Wells Fargo Secured Card: A high credit limit with high fees

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In a Nutshell

With a high available credit limit, the Wells Fargo Secured Card can have a positive impact on your credit. However, not without some hefty fees to consider.

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These offers are no longer available on our site: Wells Fargo Secured Card, Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card

There are two noteworthy benefits with the Wells Fargo Secured Card.

You can get a higher credit limit with this card compared with other secured cards like the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® (up to $1,000) or the OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card (up to $3,000).

With the Wells Fargo Secured Card, the amount you put down as a deposit determines what your credit limit is, and you can put down up to $10,000. This makes this card appealing for those who have the money to make a large security deposit to secure a high credit limit.

See how a secured card deposit relates to your credit line

The other benefit of this Wells Fargo card is that you can apply even if you’re a non-permanent resident.

What is a secured card?

For people with low credit or no credit, secured credit cards are a good way to build credit.

With a traditional unsecured credit card, you can begin using the card as soon as you get it. But with a secured card, you need to make a deposit first.

This is a form of collateral the credit card company takes to make sure that in case you can’t pay back what you borrow it at least has your deposit.

There are a host of secured credit cards available. As with any credit card, determining which one is best for you depends on many factors, which include how much you earn, how much you spend and how good you are at paying off your balance every month.

Here are more details on the pros and cons of the Wells Fargo Secured Card.


  1. The rundown: Everything we like about the Wells Fargo Secured Card
  2. Heads up: What you should consider before applying for the Wells Fargo Secured Card
  3. Do the math: How to get the most out of the Wells Fargo Secured Card
  4. The competition: How the Wells Fargo Secured Card stacks up against similar cards
  5. Bottom line: Is the Wells Fargo Secured Card right for you?

The rundown: Everything we like about the Wells Fargo Secured Card

Given the full range of secured credit cards out there, the Wells Fargo Secured Card has some distinguishable benefits that make it a good option for some.

Whether you’re new to the country or starting to build credit, this card could be worth your while. Here are its biggest benefits.

Great for temporary U.S. residents

Many secured cards require you to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The good news is you can qualify for this card even if you’re not a citizen or permanent resident.

In other words, “non-resident aliens” or those on temporary visas may apply. But be aware: You can’t upgrade to a Wells Fargo unsecured card unless you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid Social Security number.

High available credit limit

This card allows for a deposit of up to $10,000 to establish your available credit limit. While you’re only required to put down a minimum of $300 for the security deposit (as collateral for using the card), you have the option to deposit up to $10,000 when you get started.

For those hoping to build their credit quickly, this is a great feature because your credit scores are in large part based on how much available credit you use (also known as your credit utilization). If you’re financially able to deposit more than $300, then it could be worth increasing your available credit limit.

This will help you borrow just a small amount of the total limit available to you. But it’s worth pointing out that after your initial security deposit you can only increase your deposit (and thus your credit limit) in $100 increments up to $10,000.

Clear path to transition to an unsecured credit card

After some time paying off your balance in full and regularly, Wells Fargo may upgrade you to an unsecured card, like the Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card. At this point, you can get your security deposit back.

From our partner

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa card

From cardholders in the last year

Reports to the three major credit bureaus

Rest assured that Wells Fargo regularly reports your account activity to TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, so all that hard work you’re doing to build credit is noticed.

Perks like cellphone protection

This card also comes with the neat perk of cellphone protection. If your phone is severely damaged or stolen, you have protection of up to $600. It’s worth noting that you do have to pay a $25 fee to make a claim and are limited to two claims per year.

Heads up: What you should consider before applying for the Wells Fargo Secured Card

While this card has a lot of great features, it does have some drawbacks that could be dealbreakers for some. Here are some key things to be aware of.

$25 annual fee

Wells Fargo charges a $25 annual fee for this card. Given that many other secured cards don’t have any annual fees, this could be a nonstarter for some folks.

Overdraft fees that are on the higher side

Wells Fargo charges a $12.50 penalty for overdraft protection of $50 or less. That penalty ratchets up to $20 if the overdraft amount is over $50. If you’re prone to overdrawing your account, this could be costly for you in the long run.

High late payment penalty

If you pay your statement late, you’ll get hit with a penalty fee of up to $37. If you know that keeping on top of payments would be a struggle for you, this may be a big drawback.

3% foreign transaction fee

The card comes with a 3% transaction fee on all foreign purchases. With that in mind, this is not a great card to pack on an overseas trip.

Do the math: How to get the most out of the Wells Fargo Secured Card

If you’re trying to build credit with the Wells Fargo Secured Card, you may want to consider depositing the highest amount you can afford for the card’s initial security deposit. Why? Because the main benefit of this card is its high credit limit of up to $10,000.

The amount you put down for a security deposit will determine your credit limit. This high credit limit helps you spend a smaller portion of your total available credit (a factor referred to as credit utilization), which can have a positive impact on your credit scores.

Learn how to lower your credit card utilization

But make sure you don’t deposit so much that you put yourself in financial stress. And, of course, make sure you’re only spending as much as you can regularly pay off. That’s the best way to take advantage of this Wells Fargo Secured Card.

The competition: How Wells Fargo Secured Card stacks up against similar cards

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

2% cash back at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter (then 1%). Plus 1% cash back on other purchases.

$0 annual fee.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Get a higher credit limit after making the first five monthly payments on time.

$0 annual fee.

OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card

No credit check required.

No checking account needed.

$35 annual fee.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

The Discover it® secured card comes with no annual fee and is among the few secured cards to offer cash back benefits.

You’ll get 2% cash back on restaurants and gas and 1% on all other purchases for up to $1,000 per quarter (then 1%). The minimum deposit is $200, and the maximum deposit is up to $2,500.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® comes with a $0 annual fee.

The initial refundable security deposit is $49, $99 or $200. The minimum initial credit line is $200, with a maximum approved line of up to $1,000.

After your first five months of payments are made on time, you can have access to a higher credit limit without making another security deposit.

From our partner

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card

OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card has a $35 annual fee, but doesn’t require a credit history check or a bank checking account to open.

It also doesn’t charge any application or processing fees. You can get a credit line between $200 and $3,000.

From our partner

OpenSky® Secured Credit Visa® Card

From cardholders in the last year

See Details, Rates & Fees

Bottom line: Is the Wells Fargo Secured Card right for you?

The Wells Fargo Secured Card has some undeniable benefits for those looking to build their credit.

If the $25 annual fee isn’t a problem for you and you have the savings or funds to put down a large security deposit, this card could be a good option for building credit. Of course, building is contingent on regular, on-time payments of your balance.

But on the flipside, if you’re strapped for cash or don’t have much in savings, the fees and penalties with this card may outweigh its benefits.

For example, if you’re prone to overdrawing your account and late payments, you could easily waste nearly $140 with just two overdraft incidents and two late payments, as well as the annual fee.

If you need to establish or build credit but don’t have a lot of income for financial cushioning, then there are probably better cards on the market for you.

But if you’re coming to the U.S. as a non-resident or non-citizen looking to build credit, this card is worth your consideration.