If you are reading this article, your credit history might not be in the best position.
Maybe you don’t have the best credit score out there. Try not to fret just yet, one of the best secured credit cards can get your credit back on track.
You might have a credit report that showcases some spotty payment history, or maybe you are in collections. You might also have never opened a credit card account or taken out any loans, so your credit score is nowhere to be found. You read that secured credit cards could be your golden ticket out of this mess. Here at RAVE, we want to make sure you are educated before you make this big decision.
The Secured Credit Cards We RAVE About
How Secured Credit Cards Work
So what exactly is a secured credit card, and how is it any different from a regular credit card? We’ll break it down for you very simply and give you all of the key differences between these two types of credit cards.
A secured credit card is one that is backed up by a cash security deposit. Generally speaking, your credit limit on this credit card will be equal to the amount of money you give the bank. This security deposit ensures that the bank is protected in the event cardholders don’t make their monthly payments and disappear without a trace.
You might be thinking that this sounds like a debit card or prepaid card because you gave them money and now you get to spend that money without holding on to any cash. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Secured credit cards are real credit cards and have all of the credit building benefits of a regular credit card. The primary purpose of these cards is to help you build credit or rebuild damaged credit.
Banks and card companies want to help you get back on track so that they can trust you with an unsecured line of credit in the future, like a mortgage, regular credit card, or business loan. By using a secured credit card, you can build a solid track record of timely payment history. You get to start building credit, and the card company hopefully gets another customer for years to come.
Secured credit cards have much lower threshold for approval and often don’t have a minimum credit score to be approved. The security deposit allows card companies to be protected despite your damaged creditworthiness. It is a win-win situation all around.
Secured credit cards have a similar application process to regular credit cards and can have annual fees and application fees. But because you are on the path to improving your credit, we want to make sure you pay low fees and get the most bang for your buck.
Now that you know what a secured credit card is and how it works, take a look at the best secured credit cards below and start improving your credit score now!
The primary purpose of a secured credit card is to either start building some credit or to try and rebuild credit and get back in good standing. However, not all secured credit cards are created equal and each has their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Some cards are geared towards starting from scratch while others intend to help rebuild poor credit. You may value certain features more than someone else, so we evaluated each card on the following criteria:
- Annual fee: Does this card require you to pay an annual fee? If so, how much is it and does it make sense to pay this much?
- Rewards earning: Does this card earn any rewards? Does it offer cash back or some other type of rewards program? Does it have any categories that earn additional benefits? Does this card have a good intro offer or sign-up bonus?
- Minimum security deposit: What is the minimum amount of money that will need to be put down as a security deposit to the bank or credit card issuer?
- Minimum credit required: What is the approximate lowest credit, or lack thereof, that the issuer might consider for approval?
- Other benefits: What other perks or benefits does this card offer? Does it have a good APR? Will it help you keep track of your progress with a free credit score?
Best Overall Secured Credit Card
Capital One Secured Mastercard
- Annual Fee: $0
- Rewards Earning: None
- Minimum Security Deposit: $49, $99, or $200 (depending on credit history)
- Minimum Credit Required: Poor or minimal credit history
- Other Benefits: Refundable security deposit; $0 foreign transaction fees
- Pros: Low security deposit; no foreign transaction fees
- Cons: High APR
The Capital One Secured Mastercard is arguably the best secured credit card for those looking to rebuild or build credit. It has a low security deposit and no annual fee, making it in a class of its own.
This credit card has the features you want in a secured credit card to help build up your creditworthiness. Maybe you made some poor decisions in the past, like maxing out cards and missing payments, and now want to clean up your act. Maybe you just haven’t had the opportunity to start your credit journey. Either way, this card is likely going to be the best for you to get back on track and start toward your goals.
One of the defining features of this card is how its security deposits work. Depending on your credit history, Capital One has three different tiers of security deposits to get a $200 credit limit. You may only be required to have a security deposit of $49 in order to have a $200 credit limit, which is mind blowing. However, you could also be required to put down $99 or $200, which would be more aligned with many other secured credit cards.
This card also has no annual fee, which is astounding for a card you can be approved for with poor credit. Most other cards for bad credit require an annual fee as extra protection for the bank. It has a 26.99% APR, which is pretty high, but if you pay off your balance monthly, you won’t have to worry about any interest accruing.
Another defining feature of this card is that it has no foreign transaction fees. You can travel the world with this card without going deeper in the hole with each swipe.
One thing to be aware of for this card is you likely won’t be approved if you have some very bad dings on your credit report. For example, a non-discharged bankruptcy or a Capital One card that is not in good standing with the bank.
The Capital One Secured Credit Card is definitely the card you want in your wallet to help build or rebuild your credit on your way to your financial future.
Best Secured Card for Rewards
SKYPASS Visa Secured Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $50
- Rewards Earning: 5,000 Korean Air SKYPASS miles after first purchase, 1X mile per dollar on every purchase
- Minimum Security Deposit: $300
- Minimum Credit Required: Minimal credit history
- Other Benefits: Refundable security deposit; Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver; travel accident insurance; 1,000 bonus SKYPASS miles at annual renewal
- Pros: Earns rewards; travel accident insurance; card renewal point bonus
- Cons: High annual fee
The SKYPASS Visa Secured Credit Card from US Bank is a solid rewards-earning secured credit card, which is quite uncommon. It does carry an annual fee, but the rewards are worth it for a secured card.
The sign up bonus on this card is great, as it doesn’t require you to spend much at all: Just make a single purchase. You will earn 5,000 miles essentially just for opening the card. You will then earn one mile for every dollar you spend on the card. With SKYPASS miles being worth up to 1.5 cents each, the sign-up bonus is worth about $75, which makes up for the annual fee. Every dollar then earns about 1.5% in value back.
The card has a $300 minimum security deposit, which is pretty standard for most secured cards. The card also comes with auto rental collision damage waiver and travel accident insurance. You will be able to rest easy on vacation thanks to these protections. You will also earn 1,000 SKYPASS miles when you renew the card each year.
You may be thinking that it is odd to have a card that earns Korean Air SKYPASS miles, but hear me out. Korean Air SKYPASS miles are actually quite useful thanks to the many transfer partners. You can book flights with SKYPASS miles on SkyTeam alliance airlines and many other airlines (Alaska Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, and more). That means you can use these points to get just about anywhere around the world.
Even though you may be thinking that you might never fly Korean Air, this card could still work for you. It can help you build or rebuild your credit and earn you some miles to take you on your next adventure.
Best Secured Card for Low APR
Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $49
- Rewards Earning: None
- Minimum Security Deposit: $200
- Minimum Credit Required: None
- Other Benefits: Refundable security deposit; no penalty APR; 9.99% APR
- Pros: Very low APR; no penalty APR
- Cons: High annual fee
The Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured Credit Card is the absolute best secured credit card for a low APR. There are no other cards that come even remotely close to the APR on this card.
This credit card features an astounding 9.99% APR. Our recommendation is to not carry over a balance from month to month, especially as you are trying to get your financial ducks in a row. However, if you are in a bit of a bind and can’t cover your expenses immediately, this may be the card for you.
There is a price to pay for such a low APR, however. The Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured card has a $49 annual fee—significantly higher than a lot of other secured credit cards, and even some great unsecured credit cards.
The minimum security deposit is $200 and your credit limit correlates directly to the amount you put down. This is a low security deposit among secured credit cards, but remember that you will still need to pay a sizable annual fee.
This card does not require extensive credit history like many other credit cards, and you could even be approved with a low or poor credit score. One thing to be aware of is that this card cannot be converted to an unsecured card. Once you have reached a sufficient credit score to be approved for an unsecured card, the best decision would be to open an unsecured card after closing this one.
Best Secured Card for Bad Credit
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $29
- Rewards Earning: None
- Minimum Security Deposit: $200
- Minimum Credit Required: Bad or minimal credit history
- Other Benefits: Refundable security deposit
- Pros: Bad credit accepted; low annual fee
- Cons: High interest rate
The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card is the ideal card for bad credit due to its low annual fee. It operates like most other secured credit cards but can also be ideal for somebody who doesn’t have any credit history.
This card is one of three secured credit cards by First Progress, but it has the lowest annual fee. Of the three cards, it has the highest interest rate at 19.99% APR. But because you are making the decision to be responsible and make payments by the due date, the interest rate shouldn’t matter much. The other two cards may have low interest accrual, but we chose the lowest annual fee card to keep more money in your wallet.
This credit card has a minimum $200 deposit and the credit line is equivalent to the security deposit put down when you apply. You can get a higher credit limit by putting down more money as an additional security deposit, but you will need to contact First Progress to do so.
This card is a Platinum Mastercard, so it has all the advantages of the Mastercard program, such a zero liability protection and Mastercard global services. The low deposit amount and low annual fee make this a wonderful card for anyone with bad credit.
Best Secured Card for No Credit Check
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $35
- Rewards Earning: None
- Minimum Security Deposit: $200
- Minimum Credit Required: None, or bad credit
- Other Benefits: No credit check for application; refundable deposit
- Pros: No credit check required; low required security deposit
- Cons: Above average annual fee
The OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card is in a class of its own. It has a very unique feature among secured credit cards and credit cards in general: approval without a credit check.
This credit card is absolutely ideal if you do not want a hard pull on your credit, or if you don’t want banks or credit issuers to see your credit history. The reason for this is that you can be approved for the OpenSky Secured Visa card without a credit check. The only thing you need is an identity verification. If you have any bankruptcy or liens against you, you won’t get disqualified from opening this card.
This card features a relatively low security deposit, with a required minimum of $200. Your credit limit will be directly equivalent to the security deposit you put down on approval. It features a middle-of-the-road annual fee at $35, which is an absolute steal considering there is no credit check.
This card features a standard secured credit card APR at 19.14%. But as always, it is much better to pay off your monthly payments in full than to allow the interest rate to kick in. The last thing you want to do is to have late payments or default on a secured credit card whose sole purpose is to help build your credit.
In order to help you learn about improving your credit while also improving your credit score, OpenSky also has credit education and tips for free on their website.
Best Secured Card for Small Business
BBVA Compass Business Secured Credit Card
- Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, $40 after the first year
- Rewards Earning: 3X points at office supply stores, 2X points at gas stations and restaurants
- Minimum Security Deposit: $500
- Minimum Credit Required: Bad
- Other Benefits: Employee cards for no additional cost; refundable security deposit
- Pros: First year waived annual fee; rewards earning
- Cons: High security deposit; high annual fee after first year
The BBVA Compass Business Secured credit card is the ideal credit card for business owners, especially first-year business owners. It earns rewards, has a manageable security deposit, and has a low threshold for the required credit.
This credit card is great for first-time business owners as it has a waived annual fee for the first year. After the first year, it will bump up to $40 and stay there for every year thereafter. It also earns rewards for many of your typical business expenses. You will earn triple points at office supply stores and double points at gas stations and restaurants. Each point is worth 1 cent and can be redeemed for cash back, gift cards, travel expenses, or statement credit.
One of the great things about this secured business card is that it doesn’t charge any additional fees for employee cards. This way you can have your employees make business purchases and ensure you receive the rewards without having to pay any more money for it.
You can be approved for this card with poor credit, but it also requires you to open a secured credit card savings account with the bank. Your credit limit will be equal to 90% of the savings account balance with a minimum $500 initial deposit. This card has a 17.74% interest rate, but the best thing to do is pay it off every single month.
The biggest downside for this card is that it has geographical restrictions. You can only apply in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Alabama, Florida, and Arizona, as BBVA only has branches in these states. If you do live in one of these states and are looking for a secured business credit card, this one is a winner.
Can anybody open a secured credit card or only those with no credit or bad credit?
Anybody can open a secured credit card. You don’t have to have bad credit to open one of these cards. However, it may not make sense for your situation. If you already have at least decent credit, there is a good chance you could be approved for an unsecured credit card.
You may want to try and apply for an unsecured credit card if you have okay credit. Unsecured credit cards won’t require any money down for a security deposit, and they often include more lucrative rewards.
If you don’t have much credit history, maybe look into some basic beginner credit cards from the local bank you use. Banks will often be more willing to extend unsecured credit to somebody who is already banking with them and holds their liquid assets.
How old do you have to be to open a secured credit card?
Just like all credit cards, you need to be 18 or older to open a credit card. Banks and credit card issuers want to make sure that their consumers understand that responsible use of credit cards is very important.
How quickly will I develop or improve my credit score?
If you do not have any credit history, your credit score will show up after a few months. In some cases, it will show up after one month, but it is much more likely to see a score in about 3 to 6 months.
If you already have bad credit, be patient while you improve your score. If you start making monthly payments on time and keep your credit utilization low, you will see some progress a little bit at a time. Credit profiles hold on to items for up to 7 years. If you have some pretty bad history, you will need to be in it for the long haul but just know you will eventually get there.
Most secured credit cards report to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and Transunion) so cardholders’ credit scores on each will be affected and hopefully improved with responsible card use.
How does a bankruptcy affect my ability to open a secured credit card?
Bankruptcies are one of those situations that can make it very hard to get back on track, even to the point of getting denied for secured credit cards. Many cards will outright deny you if you have a recent bankruptcy.
Your best bet would be to target secured credit cards that do not do a credit check, like the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card. This card will not do a credit check, so it won’t show your bankruptcy. It only requires identity verification, which makes it nearly impossible to get denied. This card is ideal if you’ve had a recent bankruptcy.
Is there any way to get a higher credit line?
There are definitely a couple of different ways to increase your credit line. For secured cards, the easiest and quickest way is to put more money down for an additional deposit. You can do this at any time, but some cards have a limit on how high of a credit line you can have.
The second way to get a higher credit line is to continue making monthly payments on time and try to have the card converted to an unsecured credit card. After a number of on-time payments, card issuers will sometimes perform automatic reviews of your account to reassess your creditworthiness.
You can also try to apply for a different unsecured credit card once you have earned good credit, which will almost assuredly increase your credit limit.
What is the best secured credit card?
The best secured credit card is the Capital One Secured Mastercard. This card stands out from the rest with no annual fee, a tiered security deposit structure, and a low credit threshold.
This card has three security deposit levels in order to have a $200 credit limit: $49, $99, or $200. Depending on how Capital assesses your credit history, you could pay as low as $49 up front for a $200 credit limit. There are very few secured credit cards that offer something like this.
You can also be approved for this card with little to no credit, or if you have bad credit. Coupled with no annual fee, this card is the best of the best if you’re looking to build or rebuild your credit. It also has no foreign transaction fees, which is uncommon among secured credit cards.
All of these reasons make the Capital One Secured Mastercard the overall best secured credit card on the market.
- CreditFirm.net Credit Repair: This A+ BBB rated credit repair company can help get your credit back on track, removing any errors or false reports for a reasonable rate.
- Clever Fox Budget Planner: This budget planner has all of the necessary spreadsheets to help you stay on top of your monthly budgets. The key to staying out of financial trouble is to keep track of everything coming in and going out.
- MyFICO: If you don’t have the best credit or none at all, keep a close eye on your FICO score. MyFICO can help you see how you are progressing, and when you reach your ideal credit score.
- HSBC Direct Savings Account: This savings account has a significantly higher yield than most other savings accounts, no matter how much you deposit. You can also open an account with as little as $1.