Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Capital One Secured Mastercard Review

overall rating
3.3

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The Secured Mastercard from Capital One stands out for requiring a lower upfront deposit than other secured cards, at least for some customers. There's also the ability to pay the deposit in installments, along with a fast process for potentially increasing the card's credit line after that. It's a basic card with few frills but also few charges, including no annual or foreign-transaction fees.

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Overall Rating
3.3
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
On Capital One's Secured Site.
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.
how this card stacks up
When compared among all secured cards in our database:
Secured Features
Security/Customer Experience
Low Interest
Rewards
Benefits
worst best

Full Review of Capital One Secured Mastercard

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

Pros Explained

  • Credit Limit Can Be Larger Than Your Security Deposit: As a rule, secured cards offer an initial credit line that’s only as big as the security deposit you put down before you get the card. That might be the case for some people who receive the Capital One Secured Mastercard, too; they’ll need a $200 deposit in order to be granted the card's $200 initial credit limit. Other applicants with better qualifications, though, may only need to put down $49 or $99 to receive the same credit line.      
  • Security Deposit Can be Paid in Installments: For those on limited incomes—which describes many, if not most, people who receive secured credit cards—it can be a financial stretch to amass the deposit required to get a secured credit card. The Capital One Secured Mastercard allows you to pay that deposit in installments. Each payment must be at least $20, in a whole dollar denomination, and you need to have reached the entire deposit amount no more than 35 days after being approved for the card.
  • No Annual or Foreign-Transaction Fees: You pay nothing to get this card, other than a refundable security deposit. That’s not uncommon for a secured card. Still, it's welcome nonetheless, since it allows you to apply all available funds when getting the card to your security deposit, which in turn maximizes your credit limit. More unusual is this card's absence of a fee on foreign transactions, which many cards—both unsecured and secured—levy a charge of 2.7% or 3% on purchases you make when abroad or from foreign online sellers.

Cons Explained

  • Requires a Bank Account: Opening a bank account can be challenging for those who are still building credit, perhaps because they are new to living in the United States. In other words, the kind of people who may turn to a secured credit card in order to build that very financial track record. Acknowledging that some people are "unbanked," select secured cards allow you to leave a security deposit or pay bills through such options as money orders and cash payments made at major retail chains. The Capital One Mastercard is not among those cards; payments must be made from a bank account. 
  • Relatively Low Initial Credit Limit: While the requirements to receive the Capital One Secured Mastercard are relatively low, so is the credit limit you can receive from the card, at least initially. When you first get the card, you can boost the initial $200 limit by up to $800, provided you deposit an amount equal to the additional credit you want. But an initial credit limit of even $1,000 still falls short of the $2,500 or even $5,000 allowed by some other secured credit cards. You do, however, need to pony up a deposit that’s equal to those sums in order to secure the high credit limit. That said, this card has an unusually rapid process for increasing the credit limit. Capital One says your limit will rise after you make five on-time payments, which could be made within six months or so.  
  • No Bonus Offers or Rewards Program: This is strictly a card for receiving credit and building your credit score, not one for earning rewards or introductory perks. Many other secured cards are similarly lean on extras, but there are exceptions. Some secured cards offer cash back rewards, even with a rewards match at the end of your first year. Certain secured cards also allow a balance to be transferred from another card and carried on the secured card at a lower APR, at least for a period—a useful feature for those who have a secured card in order to rebuild credit, and continue to carry debt from other credit cards. The Capital One Secured Mastercard allows balance transfers. While it levies no fee for transfers, it charges its regular 26.49% variable APR on the transferred sum. That rate likely isn't much lower, if at all, than what you're currently paying on another card.  

This Card is Best For

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    Motivated to create positive credit history
    Credit Builder

The Capital One Secured Mastercard is ideal for those who might struggle, or fail in meeting, the typical deposit requirements to get a secured credit card. 

Unlike most other secured cards, you needn't necessarily leave the full value of your credit line in the account as a security deposit; a deposit as low as $49 could get you the starting credit line of $200. And it’s ideal for those who may need time to come up with the needed deposit, since it allows you to make payments of $20 or more to build towards the total.  

It's among a number of secured cards that have no annual fee, too. And those that are well-suited to international travel. Not only is Mastercard more widely accepted abroad than some other card brands, the Capital One Secured Mastercard has no foreign-transaction fee, which makes it a valuable card to have for a trip abroad. Many other cards impose fees of 2.7% or 3% on such transactions, and those charges can really add up over the course of a vacation.

Capital One Secured Card's Outstanding Benefits

  • No foreign transaction fees

Standard Benefits

  • Travel Accident Insurance
  • Secondary car rental insurance
  • 24-hour travel assistance services
  • Extended warranty

Cardholder Experience

Capital One received a rating of 807 in J.D. Power's 2019 customer satisfaction survey, ranking third on the list, in a tie with Chase but well behind Discover and Amex—which were closely ranked in the first and second places, respectively.

Capital One has two tools to help its cardholders save money when shopping. Its Wikibuy tool scans merchants to help you find the best price before you buy online, while Paribus finds potential savings on online purchases you've already made and gets you money back.

Cardholders can log into their account on the company's website or mobile app to pay their bill or for information and inquiries about their card.

Customer service is available at 800-227-4825 or through physical mail. Unlike most card issuers, Capital One offers no customer service via email or online chat.

Security Features

Capital One offers the typical security perks to keep cardholders safe, starting with security alerts. The issuer will send notifications by text, email, or phone—whatever your preference—if it notices suspicious activity on your card. Other standard perks include $0 fraud liability and the ability to lock your card if it is lost, stolen, or misplaced—and from the mobile app, a mode that isn’t offered by all issuers. 

Capital One also offers Eno, a tool that monitors for duplicate charges, tracks spending, and automatically sends 24/7 fraud alerts. The tool also instantly creates virtual numbers for online shopping.

CreditWise monitors your credit information on the dark web and sends automatic alerts if your email address or Social Security Number are found. The tool also provides information about your credit score and sends an alert when your credit report changes.

 As with most cards, you get a free FICO score monthly, drawing on reports from multiple credit bureaus. Not all secured cards seek such widespread reports.

If you lose your card, Capital One will replace it for free with standard delivery taking a few days.

Our Verdict

The Capital One Secured Mastercard has no frills, rewards, or special perks. Instead, it’s a basic secured card that, while not guaranteeing approval, aims to make acquiring and expanding credit easier for those who are building or repairing their credit record. 

Requiring an initial security deposit as low as $49 to earn a credit limit of four times as much, it departs from the customary demand of secured credit cards that you deposit the full amount you want as a starting credit limit. And it raises your limit after an unusually short period of time; just five billing periods, provided you’ve made an on-time payment for each of them.

Still, the card restricts you initially to no more than a $1,000 credit limit, no matter how much you deposit upfront. There might be better choices, then—secured cards that allow limits of $2,500, $3,000 or even $5,000—if you have more cash on hand for a deposit and want to immediately use your card for more (or more expensive) purchases. (A higher credit limit can also benefit you if you spend only modestly, since your credit score is based in part of what’s known as credit utilization. The less of your limit you use, the lower the utilization, and the bigger the boost to your credit score.)Those other cards, some even lacking an annual fee like the Capital One Secured Mastercard, may also earn you rewards in the form of cash back on your purchases. For instance, the Discover it Secured card has no annual fee and allows you to deposit up to $2,500 to get a credit limit of the same size. It also has fairly generous cash back rewards that are even matched at the end of your first year with the card.

That said, the Capital One Secured Mastercard is a better international travel card than the Discover It Secured. While both cards do not charge a foreign-transaction fee, Mastercard is more widely accepted outside the U.S. than is Discover, or American Express for that matter.

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For Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
on Capital One's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
overall rating
3.3
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
Investopedia Credit Card Rating Methodology
Investopedia is committed to delivering the best credit card recommendations in the industry. We’ll tell you when a card is good, we’ll tell you when a card is bad, and we’ll only call a card the best if we would recommend it to our friends or family members.
Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.