You want to take a trip, but the hotel requires a credit card, not a debit card, to check in. You don’t have a credit card because you hit a financial roadblock a few years ago and can’t qualify for one, even though you know you would have enough money to pay the statement at the end of the month. So now what?
That’s where secured credit cards come in. The cards are designed to give those without any credit a chance to build some and to give a second chance to others who have a spotty credit history. Several financial institutions today offer secured credit cards, which are backed by a security deposit that will be used to pay your credit card bill in case you can’t.
What Is a Secured Credit Card?
A secured credit card is designed for consumers who are starting with credit or rebuilding their credit after a financial hardship. With a secured credit card, the account holder gives a minimum security deposit to the card issuer to guarantee payment. The financial institution will hold on to the deposit while the account is open.
Best Secured Credit Cards
What is a good secured credit card offer? GOBankingRates has identified five secured credit cards and secured cash rewards credit cards that could fit your needs.
- Discover it® Secured: Best for quickly transitioning to non-secured cards
- Capital One Quicksilver Secured: Best for easy upgrades and rewards
- BankAmericard® Secured: Best for higher credit line availability
- Chime® Credit Builder Secured Visa®: Best for new users
- OpenSky Secured Visa: Best for quickly improving credit
1. Discover it® Secured Credit Card
- Pro: Opportunity to transition to a non-secured card after seven months
- Con: High interest rate
After you’ve had your secured card for seven months, Discover will review your account to track your on-time payment history and also take a look at your credit report. If you’ve shown “responsible credit management” across your financial spectrum, Discover will refund your deposit.
Account holders of this secured card offering from Discover receive many of the same benefits as holders of a standard card, such as:
- No annual fee
- 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants up to $1,000 spent per quarter
- 1% cash back on all other purchases
- Automatic match of the cash-back earnings of the first year of the account.
2. Capital One Quicksilver Secured Credit Card
- Pro: High opening credit line if you qualify and can pay the security deposit
- Con: High interest rate
With Capital One’s offering in this category, you’ll receive 1.5% cash back on every purchase you make and 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars if you book them through Capital One Travel. You’ll put down a security deposit to match the amount of your credit line, starting at $200, with the opportunity to apply for up to $3,000, based on your creditworthiness and ability to make the deposit.
With “responsible card use,” which starts with making payments on time, your card could be upgraded to an unsecured Quicksilver card and your deposit credited back to you after at least six months. You won’t pay an annual fee. Another card to consider from this issuer would be the Capital One Platinum Secured credit card.
- Pro: Higher credit line available
- Con: No rewards
If you need a secured card with a higher credit limit, this card from Bank of America, Member FDIC, might be the best one for you. The bank will consider applications for cards with a maximum $5,000 credit limit — and a matching deposit — and approval will be determined by your creditworthiness and income.
There’s no annual fee. Like the other financial institutions, Bank of America from time to time will review your status to determine whether you qualify for an unsecured card.
4. Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card
- APR: None
- Pro: No fees1 of any type, including interest
- Con: No opportunity to spread payment over a few months
Fintech company Chime* offers its secured card only to owners of Chime checking accounts2, and the two are intertwined. It’s not a secured card in the way others on this list are, however.
Instead of making a security deposit, you’ll move money from your checking account onto your Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa®3. If you transfer $300 from your account via the Chime app to your credit card, that becomes your credit line. And it also becomes your payment at the end of the statement period. You’ll need to add money to make additional charges.
How is the Credit Builder Secured Visa® different from a prepaid credit card you can buy at the supermarket? Those prepaid products don’t build credit, but this one does. Chime will share your information with all credit reporting bureaus, and the report will always be good because you can’t make a late payment or go over your limit since your deposit is used to pay off your charges.
There’s no annual fee, you won’t pay interest and you can’t go into credit card debt.
5. OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
- APR: 21.89% variable
- Pro: Lower interest rate than other cards
- Con: Annual fee
How fast can you build credit with a secured card? On its website, OpenSky says 20% of cardholders improve their credit score by at least 70 points in the first six months of having the card. If your credit history is especially spotty and other banks have turned you down for a card, the OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card might be your answer. Here are some things to consider:
- $35 annual fee
- OpenSky doesn’t look at credit reports when you apply
- Account deposits, and credit lines, range from $200 to $3,000.
After You’re Approved for a Secured Credit Card
The card issuer will let you know how much credit you’ve been approved for and what your deposit is; it will vary by financial institution. For a $300 secured credit card, for example, your issuer might require a $300 deposit. Others might accept a lesser amount or allow you to pay the deposit in installments.
Your credit card issuer might have required you to make an electronic security deposit at the time of application. If that was the case, you’ll receive your card by mail after approval without any other steps required.
What Are the Benefits of a Secured Credit Card?
- Building your credit score
- Access to a credit card to conduct everyday business
- On-time payments show your ability to use credit wisely
- A better credit score makes you a better candidate for car loans or mortgages.
A secured credit card is a great tool for those who need to establish or re-establish good credit. As you explore cards, remember you’ll want one that reports your good payment record to the credit bureaus. And if you don’t have much extra money, start small with the credit limit — and the security deposit you will have to make.
You can ask to increase the amount later if you find you need more credit for that hotel check-in, for example.
FAQHere are some answers to frequently asked questions about secured credit cards.
- What are two downsides of getting a secured credit card?
- Two potential downsides to getting secured credit cards over unsecured credit cards are having to come up with the money upfront for the security deposit and secondly, secured cards often have fewer rewards and higher interest and fees.
- Do secured credit cards build your credit?
- Yes – if you pay your credit card bill consistently on time, your credit score will improve.
- Can I put $10,000 on a secured credit card?
- Most secured credit cards do not allow you to make a deposit as big as $10,000, though some – like the Sable Secured credit card – will. However, if you have that much in your savings account, you might qualify for a traditional, unsecured credit card.
- Financial institutions typically allow you to choose from set amounts for a credit limit, such as $200 or $1,000 or request a customized limit of $2,000 or even $5,000. Remember the security deposit is tied up, and you've lost that as a liquid asset.
- What is the best secured credit card that reports to all 3 bureaus?
- When applying for a secured credit card, make sure your usage will be reported to at least one of the three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Here are five secured credit cards to consider:
- – Discover it Secured
- – Capital One Quicksilver Secured
- – BankAmericard Secured
- – Chime Credit Builder Secured Visa®
- – OpenSky Secured Visa
- How do you get your deposit back for a secured credit card?
- The easiest way is to get a refund of your deposit is to bring your card balance to zero and close the account. Or, after you've made on-time payments and shown your ability to responsibly manage your account, your financial institution might upgrade your card to one that doesn't require a security deposit and return the money you paid up front.
Jami Farkas contributed to the reporting for this article.
*Chime is a financial technology company, not a bank. Banking services provided by, and debit card issued by, The Bancorp Bank, N.A. or Stride Bank, N.A., Members FDIC
1There’s no fee for the Chime Savings Account. Cash withdrawal and Third-party fees may apply to Chime Checking Accounts. You must have a Chime Checking Account to open a Chime Savings Account.
2To apply for Credit Builder, you must have received a single qualifying direct deposit of $200 or more to your Checking Account. The qualifying direct deposit must be from your employer, payroll provider, gig economy payer, or benefits payer by Automated Clearing House (ACH) deposit OR Original Credit Transaction (OCT). Bank ACH transfers, Pay Anyone transfers, verification or trial deposits from financial institutions, peer to peer transfers from services such as PayPal, Cash App, or Venmo, mobile check deposits, cash loads or deposits, one-time direct deposits, such as tax refunds and other similar transactions, and any deposit to which Chime deems to not be a qualifying direct deposit are not qualifying direct deposits.
3The Chime Credit Builder Visa® Card is issued by Stride Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, pursuant to a license from Visa U.S.A. Inc. and may be used everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted.
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