Best Secured Credit Cards

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 28, 2023
BZ

Quick Look at the Best Credit Cards for Secured Credit Cards:

When you are rebuilding your credit or are applying for credit for the first time, a secured credit card is a great way to get your foot in the door. These credit cards are secured by a deposit that you put up, and your credit limit is tied to that. Credit card issuers then report your on-time payments to the credit bureaus, which allows you to build or repair your credit.

Benzinga researched the secured credit card options and created the list below of some of the best cards on the market. Yes, you may want a business card, or you may need to go beyond a debit card. No matter your situation, you can use these cards to get the support and spending power you need.

1.  Best Overall: OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card

Applying for this credit card allows you to skip a credit check completely and be approved for the secured card in less than five minutes. And when you make your payments on time to this credit issuer, it will report your good payment habits to all three credit reporting agencies.

You can move to an unsecured card in 6 months when you make your payments on time. Plus, the card has a high approval rate, giving you the opportunity to get into a credit card that can help you better manage your finances.

Pros

  • This might be the best card to start with, especially after a bankruptcy or prolonged financial trouble
  • You can unlock spending power that might help you get through some tough times

Cons

  • Not everyone will get an unsecured card offer in a few months

2. Best for New Credit Builders: Citi® Secured Mastercard®

If you are new to credit and are looking to build yours, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® could be a great choice. Every time you make an on-time payment, the credit card issuer will report it to the credit bureaus — and that will help you build a great credit score over time. Also, you will have free access to your FICO score and receive alerts on your card such as over-the-limit purchases or suspicious activity.

You don’t need to make a deposit to use this card, and that makes it much easier to start building credit, making managing debt that much more affordable. Moreover, there’s no credit check. You can get started right now without waiting for an approval.

Pros

  • Credit bureau reporting happens very quickly with this card
  • You still get access to all the extra add-ons that Citi gives to its customers

Cons

  • It’s true that there’s no credit check, but you might end up with a very low credit limit

3.  Best for Building Credit Quickly: Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Secured Credit Card

When building or repairing credit, using a secured credit card means putting up a deposit that equals the amount of credit you have. For instance, if you deposit $250, you will have $250 in credit available to you. But when you use the Merrick Bank Double Your Line® Secured Credit Card, you can quickly increase your credit line without an additional deposit. Simply make the first seven months of your minimum payments on time, and the credit card issuer will double your credit line.  

Pros

  • This card allows you to start very small as you repair your credit
  • Customer service for this card is very good, allowing you to get all your questions answered or concerns addressed

Cons

  • The Double Your Line Feature can be helpful, but you need to make sure you know how you will pay down the extra money you might spend

4. Best for Bankruptcy: The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® is a full-featured credit card with a revolving credit line based on a refundable security deposit. The credit limit is determined by the amount of your security deposit, not your credit score or history. It’s accepted for car rentals, hotels and millions of other transactions worldwide. This card offers the protection, convenience and prestige of the worldwide Mastercard system.

Pros

  • There’s no relation between your security deposit or spending limit and your credit
  • With this card, you still get all the concierge and customer care features that other Mastercard users get

Cons

  • Yes, the security deposit is refundable, but it also determines how much you can spend

5.  Best for Low Initial Deposit: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

If you’re looking for a secured credit card with a low minimum security deposit, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card only asks for a $49 deposit, and once you pay it, you will get a minimum credit line of $200. It’s a great secured card for those who don’t have a large security deposit saved up to open a credit card account.   

There’s no annual fee, and you can spend up to $1,000 using this card. That makes the card more useful for those who want to build credit. While there are no rewards, you can use this card as a jumping point that allows you to move up to other cards in the future.

Pros

  • Capital One has other cards that you can step up to in the future
  • The spending limit is several times your deposit amount, giving you flexibility when opening the card
  • Capital One does have physical locations available for customer care

Cons

  • While the spending limit is rather high, you must be careful when using this card, especially if you’re not sure how quickly you can pay it off

6. Best for Customizable Cashback: U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa® Secured Card

For those who want a cashback card that allows them to determine which category they earn the cash on, the U.S. Bank Cash+® Visa® Secured Card is a great choice. Cardholders can choose from several everyday categories to determine which area they receive cash back. You can choose between groceries, gas and restaurants.

You also get free access to your credit score, and the deposit is lower than the credit line you receive. While this card still makes you pay upfront, it’s far cheaper than others in the same category.

Pros

  • You can choose a flexible cash back category to go with your card, meaning that you can perfectly line up your spending with the rewards you can get
  • You will not make a 100% deposit on this card at the time of opening

Cons

  • While this card doesn’t require a large deposit, you may feel like the ratio of credit line to deposit is a bit skewed

Getting Approved for a Secured Credit Card

Getting approved for a secured credit card is different than applying for and getting approved for an unsecured card. For instance, many issuers of secured credit cards do not look at your credit history when deciding whether or not to issue you a card. And some issuers don’t even consider recent bankruptcies as a determining factor.

But just because the card is secured doesn’t mean everyone can get approved for a secured credit card.Credit card issuers may take the following into account:

  • Your age. Most cards require you to be 21 years old or have documented steady income.
  • Your income. Be prepared to provide proof of your income.
  • Your credit report. Not all secured credit cards check credit reports, but some do. And if you have a history of making late payments, it could prevent you from getting a card.

To apply for the card, you should log onto the credit card site and enter the information asked. Most of the time, you will be asked to provide:

  • Your name
  • Your Social Security number
  • Your address
  • The address where you receive mail
  • How much of a deposit you want to start with
  • How you will pay for the deposit
  • Your income

How to Pick a Secured Credit Card

Choosing the right credit card is important when opening a secured credit card because it’s the first step in building or rebuilding your credit. To ensure that you get the best card for you, pay attention to the following things:

  • Reporting your good credit behavior: Look for a card that rewards your good behavior by reporting to all three major credit agencies. That means every time you make a payment on time, the credit card issuer will report that to the agencies, and over time all those on-time payments will add up to a better credit score for you.
  • Minimum Deposit. When you open a secured credit card, you will have to make a deposit, and that deposit is tied to your credit limit. While most cards ask for a deposit of $200 to $300, some allow you to deposit much less. Make sure the amount you’ve saved for a deposit matches the required deposit on the credit card you select.
  • Moving up. Look for a credit card issuer that will allow you to move up to a secured credit card once you’ve made a certain amount of minimum payments on time. Doing this allows you to improve your credit and gives you the freedom of using one of the best credit cards without a deposit.
  •  Fees. Many credit issuers of secured cards don’t charge monthly maintenance fees, and you should look for one that doesn’t. While some credit card issuers do charge annual fees, credit card issuers that charge other fees should be avoided. For instance, you should never pay to pay your bill online or pay a processing fee every time you use your card.
  • Grace period. If you use the secured credit card to build your credit — and not as a card that extends credit — you will pay off your balance every month. Doing so should mean that you won’t have to pay interest on the things you charge on the card, but that is only true if you have a card with a grace period. A grace period ensures that if you pay off your balance every month, you’ll never pay interest — which is disproportionally high with these types of cards. But if there is no grace period, you will pay the interest even if you pay off your balance every month.

Pros and Cons of a Secured Credit Card

As it is with everything, there are pros and cons to using a secured credit card. Here are some of the pros of these types of cards:

  • Some offer no credit checks.
  • You can build your credit if you use the card responsibly.
  • Your payment behavior is typically reported to the credit agencies.
  • You will only lose your security deposit if you fail to pay your bill.
  • It’s easier to get than an unsecured credit card.

Here are the cons of using this type of card:

  • You will pay higher interest rates.
  • Some cards that cater to people with bad credit charge excessive fees.
  • You must put up a deposit.

When to Move to a Secured Credit Card

A secured credit card is different than an unsecured credit card in that you have to put up a deposit to get access to credit. The deposit is considered collateral, which will be used if you make charges you do not pay for. In most instances, if you make your payments on time, the deposit will eventually be returned to you.

There are two reasons that people get secured credit cards. The first is when you are trying to build credit. Someone with no credit may find it difficult to qualify for an unsecured credit card, so they use a secured card to build their credit to the point where they will qualify for it.

The second type of person who gets a secured credit card is someone who has bad credit. It can almost be impossible for someone with a poor credit score to qualify for an unsecured credit card, so they will get a secured card to build their credit score. By making payments on time every month, they can improve their bad credit score.

Because each secured credit card issuer has different requirements, you should research your options to find a card that is right for your lifestyle and credit score. The most important thing to remember is that a secured credit card’s purpose is not to give you access to credit. Instead, its intended use is to improve your credit so you can qualify for less expensive credit options in the future.

Best Features of a Secured Credit Card

Depending on the issuer, you can find some features in secured credit cards that make them an even better bargain. For instance, you may find a secured credit card that offers cashback or other rewards. While you won’t earn a lot of money with these cashback cards because the spending limits are so low, it’s still money in the bank.

You will also find a lot of secured cards that don’t have monthly maintenance fees or other high fees. These credit card issuers focus on allowing you to build your credit rather than nickel and diming you on excessive fees.   

Finally, one of the best features of secured credit cards is the ability to build or rebuild your credit. The first way this is done is when the credit card issuer reports your on-time payments to the credit reporting bureaus. But remember they also report late and missed payments, which can hurt your score.

Another way a secured credit card can improve your credit is when it offers you the ability to move up to an unsecured credit card. This typically happens when you pay your minimum payment on time for some time. Moving up to an unsecured card shows other would-be creditors that you are financially responsible.

On rare occasions, you could get a rewards card that is secured, but for the most part, you want to get a card with a low spending limit and no cash deposit required so that you can work on your credit and payment history.

How to Make the Most of a Secured Credit Card

To make the most of a secured credit card, you should follow a few important guidelines to ensure that it’s worth the effort. Here are some things you can do to ensure you get the most from your secured credit card:

  •  Keep the balance low. A big part of your credit score is your credit use. The lower the number, the better your score will be. Keeping credit card debt low makes it easier to manage your score. Plus, you can build a rapport with the credit card company that might help you get limit increases in the future. That’s why it’s important to never max out your secured card. Instead, try to keep your credit use at 30% or less. For instance, if you have a $100 credit limit, never carry a balance of more than $30 on it.
  • Pay off the card every month. Another way to get the most out of your secured card is to pay off your balance every month. Doing so will help build your credit score and ensure you never pay interest on your purchases (provided that the card offers a grace period). If a credit card offer allows you to miss a payment, you may want to make a payment anyways because that better establishes your credit history.
  • Don’t go overboard. Remember that a secured credit card is designed to help you build credit rather than provide you with a credit line. Knowing that, it makes sense to make only small charges every month and then pay them off before your grace period. Moreover, don’t make a deposit on a card if you can help it.
  • Never pay late. Even if you can’t pay off the balance every month, you should never miss a payment or pay late. If you do, it will be reported to the credit bureau, which will negatively affect your credit.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Q

What’s the difference between secured and regular credit cards?

A

The difference between a secured and unsecured credit card is that a secured credit card requires collateral. That collateral comes in the form of a deposit made by the cardholder. The credit limit is determined by the amount of the deposit.

Q

Do secured cards build credit?

A

Secured credit cards do build credit as long as they are used responsibly. If you make your payments on time and keep your credit use low, your credit score will improve after using the card for a time.

Q

What happens to your deposit on a secured credit card?

A

As long as you pay off your card, your deposit should be returned to you after you close the account or move up to an unsecured card with the same card issuer. Each credit card’s rules are different for deposits, so be sure to find out what happens to your deposit before applying for a card.