NerdWallet’s Best Secured Credit Cards, Spring 2014

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Many people think secured cards are just for those with bad credit, but that’s simply not the case. To get a decent credit card, you’ll need a good credit score, right? Well, secured cards are one way those with little or no credit can get onto the fast track to an unsecured credit card. Whether you have bad credit or are just looking for a way to get your foot in the door, a secured credit card can help you build a strong, healthy credit history.

Secured cards require a refundable deposit equal to the amount of your credit limit so that banks are lending to you without risk.  If you’re on your best behavior and give lenders a reason to trust you, you could be graduating to a regular credit card in no time. Here are NerdWallet’s picks for the best secured credit cards.

Digital Federal Credit Union Secured

Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card Credit Card
Apply Now

on Digital Federal Credit Union's
secure website

The DFCU Secured is one of the best secured cards out there – rare among no-fee secured cards, it has no annual fee and a low APR of 11.5%. Even better, it has no cash advance fee and doesn’t charge a higher APR for cash advances, so if you need fast cash, it can come in handy. Anyone can join Digital Federal Credit Union with a $10 donation to the nonprofit Reach Out for Schools.

Capital One Secured Credit Card

Capital One Secured MasterCard Credit Card
Apply Now

on Capital One's
secure website

The Capital One® Secured MasterCard® is one of the best secured cards out there, because for a low initial deposit of $49, $99 or $200 (depending on your credit history) you’ll get a limit of $200. Most secured cards require upfront deposits of $300 or more. Moreover, its $29 annual fee is among the lowest in the business. And when it comes time to graduate to an unsecured card, you can definitely do worse than Capital One’s average credit offers.

US Bank Secured Visa

US Bank Secured Visa Credit Card
Apply Now

on US Bank's
secure website

The US Bank Secured is a reliable card for those with an aversion to fees. There is an average annual fee attached of $35, but you’ll benefit from no added monthly or one-time fees like many cards on the market. It does have a higher purchase and balance transfer APR at 20.99%, but it redeems itself elsewhere. The US Bank Secured offers car rental discounts from major companies like Avis, Alamo, Hertz and National to name a few. In addition, you’ll get fraud protection so you can make your purchases without worry. Your security deposit can range between $300 and $5,000, and is kept in an interest-earning savings account. If you really play your cards right, you can move up to an unsecured card in less than a year with the US Bank Secured Visa card.

Is a secured card right for you?

If you want to build or boost your credit score without a co-signer, a secured credit card might be your only option. Don’t let the annual fees or security deposits turn you off – this is a very important step in the long process of building credit. One road to steer clear of, though, is the prepaid debit route. They don’t affect your credit score since you aren’t borrowing money, but you’ll want to particularly stay away because they’re riddled with fees. The only card we’d even come close to recommending is the American Express prepaid card. If you’re a responsible cardholder, you’ll be able to apply for a charge card, which helps build your credit without the risk of carrying a balance. But look to the secured cards first – they’re made for people looking to rebuild credit, or even students without an income or co-signer.

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  • Brent

    Is it a good idea to open more than one secured card acct? I have a credit score of about 527 and need to get it to 640 as soon as possible to secure a home loan…any tips that could help that happen?
    I currently have the Capitol one secured master card with a limit of $200 and am thinking of getting another to speed the process.

    • Joan Gioe

      I am very curious about this as well.

  • http://www.creditfixedfast.biz/ credit suisse

    There square measure plenty of straightforward things that
    you simply will try this can go an extended thanks to fix your credit. you
    ought to build each effort to make sure that your bills square measure
    invariably paid on time. Delayed payments typically end in lost payments that
    find yourself golf shot a negative mark on your record.

  • http://billcollectorshateme.blogspot.com/ Bill Collectors Hate Me

    I have a secured American Express card through USAA Federal Savings Bank. In order to qualify you must be an active duty or retired military member or dependent. The interest rate is low and it’s a great card! I highly recommend it!

    • talltiff2010 .

      Hey there! I just got approved for the same card through USAA. Can I ask if it has helped your score drasticly or just some what??

      • http://billcollectorshateme.wordpress.com/ Bill Collectors Hate Me

        Hey! In all honesty, I have not noticed any jump in my credit score as a result of this one card. Raising your score is dependent upon several other factors and all of them have to be positive in order for your score to change. Having said that, it’s still a great card to have and in the long run will help raise your score as long as you are never late.

        • C Cook

          usaa is an awesome co. but unfortunately they only report to one credit bureau. it’s best to go with a co. that reports to all 3 bureaus to help your scores with all 3

          • http://billcollectorshateme.wordpress.com/ Bill Collectors Hate Me

            I know that they check Equifax when evaluating people for new credit but my monthly credit monitoring shows that they do in fact report to all 3 bureaus.

          • Glen D

            They report to all 3

  • AMR

    Does the NAVY Federal have Secured Credit Cards?

    • http://billcollectorshateme.com/ Bill Collectors Hate Me

      Yes, they do. So does USAA FEDERAL SAVINGS BANK which also services the military and their dependents.

  • samuel jacob

    Try opensky secured, no credit check

  • James

    In business breaking even is losing money.

  • http://www.doctorofcredit.com/ doctorofcredit

    Do you have a bankruptcy on file?

  • edubb

    I did the capital one application online and was denied however within a few days I got a letter saying I was approved and just needed to make the $200 deposit. I would contact them

  • samuel jacob

    Open sky secured card, no credit check. No hard pull

  • samuel jacob

    I have merrick with $2000 limit, open sky $2500 limit, capital one $1000 limit, piss of crap centennial $300 limit, my score at the moment is 607, will keep you posted.

    Also i added my self as authorized user on 3 diffetent credit cards with perfect 5 plus years history, has not showed up on my report yet

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

    Hi there, Open Sky DOES do a credit check. You are not automatically approved for the card.

  • samuel jacob

    How do you know they do, did you ever apply for this card, my guess is no, i did last month and therr is no credit check….call them and find out yourself

  • http://www.nerdwallet.com/ NerdWallet

    Hi, you’re completely right and I apologize for the incorrect information. Thanks for catching the error, Samuel!

  • samuel jacob

    its no problem, also a lot of credit unions offer secured cards with no credit check like USAA

  • hsc212

    yikes i just figured that out.

  • learne

    Not true…Capital One Secured DOES graduate to unsecured after a period of 6
    months to yr with good payments. I graduated this past summer – had 1k
    on deposit since July 2012

  • Tyler

    Never gave me an unsecured card either. Took them 4 months to give me my deposit back. And that they won’t give you some of your deposit back was the reason I closed it. Too much money tied up.

  • X YZ

    I opened a secure card for $200 in May of 2013 to start rebuilding my credit. When I went to pay my card in November 2013 they increased my limit to $350 and all I did was pay my cc bill on time.

  • Jessica

    You are one of the lucky few then. I have had my secured card with them for over two years with never a late payment and almost always over minimum and I have never went over my credit limit. When I applied with them it was with the understanding that after a year I would receive my deposit back ($99 for $200 cl) and it would become and unsecured card. After over a year and not hearing anything from them I contacted them just to be told “no”. No discussing, no hope, nothing. It won’t happen. They said if I wanted the deposit back I would have to cancel the card. But they did give me a second unsecured card with a $750 cl.

  • RealityWatch

    That’s true you have to have 6 mos to 1 yr of on time payments and not going over the limit. If you do the clock starts over again.