Best Overall

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

Rating as a Secured Card
4.8
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
Full Review
Apply Now
On Capital One's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 26.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $49
Pay deposit in installments Yes
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Secured Mastercard from Capital One is Investopedia's choice for Best Secured Card due to its low fees and security deposit flexibility, allowing customers to send in their account deposits in installments rather than having to make it all at once. Capital One also offers automatic credit line increase reviews after as little as six months of responsible card use. No annual fee makes this a good entry level card for those needing to build their credit.

Best for Travel

SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card

Rating as a Secured Card
4.6
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On U.S. Bank's Website
Current Offer

30,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 within the first 90 days

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 16.24% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $300
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1 mile for every $1 you spend in eligible net purchases.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The SKYPASS Visa Secured Card is an unusual offering in the secured card market, as it provides the ability to earn airline miles and even has a bonus offer with first purchase. The caveat is that the miles are with Korean Air, so it may be best for those who have loyalty to that carrier or can get value from redeeming SKYPASS miles with partner airlines. SKYPASS Visa Secured also offers an anniversary bonus of 1,000 SKYPASS Miles.

Best for Rewards

Discover it® Secured

Rating as a Secured Card
4.2
Discover it® Secured
Full Review
Apply Now
On Discover's Website
Current Offer

Discover will match all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 10.99% for 6 Months
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Discover it Secured is our choice for best for rewards because it offers valuable cash rewards and no annual fee. It's is a solid choice to build good credit and credit habits. Discover reviews all customer accounts after eight months to determine if you can transition to an unsecured card.

Best for Business

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Rating as a Secured Card
4.1
Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On Wells Fargo's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 15.15% variable
Annual Fee $25
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1.5% cash back or earn 1X point and recieve 1,000 bonus points when your company spend is $1,000 or more in any monthly billing period.
Balance Transfer Fee See Terms
Cash Advance APR (%) 23.99%
Cash Advance Fee See Terms
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is our pick for best business secured card because it offers the flexibility of earning cash back or points rewards and the ability to have a credit line up to $25,000. The Wells Fargo card is ideal for small business owners needing to build their business credit or have experienced business credit challenges in the past.

Best for Credit Building

Self Visa® Credit Card

Rating as a Secured Card
3.7
Self Visa® Credit Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On WebBank's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 23.74% variable
Annual Fee $25
Minimum Deposit to Activate $100
Pay deposit in installments Yes
Allows upgrade to unsecured card No
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Self Visa is our top card for credit building because it offers an unusual feature to help build a positive credit history: through the creation of both an installment loan and a credit card account. If you’re able to meet the Self Visa’s eligibility requirements, you’re granted a CD secured loan. Once you’ve made three on-time loan payments that unlock at least $100 of value in your CD, you can open a secured card using the repaid funds as the security deposit.

Best for Cash Back

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured

Rating as a Secured Card
3.9
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured
Apply Now
On Bank of America's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Good - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 23.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $300
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 3% cash back in the eligible category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs, and 1% cash back on all other purchases. You’ll earn 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined categories each quarter, then 1%.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured card offers 3% cash back in a spending category of your choice, plus 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (up to $2,500 in combined spending each quarter), and 1% on all other purchases. And, the card has no annual fee.

Best for Military

nRewards® Secured Credit Card

Rating as a Secured Card
3.9
nRewards® Secured Credit Card
Apply Now
On Navy Federal Credit Union's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 18% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The nRewards® Secured Credit Card is designed for servicemembers on fixed budgets. The card is designed for users with no or poor credit, has no annual fee, and carries a low minimum deposit of just $200.

Best for Balance Transfer

U.S. Bank Harley-Davidson® Visa® Secured card

Rating as a Secured Card
3.7
U.S. Bank Harley-Davidson® Visa® Secured card
Full Review
Apply Now
On U.S. Bank's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 13.99% - 22.99% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $0
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card No
INTRO PURCHASE APR 0% for 12 Billing Cycles
INTRO BALANCE TRANSFER APR 0% for 12 Billing Cycles
Rewards Earning Rate Earn 1 point on all purchases.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    U.S. Bank Harley-Davidson® Visa® Secured Card carries a 0% introductory APR on all purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months. The card also has a rewards program, with cardholders earning one point for every dollar spent, and there's no annual fee.

Best for Fair Credit

U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

Rating as a Secured Card
3.6
U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card
Full Review
Apply Now
On U.S. Bank's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 18.99% variable
Annual Fee $29
Minimum Deposit to Activate $300
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card Yes
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    The U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card is specifically designed for applicants with fair credit. The card has a low annual fee of $29 and no rewards program, but is a great option for applicants with poor credit history who want to improve their credit.

Best for Low APR

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

Rating as a Secured Card
2.8
Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card
Apply Now
On Green Dot Bank's Website
Recommended Credit Score Our recommended ranges are based off of the FICO® Score 8 credit-scoring model. Credit score is one of the many factors lenders review in considering your application.
350 579
580 669
670 739
740 799
800 850
Poor - Excellent
Regular APR (%) 9.99% fixed
Annual Fee $49
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
Pay deposit in installments No
Allows upgrade to unsecured card No
Rewards Earning Rate This card does not offer a rewards program.
  • WHY WE CHOSE THIS CARD

    Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card charges just 9.99% regular APR on purchases. While the card does have an annual fee of $49 and lacks a rewards program, but its low regular APR can help cardholders avoid balloon card balances from high interest charges.

Compare the Best Secured Credit Cards

Credit Card Best For Min. Deposit Required Annual Fee
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One Best Overall $49 $0
SKYPASS Visa® Secured Card Best for Travel $300 $0
Discover it® Secured Best for Rewards $200 $0
Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card Best for Business $500 $25
Self Visa® Credit Card Best for Credit Building $100 $25
Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured Best for Cash Back $300 $0
nRewards® Secured Credit Card Best for Military $200 $0
U.S. Bank Harley-Davidson® Visa® Secured Card Best for Balance Transfer $0 $0
U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card Best for Fair Credit $300 $29
Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card Best for Low APR $200 $49

Pros & Cons of Our Picks for Best Secured Credit Cards

Secured Mastercard from Capital One

Best Overall

As a secured credit card, this Capital One card can offer a higher limit than the actual security deposit which can also be paid in installments. It’s a good card for traveling as there are no annual fees or any foreign transaction fees charged.

Pros
  • Credit limits can be larger than the required security deposit

  • Security deposit can be paid in installments

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees

Cons
  • Requires a bank account

  • Relatively low initial credit limits

  • No bonus offers or rewards program

Read the Full Secured Mastercard from Capital One Review

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card

Best for Travel

For anyone looking to earn miles while building credit, the SKYPASS Visa is a top choice. This travel rewards card can get someone to unsecured status in as little as 12 months of timely payments and use–all while earning miles.

Pros
  • Builds credit while earning miles

  • Opportunity to move to an unsecured card after 12 months

  • Easy-to-earn bonus

Cons
  • Annual fee

  • Poor for international travelers

  • Your credit limit must be secured

Read the Full SKYPASS Visa Secured Card Review

Discover it Secured

Best Secured Card for Rewards

As far as rewards go, cash is the most versatile option. The Discover it® has no annual fee and offers cash back rewards. Additionally, users build real credit history when using this card, helping them move to unsecured cards sooner than later.

Pros
  • Outstanding rewards for a secured credit card

  • Cash-back is matched at the end of the first year

  • Discover reviews your account after a period of responsible usage to determine eligibility for transition to an unsecured card

  • No annual or foreign transaction fees

Cons
  • Discover cards not as widely accepted outside the U.S. as Visa and Mastercard

Read the Full Discover it Secured Card Review

Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card

Best for Business

Unique in the market, the Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card is the only option for new businesses to establish credit via a secured credit card. Businesses can earn cash back or get rewards points making it very flexible.

Pros
  • Flexible rewards structure

  • No foreign transaction fee

Cons
  • Annual fee applies to every card issued

  • Minimal benefits

Read the Full Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card Review

Self Visa Credit Card

Best Secured Card for Credit Building

By using an installment loan and secured credit card account, the Self Visa® helps users establish a positive credit history. It has lenient eligibility requirements using a CD secured loan to unlock credit limits.

Pros
  • No security deposit required

  • Qualification is relatively easy

  • Builds credit and helps you establish savings

Cons
  • $25 annual fee

  • No rewards

  • 3% foreign transaction fee

Read the Full Self Visa Credit Card Review

Bank of America® Cash Rewards Secured

Best for Cash Back

Highest rewards for a secured card with up to 3% cash back in eligible categories. With no annual fee, this card has all the bells and whistles of an unsecured credit card.

Pros
  • $0 annual fee

  • 3% cash back in the eligible category

  • 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs

  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

  • 3% and 2% cash back on the first $2,500 in combined categories each quarter, then 1%


Cons
  • High regular APR (23.99%)

  • 3% FX fee


nRewards® Secured Credit Card 

Best for Military

Designed for members of the military on fixed budgets. The nRewards Secured Credit Card has no annual fee and requires a low security deposit of only $200.

Pros
  • $0 annual fee

  • Low deposit requirement ($200)

  • Designed for no/bad credit

Cons
  • Requires Navy Federal Credit Union membership or donation

  • No rewards program

U.S. Bank Harley-Davidson® Visa® Secured Card 

Best for Balance Transfer

Get 0% APR on existing credit card balances transferred over and new purchases for 12 months. Earn rewards on purchases on a secured credit card with no annual fee.

Pros
  • 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months

  • $0 annual fee

  • Earn 1 points per dollar on all spend

Cons
  • 3% FX fee

Read the Full U.S. Bank Harley-Davidson Secured Card Review

U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

Best for Fair Credit

A secured credit card created for those with fair credit looking to build up their credit score. Competes with other secured cards with deposit requirements and has a low annual fee.

Pros
  • Designed for fair credit applicants

  • Relatively low annual fee ($29)

Cons
  • No rewards program

Read the Full U.S. Bank Secured Card Review

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

Best for Low APR

A straightforward secured credit card that has a low APR helping consumers keep costs down for purchases. This helps prevent card balances from growing purely on high interest charges. 

Pros
  • 9.99% regular APR

Cons
  • $49 annual fee

  • 3% FX Fee

  • No rewards program

Our Final Verdict: The Best Secured Credit Card

Secured credit cards fill a big need in the credit industry helping consumers build credit without the risk of getting into insurmountable debt. They help those with no credit or poor credit utilize credit cards in various transactions improving their credit score over time. Of all the secured credit cards available on the market, The Secured Mastercard from Capital One is our top pick thanks to flexible installment payments, low fees, and fast credit line increases. If you’re a new business seeking to establish credit, the Wells Fargo Business Secured is for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Secured Card and How Does it Work?

Secured credit cards resemble regular credit cards with one key difference: they require a “security” deposit, the size of which determines your credit limit with the card, at least initially. The advantage to this card type, compared with using a debit card tied to a checking account or a prepaid debit card, is that account activity is reported to all three major credit bureaus (because a secured credit card is a true credit card with a real credit limit). That reporting allows you to begin building a credit history that, providing it is positive, should in time allow you to get a regular credit card and other credit products, such as loans.

Provided you make on-time payments with a secured card, your security deposit remains untouched and is remitted back to you should you ever close the account. Some issuers even pay you interest on the deposited funds. In time, given a positive record of making payments, issuers may grant you a credit limit that exceeds the security deposit. Eventually, the issuer may also offer you the option to upgrade to a regular—that is, unsecured—credit card. In many cases, that allows the account to remain open, and its increasing age to be an asset to your credit record, which generally rewards having older accounts. If that option isn’t available, though, one can simply close the secured account and apply for an unsecured card once you’ve attained a solid credit score. The free score-monitoring feature offered by most secured cards allows you to track your progress. 

Which Consumers Do Secured Cards Best Suit?

The ideal recipient of a secured credit card is someone who has never owned a credit card or any other type of credit account, such as a loan. Such prospective customers have what’s known as a “thin file”, with minimal data at credit bureaus about their payment activity, and so will especially benefit from the credit history a secured credit card will help to build. Those with poor or bad credit, because of irresponsible credit behavior in the past, can potentially gain the same advantage from a secured card. More even than credit newcomers, these customers’ actions—such as habitual late payments, credit defaults, and bankruptcy declarations—can make lenders apprehensive. And that can leave those consumers with few if any options to rebuild their credit other than a secured card.

Even if card issuers do not pull a full credit report when reviewing your application, they may want at least to verify your income and determine if you have any other accounts, like checking or savings accounts, with banks and other financial institutions. That information allows issuers to gain a fuller picture of your finances, including your ability to make a security deposit

What Are the Pros and Cons of Secured Cards? 

Pros
  • Provides widely accepted charge cards to those with little credit, no credit, or bad credit

  • Excellent chance of approval

  • Reports to credit bureaus to build personal credit

Cons
  • Security deposit is required; may be difficult for those with limited funds

  • Credit limit does not exceed security deposit, at least initially

  • Annual fee is more common than not

  • Higher APRs on balances than most non-secured cards

Can Secured Cards Really Build Credit?

In contrast to such alternatives as prepaid debit cards, all card transactions and payment activities with a secured card are reported to the major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Good financial behavior, such as staying within your credit limit and making on-time payments, has a positive effect on your credit history, and that in turn will help you build a strong credit score.

Secured Cards vs Unsecured Cards

Secured
  • Cardholders must provide an upfront security deposit

  • Card issuers can seize security deposits if cardholders default

  • Lower qualification criteria

  • Credit limits usually equal upfront security deposit

Unsecured
  • Qualification criteria are more stringent

  • Purchases are not secured by any cardholder assets

  • No security deposits are required

  • Credit limit is set by card issuer

Most credit cards aren't secured. When cardholders make purchases, they're backed only by the cardholder's personal credit—if the cardholder later defaults, the card issuer doesn't have a lien against any particular property that they can seize to recoup the balance. Secured cards require cardholders to provide a security deposit upfront, which is used to secure the cardholder's purchases, lowering the risk to the card issuer if the cardholder later defaults. While this makes secured credit cards more restrictive in terms of spending, it also makes them easier to qualify for.

What Are Features to Consider in a Secured Card?

These are some of the capabilities and attributes to seek in one of these cards:

Provision to Pay Security Deposits Over Time

Certain card issuers let you make deposit payments in installments over a period of time. This can facilitate reaching the required amount, especially for those who lack a bank account, a savings program, or both.

High Limits on Credit Lines

While most issuers limit the available credit limit to the size of the security deposit you’ve made, a select few give consumers a little more slack by allowing credit lines to graduate to a multiple of the deposit, like 125% or 150% of its amount. There are also variations in the maximum security deposit you can make. Some issuers cap this at $2,500 but a few allow deposits of up to $10,000.

Low or No Fees

Some issuers impose high monthly usage fees on those who own secured cards, as well as stiff annual fees to get the account in the first place. Avoid the cards from such issuers, if possible, since there are plenty of options that charge no or low fees. And, needless to say, review the fee disclosures in the terms and conditions for any card to understand its costs before you apply for it.

Free Credit Scores

Certain issuers provide this valuable service that can allow you to check your score at any time online while some print it on monthly billing statements. This can be very helpful since those seeking this type of account are in great need of seeing and tracking their score growth over time and understanding the impact of their credit behavior.

Cash-Back Rewards

While it isn’t the norm, a few secured credit cards do provide cash back rewards on their spending. The rate is typically modest, at 1% or so, but these perks are worth seeking out, provided the card meets the other items on your wish list. Rewards are credited back to your billing statement or sent to you as a check at the end of the year. 

Can You Get Turned Down for a Secured Credit Card?

While it's rare to get turned down for a secured credit card, it's possible if an applicant has a bankruptcy or other derogatory marks on their credit report. But, qualification criteria are generally much lower for secured credit cards versus unsecured, making them an ideal tool for those trying to build credit history or rebuild their credit.

How to Use a Secured Card

  • Only use the card for purchases you could afford to pay for in cash 
  • Never be late in paying the bill. Set yourself a calendar alert up to a week before the bill is due. 
  • Avoid making only the minimum payment. Rather, try always to pay the bill in full each month, to avoid incurring interest charges.
  • Track your credit score over time, using the tools provided with the card, and obtain a free copy of your credit report every year.
  • Consider a secured card to be a temporary tool to establish a solid credit score. Use that score to get an unsecured, regular consumer credit card.

Methodology

To find the best secured credit cards, we gather dozens of data points on more than 300 cards. Each data point we gather is then assigned a star rating, based on its benefits or drawbacks relative to similar features from other cards. Features are then weighted based on their importance for different card categories (i.e. rewards, travel, cash back). This list represents the highest-rated cards that we've scored for relevant features, such as APR and minimum deposit. As part of our credit card review methodology, we monitor data from card issuers continuously, and update our ratings and rankings as card data changes.

Meet Our Credit Cards Expert

Ben Woolsey is Investopedia's Senior Editor for Credit Cards. He has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, including marketing for banking and financial institutions such as Associates First Capital and Bank One. Prior to Investopedia, he managed credit card content for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com