Credit Cards Credit Card Reviews

Citi Secured Mastercard Review

overall rating
2.7

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If you have no credit history and can't qualify for an unsecured credit card just yet, applying for a secured credit card can help you establish good credit and boost your credit score. One option to consider is the Citi Secured Mastercard. It has no annual fee and it's accepted globally. However, it does have a high APR on purchases, and not everyone will be able to qualify for it.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

overall rating
2.7
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
On Citi'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 (%) 22.49% 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.
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

Currently rated one of our

Full Review of Citi Secured Mastercard

Pros
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus

Cons
  • Not suited for those with bad credit

  • High APR

  • No rewards

Pros Explained

  • Reports to all Three Major Credit Bureaus: Like most secured cards, the Citi Secured Mastercard can help you build your credit. Citi will report your payment activity to the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. If you make all of your payments on time, your payment history can help raise your credit score.

Cons Explained

  • Not Suited for Those with Bad Credit: Secured credit cards are generally designed for people with bad credit or no credit at all. However, the Citi Secured Mastercard is mostly geared toward those with no credit history, such as new graduates, rather than those with bad credit. People who have had significant credit issues in the past may not be able to qualify for the card. For example, Citi explicitly states that applicants must not have declared bankruptcy in the past two years. If you have bad credit or have declared bankruptcy in the past, consider signing up for another option like the OpenSky Secured Visa card. It doesn't require a credit check, and you can choose your own credit line and make a security deposit for that amount.
  • High APR: The APR on the Citi Secured Mastercard is quite high: 22.49% variable on both purchases and balance transfers. While secured cards tend to have higher-than-average interest rates, there are other cards that offer lower rates. For example, the Green Dot Platinum Visa card is a secured card with a $39 annual fee. Its APR is 19.99% on purchases, which is a big difference from the rate on the Citi Secured Mastercard. Plus, it doesn't require a credit check, so you can qualify for the card even if you have bad credit. While you can avoid paying interest charges by paying off your balance in full each month, it's a good idea to keep the APR in mind if there's a chance you’ll carry a balance.
  • No Rewards: The Citi Secured Mastercard doesn't have a rewards program. Nor does it provide a one-time offer. Considering that there are secured cards on the market that offer both, that's a significant drawback. If you're looking for a secured card that lets you earn cash back, consider the Discover it Secured card. It has no annual fee, and you can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined spending each quarter. And, you'll earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. As an added perk, Discover provides a unique one-time offer: It will match all of the cash back you earn during your first year as a cardholder, and there's no limit to how much you can earn. To put those numbers in perspective, let’s say you spent $5,000 per year with your credit card: $1,000 at gas stations and restaurants during each quarter, plus $1,000 on other purchases. You'd earn a total of $90 in cash back rewards. But with Discover's first-year bonus, your cash back is doubled, giving you a total of $180 in cash-back rewards. That’s a significant perk for a secured card with no annual fee, and a big advantage over the Citi Secured Mastercard.

This Card is Best For

  • Avatar for Credit Builder Persona
    Motivated to create positive credit history
    Credit Builder

The Citi Secured Mastercard is best for people who don't have an established credit history and want to increase their credit scores. It has no annual fee, so there’s no cost to signing up for the card beyond the security deposit. And, Citi offers some useful tools, like the Citi Credit Knowledge Center, so you can learn about managing your credit. 

If you’re approved for an account, you can get a secured card with a $200 security deposit. If you graduate to an unsecured credit card within 18 months, or if you close your account, your security deposit will be refunded to you.

Standard Benefits

The Citi Secured Mastercard offers few benefits, but it does have some features that are fairly standard for a secured credit card: 

  • Free FICO score access. You can view your FICO credit score on your monthly statement or online. It’s updated on a monthly basis. 
  • Flexible payment due date. You can choose a payment due date that works for you and your pay schedule. Select an available date in the beginning, middle, or end of the month. 
  • Account alerts. Sign up for account alerts to receive notifications about suspicious transactions and payment reminders. 

Cardholder Experience

When it comes to customer satisfaction, Citi is slightly below average. According to J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, Citi ranked sixth out of 11 national card issuers. The average score for national issuers was 806 out of 1,000, while Citi's score was 799. 

However, Citi's customer service team is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you have an issue or question, you can contact customer support via secured chat or by calling 800-950-5114.

Security Features

This card offers some basic security features similar to those you can expect from most secured credit cards: 

  • $0 liability protection: You are not responsible for unauthorized charges made to your account. 
  • Citi Identity Theft Solutions: If your identity is compromised, Citi Identity Theft Solutions can help you resolve the problem, identifying the steps you need to take.

Our Verdict

While the Citi Secured Mastercard has no annual fee, it does require a credit check and a minimum security deposit of $200. If you have bad credit or your credit history includes a bankruptcy, you'll likely have to look elsewhere for a card. 

This card has no rewards and very few benefits, so you're likely better off with a different secured credit card. If you can, apply for another card that offers a rewards program, better benefits, or lower APR so you can enjoy those advantages while improving your credit.

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For Citi® Secured Mastercard®
on Citi's Secured Site.
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CURRENT CARD
Citi® Secured Mastercard®
overall rating
2.7
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 (%) 22.49% variable
Annual Fee $0
Minimum Deposit to Activate $200
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.