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ByTaylor Moore Finance & Insurance Writer

Taylor Moore is a finance writer for Reviews.com. Her work has been published in Chicago magazine, the Chicago Reader, and elsewhere.

The Best Secured Credit Cards

The best secured credit cards are the ones that help you save money and stay out of debt in order to help improve your credit. They should also feature low rates, low minimum deposits, and manageable annual fees or, even better, no annual fee. All of this combines into a secured credit card that will build your history and help raise your credit score. To help you find the best secured credit cards, we scoured the market and investigated 19 different credit cards and came up with our five top picks.

Why Trust This Review?

Since 2015, Reviews.com has helped thousands of people shop for secured credit cards. We’ve investigated 19 credit cards and updated this review regularly over the past four years to ensure it stays accurate. The author of this review does not own stock in any of the companies mentioned, or in any other credit card providers.

The 5 Best Secured Credit Cards

The Best Secured Credit Cards: Summed Up

  First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Capital One® Secured Mastercard® First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Discover it® Secured
Best for Overall Minimum security deposit Low annual fee Credit monitoring Rewards
Annual fee $49 $29 $39
Minimum security deposit $200 $49, $99, or $200 (dependent on creditworthiness) $200 $200 $200
APR 10.74% variable 26.49% variable 20.74% variable 14.74% variable 24.74% variable
Credit history required No No No No No

Best Overall

Best
Overall

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
First Progress
Ideal for taking control of your credit and building your credit trustworthiness quickly
Pros
Higher credit line opportunity
Low APR
Cons
$49 annual fee
Not available in all states

Why we chose it

Higher credit line opportunity

The Platinum Prestige offers lots of overhead to expand your credit line. Your credit limit can be as low as $200 and as high as $2,000, depending on what you want to contribute to the refundable security deposit. Over time, your credit can be raised without an additional security deposit — a move that will help you turn around your credit score in short order. The three major credit bureaus take your credit utilization (ratio of your spending to your credit limit) into account when reporting your credit history.

Low APR

At 10.74% APR (variable), Platinum Prestige’s interest rate is lower than traditional credit cards — the industry average hovers around 17.54%. We recommend paying your balance in full every month to build your credit score, but a low interest rate means that you won’t be heavily penalized for a late payment.

Points to consider

$49 annual fee

This top-tier secured credit card from First Progress levies a fairly hefty annual fee ($49), and fixed costs like this one are important to consider when shopping around, especially when some of its competitors offer low or no fee options.

Not available in all states

None of the First Progress secured credit cards are available to residents of New York, Iowa, Arkansas, or Wisconsin.

Best Minimum Security Deposit

Best
Minimum Security Deposit

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
Capital One
Solid card option with a low minimum security deposit and the potential to increase your credit line fast
Pros
Potentially low security deposit
Increase your credit line quickly
No annual fee
Cons
Security deposit dependent on creditworthiness

Why we chose it

Potentially low security deposit

The amount you put down depends on your credit-worthiness, but your security deposit with Capital One could be as low as $49. The other security deposit options are $99 and $200. Our other picks have security deposit minimums of $200, so this card is great if you’re not able to front that much cash at one time.

Increase your credit line quickly

After making your first five payments on time, you’re eligible to increase your credit line. Spending the same amount of money each month while your credit line increases (a concept known as credit utilization) benefits your credit score and shows that you are trustworthy in the eyes of lenders.

No annual fee

This Capital One card doesn’t come with an annual fee, so that’s more money in your pocket.

Points to consider

Security deposit dependent on creditworthiness

Since the security deposit is determined by your creditworthiness in the eyes of Discover, it could be as high as $200. It is important to weigh this initial investment factor with the card’s potential benefits.

Best Low Annual Fee

Best
Low Annual Fee

First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
First Progress
Low annual fee but a high interest rate
Pros
Low annual fee
Cons
High interest rate
Not available in all states

Why we chose it

Low annual fee

The $29 annual fee is one of the lowest you’ll find not only in the First Progress secured credit card line, but across the market as a whole. This is a major draw if your primary concern is not shelling out for more than you have to.

Points to consider

High interest rate

Low annual fees usually come with increased interest rates. The steep 20.74% variable interest rate is on the high end of the spectrum. If you opt for Platinum Elite, avoid carrying a balance on your card from month to month.

Not available in all states

None of the First Progress secured credit cards are available to residents of New York, Iowa, Arkansas, or Wisconsin.

Best Credit Monitoring

Best
Credit Monitoring

First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
First Progress
Middle-of-the-road option between low interest rates and low annual fees
Pros
Slow and steady approach
Average interest rate
Cons
Moderate features
Not available in all states

Why we chose it

Slow and steady approach

This secured credit card is best for people who want to take a moderate approach to building credit and not commit to high payments in order to benefit from price cuts elsewhere. It avoids the high annual fee of the Platinum Prestige and the high interest rates of the Platinum Elite.

Average interest rate

With a 14.74% APR, this is the middle option between the Platinum Prestige (10.74%) and the Platinum Elite (20.74%).

Points to consider

Moderate features

If you are willing to take on more risk, then the other First Progress cards offer more competitive features. Platinum Prestige comes with super low interest rates with a high annual fee, and the Platinum Elite offers high interest rates with a low annual fee.

Not available in all states

None of the First Progress secured credit cards are available to residents of New York, Iowa, Arkansas, or Wisconsin.

Best Rewards

Best
Rewards

Discover it® Secured
Discover
Competitive rewards for a secured credit card, but has less room for error
Pros
2% cash back
Discover matches your rewards
No annual fee
Cons
High minimum security deposit
High APR

Why we chose it

2% cash back

Most secured credit cards don’t come with rewards, but the Discover it® Secured card offers a cash-back deal that’s competitive with regular credit cards. You can earn up to 2% cash back when you spend at gas stations and restaurants (up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter). On all other transactions, you get unlimited 1% cash back.

Discover matches your rewards

At the end of your first year, Discover will match all of the cash back you’ve earned, automatically. This is a wonderful bonus that requires no effort on your part.

No annual fee

Unlike the secured credit cards offered by First Progress, Discover won’t charge you an annual fee for using their card.

Points to consider

High minimum security deposit

If you are approved for the Discover it® Secured card, you receive a credit line equal to your security deposit. The unfortunate part is that Discover requires a $200 deposit at minimum. If you aren’t able to put up that much money at the start, you may want to consider a card like the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, which will let you put down a security deposit as low as $49 (depending on your creditworthiness).

High APR

Although this Discover card doesn’t have an annual fee, it does come with a high interest rate (24.74%) if you make a late payment. However, Discover does generously waive the late fee on your first late payment. The important thing is ensuring that late payments don’t become a habit.

Secured Credit Cards FAQ

What is a secured credit card?

Credit cards operate on trust — the credit card company takes on your debts with the understanding that you will reimburse them when your bill’s due. A secured credit card doesn’t operate on trust alone. As the name suggests, they use security. Like a normal credit card, you charge expenses and pay the total later. But like a debit card, you invest the amount you’re able to pull out. You put down the total cash amount that you will be permitted to charge, giving the credit card company the equivalent of a security deposit. If at the end of your contract, the carpets are clean — you’ve paid all your bills — you get that deposit back.

“A secured card can be a great tool to build your credit history for the first time or restore your credit history if you've had some difficulties,” says Rod Griffin, Experian’s director of consumer education and awareness.

Can I apply for multiple secured credit cards at once?

You should avoid applying to multiple cards, if possible. You may be eager to apply for several right out of the gate, but submitting lots of applications will actually hurt your credit score.

“You don’t want to apply for too much credit all at once,” explains Ted Rossman, an industry analyst at CreditCards.com. “That appears risky to financial institutions and credit bureaus.” Every application authorizes the credit card company to submit a hard inquiry, and that causes your score to temporarily dip. Rather than applying for a whole slew of secured credit cards, track your top priorities to our top suggestions, then apply for one or two cards at most.

Can you get turned down for a secured credit card?

Yes, you can be denied for a secured credit card. Generally, secured credit cards are much easier to obtain because they are less riskier and require a refundable security deposit which serves as your credit limit. However, if there is any evidence of insufficient income to meet the lowered standards of a secured credit card (history of bankruptcy or tax liens), then you can be turned down for a secured credit card. Of course, this level of scrutiny varies so if you do get turned down, try applying to a different secured credit card. You can also try getting a co-signer or applying for a credit builder loan.

How does a secured credit card improve my credit score?

Payments on your secured credit card, like any other credit card, are reported as part of your credit history, which you can review through the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.

“The two critical factors are that you're making your payments on time, every single time, and that the balance on that card is kept low,” says Griffin. “Ideally, you should pay the balance in full each month so that your utilization rate is low. That secured card will help you demonstrate that you pay your bills on time and that you don't overuse that credit availability so you're a good risk, and that's what drives credit score.”

Editorial disclosure: The views and opinions expressed within this page belong solely to Reviews.com and have not been reviewed or approved by any affiliate or bank. The information provided is accurate as of the date of the review.

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