NerdWallet's

Best Secured Credit Cards of 2018

Building credit takes time. Start with a secured card, use it wisely, and you’re on your way up.

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Capital One® Secured Mastercard® Review

Benefits

With most secured cards, your deposit must be equal to your credit limit. But with the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, you can get a limit of $200 for a deposit of $49, $99 or $200, depending on your credit. If you can’t come up with your whole deposit upfront, you can pay it in installments before activating your card. If you make your first five payments on time, you may gain access to a higher credit limit.

Drawbacks

Underwriting standards are tighter than for many other secured cards. You generally won’t qualify if you don’t have a checking or savings account, if you have non-discharged bankruptcy, or if your rent is almost as high as your monthly income, among other reasons.

Bottom line

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® may not be a good fit for folks recovering from major credit damage, but it could be an excellent match for someone getting a credit card for the first time.

Benefits

The rewards on this card — 2% cash back on up to $1,000 worth of spending per quarter on restaurants and gas, and 1% on all other spending — would be pretty decent on a regular card. For a secured credit card, they’re unheard of. After eight months, Discover automatically evaluates your account for possible upgrade to an unsecured card. And the annual fee is $0.

Drawbacks

The initial deposit must be paid with a bank account; if you’re unbanked, you’re out of luck. For some people, the $200 minimum deposit will be a stretch. For others, the maximum $2,500 credit limit will be too low.

Bottom line

When you consider the rewards, the lack of an annual fee and the opportunity for upgrade, the Discover it® Secured Card - No Annual Fee is the best secured card we've seen.

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OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

Benefits

The bank doesn’t run a credit check on OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card applicants, making this an attainable option for people with severely damaged credit. You can make your deposit — minimum $200, maximum $3,000 — and pay your bills with a debit card, wire transfer, check or money order, making it one of the few secured cards that doesn’t require a traditional bank account.

Drawbacks

There's an annual fee of $35 — not excessive for a card for those with very poor credit, but not $0, either. You generally can’t upgrade your account to an unsecured card.

Bottom line

If you want to rebuild your credit but are having trouble finding an issuer that will work with you, the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is a good match.

Our pick for

Low fees and interest

Benefits

The ongoing APR is 12.75% Variable APR. That’s roughly half the rate of many popular secured cards — and better than what you can get on many unsecured cards. The annual fee is $0, and there are no balance transfer or cash advance fees. As with most secured cards, you have to make a security deposit equal to your credit limit, but this one doesn’t put a cap on how much you can deposit, and therefore how high your limit can be.

Drawbacks

You must be a member of Digital Federal Credit Union. There are a number of ways to become a member, and most people can do so, but it’s still a hoop to jump through.

Bottom line

It’s best to pay your credit card bill in full every month, especially when working to build credit, but if you must carry a balance, the Digital Federal Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card is less expensive than most other secured cards.

Methodology

NerdWallet’s credit cards team selects the best cards in each category based on overall consumer value. Factors in our evaluation include fees, promotional and ongoing APRs, and sign-up bonuses; for rewards cards, we consider earning and redemption rates, redemption options and redemption difficulty. A single card is eligible to be chosen in multiple categories.

Last updated April 18, 2018.

Claire is a personal finance writer at NerdWallet. Her work has been featured by Forbes, USA Today and The Associated Press. Email: claire@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @ideclaire7.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Secured Credit Cards of 2018

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