If you’re looking to build or re-build your credit, a secured credit card is an option you’ll want to consider.
Secured credit cards offer those with limited, poor, or no credit a chance to get a credit card. The best secured credit cards offer low fees and a chance to build credit. They help consumers build credit by reporting the monthly credit card payments to the credit bureaus.
A secured credit card is different than an unsecured credit card. Your approved credit limit depends on the amount of your initial deposit. Unsecured credit cards provide cardholders credit without having to put anything up for collateral. A secured credit card, on the other hand, works only when the cardholder deposits money to the card issuer.
That amount is the amount of credit the cardholder will receive. If the cardholder defaults, the issuer can simply draw from the deposited funds to cover the default. Secured cards generally come with unfavorable terms and high fees but we've compiled a list of our favorite secured cards that offer good terms with very low fees. One important benefit of a secured credit card is the ability to build credit. Secured cards report your payments to the credit bureaus, enabling you to build credit. It's critical to make your monthly payment on time.
Here's a look at some of the best secured credit cards available to consumers today. Some offer higher credit while others keep the fees very low. Most importantly, all report to the major credit bureaus to help you get your credit back on track.
Best Secured Credit Cards
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is a great option for those with poor/fair credit scores. There is a $0 annual fee (and no fee to acquire the card) and the minimum deposit to gain a $200 line of credit is $49. The amount of your deposit will depend on your credit history and your initial line of credit will be $200. You can always deposit more money to gain a higher line of secured credit.
In as little as six months of card membership, Capital One will automatically consider you for a higher credit line. Capital One can also review your account to see if you qualify for one of its unsecured credit cards. My very first credit card was one step up from their secured card, the Capital One Platinum. Eventually, I turned it into a Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card.
One of the most difficult parts of opening a secured credit card is coming up with the hundreds of dollars required for a security deposit. The Self Visa Card makes this easier with its unique structure.
To get a Self Visa® card, you have to start by opening a Self Credit Builder Account. When you do this, you can choose your account’s monthly payment (minimum $25) and term. As you make payments on the account, Self reports those payments to the credit bureaus, building your credit. It also places your money in an FDIC insured Certificate of Deposit. When you finish paying your account, Self gives you the CD, making the account like a forced savings plan that helps build your credit.
After you open the Self Credit Builder Account, make three monthly payments, and build a balance of at least $100, you can get a Self Visa card. There’s no approval process, if you’re eligible, you’ll get one. You can customize your credit limit up to a maximum of the balance you’ve built with the Credit Builder Account and use the card anywhere that Visa is accepted.
The card’s fees are also reasonable compared to many secured credit cards. There is a $15 fee for opening the Credit Builder Account and a $25 annual fee for the card. Late fees are $15, but Self waives the first fee.
By letting you build your security deposit over the course of months, the Self Visa® Card removes one of the major barriers to opening a secured card.
DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
If you’re someone who rolls over a credit card balance, the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card is a must-own. The selling point is that the variable APR is a cool 12.50%. That’s significantly lower than other secured cards and can save you a boatload of interest every month if you’re carrying a balance. There is no minimum monthly interest charge (which is also unique) and no annual fee.
As an added bonus, every purchase you make with this secured card between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Even will receive 1% cash back. As this is a Visa, added protections like car rental insurance and extended warranty benefits are also included. The credit line you receive will match your deposit, a minimum of $500. The money is held in a DCU savings account.
The catch, however, is that in order to own the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card, you must be a member of Digital Federal Credit Union. The easiest way this can be done if you’re not directly eligible is to join an organization by making a donation.
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
As we get a little bit lower on the list, the terms aren’t quite as favorable. The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card offers a credit line between $200 and $3,000 which is linked to your fully refundable security deposit. There is an annual fee of $35 and the variable APR for purchases is 18.14% (which is actually quite good).
The best selling point is that there is no credit check and no checking account required to own the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. Depending on your credit history, there is a chance you would be declined for other cards on this list. So long as you have the necessary security deposit, OpenSky welcomes you with open arms. If you should decide to close your account and it was in good standing, your initial deposit will be returned to you within six weeks.
Read Doughroller’s OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card full review
First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
First Progress offers a strong secured credit card in their Platinum Select Mastercard®. The variable APR is a great 15.49% Variable and there is a $39 annual fee, which is the highest fee on our list. You are subject to a minimum interest charge of $1.50 per month and if you request a cash advance; the fee is either 3% or $10 (whichever is greater).
First Progress does not require a credit history or minimum credit score to obtain this card. They also offer two other secured credit cards with slightly different pricing details; depending on your appetite for a higher/lower annual fee.
- Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has a 11.49% Variable APR and a $49 annual fee
- Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has a 21.49% Variable APR and a $29 annual fee
The Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card —issued by Web Bank, Member FDIC—is a great choice for consumers without a strong credit history and credit score. By creating a unique Cash Score, a decision is made based on your banking history.
Higher limits, more competitive interest rates, and no annual fee allow the Petal® 1 credit card to stand out in a crowded industry. Credit limits range from $300 to $5,000, with interest rates of 20.74%—30.24%.
In addition to no annual fee, there are no international fees. Furthermore, you can receive between 2% and 10% cash back at select merchants, both in-person and online.
As long as you pay your bill on time every month, you can use the Petal® 1 Visa credit card to build your credit without paying an annual fee. Eventually, this will lead you toward an opportunity to apply for other credit cards.