Having a credit card on hand is helpful for many situations including large purchases, funding a vacation, or emergency expenses.
What happens if you don’t have enough credit or have too poor a credit score to get approved for a standard credit card? Until a little while ago, short of robbing a bank (not recommended), there wasn’t much the average Joe could do with his poor credit history.
But today, the secured credit card is on the scene, and people everywhere are gaining from this equal opportunity lender. Perhaps this is the solution you’ve been searching for as well.
Overview: Best secured credit cards
Here’s a closer look at what secured credit cards are all about, what the benefits are, and we’ll even delve into the best secured credit cards of 2023 to give you a good idea of what’s available to you right now.
|Card name||Best for||Credit needed⁺||Unique feature|
|Citi® Secured Mastercard®||Everyday interest rate||Limited Credit / No Credit / New to Credit||Free FICO score online + Flexible payment due dates|
|Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card||Low deposit requirement||Any, but your score determines your deposit||Initial $200 line of credit|
|OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card||No credit||None||There is no credit check to get approved for the card|
⁺Credit Score requirements are based on Money Under 30’s own research of approval rates; meeting the minimum score will give you the best chance to be approved for the credit card of your choice. If you don’t know your credit score, use our free credit score estimator tool to get a better idea of which cards you’ll qualify for.
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
In A Nutshell
The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is an excellent choice for anyone in need of a secured credit card to build credit. It’s best two features are a reasonable everyday APR and no annual fee.Read review
What We Like:
Limited Credit / No Credit / New to Credit is required for approval
Free access to your FICO score online
No annual fee
- The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
- Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
- Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
- A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
- Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
- With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
- Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.
- $200 – $2,500 line of credit.
- Purchase APR of 26.74% (Variable).
- Accepted everywhere Mastercard is accepted.
- No annual fee.
The Citi® Secured Mastercard® offers an initial credit line of $200 – $2,500 and does not charge an annual fee. This offers cardholders an excellent opportunity to build their credit score without having to worry about an ancillary cost. Also, the standard purchase APR is 26.74% (Variable), which is very competitive for a secured product.
Flexible Payment Due Date
If you’re someone who likes to line up their payment dates, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® allows for a flexible payment due date. Beginning, middle, or the end of the month dates are available – so whichever works for you, works for Citi.
Free FICO Score Online
One of the primary reasons a cardholder will apply for a secured credit card is to improve their credit score. There’s no better motivation for keeping on a path of good habits than to see the progress happen. The Citi® Secured Mastercard® offers a free FICO score online for all cardholders. Hopefully, each month this means watching your score increase while you use your secured card responsibly.Card info has been collected by MoneyUnder30 to help consumers better compare cards. The financial institution did not provide or approve card details.
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
In A Nutshell
If you are worried that you will not get approved for a conventional credit card or have been rejected in the past, the Capital One Platinum Secured is an excellent option. It’s rare to find one that doesn’t charge an annual fee and Capital One will automatically review your credit limit in as little as six months.Read review
What We Like:
Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line.
Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as six months with no additional deposit needed.
No annual fee and no foreign transaction fees.
- $200 line of credit with lowest deposits around.
- Credit review after only six months.
- Accepted almost everywhere.
- No annual fee.
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has some of the most attractive terms in the industry, making it an appealing card to apply for. If you meet the somewhat high standards, you will enjoy the lowest deposit requirements around and extremely flexible terms. Depending on your creditworthiness, you could get a secured card with a $200 limit for as little as a $49, $99, or a $200 deposit. Considering that most secured credit cards require anywhere between $300-$500, that’s a much more reasonable goal.
Pay Down Deposits
Additionally, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card takes a bold step by letting approved cardholders pay down their deposit in installments if they can’t afford the entire sum at once. This is a rare feature for a secured credit card and one that will help anyone who is struggling financially get a foot in the door of financial rejuvenation.
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card offers 24/7 online access so you can handle your account via your mobile app or computer whenever you want. Also, Capital One will report your card activity to the three major credit bureaus. This is a good thing as it will help you start rebuilding (or building from scratch) your credit history in a positive way.
See card details or read our full Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card review.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
In A Nutshell
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is a secured credit card that doesn’t require a credit check to apply. Whether you have poor credit or no credit at all, OpenSky is an opportunity to improve your credit history.Read review
What We Like:
No credit check needed to get approved for this card.
Choose your own security deposit between $200 – $3,000 and that becomes your credit line.
On-time payments will be reported to all three credit bureaus, so you can start building credit responsibly.
The annual fee is just $35, and OpenSky® does not charge any application, servicing, or processing fees.
- No credit check to apply. Zero credit risk to apply!
- Looking to build or rebuild your credit? 2/3 of cardholders receive a 48+ point improvement after making 3 on-time payments
- With an 87% average approval rate for the past 6 months, OpenSky gives everyone an opportunity to improve their credit
- Extend your $200 credit line by getting considered for an unsecured credit line increase after 6 months - no additional deposit required!
- Get free monthly access to your FICO score in our mobile application
- Build your credit history across 3 major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion
- Fund your card with a low $200 refundable security deposit to get a $200 credit line
- Apply in less than 5 minutes with our mobile first application
- Choose the due date that fits your schedule with flexible payment dates
- Fund your security deposit over 60 days with the option to make partial payments
- Join over 1.2 million cardholders who've used OpenSky to build their credit
- No credit check.
- Instance decision on approval.
- Works like a regular Visa.
- Reports to three major credit bureaus.
- You’ll be protected from unauthorized purchases with $0 fraud liability.
- Won’t be flagged as a “secured” card.
- You’ll be considered for a credit line increase after six months, with no additional deposit required.
- Annual fee: $35.
No credit check required
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card won’t pull your credit during your application, so you can qualify even with poor credit or no credit history at all.
Fund your secured credit card account with an amount between $200 and $3,000. That amount then becomes your credit limit. You can even add funds to increase your credit limit.
If you decide to close the account, the entire security deposit is refunded to you (terms apply).
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card reports card activity to all three reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. You can begin building up your credit score within months with on-time payments of your minimum amount due.
See card details. or read our full OpenSky® Secured Visa® review
What is a secured credit card?
Unlike an unsecured credit card, a secured credit card is one that requires you to put down some kind of security in order to be approved for the line of credit. Generally, this means linking the card to a savings account where you deposit money into or a collateral deposit as a kind of down payment for your card.
How much of a deposit you need to put down, what size line of credit you can receive, and how long you are required to have the deposit depends on your credit history, monthly payment habits, and the individual credit card company you are applying for. Frequently, the bank or card issuer will reward positive payment history with a higher line of credit (without requiring additional deposits).
Secured cards vs. unsecured cards
Both secured and unsecured credit cards come with their own benefits and drawbacks. Unsecured cards generally have higher limits and lower interest rates (though not always). On the other hand, secured credit cards can be an easy way to build credit. Not to mention, for someone who can’t get approved for an unsecured credit card, these alternatives are an absolute godsend.
A card like the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, for example, is known for being the best secured credit card for building up credit. It has no annual fee and a really low deposit requirement, making it easy to maintain financially. Additionally, a secured credit card is helpful if you want to make a purchase that requires a card (certain retail stores or wholesalers will only do business with credit cards), but you don’t want to deal with all of the strings attached to a standard credit card. Actually, there are so many situations when a secured credit card is a good idea including:
- After a divorce when you want to start your financial status fresh
- If you’ve suffered an illness or required a medical procedure that wiped out your credit rating
- If you have spent irresponsibly or beyond your means and need to rebuild your credit
- After declaring bankruptcy
- If you lose your job
In short, if you need to rebuild your credit history, for example, after a stint of irresponsible spending, a business loss, or some other unexpected financial issue that ruined your credit rating, a secured credit card will help you repair the damage.
It is also a good option for you if you simply don’t have sufficient credit history, such as a teenager or someone who never took out a credit card or used credit for any other reason. In truth though, the goal of an unsecured credit card is to get your credit rating up enough to be approved for an unsecured card.
How to upgrade to an unsecured card
Of course, secured credit cards are generally a means to an end. The goal is to build up enough creditworthiness to be eligible for an unsecured credit card that comes with more benefits. So, how do you upgrade from a secured to an unsecured credit card? Here are a few things to keep in mind
Your credit score is the most crucial aspect when it comes to being approved for any sort of credit including cards, loans, and more. According to FICO, one of the largest credit bureaus in the country, your credit score is made up of new credit, credit mix, payment history, length of credit history, and overall debt. You can start by becoming an authorized user on someone else’s card. This is difficult to do and can get sticky if you or the other party fails to pay.
Of course, the primary method of building up credit so you can eventually upgrade to an unsecured credit card is to start with a secured one. Use this like you would any other credit card: Buy things, pay off your owed amounts. Paying off your bill each month on time shows credit card companies that you are reliable enough to pay off whatever debt you accrue on their cards. When they see this, card companies are more likely to take a risk on you for bigger and better cards as well.
Here are a few more ways you can build your credit.
Our team of financial analysts strives to provide you with the most accurate and up to date information possible. We measure each credit card within its category to find the most beneficial cards available today. For our secured credit cards, we analyzed several factors including annual fees, APRs, any rewards or benefits, eligibility, deposit requirements, and line of credit limits. Credit cards scored higher when they offered favorable terms and benefits for cardholders.
Most important features of secured credit cards
While there are numerous factors that went into our decision about which were the best secured credit cards in 2023, these were the most prominent features that were weighed:
A secured credit card with steep annual fees doesn’t take its clientele into consideration. Many people who are applying for these cards are doing so because they don’t have a steady income or enough disposable income to cover basic costs. Tacking on a high annual fee is almost self-defeating. Only credit cards with no or low annual fee made it on our list.
Just like high annual fees, a high APR cancels out the benefits of a secure credit card. However, people can still take advantage of good cards with high APRs by paying off their balance each month and so not accruing interest. For this reason, cards with high APRs still made it on to the list if they had other benefits bundled with the card.
When dealing with poor credit, flexibility is of great value. Cards that had flexible deposit options ranked highest on our list.
While we mentioned the most important features above, there are some cards that come with extra fringe benefits as well.
When comparing cards, take a look at the additional features that come with the card to see if one offers more of an incentive for your situation than the rest.
Frequently asked questions on secured credit cards
How long does it take to rebuild my credit so I can get approved for an unsecured credit card?
Are there rewards such as points or interest accrued with a secured card?
Can a secured credit card ever be bad for my credit?
Does my security deposit go towards my monthly payments?
What is credit bureau reporting and does it really matter?
Should you get a secured credit card?
Yes! A secured credit card is a fantastic option if you have poor credit and won’t be approved for an unsecured credit card. Many situations arise in life that put your credit score in a negative light such as poor financial habits in our youth, a bad business deal, medical issues, or a natural disaster not covered by insurance.
If you are just starting out, your credit will also be lacking. So, if you want to build your credit for any of these reasons, look into the best secured credit cards and start creating excellent credit for yourself in 2023.
Not sure you want a secured credit card? Finding the right credit card for you is much simpler if you know your credit score, and can narrow your search to only the cards you know you’ll get approved for. We’ve made it easy for you.
If you don’t already know your score, use our quick and free Credit Score Estimator tool – then find the perfect card for you!