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The Best Secured Credit Cards of September 2019

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

On Discover's Secure Website

Discover it® Secured

On Discover's Secure Website
INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically. There’s no signing up. And no limit to how much is matched.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It's a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: We automatically match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rates, rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
24.99% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
New/Rebuilding
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
On State Department Federal Cred's Secure Website

Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card

On State Department Federal Cred's Secure Website
  • Earn 1 Flexpoint reward for each dollar you spend
  • No foreign transaction fees and no income verification
  • 25-day grace period on purchases
  • No annual fees or balance transfer fees
  • Credit lines starting as low as $250
  • Lost luggage reimbursement and travel assistance services
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
  • Earn 1 Flexpoint reward for each dollar you spend
  • No foreign transaction fees and no income verification
  • 25-day grace period on purchases
  • No annual fees or balance transfer fees
  • Credit lines starting as low as $250
  • Lost luggage reimbursement and travel assistance services
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
Regular APR
13.99%
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Poor
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
On Capital One's Secure Website

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

On Capital One's Secure Website
  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide

Note: The information in this box was provided by Capital One and is not part of our independent analysis.

  • No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
  • Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200
  • Get access to a higher credit line after making your first 5 monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app
  • It's a credit card accepted at millions of locations worldwide
Annual Fee
$0
Regular APR
26.99% (Variable)
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Limited, Bad
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
On Navy Federal Credit Union's Secure Website

Navy Federal nRewards Secured Credit Card

On Navy Federal Credit Union's Secure Website
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards and merchandise
  • No cash advance fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No annual fees
  • Rewards expire four years from the month earned
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent
  • Redeem points for cash back, gift cards and merchandise
  • No cash advance fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No annual fees
  • Rewards expire four years from the month earned
Annual Fee
No Annual Fee
Regular APR
8.99%
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Poor
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

We compared a number of secured credit cards to find the best credit cards for people looking to build and improve their credit history. We’ve picked these cards because they have low annual fees, low interest rates, and helpful credit tools such as email and text alerts to ease the transition back to good credit. Lastly, and most importantly, they report to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three major credit bureaus that are instrumental in building your credit history.

Best Secured Credit Cards

Our three best credit cards for bad credit will give you the means to re-establish your credit history with some perks.While these credit cards are excellent means to re-establish your credit history, it's the hard work of paying balances on time and not exceeding your credit limit that matters to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

Discover it® Secured: Best Secured Credit Card with Rewards

The Discover it® Secured has something that is rare among secured credit cards: a decent rewards program. The card provides users with 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. All other spending results in 1% back. One of the only other secured credit cards with a 1% rewards rate we’ve seen is the State Department Secured Card that you can find later on in this list.

One thing that is less than stellar about the Discover it® Secured is its interest rate. Cardholders who carry a balance must pay a 24.99% Variable APR, which is significantly higher than average. This is even high for a secured credit card. If you are someone who is prone to not pay their bill in full every month, we recommend avoiding this card and exploring other options.

You can get the Discover it® Secured with a relatively low minimum deposit. The card only requires you to put down $200 to open a new account. This deposit is fully refundable. You can deposit more, and note that your credit line will always be equal to the amount you have on deposit. Therefore, a $500 security deposit will translate to a $500 line of credit.

Highlights

  • $0 annual fee
  • Minimum deposit of $200; deposit is your credit limit
  • Discover matches all cash back at the end of the first year for new cardmembers

State Department EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card: Best Secured Credit Card

The "State Department’s EMV Savings card" offers the best benefits we’ve seen among secured credit cards: the lowest APR, no annual fee, AND a rewards program. You don’t need to be a State Department employee, but there is one step to take for eligibility that's worth the benefits. Here’s why we think it’s the best:

The best feature of the State Department secured card is its Flexpoints Rewards program. Most secured credit cards do not have a rewards program, but with the EMV Savings Secured Visa, you can build your credit cake and eat it, too. The points you earn can be redeemed for a nice 1% rewards rate - a sweetener to help the credit improvement process.

With an APR of 6.99%, this card has the lowest variable APR we’ve seen among secured cards, and even regular credit cards. For those of us who find it difficult to pay card balances off in full, this will be the most lenient card, since the remaining balance won’t incur interest at as steep a rate as the 16% average we’re seeing among secured cards.

Additionally, there is no annual fee and a relatively low deposit of $250 to get you started on rebuilding your credit scores. Once your credit score is improved enough to qualify you for an unsecured card, you can keep the State Department secured card open at no extra annual fee to extend the good history on your credit report.

Lastly, you don’t need to be a U.S. State Department employee to be eligible – there are other easily available options, such as a $15 lifetime membership to the American Consumer Council, or employment at select Virginia or DC companies.

Highlights

  • No annual fee, extremely low 6.99% variable APR
  • Minimum deposit of $250; deposit is your credit limit
  • Flexpoint Rewards program with 1% rewards rate
  • Eligibility: State Department employee or family member, American Consumer Council membership

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®: Best Secured Credit Card for Financial Flexibility

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a great all-around credit card for people looking for more financial flexibility since it has the lowest minimum deposit requirements and low annual fees. With these lower application amounts, you won't need to pay as much upfront to open the card.

What's special about the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is that your security deposit can be extended towards a higher credit limit. While other secured credit cards set your credit limit to equal your security deposit, Capital One®'s starts at $49, and can get you a credit limit beginning at $200 if approved. The card currently offers a refundable minimum security deposit of $49, $99 or $200. Other secured cards typically ask for a minimum deposit beginning at $200 for an equivalent credit limit. Capital One® Secured Mastercard® helps stretch cardholders' dollars further and provide extra financial flexibility that other cards won't have.

Lastly, it has no annual fee, which is cheaper than the average annual fee of about $35 that other bank secured cards will charge.

There's a great set of tools to keep cardholders on top of credit improvement. For example, enrolling your account online lets you monitor your credit score and credit report with Capital One®’s free CreditWise® service. Email and mobile alerts are helpful and necessary reminders in case you forget to make a payment - the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has a relatively high APR of 26.99% (Variable) and a penalty of up to $39 for late payments.

Highlights

  • $0 annual fee, 26.99% (Variable) APR
  • Minimum deposits of $49, $99, or $200 for credit limit of $200+
  • Eligibility: Checking or savings account anywhere, certain restrictions for existing and previous Capital One® customers

If you’re affiliated with the military, and you don’t want to or can’t qualify for the State Department’s card, then the Navy Federal Secured Card is the best card for military families. With this card, you'll get no annual fee, a low 8.99% variable APR, and the nRewards program.

It’s a great card to have if you’re realistically going to carry a balance – better an 8.99% APR than the 16% secured card average we’re seeing. The minimum deposit of $500 is a bit higher than other secured cards, but allows more breathing room in credit purchases during the month. On top of this, the nRewards program amounts to a 0.5% rewards rate – a nice sweetener that most other secured cards lack. Best of all, when you apply for an unsecured credit card after improving your credit, you can keep this card open at no annual fee to build upon the longevity of your accounts.

Highlights

  • No annual fee, low 8.99% variable APR
  • Minimum deposit of $500; deposit is your credit limit
  • nRewards program with 0.5% rewards rate
  • Eligibility: Personnel of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Department of Defense, and their families

Other Great Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Here are a few other secured credit cards we evaluated for your reference. We’ll explain why they’re still generally decent for people rebuilding their credit, but paled compared to our best secured credit cards. Regardless of which secured card you pick, the most important things are paying your credit card bills on time and staying under your approved credit limit.

DCU Visa Platinum Secured

This is a strong credit union card with no annual fees, but its variable APR of 11.5% is higher than both the State Department's EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card and the Navy Federal nRewards Secured Card. Additionally, you don’t get an opportunity to earn rewards through DCU. There are a large number of organizations that are eligible for membership, or you can donate $10 to Reach Out for Children instead.

U.S. Bank Secured Visa

With the U.S. Bank Secured Visa, your security deposit is your credit limit - this is the primary reason it lost out to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which doesn’t require as much of a deposit for a higher credit limit. Compared to the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, the U.S. Bank Secured Visa has a higher annual fee of $35, a lower variable APR of 20.99%, and a similar credit monitoring tool called FlexControl.

FAQs about secured credit cards

Here are some common questions about secured credit cards.

Can you get turned down for a secured credit card?

It is possible but unlikely for most people to be turned down for a secured credit card. This is because the deposit you put down to secure your credit line is usually mitigates the risk a bank takes in lending to someone with a lower credit score. However, if you've recently gone through a bankruptcy or some other major event that damages your credit, you may not be immediately able to access a secured card.

What is the best secured credit card to build credit?

Any secured credit card that reports to the three major credit bureaus will help you build credit. However, we suggest opening one that does not charge an annual fee, like the Discover it® Secured. This card also earns rewards.

How fast can you build credit with a secured card?

It takes time to build a strong credit profile. Thankfully, opening a secured credit card is a great first step toward establishing a great score. While there is no specific timeline for when you'll have excellent credit, first time credit users who open a secured card can typically qualify for an unsecured beginner card within six to eight months.

Joe Resendiz

Joe Resendiz is a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, where he covered public sector and infrastructure financing. During his time on Wall Street, Joe worked closely with the debt capital markets team, which allowed him to gain unique insights into the credit market. Joe is currently a research analyst who covers credit cards and the payments industry. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in finance.

Comments and Questions

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).