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Qualifying for a credit card can be next to impossible if you’re recovering from damage to your credit or if you have no credit history at all. If you find yourself in this situation, secured credit cards are a great alternative.

What Is a Secured Credit Card?

A secured credit card is a tool designed to help you establish or rebuild your credit score, so you can eventually qualify for a regular unsecured card.  

When you sign up for a secured credit card, you’ll post a security deposit. That deposit will become your credit limit. If you deposit $500, you’ll have a $500 credit limit. Your deposit will be tied up for the time you hold the card. It will be returned, minus any outstanding charges, if you close the account.

Because the card is secured by your deposit, the card issuer has less risk. That makes issuers willing to give secured cars to people with no credit or poor credit. Some cards may let you upgrade to an unsecured card if you establish a good payment record.

Some unsecured cards are available to people with bad credit, but be careful: most of them have very high fees and APRs. For most users with bad credit, a secured card is the best option.

Best Secured Credit Cards

Choosing the right card to repair your credit is an important decision. To help you, we’ve reviewed the best-secured credit cards and compared their features.

BEST FOR NO CREDIT

Citi Secured Mastercard

Citi Secured Mastercard is an inexpensive way to build credit, making it the best solution for customers with little or no credit history. Learn more

Fees
$0 annual fee

APR
22.49% (Variable)

Minimum deposit
$200

Convertibility
Yes

Apply Now

BEST FOR BAD CREDIT

OpenSky Secured Visa

With no credit check required and a high approval rate, the OpenSky Secured Visa is a top choice for those who are recovering from bankruptcy or have a low credit score. Learn more

Fees
$35 annual fee

APR
17.39% (Variable)

Minimum deposit
$200 (Refundable) 

Convertibility
No

Apply Now

BEST FOR LOW APR

Applied Bank Secured Visa Gold Preferred

With no credit check required and a high approval rate, the OpenSky Secured Visa is a top choice for those who are recovering from bankruptcy or have a low credit score. Learn more

Fees
$48 annual fee

APR
9.99% (Fixed)

Minimum deposit
$200

Convertibility
No

Apply Now

BEST FOR LOW DEPOSIT

Capital One Platinum Secured

Capital One’s secured credit card is an excellent choice for those who want to start rebuilding their credit with a flexible security deposit. Learn more

Fees
$48 annual fee

APR
26.99% (Variable)

Minimum deposit
$49, $99 or $200

Convertibility
Yes

Apply Now

BEST NO-FEE CARD

Discover it Secured

With a rewards program that rivals even the best of credit cards and no annual fee, Discover it is a favorite among many cardholders. Learn more

Fees
$0 annual fee

APR
22.99% (Variable)

Minimum deposit
$200

Convertibility
Yes

Apply Now

BEST FOR REWARDS

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Rewards

Quicksilver Secured Rewards from Capital One is our pick for the best secured credit card for rewards. Learn more

Fees
$0 annual fee

APR
26.99% (Variable)

Minimum deposit
$200

Convertibility
Yes

Apply Now

Citi Secured Mastercard

🏆 Best for No Credit

👉 Summary: Citi Secured Mastercard is an inexpensive way to build credit, making it the best solution for customers with little or no credit history.

✔️ Pros: 

  • No annual fee
  • Easy to qualify with little or no credit history 
  • Free access to your FICO score 

Cons: 

  • No rewards 
  • High penalty for late payments 

Description: 

The Citi Secured Mastercard is a great starting point for people with limited credit history who want to build credit and eventually switch to a regular credit card. You don’t need a credit history or an excellent score to apply. As long as your credit report doesn’t show a bankruptcy in the last two years, qualifying is easy.

Citi Secured reports to all 3 major credit bureaus and gives you free access to your FICO score online to help you ensure that you’re building a positive credit history. It also has no annual fee, which makes it a low-cost option for people new to credit, like students. 

The downside of this card is the lack of rewards and a high APR. If rewards are important to you, then a card like Discover it is a better option, as long as you’re eligible to qualify. 

Before you prioritize rewards, remember that you will probably have a low credit limit, and you’ll want to keep your balance below 30% of your limit. It may be hard to spend enough to gain significant rewards without stretching your credit utilization rate.

Citi Secured Mastercard is a good stepping stone if you’re new to credit. With responsible use, it helps you build a good credit history and transition to a card with more perks. 

Fees $0 annual fee 
APR 22.49% (Variable)
Minimum deposit $200
Convertibility Yes

Apply Now

🔀 Best Alternative for No Credit:

Chime Credit Builder Card: Chime is another low-cost way to build credit. It has no annual fee, no interest, and it doesn’t require a credit check. You will need to have a Chime spending account to use the card. 

🔗 Read our full Chime Credit Builder Card review

OpenSky Secured Visa Card

🏆 Best for Bad Credit

👉 Summary: With no credit check required and a high approval rate, the OpenSky Secured Credit Visa is a top choice for those who are recovering from bankruptcy or have a low credit score. 

✔️ Pros: 

  • No credit check 
  • No bank account required 
  • Fairly low APR for an unsecured card 

Cons: 

  • Annual fee
  • No option to upgrade to an unsecured credit card 
  • No rewards 

Description: 

OpenSky believes in giving everyone an opportunity to improve their credit score. Since applicants are not required to undergo a credit check or even have a checking account, it’s easy to get approved for the OpenSky Secured Credit Visa Card even if you have a history of bad credit or no credit at all. 

Another perk that makes OpenSky attractive is flexibility: you choose your credit limit by putting down a refundable cash deposit that ranges between $200 and $3,000. The card also boasts a 17.39% variable APR, which is relatively low for a secured credit card. 

Where OpenSky falls short is the $35 annual fee and lack of rewards. However, if rebuilding your credit history is more important to you than a lower fee and rewards, it’s a fair price to pay. Another downside is not having the option to upgrade to an unsecured credit card. When your credit improves and you qualify for a better card, you’ll have to apply for one somewhere else. 

Fees$35 Annual Fee 
APR 17.39% (variable)
Min deposit $200 (Refundable) 
Convertibility No

Apply Now

Read our full OpenSky Visa review

🔀 Best Alternative for Bad Credit:

Sable ONE Secured Credit Card: Relative newcomer Sable ONE doesn’t require a credit check, has no annual fee, and allows you to qualify for an unsecured card in as little as 4 months. It also has a solid rewards program that includes up to 2% cashback with select merchants like Amazon, Netflix, or Spotify. 

Applied Bank Secured Visa Gold Preferred

🏆 Best for Low APR

👉 Summary: The Applied Bank secured credit card has one of the lowest APRs on the market, even compared to traditional credit cards. 

✔️ Pros: 

  • Low APR 
  • No credit check or minimum score required to apply 
  • Reports to all 3 credit bureaus 

Cons: 

  • High annual fee 
  • No rewards  
  • No option to upgrade to an unsecured card 

Description: 

Applied Bank’s biggest benefit is its 9.99% fixed APR. But a low APR isn’t really a selling point when it comes to a secured credit card. You may be paying only 9.99% in interest charges, but you’re still paying to borrow your own money. Like we mentioned before, it’s best to avoid paying APR altogether. Pay every bill in full and on time and you’ll never pay interest!

The real benefit of this card is the fact that it doesn’t require a credit check. This feature gives people with a damaged credit history a chance to rebuild their credit. If your spotty credit history is making it challenging for you to get approved for a secured card, Applied Bank is not a bad alternative. 

If you can qualify for a more affordable card, our advice is to skip Applied Bank’s visa. It has no rewards, it’s pricey, and it doesn’t allow you to convert to a regular credit card once you improve your credit history. 

Fees$48
APR9.99% (Fixed)
Minimum Deposit $200
ConvertibilityNo

Apply Now

Read our full Applied Bank secured card review

🔀 Best Alternative for Low APR:

First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard: The First Progress Mastercard has similar features to Applied Bank’s visa. It has a low APR of 9.99%, a $49 annual fee, and no minimum credit score required for approval. 

🔗 Read our full First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard review

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

🏆 Best for Low Deposit

👉 Summary: Capital One’s secured credit card is an excellent choice for those who want to start rebuilding their credit with a flexible security deposit. 

✔️ Pros: 

  • Low security deposit 
  • Option to upgrade to an unsecured card 
  • No annual fee 

Cons: 

  • High APR 
  • No rewards 

Description:

If you’re looking to rebuild credit at a low cost, the Capital One secured card might be your answer. You can get access to a $200 credit limit in return for a refundable security deposit as low as $49. It also has no annual fee, making it a very affordable way to repair your credit history and gain access to the advantages of a credit card. 

Like most secured credit cards, it has a high APR. This means that if you don’t pay off your balance every month, you’ll be hit with a hefty interest charge. It’s best to avoid carrying a balance on any credit card!

If you use your card responsibly, you’ll have a chance to upgrade to a regular credit card and earn back your deposit. 

Overall, the Capital One Platinum card is a solid, low-cost choice, but not everyone can qualify. Applicants without a bank account or a credit history will have a hard time being approved.  

Fees $0 annual fee
APR26.99% (variable)
Minimum deposit$49 $99 or $200
ConvertibilityYes

Apply Now

Read our full Capital One Platinum review

🔀 Best Alternative For Low Deposit:

Sable ONE Secured Credit Card: Sable ONE makes our list once again. This time, it’s because it doesn’t require a minimum deposit amount. They also claim you can get back any deposit you put down in as little as 4 months. 

Discover it Secured Credit Card

🏆 Best No-Fee Card

👉 Summary: With a rewards program that rivals even the best of credit cards and no annual fee, Discover it is a favorite among many cardholders. 

✔️ Pros: 

  • No annual fee 
  • 1-2% cashback rewards
  • Intro bonus offer 

Cons: 

  • High APR
  • Rewards are capped 

Description: 

Discover it is kind of like the unicorn of secured credit cards: it’s among the select few that offer rewards and it has no annual fee. You earn 2% cash back on the first $1000 you spend at restaurants and gas stations each quarter, and unlimited 1% cashback on all other purchases. They’ll even throw in a bonus and double your cash-back rewards during your first year. 

Besides great rewards, the card comes with no annual fee and gives you free FICO score access each month so you can monitor your credit. As your credit score improves, you can convert to an unsecured credit card. 

One of the few downsides of Discover it is its high variable APR. A high interest rate is common among secured cards. As long as you pay your bill on time, that’s not something you need to worry about. 

As far as unsecured credit cards go, Discover it is hands down one of the best ones on the market. It has a unique offering that is hard to come by – you can earn cash while you re-build your credit and no annual fee. 

Remember that your credit limit will be low and it may be difficult to earn enough to make those rewards matter without pushing your credit utilization into dangerous territory. Always put your credit health ahead of rewards!

Fees $0 annual fee
APR22.99% (variable)
Minimum deposit $200
ConvertibilityYes

Apply Now

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Rewards

🏆 Best for Rewards

👉 Summary: Quicksilver Secured Rewards from Capital One is our pick for the best secured credit card for rewards. With no annual fee, it’s also an economical pick, but you’ll need at least fair credit. 

✔️ Pros: 

  • Unlimited 1.5% cash back rewards
  • Option to upgrade to an unsecured card 
  • $0 annual fee

Cons: 

  • Need a fair credit score to qualify (580-669)
  • No bonus reward options 

Description: 

Quicksilver Secured Rewards lets you earn a generous 1.5% cashback on all your purchases. Unlike the Discover it card, rewards aren’t capped, which means your rewards earnings don’t have a fixed limit. 

Don’t get carried away with those unlimited rewards, though. You will still want to keep your spending low enough to keep that balance below 30% of your credit limit. Unless you make a very large deposit, that limit is likely to be low. That will make it hard to spend enough to get meaningful rewards and still maintain good credit utilization. Still, every little bit counts, and with no annual fee, there’s not much to lose.  

You don’t want to be carrying a month-to-month balance on this card, as the APR is very high. If you will pay your balance in full and on time every month and you’d like to earn cashback while building good credit, Quicksilver is an excellent choice for you. 

Not everyone can qualify for this card. You can at least have a fair credit score to be eligible. Different issuers may define “fair credit” differently, but if your credit score is below 580 approval may be difficult.

Fees $0 annual fee 
APR26.99% (variable)
Minimum Deposit$200
ConvertibilityYes

Apply Now

🔀 Best Alternative for Rewards:

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured: This secured card from Bank of America has no annual fee and offers worthwhile rewards: 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% at grocery stores capped at $2,500, and 1% cashback on all other purchases. 

Why Get a Secured Card?

It’s difficult to get approved for a credit card when you have a thin credit file or a low credit score

That’s where secured credit cards come in. A secured credit card helps you repair or build your credit history from scratch

Using your card responsibly and making payments on time helps you build a positive credit history and give your credit score a boost. Having a good credit history allows you to eventually qualify for a regular credit card or other types of loans. In fact, most lenders give you the option to upgrade to an unsecured credit card once you’re eligible. 

Secured vs Unsecured Cards

The main difference between a secured and unsecured credit card is that a secured card will require you to put down a security deposit to open your account. This security deposit, which typically starts at $200, will act as your new credit limit. In other words, you’re using your own money as collateral. If you can’t make your payments, your issuer keeps the deposit. 

Another difference between the two is the interest rate. Secured credit cards generally come with a high interest rate because they’re a riskier product. However, you can avoid paying any interest at all by making your payments in full each month. 

Other than that, secured cards operate the same way as any other credit card:

  • You can use them for online and in-store purchases
  • You’ll be charged interest if you don’t make payments on time 
  • Most of them report your account activity to all 3 credit bureaus 
  • Some of them have rewards

Your secured card will not say “secured” anywhere on the card, and nobody will know you are using a secured card.

Overall, secured credit cards are a good alternative if you’re unable to qualify for a traditional credit card. 

How to Choose a Secured Card

There are countless secured credit cards out there. How do you know which one is the right choice for you? 

The best card for you is the one that suits your needs and priorities. Here are a few questions that will help you narrow down your choices to the one that’s right for you. 

Does it report to all 3 credit bureaus? 

To improve your credit score, your credit card activity (i.e., making payments on time) has to be reported to a credit bureau. Make sure you choose a card that reports your activity to all 3 major credit bureaus – Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. 

How much can you afford for the initial deposit? 

Many secured credit cards require you to put at least $200 down to “fund” your new card. This becomes your new limit. Ideally, it’s better to get a higher limit to reduce your credit utilization ratio and improve your credit score. 

If you can’t afford a larger deposit you may have to keep your spending very low to keep your credit utilization down.

If you can’t afford to put down the minimum amount, consider a card with a smaller security deposit, like the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card. 

Does it give you an option to upgrade? 

Your ultimate goal with a secured credit card is to improve your credit enough to eventually transition to a regular credit card.  

Some card issuers periodically review your account and upgrade you to a regular credit card if your credit has improved enough. Others don’t offer a path to upgrade, which means you’ll have to re-apply for an “unsecured” card elsewhere. 

If you’d like the option to upgrade, look for a convertible card. 

Is the annual fee worth it? 

Some secured credit cards charge high annual fees or even monthly maintenance fees. It’s best to avoid these cards. There are plenty of secured cards out there that don’t charge any fees at all. 

If you’re going to pay a fee, make sure you’re getting something in exchange. For example, some cards designed for people with bad credit will charge an annual fee. If this is the only way to qualify for a secured card, paying an annual fee is worth it as long as it’s not exorbitant. 

How important are rewards to you?

Rewards are a nice perk, but they shouldn’t be too high on your priority list when choosing a secured credit card. If your card has a lower limit, cash back rewards are not exactly worth it. 

Take the QuickSilver Rewards card for example. You’ll need to spend at least $220 each month to offset your yearly fee and break even. But that means your limit (aka your deposit) has to be over $700 to keep your credit utilization ratio 30% or lower. 

Your priority when choosing a secured credit card should be improving your credit score by using it responsibly. If spending enough to earn points affects your credit score, rewards are not worth it. 

Bottom Line 

Secured credit cards are a great way to build your credit from the ground up or repair a history of bad credit. 

You’ll still need to apply for one just like a regular card, but the eligibility criteria are a lot more inclusive in most cases.

Choose your card carefully and prioritize what matters most to you. Remember, your primary focus should be to build up a good credit history. Use your card responsibly and keep your credit utilization to a minimum. 

With responsible use, a good secured credit card will eventually help you graduate to a regular credit card.

Our Methodology

The secured credit cards on this list were selected based on how well they’re suited to specific types of users, their reputation, and their overall value. We also looked at the most important features such as price, qualification criteria, or deposit requirements. 

Here’s a breakdown of each category we considered in our evaluation: 

Pricing

Fees are one of the most important factors that determine the value of a secured card. Half the cards we chose have no annual or hidden fees. The few that do have an annual fee are reasonable in price. They’re also typically designed to give applicants with damaged credit a chance to repair their credit score. 

We also considered cards that have low deposit requirements and are affordable for most customers. The secured cards we selected have a deposit requirement of $200 or less. 

Credit bureau reporting  

Like we mentioned earlier, credit bureau reporting is one of the most important features of an unsecured credit card. All the cards on our list report to all 3 major credit bureaus. 

Eligibility

Our selection includes several cards that were specifically chosen based on their inclusive eligibility criteria. Our “best for bad credit” and “best for no credit” selections give users with no credit history or damaged credit a chance to qualify for a card without being charged extortionate fees. 

Convertibility 

The ability to upgrade was also a notable feature that determined the value of the cards selected. 

Rewards 

Rewards are not common with secured credit cards. That’s why a rewards program is a perk that makes certain secured cards stand out from the rest. 

APR

Unfortunately, most secured cards come with a higher APR than traditional credit cards. That’s why we focused on a ‘best for low APR’ feature specifically for users who value a low interest rate.