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Is the Citi Secured Mastercard worth it?

If you're thinking of applying for the Citi Secured Mastercard, here’s what you should know


The Citi Secured Mastercard is a credit-building card for people with bad credit or no credit. Find out where this card shines and where it falls short.

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There are a limited number of credit cards available to people with poor credit or no credit, the bulk of them being secured credit cards. While secured credit cards require a cash deposit as collateral to get started, the fact that they report to the three credit bureaus means they give individuals the chance to repair their credit or build credit when they have none.

If you’re in the market for a secured credit card, it’s possible the Citi® Secured Mastercard® has caught your eye. After all, this secured credit card doesn’t require an annual fee, and consumers can get started building credit with a refundable cash deposit as low as $200. Other perks like a free credit score and Citi Identity Theft Solutions make this card and offer even more valuable.

But, you’re still reading this, which means you’re genuinely wondering if the Citi Secured Mastercard is worth it – especially if you’re comparing it to other cards in this niche. Before you sign up for this card with the goal of building credit, read on to learn more about how this card works and where it falls short when compared to other secured credit cards.

When is the Citi Secured Mastercard card worth it?

If your FICO credit score is below 580, you’re unlikely to be approved for an unsecured credit card – or any card that does not require a cash deposit. Scores that fall between 580 and 669 are considered fair, and if you have one, you may or may not be able to qualify for credit cards geared to consumers with fair credit.

In either case, a secured credit card is often the answer, mostly because you’re very likely to be approved regardless of your credit history. Because secured credit cards require you to put down collateral, you are essentially securing your own line of credit with cash so you can repay your charges if you default.

With all this in mind, the Citi Secured Mastercard is worth it when you want to build credit but have a limited number of options. With this card in your wallet, you can begin repairing your credit or building credit from scratch with enough responsible use.

For the most part, you can maximize this card by using it for small purchases you can afford to pay off, then paying your credit card bill on time each month. With some patience and plenty of consistent monthly payments, your credit score should improve over time.

Remember, secured credit cards aren’t meant to be your card forever. Once you use the Citi Secured Mastercard long enough that your credit score moves into the “fair credit” or “good credit” range, you can upgrade your card and get your security deposit back.

When is the Citi Secured Mastercard card not worth it?

If your credit score and income are good enough to qualify for an unsecured credit card, that’s probably a better option. There are other scenarios where getting the Citi Secured Mastercard is less than ideal.

For example, this card won’t be “worth it” if you lack the discipline to pay your credit card bill on time. While on-time payments on this card can help you improve your credit score, the opposite is also true, meaning late payments can cause your credit score to spiral even further.

It’s also worth comparing this card to other secured credit cards that offer more perks and rewards. For example, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card lets cardholders earn rewards with no annual fee and the same $200 minimum deposit requirement, which could leave you better off.

Other secured credit cards that offer rewards with no annual fee include the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card and the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card, to name a few.

Should you get the Citi Secured Mastercard?

There are several scenarios where it absolutely makes sense to sign up for the Citi Secured Mastercard, especially if more than applies to your situation. Signs you should choose the Citi Secured Mastercard include:

  • You want access to a secured credit card without having to pay an annual fee.
  • You only have $200 to put down as collateral.
  • You want the chance to choose your own payment due date, which is a perk this card offers.
  • You want to focus on building credit without the temptation of earning spending-based rewards.
  • Your credit score is poor, so you can only qualify for a secured credit card at this point.
  • You have no credit history and know you need to start somewhere.
  • You have the discipline to keep your balance low and pay your credit card bill on time each month.

If any of these statements apply to you, there’s a good chance the Citi Secured Mastercard could be the best card for your situation and goals.

Bottom line

The Citi Secured Mastercard stands out due to its lack of annual fee and relatively low collateral requirement, both of which make it a good choice for consumers who need to start building credit right away. It never hurts to compare other secured credit cards so you know for sure you found the right fit.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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