What Is a Secured Credit Card?
A secured credit card is a type of credit card that requires a cash deposit from the cardholder as security.
This deposit serves as security on the card account, providing the issuer with collateral in the event that the cardholder can’t make payments.
A secured credit card is backed by a cash deposit that serves as security for the issues if the cardholder defaults on card payments.
Secured credit cards are often issued to people with a bad credit history, or with no credit history (also called thin-file borrowers).
How a Secured Credit Card Works
Most credit cards are unsecured; there is no security for the money owed to the credit card company. This is also one of the reasons why credit card interest rates are so high – unsecured debt is always more expensive.
A secured credit card is like a driver’s permit which allows you to first master navigating the credit card universe. This prepares you to advance to the next level or license of obtaining an unsecured credit card.
Unlike a debit card, your secured credit card shares your activity, such as your monthly payment history and balances, with the major credit bureaus.
With sustained favorable reports from a secured credit card, you may be able to upgrade to an unsecured credit card, which doesn’t require a deposit.
There are some cases where the deposit is saved in an interest-earning account, but this shouldn’t weigh heavily in choosing the best secured credit card for you.
How Much Do You Need to Deposit?
This often depends on the card issuer, so here are some examples:
- The Citi® Secured MasterCard® requires a deposit of $200 – $2,500.
- Capital One Secured MasterCard® requires a $200 minimum deposit.
- No annual fee
- APR 26.99%
- Initial credit $200
Don’t fret if you can’t afford these deposits. There are some secured credit cards for bad credit that allow you to pay the deposit in installments.
Depending on your financial situation, these deposit requirements will determine which card would be best for your situation.
Secured Credit Card Terms
Apart from the required deposit, the best secured credit cards for bad credit work in the same way as regular (unsecured) credit cards.
They are issued by leading credit card companies like Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. As a cardholder you can use the card anywhere the brand is accepted and may be eligible for rewards and other perks.
You will receive a monthly credit card statement showing your balance and you are required to pay at least the minimum balance.
Note: As with other credit cards, secured credit cards may also have annual credit card fees, monthly maintenance fees and balance inquiry fees.
The APRs of secured cards are often quite high – as much as 20% – but still in line with the national average of just over 20% as of January 2021.
On the other hand, if you are a candidate for a secured credit card, your credit score is probably not very strong so you wouldn’t qualify for great rates anyway.
How to Get Approved for a Secured Credit Card
Approval will often depend on criteria other than the deposit. For instance, Capital One requires applicants to have a functioning bank account.
They generally don’t check your credit score and do not require a bank account.
Rates and fees
As secured credit cards often offer higher interest rates, review the card’s annual percentage rate (APR), annual fee and any miscellaneous fees carefully.
Compare the benefits various secured cards offer.
Although the deposit amount will vary, many secured credit cards require a minimum deposit of $200 and some allow you to make deposits of up to $2,500.
When you apply for a secured card, look for a lender that also issues traditional, unsecured credit cards. This will make it easier for you to transition to an unsecured card when you are ready.
What Are The Drawbacks of a Secured Credit Card?
- They may have an annual fee
- Higher APR than an unsecured card
- Requires a deposit
- Lowered credit score with missed payments
Use this simple interest calculator to find out the costs of using your unsecured credit card.
Why Do Many Secured Cards Have Higher APR Than Unsecured Cards?
The issuer views a customer who is not creditworthy as high risk, and because of this risk, they must pay a premium in the form of a higher Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
The best way to deal with this setback is to keep your utilization ratio low.
For instance, if your card has a $1,000 limit, you should keep your credit balance lower than $300. This ensures you are below the 30% utilization mark.
Emergencies do occur of course, so you may be pressed into exceeding this limit. To be safe, pick a card with the lowest interest rate and APR possible.
- Enjoy 0% APR on Purchases for Six Months
- Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
- Monthly Reporting to all 3 Major Credit Bureaus to Establish Credit History
- Credit Line Secured by Your Fully-Refundable Deposit of $200 — $2,000 Submitted with Application
How to Use Your Secured Credit Card
Once your secured credit card has arrived, you will want to begin building good credit promptly. Remember these tips to ensure your best path to good credit.
Use it for small purchases
Try to avoid using your credit card for larger purchases and take interest rates into account.
Pay the total off immediately
Try to pay the total off as soon as possible to avoid additional fees and interest payments.
Never miss a minimum payment
Always pay at least the minimum due amount on your credit card.
Set payment alerts
This can help you to be alerted when your credit card is used.
Enroll in auto-pay
An easy way to pay your credit card by having the card company debit a payment from your bank account on a set day each month.
Secured Credit Card FAQs
What are the benefits of a secured credit card?
It allows people with a poor credit history to rebuilt their credit. It’s also good for people without a credit history to start somewhere.
What is credit card autopay?
Credit card autopay is an easy way to make payments on your credit card every month by having the card company to debit a payment from your bank account on a set date each month.
Autopay is offered by all major credit card companies such as Capital One, Discover, Chase, American Express, and more.
Whatis a semi-secured credit card?
A semi-secured credit card requires the card holder to make a deposit before the they issue credit. However, the credit limit granted may exceed the deposit made, unlike a secured credit card.