Best secured credit cards in April 2024


A secured credit card can be a critical tool for jumpstarting your credit profile — whether you’re new to credit or you’ve got a messy history with it.

The best secured credit cards offer rewards, low or no annual fees, and, for the most part, reasonable minimum security deposits. Here are our top picks.


Methodology




Our team of experts evaluated 16 secured credit cards, evaluating factors such as the minimum security deposit, annual fee and annual percentage rate (APR). Using a data-based approach, we narrowed down the list to the top nine credit cards that scored highly based on our weightings. Read our full methodology below.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card


*


Best secured credit card

Key takeaways


2%

Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter.


1%

Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

5/5



Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card


*


Best for flat-rate cash back

Key takeaways


5%

Earn unlimited 5% cash back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, where you’ll get Capital One’s best prices on thousands of trip options. Terms apply.


1.5%

Earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day.

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Secured Visa® Card


*


Best for dining, groceries, gas and streaming

Key takeaways


4X

Earn 4x points on dining and takeout


2X

Earn 2x points at grocery stores, gas stations and on streaming services


1X

Earn 1x point on all other eligible purchases

U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Secured Visa® Card

3.7/5




Best for dining, groceries, gas and streaming

U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card


*


Best for 5% cash back categories

Key takeaways


5%

5% cash back on on the first $2,000 in combined eligible purchases each quarter in two categories of choice


2%

2% cash back on eligible purchases in choice of one everyday category (like gas stations, grocery stores and restaurants)


1%

1% cash back on all other eligible purchases

U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card

3.8/5




Best for 5% cash back categories

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card


*


Best for choosing your own bonus category

Key takeaways


3%

Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvement and furnishings.


2%

Earn 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs; Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.


3%

You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

3.6/5




Best for choosing your own bonus category


Best for Amazon

Key takeaways


2%

Eligible Prime members earn 2% back at Amazon.com, Amazon Fresh and more.

Amazon Secured Card

3.9/5



Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card


*


Best with a low security deposit

Reward rate


N/A

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card currently does not offer any rewards.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card


*


Best for no credit check

Reward rate


N/A

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card does not earn rewards on purchases.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

3.3/5



Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard® Secured Credit Card


*


Best small-business card

Key takeaways


1.5%

Earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase

Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard® Secured Credit Card

3.1/5



What is a secured credit card?

Secured credit cards are designed to reduce the risk an issuer takes on when it extends credit.

How does a secured credit card work?

Before you open a secured credit card, you’ll have to submit a security deposit (typically refundable either when you close a fully-paid card or if you qualify to upgrade the card). The issuer will keep this deposit as collateral in the event that you default on your card. If you do, it’ll use your money to help pay off your balance.

The amount of money you deposit is often equal to the size of your credit line. Most secured credit cards come with a minimum and maximum deposit amount. You should aim to deposit as much as you can afford. This will help you keep a lower credit utilization rate (the percent of your credit line you’re using divided by your available credit) — which is important to build and maintain a healthy credit score.

Secured vs. unsecured credit cards

While a secured credit card requires a security deposit, an unsecured credit card does not. Since unsecured credit cards aren’t backed by collateral, the issuer must have a reasonable amount of trust that you’ll pay back the money you borrow from it.

The best credit cards for bad credit are mostly secured credit cards. Unsecured credit cards that cater to subprime customers may charge predatory fees.

With a solid credit profile, an unsecured credit card is the easy choice. You don’t need to tie up any assets to open one, and you can find much more valuable benefits. Also, a responsible credit history can win you a much higher credit line than what you’ll find with secured credit cards.

Pros and cons of secured credit cards

Pros:

  • Can help build credit: Those with unimpressive credit — or those just beginning their journey into the world of credit — should be focused on building strong credit scores. Secured cards can help you do that, so long as you make on-time payments and keep your credit utilization low.
  • Offer a relatively good deal: You’ll need to float money as collateral to open a secured credit card. If you can’t swing that, you might find it an unappealing option. But compared to the non-refundable costs you may see with unsecured options for poor credit, secured cards can save you money.

Cons:

  • Limited rewards and benefits: By nature, secured credit cards are mostly bare-bones. You often won’t receive a welcome bonus or meaningful ongoing benefits.
  • May have low credit limits: The maximum credit limits for secured cards may be as low as $2,500 or $5,000, which may make them difficult to use for many of your expenses.

How to choose the best secured credit card for you

Quality varies greatly when it comes to secured credit cards. Don’t just apply for the first one you spot. Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you to find the perfect option:

  • What are the costs? Be absolutely sure you know the card’s annual fee, APR, and any other costs. Most of the best secured credit cards don’t charge an annual fee, so ensure you’re getting your money’s worth if you opt for one with a fee.
  • What is the minimum security deposit? Depending on the card, you may be required to submit a security deposit as high as $1,000. Apply for a card that requires a minimum deposit you’re reasonably able to part with for the duration of your card membership.
  • Can I upgrade to an unsecured card in the future? Some credit card issuers provide a path to upgrade your secured credit card to an unsecured version. In this case, you won’t have to cancel your account to get your security deposit back; when you’re upgraded, you’ll get your money back — and you can continue to develop the credit history of that account.
  • Do the ongoing benefits help me to reach my goals? Finding a card that offers free FICO credit score monitoring, for example, can be a huge help to someone trying to improve their credit.
  • Is there a rewards program? All things being equal, choose the secured credit card that offers a return for your spending.

How to apply for a secured credit card

Applying for a secured credit card isn’t much different than applying for any other credit card. You’ll need to input personal and financial details such as your date of birth, address, income and housing situation.

Even if you’re approved for the card before making a deposit, you’ll need to pay a security deposit to open your account.

Before you apply, see if the issuer offers preapproval to get a sense of your odds of securing a card. Not all of the best secured cards are available to consumers with bad credit, so you may need to explore multiple options if you’re rebuilding.

How to build credit with secured credit cards

To get the most from a secured credit card, focus on two simple activities: Paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization low.

Your payment history is the most important factor in your credit score. As long as you make at least the minimum payment each month, your payment history will improve. Your credit utilization is a key component in your amounts owed, which is the second most important factor in your FICO credit score. Keeping at least 70% of your credit unused can help your credit score improve.

Alternatives to secured credit cards

Secured cards aren’t the only option for those having trouble being approved for a credit card.

If you’re a student, you’ll find plenty of student credit cards. Some require proof that you’re at least enrolled in a higher education institution. Cards such as the Discover it® Student Cash Back
*


The information for the Discover it® Student Cash Back has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


may approve applicants with zero credit history.

Similarly, starter credit cards such as the Chase Freedom Rise
*


The information for the Chase Freedom Rise has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


can be a first step in the credit-building process.

But perhaps you’re not a student and you’ve got plenty of credit history — it’s just bad history. You’ll want to avoid cards with sky-high APRs well above average rates, hidden charges and/or extremely low credit limits.

Methodology

Our money and data analytics teams evaluated 16 secured credit cards. We then narrowed down our list of the best secured credit cards by giving them a star rating out of five based on the following factors and our editorial judgment:

Pricing and fees (50%)

Cards with low annual and balance transfer fees, no or low foreign transaction fees and competitive variable APRs received a boost compared to cards with higher fees and rates.

Minimum security deposit (30%)

Secured credit cards require that card holders provide a certain amount of cash in order to open their account. This deposit reduces the issuer’s risk, but can be inconvenient. We favored cards that don’t require card holders to put as much down in order to open a card.

Rewards value (10%)

Not all secured credit cards offer rewards, but some do. We used spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and estimates of rewards values from The Points Guy to determine which cards dole out the best rewards value.

Benefits (10%)

Cards that offer benefits such as cell phone protection, purchase protection, extended warranty and a 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers received a boost.

What didn’t make the cut

The credit cards that made our list are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of available options. Here are some runners-up:

  • Citi® Secured Mastercard®
    *


    The information for the Citi® Secured Mastercard® has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


    :
    This card doesn’t earn rewards, and we prefer the Capital One Platinum Secured as the best no-frills option.
  • BankAmericard® credit card
    *


    The information for the BankAmericard® credit card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


    :
    This is a serviceable secured credit card with no rewards program. Again, though, we prefer the Capital One Platinum Secured for a no-rewards secured card.
  • First Progress Secured Credit Cards: These cards charge annual fees.
  • Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
    *


    The information for the Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


    :
    No annual fee and a reasonable fixed return on spending could make this card a contender. But we prefer the Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards card for a secured card with flat-rate rewards.
  • U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card
    *


    The information for the U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


    :
    With no return on spending, this is a less impressive version of the U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured Visa.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Application requirements may vary by card, but you may be able to apply with an SSN or ITIN.

To upgrade to an unsecured credit card from a secured credit card, your issuer must offer the option and you generally must make on-time payments for a certain period of time. Not all issuers have unsecured siblings for which you can product change, and other qualification requirements may apply before you can upgrade and get your deposit back.

When you cancel your card or upgrade it to an unsecured version, you’ll get your deposit back. You wouldn’t get your deposit back if the issuer is forced to pay your balance with your deposit money.

To view rates and fees for Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
*


The information for the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, please visit this page.

To view rates and fees for Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
*


The information for the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, please visit this page.

*The information for the following card(s) has been collected independently by CNN Underscored Money:Discover it® Secured Credit Card
*


The information for the Discover it® Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
*


The information for the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Secured Visa® Card
*


The information for the U.S. Bank Altitude® Go Secured Visa® Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card
*


The information for the U.S. Bank Cash+® Secured Visa® Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
*


The information for the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, Amazon Secured Card
*


The information for the Amazon Secured Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
*


The information for the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
*


The information for the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
*


The information for the Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card
*


The information for the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, Capital One Platinum Credit Card, Citi® Secured Mastercard®
*


The information for the Citi® Secured Mastercard® has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, BankAmericard® credit card
*


The information for the BankAmericard® credit card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
*


The information for the Bank of America® Business Advantage Unlimited Cash Rewards Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


, and U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card
*


The information for the U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card has been collected independently by CNN Underscored. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.



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