Best Secured Credit Cards of October 2023


Sep 21, 2023
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NerdWallet's Best Secured Credit Cards of October 2023

Best Secured Credit Cards From Our Partners

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Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

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Find the right credit card for you.

Whether you want to pay less interest or earn more rewards, the right card's out there. Just answer a few questions and we'll narrow the search for you.

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Our pick for

Easy account management

Our pick for

Rewards and upgrading

Our pick for

Low deposit

Our pick for

No upfront deposit or credit check

Our pick for

No credit check + lower deposit

Our pick for

No credit check + no annual fee


Before applying, confirm details on the issuer’s website.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card

Our pick for: Rewards and upgrading

Like other secured credit cards for people building or rebuilding credit, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card requires a cash security deposit. Unlike most others, it offers rewards. But what really makes it stand out from the competition is its upgrade possibilities. The issuer has a process in place for automatically reviewing accounts for possible transition to an unsecured card. Read our review. 

Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card

Our pick for: Rewards and upgrading

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card offers an impressive combination of features for those with poor credit. A deposit is required, but in exchange you get a $0-annual-fee card that reports to all three credit bureaus; an automatic credit limit review after six months; and a possible upgrade path to an unsecured Capital One card. Oh, and 5% back on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel, plus 1.5% back on all other purchases, which equals what you'd find on many unsecured cards. Read our review.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Our pick for: Low deposit

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card requires a security deposit, as do all secured credit cards. But while most cards require you to put down a deposit equal to your credit line, this one allows some qualifying applicants to get a $200 credit line with a deposit starting at $49. Further, you can be automatically considered for a higher credit line with no additional deposit in as little as six months. Read our review.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Our pick for: Basic card for thin credit

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a straightforward card for people new to credit — put down a security deposit, use the card to establish a positive credit history and then move up to a better card (and get your deposit back). One note: This card is for people just starting out with credit, rather than people with bad credit from past mistakes. Read our review.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: No credit check + lower deposit

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card charges an annual fee, but a lot of people will still want to take a look at it for two reasons. First, there's no credit check required. Second, you don't need a traditional bank account; you can fund the deposit or pay your bill with a money order or Western Union payment. Read our review.

OpenSky® Plus Secured Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: No credit check + no annual fee

Like the regular OpenSky card, the OpenSky® Plus Secured Visa® Credit Card doesn't require a credit check or a bank account. This card, however, charges an annual fee of $0 — at the cost of a higher minimum deposit and a higher interest rate. Read our review.

Chime Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: Easy account management

This card has no minimum deposit requirement, charges neither an annual fee nor interest, and doesn't require a credit check, and you can automate your payments so you're never late. But to get it, you must be a Chime banking customer, which is an extra hoop to jump through — and which comes with its own considerations when it comes to customer service. Read our review. 

Self Visa® Secured Card

Our pick for: No upfront deposit or credit check

The The Self Visa® Secured Card offers a unique path to building credit. Unlike typical secured cards, it doesn't require an upfront security deposit or a credit check. But it does make you jump through some hoops that other secured cards don't. You start by making payments on a secured loan, which become savings that you can use for your deposit. It's complicated, but for those struggling to establish a credit history, it can be efficient and effective. Read our review.

Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: No-deposit alternative

The issuer of the Petal® 1 "No Annual Fee" Visa® Credit Card doesn’t only rely on credit scores to determine eligibility. Instead, it assesses your creditworthiness based on your income, expenses, savings and debts. The card earns a decent rate of up to 10% cash back when you use the card to shop with select merchants. And there's no annual fee, late fees or foreign transaction fees. Read our review.

Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card

Our pick for: Adjustable credit limit

The Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card from Armed Forces Bank makes it easy to increase your credit line over time to give you greater flexibility and keep your credit utilization low. You can increase your limit in $50 increments simply by depositing more money at any time. Read our review.

Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Secured Credit Card

Our pick for: Military

The no-annual-fee Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Secured Credit Card earns rewards, offers an upgrade path and even features some perks, which is a lot from a secured product — if you can swing the membership and security deposit requirements. Read our review.

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

Our pick for: Low fees and interest

The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card is a secured card for bad credit, but it offers a lower interest rate than many unsecured cards for people with good credit. You must be a member of Digital Federal Credit Union to get this card, although you can join by becoming a member of a partner organization for as little as $10. Read our review.

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By Paul Soucy, NerdWallet

Getting a secured credit card

Who can be approved?

Even though secured credit cards are available to people with bad credit, and even though the security deposit reduces the risk to the issuer, approval is not guaranteed for everyone:

  • The issuer will usually (but not always) check your credit report for signs that you're an unacceptable credit risk. If you're in the middle of a bankruptcy, for example, or you're currently delinquent on other accounts, or you've opened a bunch of new accounts recently, you're unlikely to be approved.

  • You'll also have to show that you have income so you can pay your credit card bill. Yes, the issuer has your deposit, but it will use that money to cover your bill only as a last resort. You're expected to pay your bill every month, so you'll need income.

How does the process work?

Every issuer handles things a bit differently, but the process of applying for, receiving and using a secured credit card works like this:

  1. You apply for the card. The issuer evaluates how risky you are (a process called underwriting), and if you pass muster, you're approved.

  2. You fund the deposit. Before the issuer will open your account, you have to pay your security deposit. In some cases, you must provide bank account information with your application so the deposit can be transferred right away. Other times, the issuer will give you some time to pull together the deposit. If you neglect to fund the deposit, the issuer will change the status of your application from approved to rejected.

  3. You receive the card. Once your deposit is funded, the issuer will send you your card. You can then use it just like any other credit card. In general, it's best to use less than 30% of your available credit at any given time, so don't go maxing out your secured card. Use it for a few small purchases each month and pay them off promptly.

  4. You get your bill and pay it each month. Because secured cards tend to charge very high interest rates, it's best to pay your bill in full every month to avoid finance charges. The issuer reports your payments to the credit bureaus, which helps you build credit.

  5. You upgrade. As your credit moves from bad to average to good, you'll be in a position to qualify for better cards:

  • Some issuers automatically review your account for potential upgrade to an unsecured card. For example, Discover does this with the Discover it® Secured Credit Card after seven months. Navy Federal Credit Union starts automatic reviews after six months when you have the Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Secured Credit Card. When your issuer moves you to an unsecured card, you get your deposit back.

  • With other issuers, you may have to specifically request an upgrade. That might mean converting your secured account to unsecured or closing your secured card and opening a new unsecured account. Either way, you get your deposit back.

  • If your issuer can't or won't upgrade you — and keep in mind that not all secured-card issuers even offer unsecured cards — you can apply for unsecured cards separately. Eventually you'll want to close the secured card to recoup your deposit.

Alternatives to secured credit cards

Unsecured cards for bad credit

Several issuers specialize in unsecured credit cards for people with bad credit, but NerdWallet generally doesn't recommend them. That's because these "subprime specialist" cards tend to charge high fees that can easily add up to much more than a typical minimum security deposit — annual fees up to $99, application fees, "activation" and "processing" fees, monthly maintenance fees and so on. And unlike the deposit on a secured card, those fees are money you can't get back. Our roundup of the best and worst cards for bad credit has more information on cards to avoid.

Prepaid debit cards

Prepaid debit cards offer convenience and are a safer alternative than carrying cash, but they don't help you build credit. With a prepaid debit card, you "load" money onto the card, and the purchases you make are paid for with that money. Since you're not borrowing money, there's no effect on your credit score. See NerdWallet's best prepaid cards.

Credit-builder loans

Offered mostly by smaller financial institutions, such as credit unions and community banks, these loans are designed to help you build a good payment history. The money you "borrow" isn't actually given directly to you. Instead, it's held on your behalf in a savings account while you repay the loan in monthly installments. Once you're done, the money is released to you — and your credit report shows a paid-off loan. Learn more about credit-builder loans.

Personal loans

These loans can be secured or unsecured. Unsecured loans (those without collateral, such as a car title) generally have higher interest rates than secured loans. The better your credit, the lower your rate is likely to be. Conversely, those with bad credit can expect to pay very high rates, if they can get a loan at all. Learn more about personal loans.

Last updated on September 21, 2023


NerdWallet's Credit Cards team selects the best secured credit cards based on overall value, as evidenced by star ratings, as well as suitability for specific kinds of consumers. Factors in our evaluation include annual and other fees, security deposits (both the minimum required and maximum allowed), APRs, whether a card offers an option to upgrade to an unsecured account, the availability of free credit scores and other credit education, reporting to credit bureaus, and other noteworthy features such as a rewards program or the ability to qualify without a credit check. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.

Frequently asked questions

Secured credit cards require a cash security deposit, while regular "unsecured" cards do not. The card issuer requires that you deposit some money — typically $200 or more — to open your secured card account. The deposit is there to protect the issuer in case you don't pay your bill. Because secured credit cards pose less risk to the issuer, they are generally easier to qualify for.

Secured credit cards usually require you to deposit at least $200 to $300, although some have minimum requirements as high as $500. See the chart of deposit requirements above.

No. A secured credit card is different from a prepaid debit card that you "load" with money. With prepid debit, you put money on the card, and then you spend that money when you make purchases. A secured card works just like a regular credit card: You make purchases with the card, and then you pay them off later. The deposit comes into play only if you don't make your payments. In that case, the issuer can use it to pay your debt.

In most cases, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit. So if you deposit $300, you'll have a $300 credit limit on your card. If you deposit $1,000, you'll have a $1,000 limit, and so on. Most cards set a maximum amount you can deposit — say, $2,500 or $5,000 — which also limits your credit line.

It depends on the card. With some cards, you can increase your credit limit just by depositing more money. With others, you must apply for an increase. Some cards will automatically consider you for a credit line increase if you use the card responsibly for a while — not going over your limit and paying your bill on time every month. Also depending on the card, you might be able to get a higher credit line without depositing more money.

Yes, when you close your account in good standing (meaning you've paid off your balance) or when you upgrade to an unsecured card from the same issuer, your security deposit will be returned to you.

It depends on the card. There are excellent options that don't charge an annual fee, including several on this page. If you want a card that won't require a credit check or that charges an extra-low interest rate, you're more likely to pay an annual fee. In general, you shouldn't pay more than $50 a year for a secured card.

Secured credit card interest rates tend to be high — often well over 20% APR — although there are exceptions. Credit card issuers set interest rates according to risk: The higher the risk, the higher the rate. Since secured cards are designed for people building or rebuilding credit, they usually charge higher rates than "regular" cards. Keep in mind that if you don't carry a balance from month to month — that is, if you pay your balance in full every time — then your interest rate doesn't really matter because you don't get charged interest.

No. Even though the risk is lower, issuers of secured cards still have eligibility criteria. For example, you'll need to be able to pay your bill each month, so your application could be rejected if you don't have a job or if you have only a small income. If you have filed for bankruptcy and the case is still pending (meaning a court could wipe out any debt you put on a new card), you could be rejected. Some secured cards are designed only for people new to credit, rather than those with bad credit, so you could be rejected based on negative information on your credit report.

Use it to build your credit! Make small purchases with it regularly, and then pay those purchases off in full every month to avoid paying interest. Don't max out the card — in fact, strive to keep your balance below 30% of your limit. Ideally, you won't have this card forever. It's a tool you use to demonstrate to lenders that you can handle credit responsibly. As you build a solid payment history and your credit improves, you can start looking at cards with better benefits.

Yes, but be careful. Several specialist companies offer unsecured credit cards designed for people with bad credit, but we generally advise consumers to be cautious when applying for them. They tend to charge high fees that secured cards do not — application or "processing" fees at the beginning, annual fees as high as $99, monthly maintenance fees, and so on. And unlike a secured card deposit, none of these fees are refundable.

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