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Secured Credit Cards

Secured Credit Cards

Secured Credit Cards are credit cards for people with bad credit or no credit. Compare the options listed below and find the best secured credit cards to rebuild credit or start your credit history while minimizing the fees that you will have to pay. Only secured credit cards that report to the credit bureau are included below. Prior to getting a secured credit card, you need to place a fully refundable security deposit of at least $200. In most cases, you can do so online, over the phone or by mailing a check or money order. This deposit becomes the amount of your credit line and it is returned to you when you close, in good standing, your secured credit card. An important benefit of the security deposit is that it allows most secured credit cards for bad credit to offer you guaranteed approval regardless of your credit history or income. You can build or rebuild your credit history by making your payments on time to all of your creditors and by maintaining your balances under the credit limits.

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    Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

    capital one secured credit card
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of 49, 99, or 200
    • ANNUAL FEE $29
    • MONTHLY FEE None
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 22.9% (V)
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    First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

    Secured Credit Card Application from First Progress
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of $300
    • ANNUAL FEE $39
    • MONTHLY FEE None
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 14.99% (V)
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    3.5

    First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

    Platinum Secured Credit Card from First Progress
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of $300
    • ANNUAL FEE $29
    • MONTHLY FEE None
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 19.99% (V)
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    First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card

    MasterCard Secured Card from FirstProgress
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of $300
    • ANNUAL FEE $44
    • MONTHLY FEE None
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 11.99% (V)
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    3.5

    Open SkySM Secured Visa® Credit Card

    open sky secured credit card
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of $200
    • ANNUAL FEE $29
    • MONTHLY FEE None
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 17.5% (V)
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    Harley-Davidson® Secured Credit Card

    harley davidson secured credit card
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of $300
    • ANNUAL FEE None
    • MONTHLY FEE None
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 22.99% (V)
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    Merrick Bank Secured Credit Card

    merrick bank secured credit card
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of $200
    • ANNUAL FEE $36 1st yr, None after
    • MONTHLY FEE None 1st yr, $3 after
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 17.45% (V)
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    First National Bank of Omaha Secured Visa® Credit Card

    first national bank of omaha secured visa card
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of $300
    • ANNUAL FEE $19
    • MONTHLY FEE None
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 17.99% (V)
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    Wells Fargo® Secured Credit Card

    wells fargo secured card
    • SECURED CREDIT CARD Min Deposit of $300
    • ANNUAL FEE $25
    • MONTHLY FEE None
    • ONE-TIME FEES None
    • REGULAR RATE 18.99% (V)
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    Before you apply for a credit card we recommend that you review and verify the credit card terms and conditions on the credit card company's web site. Please let us know if you find any differences.


    Ask our Experts
    EXPERT’S ANSWERS

    What is a secured credit card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou As mentioned above, a secured credit card is exactly like any other credit card, with the sole exception being that you place a security deposit in opening it and, upon closing it in good standing, get that security deposit back. Other than that, there is literally no difference.

    Why use a secured credit card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou There are three main reasons to open a secured credit card: to build credit no matter how bad your credit standing may be, to ensure you do not spend more than you can afford and to make certain purchases that require use of a credit card.

    First, if you have damaged or limited credit, a secured credit card offers the ability to build credit cheaply. With that being said, whether or not you actually use a secured card to make purchases is a matter of personal preference. Your credit score will benefit regardless based on the fact that you’ll be reported monthly to the major credit bureaus as having a certain amount of available credit in good standing. Making everyday purchases and paying for them in full will provide slightly higher gains in terms of your credit score, but if you’ve had problems with credit in the past, you may feel more comfortable simply locking your secured credit card away in a drawer.

    Second, if you are concerned that you cannot spend responsibly, a secure card will help you avoid getting in over your head thanks to a security deposit that acts as your spending limit. In this manner, these types of cards “help overleveragers stay in control of their spending,” according to Dr. Irene Sharf, a professor at the University of Massachusetts School of Law. Second, if you are concerned that you cannot spend responsibly, a secure card will help you avoid getting in over your head thanks to a security deposit that acts as your spending limit.

    Third, secured credit cards provide a means of making purchases that cannot be completed with cash—car rentals, hotel bookings and online shopping, for example—while also giving you $0 fraud liability.

    Why have a security deposit?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou A security deposit allows credit card companies to offer essentially guaranteed approval and relatively low fees, given that it protects them from consumers who default on their credit cards. While the security deposit required to open a secured credit card often scares off consumers, it’s actually a benefit. First of all, because your monthly spending cannot surpass the amount of your security deposit, you’re far less likely to spend beyond your means with a secured credit card than a traditional unsecured credit card. Second, it’s only because of the security deposit that many consumers are afforded a second chance at credit card use. Finally, don’t forget that the deposit is refundable, so even though you’ll be slightly less liquid after opening a secured card to rebuild credit, you won’t ultimately be out any money as long as you do not have an unpaid balance upon closing the card.

    Are secured credit cards reported to the major credit bureaus?

    By: John Kiernan Yes. The activity on secured cards is reported to the major credit bureaus in the same way the activity on all other credit cards is reported. In fact, when a lender reviews your credit report they can not tell whether you have a secured credit card or an unsecured credit card.

    Do secured cards offer guaranteed approval?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou The short answer to this question is “yes.” However, if you have recently gone through bankruptcy, there are some banks that may not be willing to approve you for a secured card until your debts have been discharged for at least a year. In the unlikely event that you do not get approved for a secure card, just apply for another bank’s secured credit card because your key priority should be getting a credit card as soon as possible in order to lessen the weight of negative information on your credit reports.

    What’s a good deposit amount for a new secured credit card?

    By: John Kiernan A minimum security deposit between $200 and $500 is generally required to open a secured credit card. As your credit line will most likely mirror the amount of your deposit, the higher the security deposit, the more available credit you will have. Similarly, the more available credit you have, the more favorably you will be viewed by credit scoring agencies, such as FICO. As you can imagine, using only a portion of your credit gets easier with higher credit lines. As a result, we recommend placing the highest deposit possible when you apply for a secured credit card and adding to it over time. Just keep in mind that most secured credit card issuers won’t allow your total deposit to exceed $5,000.

    How should I use my secured credit card in order to improve my credit?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou First and foremost, make sure you don’t miss a single minimum payment. Second, add to your deposit over time, since higher credit limits look better on your credit report. Finally, make sure to only spend up to 50% of your limit each month, as lenders like to see a low utilization ratio (this is the balance on your secure card at the end of the month in relation to your credit line).

    In short, your primary objective and biggest hurdle will be to avoid repeating the past mistakes that have necessitated using a secured card in the first place. "Sadly, many of the folks who get into financial trouble probably tend to be the ones who have the greatest difficulty managing their affairs, and are therefore often the ones most likely to repeat their mistakes," says Michael Floyd, a professor at the Samford University Cumberland School of Law and an expert on banking law. "I fear that buying a product to make yourself more financially responsible is no more effective than buying a health club membership or exercise machine to get yourself in better physical shape. Ultimately, improvements only happen slowly as the result of careful and consistent effort."

    How can I move from a secured credit card to an unsecured card?

    By: Odysseas Papadimitriou In general, issuers will approve you for an unsecured card after about a year of responsible secured card use (i.e. making on-time payments to all credit cards and loans.) Switching from a secured card to an unsecured credit card typically occurs in one of the following ways:
    1. You close your secured card after getting approved for an unsecured card – As long as your balance in paid in full, your secured card issuer will send you a check for the amount of your security deposit.
    2. Your issuer offers you a credit limit increase – If the bank that issued your secured credit card reviews your account and concludes that you have proven yourself a responsible credit user, it might offer you a credit limit increase. This would convert your secured credit card to a partially unsecured card, and your deposit will not be returned until you close this account.
    3. Your issuer converts your account to an unsecured credit card account – In this scenario, your existing account will remain open but your deposit will be returned to you via check or as a statement credit.
    COMMUNITY DISCUSSION

    Help others find the best secured credit cards by sharing what your deciding factor was when choosing your card (customer service, interest rate, fees, convenience, rewards, etc.)

     
    April 22, 2014
    Photo of Gina K.
    By: Gina Kim
    Yes! My cousin who had filed for bankruptcy wanted to rebuild her credit up again. She was looking into applying for a credit card and she learned about secured credit cards. She asked for my opinions since I enjoy learning about personal finance and I gave her my opinion which is pretty much exactly like yours. A secured card may not be the best credit card out there, but in certain circumstances, it's your only choice to better your credit. It's only temporary and as long as you pay off your balance every month and start to rebuild that credit again, it can only be beneficial.
    April 12, 2014
    Photo of Lynn R.
    By: Lynn Rappolt
    I can understand how these cards might be helpful in building credit to look better on your credit report or to raise you credit score; however, if I need to come up with so much money to begin with to open the card plus pay a yearly fee, I am not sure if that is a good deal. I don't think I would mind so much the security deposit part because at least that insures that I won't overspend and it would be helpful for shopping online even though most online stores take paypal or a person can just go buy a gift card to the online store in a brick and mortar store and shop that way. However, it is impossible to rent a car without some type of credit or debit card. I specifically got a credit card not a secured one though just to save some hassle when I wanted to rent a car. (I haven't rented a car since.) Without the credit card in order to rent a car you have to have a utility bill that is not the slightest bit behind and proof of insurance on your own car. (what if you don't own a car?) and you of course have to have your driver's license. But I digress. I particularly don't like the yearly fee on these cards, also sometimes it's difficult to come up with the amount of money to deposit on one at one time. When I had looked at them before sometimes I would say "if I had that much money, I wouldn't need a credit card." But I did consider it before I was finally able to get approved for a regular credit card.
    April 3, 2014
    Photo of Neil P.
    By: Neil Popat
    Secured credit cards are definitely helpful with regard to building a higher credit score and more favorable credit history. What matters is that the monthly payments are made on time each month. Otherwise, a secured credit card will not be helpful. Secured credit cards would also be helpful for foreigners wanting to build a local credit history in their new country. After that, it would make more sense for local lenders to provide unsecured credit cards to foreigners.
    April 1, 2014
    Photo of Howl C.
    By: Howl Carnage
    Secured credit cards can definitely turn someone's credit score around for the better! When I applied for my first CC a year or so ago, I had no credit score. As I paid the balance off in full and maintained by utilization throughout the first 12 months of owning the card. my credit score went from nonexistent to in the 700 range! This all happened in a year's time, mind you. As long as your habits are good, you'll be able to build credit without a doubt.
    March 29, 2014
    Photo of Rob L.
    By: Rob Logan
    A few years ago after my divorce my credit was shot. I had no choice but to get a secured credit card (from Capital One). The interest rate was high and there were fees just to have the card as well, but over the past few years, I have been able to get my credit back in line and the secured card helped a bunch. I'm not a fan of over-paying for things but when you are in my situation, you have to do what you can. With secured cards they can help your credit but be sure to read, read and read. When I got the offer in the mail I didn't do this and was surprised by all the fees when they hit. Again, over the past few years I've raised my credit score over 150 points just by using my secured card and I have been able to get an unsecured credit card as well.
    March 18, 2014
    Photo of Casi D.
    By: Casi Danielle
    Personally, secured credit cards are more of a hassle than a help. I definitely understand how they could be of assistance to some people. A secured credit card is ideal (and often the last resort) for those with a terrible credit history, or those who have never obtained a loan or credit card in the past. However, before you go this route, make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions of such cards, as there are many out there and many charge significant annual or maintenance fees.First of all, make sure the card you use reports to the credit bureaus. Some cards are handled like a debit card and do not report so they will not help you build your credit. If necessary call the company and ask them if they report to at least one of the credit bureaus (preferably all three of the major bureaus because some companies only check with one when you apply for credit). The other thing I would mention is that the interest rate should not even be considered because your intent is to build credit, not get buried in it. If you do not pay this card off every month, then perhaps you should wait a bit and get your finances in order before starting your credit profile.
    March 13, 2014
    Photo of Marcia S.
    By: Marcia SilveRose
    Personally, secured credit cards are more of a hassle than a help. I definitely understand how they could be of assistance to some people. Take a check or cash and put it on a credit card to secure it. Then you can use the plastic to pay for whatever you want. It definitely sounds simple and makes some transactions easier. That said, for me, it is a long unnecessary process. I would rather pay by check or other means than get a secured card. I guess having one for a while can help a person reestablish credit, but as I said, the costs and effort associated with it really do not make sense to me and never have.
    February 28, 2014
    Photo of Bryan M.
    By: Bryan McWethy
    I like the Open Sky Secured Visa Card because it offers a low security deposit price and does not include monthly fees. Secured cards are nice because you can determine your own credit line by increasing your deposit, which also allows you to improve your credit score.
    February 15, 2014
    Photo of Charles M.
    By: Charles McCoy
    Secured cards are absolutely amazing for many reasons. They offer a large variety of options which allow the user to build credit while maintaining fiscal security. By paying off my fees on time my secured card's credit limit increased by $20 each month which helped build up credit faster.
    March 7, 2014
    Photo of Dion Phaneuf
    Dion Phaneuf
    The First Progress card helped me raise my credit like this. I was shocked by how fast my credit started to go up. I had no initial credit as I was very young but making consistent payments started my credit going upwards almost immediately it seemed!
    February 14, 2014
    Photo of Subana K.
    By: Subana Katz
    Secured cards are a great way to improve your credit! You won't have access to a credit line immediately but after you've proven you're serious about improving your credit by making payments on time, you can rebuild your credit & then begin to see an increase in your credit score.
    February 5, 2014
    Photo of Joe W.
    By: Joe Weider
    When I had a secured card, I would increase my deposit and thus my credit limit by $30 every month and that helped me build up my credit faster.
    February 5, 2014
    Photo of Seth H.
    By: Seth Hughes
    Secured credit cards are PERFECT for people with sub par credit. when I started dating my wife, she had a credit rating of "poor". She applied for a capital one secured credit card and was required to place a deposit of $50 in order for it to be approved. After several months of using the card and paying off the bill in it's entirety, her credit rating climbed to "average". Since this, she has received multiple credit card offers in the mail offering her many great features and benefits. Her score continues to rise. None of this would have been possible if Capital One wouldn't have been willing to take the chance of offering her the secured card with a deposit. They are a great option if you are looking to increase your score or have a credit card for emergencies.
    February 5, 2014
    Photo of Pueblo C.
    By: Pueblo Cruiser
    Secured cards are great for starting, giving your credit profile a kick start or to begin the trail to rebuilding damaged credit. There are a couple things you should consider that I do not see mentioned. First of all, make sure the card you use reports to the credit bureaus. Some cards are handled like a debit card and do not report so they will not help you build your credit. If necessary call the company and ask them if they report to at least one of the credit bureaus (preferably all three of the major bureaus because some companies only check with one when you apply for credit). The other thing I would mention is that the interest rate should not even be considered because your intent is to build credit, not get buried in it. If you do not pay this card off every month, then perhaps you should wait a bit and get your finances in order before starting your credit profile.
    January 31, 2014
    Photo of Greg K.
    By: Greg Kempisty
    A secure credit card is ideal (and often the last resort) for those with a terrible credit history, or those who have never obtained a loan or credit card in the past. However, before you go this route, make sure you are aware of the terms and conditions of such cards, as there are many out there and many charge significant annual or maintenance fees. There are many reputable banks offering secured cards-including Capital One-so make sure you know what is out there and shop around for the best one.
    February 20, 2014
    Photo of Savin Jameson
    Savin Jameson
    I completely agree with what you're saying for those with a terrible credit history. However, for those who haven't had a credit card in the past, there are typically better options available than a secured card. This is why I always recommend that parents have their children open a credit line while they are students in order to start building their credit history. When they do this, they are establishing a solid credit history that will help them in the future (that is, if they don't make any mistakes). Before they start out, be sure to educate them on the risks and benefits of credit, and ensure that they don't get in over their heads.
    January 28, 2014
    Photo of Shaz R.
    By: Shaz Ron
    I have used a secured credit card. It was the first credit card I ever had. Since I did not have any credit rating at all before owning my first credit card, all my applications for non-secured credit cards were rejected and the secured credit card was the only way to go. I got a secured credit card from Wells Fargo, It had an annual fee of $25, which sucks but cannot be helped and other banks charge that if not more in annual fees. Basically the difference between a secured and non-secured credit card is that for a secured credit card, you have to put in a security deposit that is returned to you when you close your account. Using the secured credit card did help me increase my credit rating score; after about a year of using it, I applied for a non-secured credit card from another bank and my application was successful, wherein I then cancelled my secured credit card since I no longer wanted to pay the $25 annual fee for it.
    January 27, 2014
    Photo of Jovan A.
    By: Jovan Abrams
    A secured credit card can be a great way to rebuild or build credit history. Secured credit cards can be very helpful for people with bad or no credit. They require a deposit from the prospective user and sometimes the deposit amount is the available credit limit you can borrow against. The deposit is held as collateral in the event the user of the card defaults on card payments. These credit cards are very effective, because the credit limit is easily manageable and when you make your payments on time you improve your credit and could earn a higher credit limit over a few months. Borrowers have to research which secured cards they want to apply for, because secured credit cards have a number of fees that unsecured credit cards do not have. Secured credit cards may have application fees, processing fees, annual fees, and other fees associated with card usage. The best secured credit cards on the market have low fees and great interest rates.
    January 19, 2014
    Photo of Thomas S.
    By: Thomas Santell
    Getting a secured credit card is an excellent way to help raise your credit score. When I was younger I didn't know much about finances and hurt my credit score pretty badly. However, I have been using a secured credit card for about 2 years now and it has helped raise my credit score quite a bit. You do have to make sure to keep up with it and pay it off on time, but if you do this it will help you out a lot.
    January 19, 2014
    Photo of Robert J.
    By: Robert James
    A secured card can help people improve their credit score because you are the one taking on the financial risk through your security deposit. The small credit limits and security deposit requirements will protect you from getting into poor payment history. With your security deposit on the line, it will make you want to pay on time so you can avoid membership fees, application fees, processing fees, deposit fees, higher interest rates fees, late payment fees, over limit fees, etc.
    January 17, 2014
    Photo of Marci B.
    By: Marci Bushnell
    Some of the easiest ways to build credit involve cards that require a cash deposit. it is a way for banks and financial institutions to build trust with you. The cash deposit shows you are willing to invest time and money into building a relationship with them. It was how I fixed my credit.
    January 9, 2014
    Photo of Jek J.
    By: Jek Jekz
    I definitely believe that by obtaining a secured credit card you will be able to help improve your credit score. I've actually had first hand experience with this because I used to be very careless financially when I was younger and my credit score paid for that carelessness. As soon as I realized that my credit score was something that I could not afford to no longer disregard, I started to research on how to improve it. There were various ways to improve it but the method I chose was to obtain a secured credit card and always pay off my balance in full and early.
    January 8, 2014
    Photo of James L.
    By: James LeGrand
    Being able to get a secured card is definitely an amazing concept. You put a deposit down and get a line of credit for that amount. It's an easy investment in your future. You can build trust with your credit card company and build your credit at the same time.
    January 3, 2014
    Photo of Elias J.
    By: Elias Johnson
    Secured credit cards can be an effective way to rebuild your credit. I had almost fallen into bankruptcy myself and had five credit cards go into collections. I was not eligible to be approved for any credit cards. But I applied for a Capital One Secured Mastercard and I was able to be approved for an account. Over time I started to rebuild my credit by making payments and paying my balance off each month. I highly recommend this card to anyone hoping to rebuild their credit.
    December 27, 2013
    Photo of Doug M.
    By: Doug Miller
    I believe that secured credit cards serve a very important function in building up credit. It is so hard to get credit after a financial disaster or as a young person because you get caught in a trap of needing credit to get credit, which creates a loop you can’t escape from. A secured card is the answer. The biggest problem is, I believe they should offer higher credit limits than what is secured as an interim step between secured and unsecured cards.
    December 21, 2013
    Photo of Dallas H.
    By: Dallas Hawkins
    Being young and dumb, I maxed out my credit cards and did not pay them which resulted in a very poor credit score. I was scared of credit cards after that. But when it came to needing credit history to buy a car and get a mortgage, I had terrible history and nobody would approve me for a credit card, so I had no way to rebuild my credit score even though I had plenty of money in savings. Then a friend told me about a secured credit card, and I got a Wells Fargo secured credit card the next day. There aren't any perks, and I had to basically use my own deposit money as credit. But, the yearly fee was low, and by paying it off in full every month I was able to rebuild my terrible score over a couple years and make all the big purchases with lines of credit I couldn't get before!
    December 16, 2013
    Photo of Scott S.
    By: Scott Smith
    Secured cards are great for establishing and building credit. The interest rate is a little higher, but it allows you to get a card even if you have bad credit, which causes you to be rejected some times. The secured card will give you a revolving credit source, a long term credit source, and only requires a refundable security deposit as a down payment. You can then use that card to make purchases and pay them off before the month is over to avoid any interest charges, and it becomes similar to a non-secured card. After a few years, your credit score will start increasing drastically, assuming you make the payments on time.
    November 27, 2013
    Photo of Amy F.
    By: Amy Fisher
    I'd have to say the USAA Secured Credit Card is the best secured credit card out now. The annual fee is low, and while the APR varies, it's very low compared to other secured credit cards. Your security deposit is put into a USAA certificate of deposit, which earns interest. If you like, you can make deposits to the CD and request a credit limit increase. It's a very nice option for those who have to get a secured card.
    November 24, 2013
    Photo of Ashley F.
    By: Ashley Fraiser
    Although the interest rate is relatively high compared to the other cards, I'd say the Capital One Secured card would be the best option of all of the secured credit cards. With the highest minimum deposit being $200 this isn't bad compared to the deposit amounts of other secured credit cards out there. This card allows you to monitor your credit score from all three credit bureaus while giving you a spending limit of up to $3000 with the possibility of an increase.
    November 11, 2013
    Photo of Chris N.
    By: Chris No
    My experience after looking at all these credit cards, the best one I found was the First Progress Platinum Select Secured Credit Card this card has a really low interest rate compared to the others at around 14.99%. It has no monthly fees just a small annual fee of $39 dollars which isn't that bad considering the others. There is a minimum deposit on this card which isn't bad of 300 dollars to get this card. All in all the interest rate of this card and low annual fee is what really made me choose this card.