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Hear from our editors: Best secured credit cards of December 2021
Updated November 30, 2021
This date may not reflect recent changes in individual terms.
Editorial note: Credit Karma receives compensation from third-party advertisers, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions. Our marketing partners don’t review, approve or endorse our editorial content. It’s accurate to the best of our knowledge when posted.
Written by: Ben Luthi
Secured credit cards and the upfront cash deposits they require to secure the account aren’t always ideal. But with the right card, you can start building your credit to increase your chances of qualifying for a better, traditional credit card. What’s more, you may get access to great benefits along the way.
Here’s our take on the best secured cards.
- Best for rewards: Discover it® Secured Credit Card
- Best for a low deposit: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
- Best for high potential credit limit: BankAmericard® Secured credit card
- Best for no credit check: OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card
- Best for tracking your FICO® score: Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Here’s why: The Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers 2% cash back on your first $1,000 in combined gas and restaurant purchases each calendar quarter, and 1% cash back on every other purchase you make (including after you hit the quarterly spending cap). What’s more, at the end of your first year Discover will double all the cash back you’ve earned as a new card member, even if you’ve already redeemed some of those rewards.
The card requires a minimum security deposit of $200 if you’re approved, and your deposit must equal your credit limit. Your maximum credit limit (up to $2,500) will be determined by your income and ability to pay. Once you’ve been a cardholder for eight months, Discover will review your account and consider returning your security deposit.
The Discover it® Secured Credit Card has no annual fee.
Read our review of the Discover it® Secured Credit Card to learn more.
Here’s why: With the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, you may qualify for an opening credit line of $200 with a refundable deposit starting at $49.
You could be considered for a higher credit line after the first six months. The card doesn’t offer a rewards program, but it does come with some decent benefits.
For example, when it comes to foreign transaction fees, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has none, so purchases abroad won’t incur any additional costs to you. The annual fee is $0.
Here’s why: The BankAmericard® Secured credit card offers the potential for an exceptionally high credit limit for a secured card — up to $4,900.
Of course, there’s one big string attached: the security deposit.
Your security deposit determines your credit limit. So if you want a $4,900 credit line, you’ll be required to deposit that much money in advance. As long as you pay back what you spend, plus any interest and fees you incur, your security deposit is fully refundable. But if you can’t afford that much upfront, you can also opt for a smaller deposit of as low as $300.
Fortunately, there’s no annual fee.
Here’s why: The OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card isn’t one of our favorite secured cards overall, but it has one big advantage over the other cards on this list. It doesn’t require a credit check to get approved, or even a checking account for that matter.
This feature makes the card a great fit for people who may have negative items on their credit reports or who are underbanked.
The minimum deposit amount is $200 (with a maximum of $3,000), and your deposit will set your credit limit. But you’ll also need to pay a $35 annual fee on top of that deposit.
That’s one clear drawback. But if your credit is in bad shape and you’re not sure you can get approved for a secured card with no annual fee, this card could give you access to the credit you need.
Read our review of the OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card to learn more.
Here’s why: The Citi® Secured Mastercard® lets you track your FICO score online.
This is especially helpful for educational purposes while you’re building credit, so you can keep tabs on your progress. Citi will also report your credit history to the three major consumer credit bureaus, which can help you build your credit if you make on-time payments, keep your balance low relative to your credit limit, and don’t carry a balance.
Your security deposit could be as low as $200 or as high as $2,500.
Plus, there’s no annual fee.
To learn more, check out our review of the Citi® Secured Mastercard®.
How we picked these cards
There are many secured credit cards on the market. But many of them don’t offer special perks or exciting benefits that make them stand out. While that may not matter much if your primary goal is to build credit, it’s nice to have features that can help you save money — or even earn some.
As a result, we selected our top choices based on how they can either keep money in your wallet — through low fees, APRs and deposit requirements — or return it to you in the form of rewards.
How to make the most of secured credit cards
The ultimate goal of applying for and using a secured credit card is to build or rebuild your credit. While some secured cards may return your deposit to you before you close the account, that’s not always the case. As a result, it’s essential to start practicing good credit habits as quickly as possible to help improve your credit health.
One of the most important things you can do to keep your account in good standing is pay your monthly bill on time each month. And if you want to avoid interest, make sure to pay the balance in full, too. Also, try to keep your balance relatively low. Your credit utilization rate — the percentage of your credit limit that you’re using — is another important factor in your credit scores.
As you do these things and build your credit, you may have a better chance of getting approved for an unsecured card in the future.