Best Secured Credit Cards of March 2020

Secured credit cards require a deposit, and can help build credit by reporting your activity to major credit bureaus. Browse the best secured credit card offers from our partners, apply for the card that suits you, make payments on time, and keep a low balance to help improve your credit.

Secured credit cards require a deposit, and can help build credit by reporting your activity to major credit bureaus. Browse the best secured credit card offers from our partners, apply for the card that suits you, make payments on time, and keep a low balance to help improve your credit.

Summary’s Best Secured Credit Cards of March 2020

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Intro APR
Regular APR
9.99% variable

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Intro APR
Regular APR
13.99% fixed

No Credit History

Apply Now

Rewards Rate

This card doesn't offer cash back, miles, or points

At A Glance

Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Intro APR
Regular APR
19.99% (Fixed)
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Editorial disclosure: All reviews are prepared by staff. Opinions expressed therein are solely those of the reviewer and have not been reviewed or approved by any advertiser. The information, including card rates and fees, presented in the review is accurate as of the date of the review. Check the data at the top of this page and the bank's website for the most current information.

Comparing Secured Credit Card Offers

Updated: March 26, 2020

If your credit isn’t its best or you are new to credit, your options can be limited. In fact, the New York Federal Reserve reports that in February 2019, 17.6% of consumers were rejected when applying for credit cards. But with a secured card, you can build your credit in a few months so that you can apply for a more rewarding unsecured card.

Secured cards require a refundable deposit that you are borrowing off of for your available credit limit. In many cases, they may be your only option. But they are a great way to build credit and to develop good payment habits.

We evaluated more than 200 secured credit cards using such criteria as: rates and fees, deposit amounts, ability to improve credit, customer service, and miscellaneous features and benefits. Below are our top picks for the best secured cards and further information to help you make your decision and improve your credit so you can qualify for even better offers. Here, we look at:

Wondering how to get a secured card? Or not sure how to use one? We explain below.

best secured cards of 2020

Best Secured Credit Cards of 2020

Discover it® Secured

Why this is the best secured credit card for cash back

Earn 2% back at gas stations and restaurants for up to $1,000 spend each quarter (then 1% cash back); plus, Discover will match your cash back at the end of your first year. That means, if you spend $300 a month at restaurants and gas stations, you will earn $6 a month, plus $72 at the end of your first year for the Cashback Match, coming to $144.


With no annual fee and rewards to boot, this secured product offers another reason why it’s a good card for the long haul – you may have the opportunity to upgrade to an unsecured card after 8 months.


There’s a lot to love about this card, but the regular APR is not one of them. Higher than the average APR for credit cards, which is 17.67%, the Discover it Secured’s variable APR is one of the highest among secured cards.

From our expert

“The Discover it Secured card is noteworthy because it offers rewards – a rarity among secured cards,” says Industry Analyst Ted Rossman. “With no annual fee and 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations and 1% everywhere else, this card is a compelling introduction into the world of credit.”

See all features and benefits

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Why this is the best secured credit card for building credit

Unlike a debit card, the Citi Secured Mastercard helps build your credit history because the issuer reports to all 3 major credit bureaus each month. Also, you may get free access to your FICO score online.


There is no annual fee which is always a plus.


The security deposit to get started with this card can vary from $200-$2,500 based on your credit qualifications. Also, like most other secured cards, there is no rewards program with the Citi Secured Mastercard.

See all features and benefits

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Why this is the best secured credit card for no annual fee

This card’s no annual fee makes it a great starter card. Also, the no foreign transaction fee makes it a good card for overseas travel or making purchases on foreign sites.


The terms are fairly straightforward, and with responsible use, you could get a higher credit line in as soon as 5 months if you make your first 5 monthly payments on time.


The Capital One Secured Mastercard offers no sign-up bonus or ongoing rewards.

See all features and benefits

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Why this is the best secured credit card for no credit check

Unlike most credit cards, the OpenSky Secured Visa doesn’t require a credit check to apply. Also, you can build your credit history quickly because the card issuer reports to all 3 credit bureaus.


No credit check is required with the OpenSky Secured Visa, which is a rarity for credit cards.


There’s an annual fee, as well as fees for foreign transactions, inactivity and garnishment.

See all features and benefits

Self – Credit Builder Account

Why this is the best secured product for getting a small loan

With this financial product, you basically get a small loan that funds an FDIC-insured certificate of deposit for 12 or for 24 months. Then, once the account’s term ends, you’ve built your credit and your CD unlocks.


This is a good way to build credit for someone with iffy credit. There’s no hard pull on your credit, and it doesn’t matter where your credit is when you begin.


There’s an “administrative fee” that is on a sliding scale, depending on how much you pay into your “account.” So, if you pay $89 a month for 12 months, you pay a $12 administrative fee and you get $1,000 at the end of the year, $68 shy of what you’ve put in, bringing the total finance charge to $80.

See all features and benefits

First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

Why this is the best secured credit card for wide acceptance

Because the First Progress Platinum Elite is a Mastercard, it is widely accepted both nationally and overseas, making it a great go-to card for the traveler.


This card has a new expedited processing option, which is handy if you are looking to get your new card quickly. Also, the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card doesn’t require a minimum score or credit history.


While not as bad as others, this card’s fees can be onerous.

See all features and benefits

Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Gold Secured Credit Card

Why this is the best secured credit card for no credit history required

No credit history is required with the Green Dot primor Mastercard Gold, which means that the consumer just starting out has a good shot at this card.


As an unusual feature, the Green Dot primor Mastercard Gold Secured Card offers an APR 9.99% (Fixed), which is rock-bottom by any standards. Also, there’s no minimum credit score standard.


The cash advance APR is a bloated 18.99% (Fixed), there’s an annual fee of $49, as well as $29 for additional cards. Add to that, there are fees for everything from a credit limit increase fee to an automated account information fee.

See all features and benefits

First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

Why this is the best secured credit card for beginning cardholders

Because no credit history is required to apply for the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard Secured and because the online application is relatively quick, this is a strong option for the consumer just starting out.


Similar to other First Progress secured credit cards, there is an expedited processing option that allows you to receive your new card sooner.The security deposit, which ranges between $200 and $2,000, and is fully refundable.


Unfortunately, there is an annual fee of $39 in addition to some more obscure fees.

See all features and benefits

Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic Secured Credit Card

Why this is the best secured credit card for bad credit

Maybe you’ve had a late payment and your credit score has suffered. The Green Dot primor Visa Classic Secured is a great choice for the consumer whose credit isn’t their best.


No minimum credit score is required with this card, and there are no processing or application fees.


Like the Green Dot primor Visa Classic Secured card, this card’s fees include not only an annual fee, but a replacement card fee, copying charges, credit limit increase fee and so on.

See all features and benefits

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

Why this is the best secured credit card for low interest

It’s rare to see a credit card interest rate that’s this low, and it’s even rarer to see one that’s fixed. The Green Dot primor Visa Gold Secured offers an incredibly low 9.99% (Fixed) APR for its regular interest rate.


This card welcomes the consumer whose credit is in bad shape, something you may not see elsewhere. Also, credit lines can be up to $5,000, which can be helpful with keeping your credit utilization ratio down.


This card’s fees can nickel and dime you if you aren’t careful – in addition to an annual fee, there’s a replacement card fee, copying charges, credit limit increase fee and the list goes on.

See all features and benefits

What is a secured card and how do they work?

What is a secured card?

A secured credit card is a credit card designed for a consumer with bad credit or a thin credit file. It requires a refundable deposit in exchange for a credit limit, typically $200 or more. Most credit cards are unsecured credit cards, which means a security deposit isn’t required. Because having a credit card is the easiest and fastest way to build credit, a secured card can be worth your while. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Pay the refundable deposit. If you are approved, you’ll be required to pay the refundable deposit. Do it in a timely manner, so that your application isn’t rejected. Then, you’ll be approved for a credit limit, typically starting at $200.
  • Use the card. One of the biggest advantages of having a credit card is that you can easily use it to book hotels and rental cars, which often require a card.
  • Consider a new card. Check your credit score after several months and see if you qualify for a better card. Some cards, such as the Capital One Secured Mastercard, increase your credit limit after several months of on-time payments. For good measure, check your credit reports, as well, looking for errors or mistakes that need to be corrected.

How do secured cards work?

You can use a secured credit card in the same way you use an unsecured card – simply present the card to the retailer to make a purchase, provided the merchant accepts the network displayed on the front of your card (Visa, Mastercard, American Express or Discover).

However, because the credit limit is typically only several hundred dollars, it’s worth your while to limit use of the card to one or two small purchases a month, then pay off the bill in full before the due date.

Can you get turned down for a secured card?

Yes, you can get turned down for a secured card. Lenders want to make sure you will pay back your debt, and they have a couple of ways to increase the likelihood that happens. As with all credit cards, your chances of getting accepted depend on a couple of factors.

  • Credit score: Regardless of which kind of card you apply for, you’ll need to have the requisite score to get approved. The higher your score, the more cards you can qualify for. Some cards don’t require a credit check, but in that case, watch out for their fees.
  • Income: While issuers aren’t usually upfront about how much income you need to be accepted, the required income is typically lower the smaller the credit limit. Heads up that your income just has to be money you have reasonable access to, such as a spouse’s wages, provided you are at least 21.

Are secured cards the easiest credit cards to get?

The secured cards we offer pretty much require no credit. But that doesn’t mean you are guaranteed a card. If you have a history of unpaid bills, for example, that can harm your chances. And if you have no income, that can impact whether a card is issued to you. However, a secured card is a great way to start out with credit cards and learn how they work and how to use them.

Do secured cards really help your credit?

Secured credit cards can help your credit, if you pay in full and on time each month and you make sure the issuing bank reports your credit habits to the 3 major credit bureaus. By paying in full and on time, you are building your credit history as well as improving 65% of your score with a single action. If you ensure that your credit habits are being reported, then you know that the credit bureaus have what they need to share with the credit score models and lenders.

How much is a typical deposit on a secured credit card?

Most secured cards give you a credit limit to match your security deposit, although the Capital One Secured card might give you a higher limit than your security deposit.

The deposit is refundable once you close the account, and in some cases, after you’ve shown yourself to be credit-worthy, you can get your deposit back and also keep the card.

Here are 3 secured cards with the required deposit and features that make them appealing:

Typical secured card deposits…

Card Required deposit Features
Capital One Secured Mastercard $49, $99 or $200 refundable deposit Access to higher credit line after first 5 monthly payments on time
Discover it Secured Minimum deposit of $200 Account reviewed monthly starting at eight months, to see if deposit can be returned
First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured Credit Card $200-$2,000 Approve at any credit score, no minimum required

How to get a secured card

You know that a secured card is a great way to build your credit, but how do you get one? Here, we look at the steps you should take before you get and while you have a secured card:

  1. Check your credit report. Review your credit reports for inaccuracies and get them corrected. Also, fix any unpaid charges so that they don’t continue to build bad habits on your reports each month. Go to for free reports from the 3 credit bureaus. Make 2020 your year for checking your credit reports regularly.
  2. Check your credit score. Before you apply for a credit card, check your credit score so you know what you qualify for. You can get your score for about $20 each through
  3. Be honest. Don’t lie on your application, because if caught, that’s a sure-fire way to lose your account.
  4. Apply for one card at a time. Avoid applying for multiple cards at once. Each time you apply, your score takes a little hit, whether you get the card or not.

Types of credit cards to avoid when building credit

While it depends on your goals which kind of card you get, there are a few general rules about what to avoid or at least pay attention to. Here are things you should watch out for, particularly with a secured card:

  • Watch out for hidden fees. While some fees are clearly marked in the “Schumer Box” at the top of cards’ rates and fees disclosures, lesser known fees with credit-builder cards can be mentioned lower in the copy. They can have vague descriptions, such as “copy fee” or “telephone payment fee,” and can pile up fast. Heads up that while secured cards can have among the most fees, they can also have the least, as in the case of the Capital One Secured Mastercard, with only 2 fees.
  • Is the interest rate high? If you plan to carry a balance, you’ll want to avoid a card with high interest rates because the interest charges can pretty quickly overtake the principal when the rates are high.
  • Don’t become enamored with rewards. When you are trying to build credit, you want to pick a card with few fees and such features as an increase in available credit if your credit score increases, as in the case of Capital One Secured Mastercard. Rewards should not be a priority right now, because you are not going to be using the card for big charges. That said, think about how you might use the card down the line, because while you may not use a card’s rewards today, they may be advantageous a year from now.

Alternatives to secured credit cards

Whether you don’t want to plunk down a security deposit or you don’t qualify for a secured card, there are a number of alternative ways to enjoy convenience, the safety of a cashless life and even credit building. For example, with unsecured cards such as retail credit cards, you can build credit and avoid paying a deposit, all while building your credit. With a passbook loan or credit-builder loan, you can also build credit. And while you won’t build credit with debit cards and prepaid cards, some consumers prefer them for budgeting and convenience reasons.

Unsecured credit cards

Usually unsecured credit cards are for consumers with better credit, but there are some available for fair and even poor credit. However, they often have hidden, weird fees. That said, there are a few that are worth a look, such as the Discover it® Student Cash Back and the Discover it® Student chrome. Both have minimal fees and both offer rewards for restaurants, gas stations and more.

Retail credit cards

Retail cards are often co-branded with a network, such as Visa or Mastercard, and they frequently only require fair credit. There is usually no security deposit required, but the APRs are typically higher than other credit cards.

Prepaid cards

While you can’t build credit with these cards, some people use them to manage their spending. Prepaid cards can be purchased at grocery and other stores, then reloaded with money when the balance runs low. Prepaid cards are safer than cash because they have some protections by federal law.

Debit cards

Debit cards are attached to your checking or savings account and can be used at points of sale and as an ATM card. You won’t be able to build credit with this kind of card, and you’ll need to check your financial institution about protections, because they don’t automatically have the protections of credit cards or prepaid cards.

Credit-builder loan

There are different types of credit-builder loans, including unsecured loans that can be used for emergencies, such as a car breakdown, and secured loans that require you to save. As the name implies, they are designed for building credit. Community banks and credit unions often offer these lending products.

Passbook loan

A passbook loan is a lending product secured by a savings account. According to Investopedia, some lenders lend up to 50% of the savings account balance while others lend up to 100%. You can earn interest on the account, including the amount borrowed.

Secured cards vs. unsecured cards

A secured credit card is an excellent financial product for building credit when your credit hasn’t been its best. But eventually, you want to work toward an unsecured card, because options open up for you including superior rewards and benefits.

Here, we look at the different elements of secured cards vs. unsecured cards, both good and bad:

Secured cards vs. unsecured cards…

Secured credit cards Unsecured credit cards
Refundable deposit required No deposit required
Build credit Build credit
Lower credit limit More robust credit limit
Some rewards possible Richer rewards
Can have tacked-on fees Might have fewer fees, depending on type
Often has annual fee
Some, such as cashback cards, likely won’t have annual fee

Here, we look at some of the better unsecured cards you can look forward to:

Type of unsecured cards…

Card type Card Features Credit required
Hotel Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card 125,000 pts/$2,000 spend in 3 mths; weekend night reward every calendar yr/$15,000 spend. Terms Apply Good, excellent
Cash back Discover it® Cash Back Enroll quarterly to earn 5% back on up to $1,500 in purchases made in rotating categories throughout the year; cash back match at end of first yr Good, excellent
Balance transfer Citi Simplicity® Card Intro APR of 0% for 21 months on Balance Transfers; 0% for 12 months on Purchases; after that 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable) Good, excellent
Business Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card Earn 1.5% back on every purchase; earn $500 after $3,000 spend within first 3 months Excellent

How to improve to an unsecured card

Unsecured cards often come in the form of a rewards card, one of the favorite types of cards for consumers. There are airline cards, general purpose products, hotel cards – all of these can deliver benefits that make upgrading your card worthwhile. By upgrading to an unsecured card, you also have access to excellent balance transfer cards, luxury cards, and other products just not available as secured cards.

So, what’s your first step? It all has to do with your determination to improve your credit, thereby improving to a better card. With on-time payments and low balances, you will improve your score in no time.

Once your credit score is in a good place (at least 700 on a scale of 300-850), it’s time to think about what to do next. Note that some cards, such as the Discover it Secured card, lets you transition to an unsecured card after a period of time, provided your payment habits are good. Check with your card issuer.

Or ask if you can trade up, allowing you to keep your secured card’s good credit history, but enjoy the benefits of an unsecured card. Heads up that you likely won’t be able to benefit from the new card as a new member, meaning you may not get such pluses as the sign-up bonus. However, you will benefit from any ongoing rewards that the new card offers.

If you don’t qualify for an upgrade or there is a disadvantage to the new card, such as an annual fee you don’t relish paying, hang up and start doing your research – it’s time to look at cards that best suit your lifestyle.

Once you find the unsecured card of your dreams, it’s time to look at whether to keep the secured card. However, only close it if there is a compelling reason, such as recurring fees that you want to break away from. Be mindful that when you close a card account, while your good payment habits don’t drop off your credit reports for 10 years, the average age of your cards will go down.

While secured cards are one of the top card types (as you can see below), we are all striving to get a rewards card or airline card, right? With a rewards card, you can earn tens of thousands of points or miles a year or hundreds of dollars back just by taking full advantage of the card’s offers. Here are the top cards consumers have in their wallets, which can give you motivation to keep working on your credit building:

The credit cards in our wallets…

  • 41%
  • Retail/store-specific card
  • 39%
  • Other types of rewards credit cards
  • 32%
  • Secured credit card
  • 18%
  • Balance transfer card
  • 16%
  • Airline-specific credit card
  • 13%
  • Business/corporate credit card
  • 3%
  • Student credit card

Source: Experian study’s Best Secured Credit Cards of 2020

Credit Card Best For: Minimum Deposit Required Annual Fee
Discover it® Secured Cash back $200 $0
Citi® Secured Mastercard® Building credit $200-$2,500 $0
Capital One® Secured Mastercard® No annual fee $49, $99, or $200 $0
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card No credit check $200 $35
Self — Credit Builder Account Getting a small loan See Terms See Terms
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Wide acceptance $200 – $2,000 $29
Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Gold Secured Credit Card No credit history required $200 $49
First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Beginning cardholders $200 – $2,000 $39
Green Dot primor® Visa® Classic Secured Credit Card Bad credit $200 $39
Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card Low interest $200 – $5,000 $49

Jump to the top of the page to apply now

Research Methodology

Secured credit cards analyzed: 228

Criteria used: Credit needed, ease of application, ability to move credit limits, deposit required, rates and fees, credit score tracking, other benefits and features, customer service, security, rewards rates.

Frequently Asked Questions

How is a secured card different than a regular card?

In many ways secured credit cards and unsecured cards are similar: They are typically partnered with a major network such as Visa or Mastercard and they can be used for credit building. But they are different in that your credit limit typically matches your deposit with a secured card, while your credit limit is unsecured with a regular card. That means your credit limit might be higher with an unsecured card, depending on your credit score and your payment history.

Do I get my deposit back if I upgrade my card?

If you upgrade your secured credit card to an unsecured credit card, your deposit will be returned after the balance, any pending interest and fees have been paid.

Is it free to upgrade my card and how do I know when I can?

Typically card issuers do not charge you to upgrade your account to an unsecured card. After your score has improved and you’ve shown yourself to be able to pay on time for a number of months, it’s time to ask for an upgrade. You want to make sure that you keep your current account so that your credit history continues. Also, ask about annual fees or other charges that might change.

Do I have a credit limit with my secured card?

Usually, the credit limit on your secured credit card matches the refundable deposit you have made. Some card issuers will allow you to pay a higher deposit so that you can get a higher credit limit, so ask about that if it’s an issue for you.

How do you avoid credit card debt?

A few bad habits can make your experience with a credit card the worst ever. Carrying a balance, paying interest – these 2 habits alone can send you running from cards forever.

In our January long-term debt poll, we found that 56% of card debtors have had card debt for at least a year. Let’s turn that into dollars and cents: A balance of $1,000 with minimum payments made and a 17% interest rate means it will take you 57 months to pay it back and you will pay $451.55 in interest. That’s almost half of the original debt.

If you are not a high wage earner, you are more likely to owe – 66% of cardholders with annual household incomes of less than $40,000 are carrying card debt, our study shows, compared to 53% of cardholders with household incomes of $80,000 or more.

That doesn’t mean you can’t break the mold, though. It all starts with a budget. By creating a brutally honest budget (track every item) and including money for fun and emergencies, it’s possible to thrive with a credit card. Review your budget every month and adjust it.

One final thought: Our poll shows that it’s everyday items such as groceries and child care that are most likely to land us in card debt (28%). One easy way to avoid this is to make sure you are tracking card spending in a separate column from your checking account. Check your card account each weekend and note what you are spending for.

How to use your secured card correctly

Now that you know how to avoid the common pitfalls of bad card management, how do you handle one correctly? It only takes 3 easy steps:

  1. Pay on time. While it takes months to build your credit with good payment habits, one or two late payments can cause a big drop in your score. And not only is paying on time good for your credit, it keeps you from having to pay late fees and even losing your card.
  2. Pay in full. In fact, pay multiple times a month to keep your utilization ratio low – because you don’t know when your issuer will send your account information to the 3 major credit bureaus. This will also help you avoid interest charges.
  3. Place a small charge on the card. Don’t forget to use the card each month. If you lose your card to inactivity, you can’t build credit month by month. Put a recurring reminder on your calendar to ensure that you don’t forget. Or better yet, place an auto debit for a small charge on your card.

Laura is an editor and writer at She has written extensively on all things credit cards and works to bring you the most up-to-date analysis and advice. Laura’s work has been cited in such publications as the New York Times and Associated Press. You can reach her by e-mail at and on Twitter @creditcards_lm.

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