is borrowed from the card provider, and you’ll need to pay it back as you would with an unsecured credit card.
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The editorial content on this page (including, but not limited to, Pros andCons) is not provided by any credit card issuer. Any opinions, analysis, reviews, or recommendations expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any credit card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.
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