Citi® Secured MasterCard®

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  • No Annual Fee, and unlike a prepaid card, it helps build credit history with monthly notifications to the credit bureaus
  • A security deposit is required for this product (minimum $200)
  • Pay your bill on time every month to avoid damaging your credit. Citi can help keep you on track with Auto Pay, online Bill Pay and alerts. 
  • Use the card anywhere MasterCard® is accepted — worldwide
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Balance Transfer Intro APR:
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* See the online Provider's credit card application for details about terms and conditions. Reasonable efforts are made to maintain accurate information. However all credit card information is presented without warranty. When you click on the 'Apply Now' button, you can review the credit card terms and conditions on the provider's website.

Cash Advance Rate 25.74%
Cash Advance Fee 5%, Min: $10
Late Fee Up to $35
Penalty APR Up to 29.99%
Balance Transfer Fee 3%, Min: $5
Foreign Transaction Fee 3%
Return Payment Fee Up to $35

Cardholders' Reviews

The following information and reviews are brought to you by Credit Karma and/or its users. Banks, issuers, and credit card companies do not endorse or guarantee, and are not responsible for this content.
Most Helpful Positive Review
My score shot up by 32 points
by johniskewldude
Helpful to 224 out of 236

So I've only had this card for over three weeks. Back in college, I abused my credit cards, so I had a very poor score of 585 when I applied, and was turned down by Wells Fargo for their Secured Credit Card. Wells Fargo used to be my main brick and mortar until that happened--I felt betrayed. When I found out about that, I applied for a secured card with Citibank, my backup brick and mortar. I used to LOATHE Citibank, and actually referred to them as "Sh**tybank"! Oddly enough, my checking account there only had a penny--again it was only my backup bank, so I instructed them to take the deposit from my FMA account. Well, after a long wait of over a week, with a daily e-mail stating that they hadn't made a decision yet, I finally got the e-mail that I was approved. Well, that took a month to complete.

When my card arrived in the mail, I used it within a few days for dining, shopping, paying bills, but I constantly paid it off after each charge has settled onto the credit card account. Their web interface is AWESOME for a secured card! Unlike other credit cards, they seem to accept payments and count the credit score increase immediately, even when I use an "external account". If you have a Citibank account, paying for this card is basically just like a transfer from checking to savings, but when I found out that I could use my FMA account to just pay for it online, I felt like I didn't even need to make an ATM cash deposit every day. So that's what I've been doing since the first week.

WELL, I logged into my Credit Karma and saw that my score went up to 617 last weekend! For both TransUnion and Equifax! I was so happy that I went to my local Citibank and decided to switch my debit card to a chip card so that I can stop using my Wells Fargo and start using Citibank as my main brick and mortar bank again! AND, btdubs, the banker found that she could--and then offered me--to switch my card to unsecured right then and there... although I said no because I was scared. haha

Other benefits of the card include a very detailed but colourful and easy to read credit card agreement packet, which show exactly when my card is supposed to graduate (1.5 years from opening), and even explains travel insurance, purchased goods insurance, etc. The card's interest rate (i.e., "APR") is pretty low too, and the $25 annual fee seems pretty sensible for someone who had sh***y credit upon applying. They also have a discount site, and I love how they give me a pie chart of my spending, which turns out to better predict the type of transactions I made with my card.

They also appear to have a very hyperactive credit alerting system that self-fixes obvious account charge discrepancies; Shell charged me twice--one in California and another in Texas, but Citi found that and automatically credited the account for the Texas charge such that when I called them to ask what happened, they were like "OH we already took care of it!" BUT HERE'S MY FAVOURITE BENEFIT OF ALL: VIRTUAL ACCOUNT NUMBERS!!! Citibank Online Banking's Account Management tab offers that feature, which you can use to mask your real credit card account number behind a virtual one when making card-not-present purchases (e.g., online, by phone), which you can revoke/cancel any time! It even tracks which virtual number was used, when, and for how much! So purchasing at Amazon or even sketchy websites, aHem Pr0n lol, will be much easier to trace, and you can totally block recurring charges that you might have accidentally missed when authorizing--y'know because people don't read! lol and if someone hacks into an online retailer and decides to replicate your card, they'll totally be caught red-handed! 

However, there is no interest rate (i.e., "APY") on the security deposit. Bad call, Citi! But also, thanks for giving me a chance, Citi! I can't wait until you graduate my card! And I can't wait to see how my credit score will look like when that finally happens! Oh, and the whole denying bad credit discourse is a myth--they totally approved me with my bad credit history! (JUST BE PREPARED TO WAIT A LONG A** TIME)

The following information and reviews are brought to you by Credit Karma and/or its users. Banks, issuers, and credit card companies do not endorse or guarantee, and are not responsible for this content.
Most Helpful Negative Review
Score Building Card
by AJ512
Helpful to 282 out of 300
If you are looking for a miracle increase/boost to your credit scores from this card...I think you will be disappointed with the results.  If you give it time you may be happy.
Would I Recommend:
I say you have nothing to lose but some points on your CB if you apply and get turned down.  Citi is one of the mammoths so I'm sure there are great benefits to having them in your wallet.  I will update once I see what those are.  I do not believe these claims of scores jumping 60+ points in 6 months.  I paid off a $19k car and my score only increased 24 points.  Literally, balance went from over $19k to $0 and my score only went up 24 points.  I had that car longer than some of these folks claim to have had this "wonder card" in their wallet.  This card is part of my 3 year plan so we shall see how that pans out.
I'm providing [hopefully] a more thorough review of this card.
I applied for this card 2 times.  First on 11/08, then on 11/16.  My CK scores were 506 and 513 on 11/08, then 482 and 513 on 11/16.  For TX, Citi pulls TU and it is a hard pull (hence the drastic drop on 11/16).
Application process:
In a word ... it's horrible.  It gives you a lot of anxiety and if you are not a patient person, you will likely crack under the pressure.  There is no instant decision from what I can tell.  I have checked several credit boards and people with scores into the 800's still get the "We have received your application and further processing is required at this time..." message.  Getting this message is not an indication of denial.  Calling the application status line (888-201-4523) doesn't really get you much additional information.  Calling the credit department (800-695-5171) was far more helpful, despite the fact that you are not able to speak with a credit analyst in the "secured card" department.  You must explicitly ask to have them reach out to that department to see if there is any further information.  Be calm, keep a calm tone and they'll likely put you on hold and then contact that department for you.  If they refuse, politely and calmly ask to speak to a supervisor and then reiterate your request in a calm and gentle manner.  No matter what, they will not tell you over the phone if you are approved but they will definitely tell you over the phone if you are denied.  At least, that has been my experience.  So if you call and they are being tight lipped ... you're probably approved.
The Security Deposit:
I have had secured cards in the early 2000's and have never had a card that I could not add funds to the deposit and increase my credit limit.  Please be VERY aware that Citi does NOT allow this.  I applied on 11/08 and by 11/11, the funds were withdrawn from my bank.  On 11/21 I received the approval letter in the mail, with an additional packet on the deposit account.  It states very clearly on the first page that you cannot add funds to the deposit account, you cannot withdraw funds from the deposit account, and the account reaches the date of maturity on xx.  They are very specific. 
The Card:
I have not received the card yet (as of 11/22/2016).  It will probably come after Thanksgiving.
My experience:
I was not sure I would get approved, so I applied with a small secured deposit of $200.  If I had known I was not able to add funds to this deposit account, I would have applied with a higher limit.  Submitting the 2nd application tanked my score.  After 6 calls to various recon lines, I found the 5171# most helpful and was able to find out that the 2nd application was denied because the bank information could not be verified.  An easily rectifiable problem.  I get the feeling that the "secured card" department could be relatively new or a specialty offshoot that Citi tries out every now and then (i.e. they are not a regular part of Citi Group or something) because there is no way to speak to this department directly and the associates do not seem to proactively want to contact them.  Then again this could just be Citi suffering from "Pretty Woman" syndrome...where they feel if you have to apply for a secured card then ... well ... you may not be worth the effort.  I am not sure.  All of the associates I spoke with were nice, had personable tones of voice but just seemed really in the dark about communication with that department.  Doesn't really make for a good experience.

Our Take

The Citi® Secured MasterCard® is a great option for consumers looking for a starter card to help build their credit through responsible use and on-time payments.

What to Like

The Citi® Secured MasterCard® is available to people with little or no credit, and reports monthly to the major credit bureaus. There are also no application fees associated with this card, though note the required security deposit.

Look Out For

It’s a secured credit card, meaning you’ll have to put down a security deposit equal to the size of your credit limit. There’s also a relatively high APR.

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† Credit Karma looks at how your credit profile compares to other Credit Karma members who were approved for this product. Of course, there's no such thing as a sure thing, but knowing whether your Approval Odds are Very Good, Good, Fair or Poor may help you narrow down your choices.

‡ Average score refers to the arithmetic mean, typical low score to the 5th percentile and typical high score to the 95th percentile of, in each case, available VantageScore 3.0 credit scores provided by TransUnion of Credit Karma members who were approved for this product from July 2016 through December 2016. Average and typical approved scores are provided as guidelines only and approval is not guaranteed. You can learn more about credit card approval through our in-depth article.

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