Having good credit unlocks lending and job opportunities. Building credit can be a Catch-22; you need credit to get credit. Secured credit cards address this issue, allowing you to rebuild or establish credit with a refundable cash deposit as a credit line.
The best secured cards have standout features, like low/no annual fees, higher credit line consideration, and potential to upgrade to unsecured cards. Many top secured cards report to major credit bureaus, crucial for building credit. Some also offer cash-back rewards for savings on everyday purchases.
Overall, secured cards offer a chance for limited or bad credit individuals to show financial responsibility and improve scores. With competitive rates and generous rewards, there’s a card to suit your needs.
We thoroughly evaluated a variety of credit cards from different issuers to curate the best list. Remember to compare our picks with other cards as the best choice varies depending on individual circumstances. Below are our selections.
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card stands out for several reasons. Firstly, it considers higher credit lines, offers a path to upgrade to an unsecured card, and requires a lower opening deposit. Additionally, it reports to all three credit bureaus and has no annual fee. Moreover, you may be eligible for a $200 credit line by depositing just $49 or $99.
Keep in mind that a low deposit is not guaranteed. If approved, Capital One will inform you of your minimum deposit amount, which could be $49, $99, or $200. Within six months, cardholders can be considered for a higher credit line. The card also provides access to online tools and resources for improving your credit score gradually.
While the card doesn’t offer rewards or a welcome bonus, responsible behavior could lead to an upgrade to an unsecured card and the return of your security deposit. After demonstrating good habits, you can even request a product change to a rewards card.
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has no annual fee, and the minimum security deposit ranges from $49 to $200. It doesn’t offer rewards, a welcome bonus, or foreign transaction fees. However, cardholders benefit from automatic credit line reviews starting six months after account opening. Ultimately, the card provides an opportunity to upgrade to an unsecured Capital One Platinum Credit Card.
Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card is an excellent choice for earning rewards. It offers a flat rate of 1.5% cash back on purchases and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. With no annual fee, it’s a great option for building credit and improving your credit score. Moreover, this card has no foreign transaction fees, making it convenient for international travel without additional charges.
The card comes with a $0 annual fee, making it cost-effective. To open an account, you need to make a minimum security deposit of $200. In terms of rewards, you earn 1.5% cash back on purchases and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. Unfortunately, there is no welcome bonus offered with this card. However, it compensates for this with its other features.
One notable advantage of the Quicksilver Secured Card is the opportunity for an automatic credit line review. This review starts six months after opening the account and can result in a credit line increase. Additionally, if you maintain a good standing, you may have the chance to upgrade to an unsecured card in the future. This card is designed to provide benefits and flexibility to its users while helping them establish a solid credit history.
Navy FCU nRewards® Secured Credit Card
The Navy Federal nRewards Card has no annual fee and a relatively low 18% variable APR on purchases and balance transfers, without any balance transfer fee. It is an affordable option for building credit and avoiding fees on balance transfers, foreign transactions, and cash advances (although cash advances on credit cards should generally be avoided due to immediate interest accrual).
With this card, you can earn points on everyday purchases that can be redeemed for cash back, merchandise, or travel rewards. Cardholders also enjoy discounts on shopping, dining, and entertainment, along with access to exclusive military-related benefits. One unique perk for a secured card is the secondary auto rental collision coverage, which comes into play after your own insurance (provided you reject the coverage offered by the rental car company).
The card comes with a $0 annual fee and requires a minimum security deposit of $200. You earn 1 point per $1 on eligible purchases, but there is no welcome bonus or foreign transaction fees. After three months of account opening, cardholders may be eligible for a credit line increase. Upgrades to an unsecured card and deposit refunds can start as early as six months after account opening. While the Navy Federal nRewards Card offers secondary rental car coverage, it does not provide a welcome bonus.
U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa® Secured Card
The U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa® Secured Card is a top choice for earning cash back. It has a generous cash-back program and doesn’t charge an annual fee. Cardholders can earn 5% cash back on the first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter in two categories of their choice. They also get 5% cash back on prepaid air, hotel, and car reservations booked directly in the Rewards Travel Center.
For everyday purchases, the card offers 2% cash back in a category of the cardholder’s choice, such as gas stations, grocery stores, or restaurants. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. This rewards structure allows cardholders to maximize their earnings in categories that suit their spending habits.
In addition to its cash-back program, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured Card provides access to your VantageScore credit score. This feature helps cardholders track their progress as they build their credit. There is no annual fee for the U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured Card, making it a cost-effective choice. The minimum security deposit required is $300. However, there is no welcome bonus offered with this card.
It’s important to note that the card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee for each foreign transaction. This fee can add up when using the card abroad. As an additional benefit, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured Card offers free ID Navigator Powered by NortonLifeLock, which helps protect cardholders against identity theft and provides monitoring services.
Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured credit card
The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured credit card is an excellent option for maximizing cash back. It offers competitive rewards rates on everyday purchases. Cardholders can earn 3% cash back in a category of their choice, such as gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings. Additionally, they receive 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases per quarter; then 1%). For other purchases, cardholders earn 1% cash back.
Furthermore, this card has no annual fee and requires a low minimum security deposit. It’s a great choice for individuals with less-than-perfect credit history. The annual fee is $0, and the minimum security deposit is $200.
In terms of rewards, cardholders can earn 3% cash back in a category of choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases per quarter; then 1%), and 1% cash back on other purchases. There is no welcome bonus offered, and foreign transaction fees amount to 3% of the U.S. dollar value of each transaction. Additionally, cardholders can access their FICO Score on a monthly basis after opting in.
Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card
The Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card offers 1.5% cash back on purchases. It has no annual fee and provides free access to your FICO Score, which is updated monthly. This feature allows cardholders to track their credit-building progress easily. However, it’s important to note that the card charges a 3% fee on the U.S. dollar amount of each transaction. This makes it less favorable for individuals who frequently travel abroad.
The card comes with a $0 annual fee and requires a minimum security deposit of $200. In terms of rewards, it offers 1.5% cash back on purchases, but there is no welcome bonus included. If you’re considering international use, keep in mind that the card imposes a 3% foreign transaction fee on each transaction made. This fee can add up and make the card less appealing for frequent travelers.
Aside from its rewards and fees, the Bank of America® Unlimited Cash Rewards Secured credit card provides several additional benefits. It grants cardholders access to a free monthly FICO Score, which can be helpful for monitoring credit health. Moreover, the card offers periodic reviews for security deposit return, ensuring that you are aware of your deposit’s status.
However, there are a few drawbacks to consider. The card carries a high variable APR of 27.99% on both purchases and balance transfers. Additionally, a balance transfer fee of 3% applies to each transaction made.
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is a great option for establishing credit and earning cash back. It provides 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. During the first year, all cash back is matched, meaning you can effectively earn up to 4% cash back on qualifying purchases.
Furthermore, Discover reviews your account monthly, starting after seven months, and may upgrade you to an unsecured card. The card has no annual fee and requires a minimum security deposit of $200. There are no foreign transaction fees.
While the ongoing rewards categories may be seen as somewhat limiting, it’s important to note that the primary goal of a secured card is to demonstrate responsible behavior and build credit history, rather than accumulate rewards.
BankAmericard® Secured credit card
The BankAmericard® Secured credit card is a great option for building or rebuilding credit. It has no annual fee, and Bank of America conducts periodic reviews to offer opportunities for upgrading to an unsecured credit card. Cardholders also receive free monthly access to their FICO Score, allowing them to track their credit-building progress.
Although the card lacks rewards or a welcome bonus, it does charge a 3% fee for each transaction made in U.S. dollars. However, the periodic account reviews provide hope for upgrading to an unsecured Bank of America credit card, which can significantly improve your credit profile.
Here are the key details of the BankAmericard® Secured credit card: no annual fee, a minimum security deposit of $200, no rewards or welcome bonus, and a 3% foreign transaction fee. On the positive side, cardholders enjoy benefits such as free monthly FICO Scores and periodic reviews to determine eligibility for deposit refunds. By using the BankAmericard® Secured credit card wisely and taking advantage of its features, you can gradually build a better credit profile for yourself.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
If your credit is extremely poor and you’re worried about being denied for other secured cards, there is hope. With the OpenSky Visa, you can apply without undergoing a credit check. However, you’ll still need to provide financial details like your yearly income and monthly housing payment. It’s important to note that approval is never guaranteed for any credit card. Nevertheless, the OpenSky Secured Card presents an opportunity to rebuild your credit, even if you’ve made mistakes in the past. Additionally, it has a reasonable annual fee of $35.
The OpenSky Visa comes with a few key features. First, there is a minimum security deposit requirement of $200. There are no rewards offered with this card. However, there is a welcome bonus available, such as a $50 Amazon.com gift card after funding $500 or more. Another option is a $30 Amazon.com gift card after funding $300 or more. Keep in mind that certain restrictions apply, so refer to amazon.com/gc-legal for details.
When it comes to transactions made in foreign currencies, the OpenSky Visa charges a 3% fee on each transaction conducted in U.S. dollars. There are also some additional benefits and drawbacks to consider. On the positive side, there is no credit check required to apply, and you don’t need a checking account. Furthermore, you have the flexibility to change your payment due date once per year.
Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card
The Secured Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card is designed to help customers build their credit history and avoid common credit card pitfalls. It offers the Safer Credit Building feature to prevent missed payments. However, it operates differently from a traditional line of credit as you need to transfer funds to the card.
Chime stands out by not requiring a credit check and charging no foreign transaction fees. Additionally, it reports to all three major consumer credit bureaus. Unfortunately, this card does not provide any rewards.
With an annual fee of $0 and no minimum security deposit, the Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card keeps costs low. It doesn’t offer rewards or a welcome bonus, and there are no foreign transaction fees. The primary advantage is the absence of a credit check. However, the drawback is the lack of rewards.
Should you get a secured credit card?
Secured cards are a valuable tool for consumers without credit history or those looking to rebuild credit. These cards demonstrate responsible credit usage to lenders such as banks and mortgage companies. Allison Tackette, a credit and travel expert from Award Travel Vacations, affirms their usefulness.
If you don’t qualify for a regular, unsecured credit card, obtaining a secured credit card is an excellent way to establish credit. Some secured cards provide rewards on everyday expenses, helping to offset your regular costs by a small margin. The U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured Card, for instance, offers enticing benefits, such as 5% cash back on combined eligible purchases each quarter, 5% cash back on certain travel bookings, 2% cash back on select everyday categories, and 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Remember, the primary objective when applying for a credit card should be to establish or rebuild credit history. While rewards can be appealing, they shouldn’t take precedence. It’s important to avoid overspending in pursuit of rewards. By treating your credit card as if it were cash, you can responsibly build credit while avoiding excessive debt accumulation.
Guide to secured credit cards
A secured credit card is a type of credit card that demands a cash deposit as collateral. The deposit acts as security and ensures that you make timely bill payments. Failure to do so can result in the confiscation of your deposit. People with damaged, limited, or no credit history often use secured cards.
One primary benefit of secured credit cards is their accessibility compared to traditional unsecured cards. They require little to no credit history, making them easier to obtain. These cards are seen as less risky by banks, as the credit limit is tied to the provided security deposit. This is particularly advantageous for borrowers with “subprime” credit scores. Responsible use of a secured card can gradually improve your credit score, leading to better credit card offers and favorable rates on financial products like auto loans.
On the other hand, secured credit cards come with a notable disadvantage: the requirement of a cash security deposit to set your credit limit. While some of the top secured cards offer the possibility of refunding the deposit after periodic reviews, it may take time. This can be challenging for individuals who have limited cash resources.