Full Review of Citi Secured Mastercard
Reports to all three major credit bureaus
Not suited for those with bad credit
- 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.
- 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
Motivated to create positive credit history
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.