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The Best Secured Credit Card of February 2021

A secured credit card can be an invaluable instrument, whether you’re trying to build credit from scratch or repair credit after a bad setback. Secured cards require you, usually equivalent to your credit line, to have a cash security deposit. In the event that you do not pay the bill, the lender keeps the deposit; you get the deposit back when you move to a normal “unsecured” card or close the account in good standing. Since the deposit prevents the issuer from losing money, it is easier for individuals with poor credit or no credit to apply for secured cards.

The issuer records your behavior to the credit bureaus, the businesses that compile the credit reports that form the basis of credit scores, when you use the card. Keep your balance relatively low and pay your bill every month on time, and you can start improving your credit.

Credit cards for building credit
Discover It Secured

Getting a best secured credit card

Who should be approved for a secured credit card?

While secured credit cards are available to bad borrowers, and even if the security deposit reduces the risk to the issuer, approval is not assured for all:

For indications that you are an unreasonable credit risk, the issuer will generally (but not always) review your credit report. For instance, if you’re in the midst of a bankruptcy, or you’re already overdue on other accounts, or you’ve just opened a bunch of new accounts, it’s unlikely you’ll be authorized.

In order to pay your credit card bill, you’ll also have to prove that you have wages. Yeah, the issuer has your deposit, but it can use the money only as a last resort to pay your bill. Every month, you are supposed to pay your bill, so you will need revenue.

Credit cards building credit
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

How does the mechanism function?

Each issuer handles things a little differently, but it functions like this in the process of applying, receiving and using a secured credit card:

You’re applying for the card. The issuer assesses how risky you are (a process called underwriting), and you are accepted if you pass muster.

The deposit is funded by you. You have to pay for your security deposit before the issuer opens your account. In certain situations, you must supply the application with bank account information so that the deposit can be transferred immediately. For some occasions, the issuer will give you some time to recover the deposit. The issuer will change the status of your application from accepted to denied if you fail to fund the deposit.

Credit cards for building credit
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card

The exact best secured credit card procedure?

You’ll get your card. The issuer will give you your card once your deposit is funded. You would then be allowed to use it like every other credit card. In general, at any given time, it’s better to use less than 30 percent of your credit available, so don’t go maxing out your protected card. Using it per month for a few small transactions and pay them off promptly.

Each month, you get your bill and pay it. Since secured cards tend to charge very high interest rates, to prevent finance charges, it’s better to pay your bill in full every month. The issuer reports to the credit bureaus your payments, which lets you create credit.

Upgrade yourself. You’ll be in a position to apply for better cards when your credit moves from poor to mediocre to good:

For future upgrades to an unsecured visa, some issuers automatically check your account. For instance, after eight months, Discover does this with the Discover it ® Secured Credit Card. After six months, when you have the Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Protected Credit Card, the Navy Federal Credit Union begins automatic reviews. You get your deposit back when your issuer transfers you to an unsecured card.

With other issuers, you might have to request an update directly. This could mean changing your protected account to an unsecured card or closing it and opening a new unsecured account. You get your money back either way.

You should apply for unsecured cards separately if your issuer can not or will not upgrade you, and bear in mind that not all secured-card issuers even sell unsecured cards. You’ll finally want to close the secured card in order to reclaim your deposit.

Citi Secured Mastercard

Alternatives to credit cards that are safe


For people with poor credit, many issuers specialize in unsecured credit cards, but NerdWallet usually does not recommend them. That’s because these “subprime specialist” cards appear to charge large fees that can easily add up to much more than a standard minimum security deposit: up to $99 annual fees, application fees, “activation” and “processing” fees, monthly maintenance fees, and so on. And unlike a safe card deposit, those payments are money that you can’t get back. Our roundup of the best and worst bad credit cards has more card details to stop.


Prepaid debit cards provide convenience and are a better choice than carrying cash, but they don’t help create credit for you. You ‘load’ money onto the card with a prepaid debit card, and the transactions you make are paid for with that money. Since you’re not borrowing money, your credit score has no effect. See the best prepaid cards from NerdWallet.


These loans, provided mainly by smaller financial institutions, such as credit unions and community banks, are intended to help you develop a strong background of payments. In fact, the money you “borrow” is not given directly to you. Instead, it’s deposited in a savings account on your behalf as you repay the loan in monthly instalments. The money is released to you after you’re finished, and your credit report shows a paid-off loan. Learn more about loans from credit-builders.


They may be secured or unsecured by these loans. Unsecured loans typically have higher interest rates than secured loans (those without collateral, such as a car title). The higher your credit, the lower it is likely that your rate will be. Conversely, if they can get a loan at all, anyone with poor credit can expect to pay very high rates. Learn about personal loans for more.


Rewards and Upgrading

Editor’s Choice

Discover It Secured Credit Card

Annual Fee

Regular APR
22.99% Variable APR

Intro APR
10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Rec Credit Score
-No annual fee, receive cash back, and with responsible usage, build your credit.
With the three major credit bureaus, using your secured credit card will create a credit history. Prepaid and debit cards usually can’t do that.
-By offering a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being accepted, create your credit line. When submitting your deposit, bank details must be given.
-Starting at 8 months, automated reviews to see if we can transition you to an unsecured credit line and return your deposit.
-Earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined transactions per quarter at gas stations and restaurants. Plus, you immediately receive unlimited 1% cash back on all other transactions.
-99 percent of the locations that earn credit cards accept Discover nationally.
Get 100% customer support focused in the U.S. & get your free credit scorecard with your FICO ® Credit Score
-INTRO OFFER: Cashback Match Unlimited-only from Discover. Discover will match all the cash back you have won at the end of your first year automatically! There is no minimum budget or maximum incentives. Only a play dollar-for-dollar.
-If we locate your Social Security number on one of thousands of Dark Web pages, get an alert.* Trigger free of charge.

No credit check or no bank account

Top Rated

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card

35 35
Annual Fee

Regular APR
17.39% Variable APR

Intro APR

Rec Credit Score
Poor – Average
-To apply, no credit check is required. OpenSky believes in providing everyone with an opportunity.
-The refundable * deposit you provide on your Visa card becomes your credit line cap. Pick it up on your own, from as low as $200.
-Quickly create credit. To all 3 big credit bureaus, OpenSky says.
-In as little as 6 months, 99 percent of our clients who began without a credit score obtained a credit score record with the credit bureaus.
-We have a Facebook group of individuals just like you; on our Facebook Fan page there is a platform for shared views, and insights from others. (Facebook ‘OpenSky Card’ search.)
-To support you along the way, OpenSky offers credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website.

No hard credit inquiry

First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card

29 29
Annual Fee

Regular APR
19.99% Variable

Intro APR

Rec Credit Score
-Get your card faster with the Latest Expedited Processing Option
-No required credit history or minimum credit score for approval
-Online Application Fast and Complete
Platinum Mastercard® Safe Credit Card Full-Feature
-Nice for rental cars, hotels; credit cards are accepted everywhere!
-Monthly reporting to build credit history to all 3 major credit bureaus
-Credit line backed by your $200 Fully-Refundable Deposit — $2,000 Submitted with Request
-Only pay off your balance and get back your deposit at any time.
-Mobile Access to Your Account 24/7
-You must be a resident of a US state, but the service is not currently available in Arkansas, Iowa, New York, or Wisconsin.
-Apply to your credit score in just a few moments with no adverse effect; there will be no credit inquiry reported in your credit bureau file

Lowest Interest Rate

Best Overall Deal

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured Credit Card

49 49
Annual Fee

Regular APR
9.99% Variable

Intro APR

Rec Credit Score
-Get your card faster with the latest Expedited Processing Option
-No credit history or minimum credit score for approval required
-Online application, Fast and Complete
Secured Credit Card Platinum Mastercard® Full-Feature
-Nice for car hire, hotels; credit cards are accepted everywhere!
-Monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus to build the history of credit
-Credit line backed by your $200 Fully-Refundable Deposit—$2,000 Submitted with Request
-Pay off your balance at any time and get your deposit back
-24/7 Access to your account online
-You must be a resident of a U.S. state, but the service is not currently available in Arkansas, Iowa, New York, or Wisconsin.
-Apply with no adverse effect on your credit score in just a few moments; no credit inquiry will be reported in your credit office file

Low deposit

Secured Mastercard from Capital One

Annual Fee

Regular APR
26.99% Variable APR

Intro APR

Rec Credit Score

-No annual fees
-Unlike a prepaid card, the 3 key credit bureaus are routinely reported to
-Accepted globally at millions of locations
-Make the minimum security deposit required and you’ll get a $200 initial credit line. Plus, deposit more cash to get a bigger credit line before your account opens.
-Your $49, $99, or $200 refundable security deposit includes access to an approved bank account.
-In as little as 6 months, with no additional deposit required, a higher credit line is automatically considered.
-We can monitor your account and you will be able to gain your deposit back as a statement credit when you use it wisely by doing things like making on-time payments.
-You can conveniently access your account online, by phone or using our mobile app 24/7.

Basic card for thin credit

Citi Secured Mastercard

Annual Fee

Regular APR
22.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

Rec Credit Score
-The Citi® Protected Mastercard® is a credit card with no annual fee that allows you to build up your credit when used responsibly.
-It helps develop your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus, unlike a debit card. You will also have free access to your FICO score online when available.
-Use your card – globally – anywhere Mastercard® is approved.
-There is a security deposit required. Your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200) until accepted.
-Get help with Auto Pay and account reminders to remain on track.
-You may pick any available expiration date at the beginning, middle or end of the month with Customizable Payment Due Dates.
-Manage your account online, by phone, or via our mobile app 24/7.
-The regular Citi Flex Plan variable APR is 22.49 percent . At the option of Citi, Citi Flex Plan offers are made available.
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