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Citi® Secured MasterCard®

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3.8 out of 5 stars
64 Reviews

From Cardholders in the last year

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Application Process

3.5 out of 5 stars

Customer Service

3.5 out of 5 stars

4 5

Card Details

  • Balance Transfer Intro APR Not Applicable
  • Balance Transfer Regular APR 22.49%* Variable
  • Annual Fee $0
  • Purchase Intro APR Not Applicable
  • Purchase Regular APR 22.49%* Variable

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.


Most Helpful Positive Review

Apr 09, 2016
My score shot up by 32 points
johniskewldude Cardholder

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)

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Most Helpful Negative Review

Nov 22, 2016
Score Building Card
AJ512 Cardholder

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.

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These reviews were written by current and former cardholders in the last year.

Dec 19, 2016
Worked for what I needed
Anonymous Cardholder

Got the card with a 602 credit score, I had already got a secured card through capital one and discover. High interest but it is what it is. Put $500 and got a $500 limit. After 9 months, never missed or was late with a payment, used it only for gas here and there, I requested a credit limit increase. I had the discover card for 7 months and got my deposit of $300 back and had my credit limit raised to $1500 unsecured, so I figured they might bump it to unsecured and raise my limit since I had the card longer. They wouldn't make it unsecured, wouldn't raise my limit, and wouldn't allow me to put more $ on the card to raise my overall credit, said I would have to cancel it and get another card with a bigger deposit, which makes total sense when your trying to establish credit history right? So make sure to take that into consideration. Anyways for what it's worth the app comes in handy, and it will help rebuild your credit. I'd get the discover or capital one card before this one but in truth I have all 3 and they've all helped. Just takes time. Make your payments on time, don't use much of your credit and be patient. 

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Dec 16, 2016
great card!
plasmodesmata Cardholder

I love this card. I've had it for over a year and had no problems. I had some suspicious charges pop up and they got me a new card and deleted the fraudulent charges. Very professional and efficient company. It's helped my credit rating increase over 100 points this past year. If you are trying to fix your credit this is a good card, they didnt even do a 'hard pull' inquiry.

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Dec 16, 2016
henrym26 Cardholder

$0 annual fee, pay it on time and your credit will obviously go up.. In order to see a slight change,I recomment opening with $500 because it shows a bit more responsibility than $200. Plus thats only like one pair of shoes or a night out drinking.

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Dec 10, 2016
Nothing special with a $25 annual fee
ScreenMann Cardholder

Although credit karma lists this card as not having an annual fee it actually has one that is equal to $25 which i was charged for with the first 3 days if activating it. I think you can find better secured card than this I've it doesn't offer anything enticing I got one before I knew how to research credit cards. Look around in sure you can find some thing better

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Dec 09, 2016
Really helpful !!!!!
Papapipo Cardholder

Ive had this card for 3 months already and its been working amazing, i apply with a 430 credit score since i received the card i been paying in full all i spend and right now my score is 576, more than 100 points in 3 months i really recommend this card if you want to start building up your credit again 

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1 Reply
Jan 12, 2017

papapipo, how much did you put down originally on you card?

Dec 08, 2016
Says no annual fee but it has $25 annual
MoriahL Cardholder

Card is ok. When you make a payment, the balance automatically goes down and gives you credit to use right then. Late fee is $35. Annual fee is $25, i don't know why credit karma advertises it as no fee. That's why i originally applied for the card. APR is pretty high as well. Need at least $200 deposit to get a $200 credit line.

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Dec 13, 2016

When I received my enrollment packet the paperwork showed a $25 annual fee as well. A couple of days later I received a letter stating that was a mistake and no annual fee would be charged. I called Citi to verify and was told the letter is true--there is no annual fee for this card. Originally this card program had an annual fee but as the program has changed the fee has been removed. Unfortunately it doesn't seem all of the literature has been updated. You may want to call as well just to verify.

Jan 11, 2017

Wow capital one gave me. 200$ credit line for 49$

Dec 01, 2016
It's a great my credit went up 70 points
Anonymous Cardholder

After using my card it check my credit a couple days later my  credit had jump up 70 points which I was happy about overall it's a great card...

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Nov 29, 2016
Got approved with 6 inquiries
Mannyprays116 Cardholder

Some say that you can't get approved with more than 6 In's within the last 6 months. I called today and I got approved, I had 6 in EQ and 7 in EX. I just really wanted this card because it graduates 😀

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Nov 29, 2016

What do you mean by "it graduates"?

Nov 30, 2016

You are correct! My inquiries are in the double digits. Still approved.

Dec 08, 2016

If you make your payments on time and use your card we'll, they will refund your deposit and convert your secured card to a regular unsecured credit card

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Citi® Secured MasterCard®