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Comparing Secured Cards: Wells Fargo vs. OpenSky

May 20, 2016
Credit Cards, Credit Cards for Bad Credit
Comparing Secured Cards: Wells Fargo vs. OpenSky
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The Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card and the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card are both decent credit cards for anyone looking to build a positive credit history. But several factors set them apart from other secured cards — and from each other.

The Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card’s biggest advantage is its high potential credit limit — as much as $10,000. The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, on the other hand, doesn’t require a credit check, unlike most secured and unsecured cards. And you don’t need a bank account to be approved.

Let’s take a look at the basics:

Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
Annual fee The $25. The $35.
APR  The ongoing APR is 19.99% Variable. The ongoing APR is 19.64% Variable APR.
Available credit limit The credit limit can be between $300 and $10,000, depending on your deposit. The credit limit can be between $200 and $3,000, depending on your deposit.

Going the secured card route

If you have bad credit, or no credit at all, getting a secured credit card is one of the best ways to improve your standing. They represent less risk for card issuers because they require you to put down a refundable security deposit, which is usually equal to your credit limit. If you’re able to make a large deposit, it can be tempting to go after a card with a high credit limit, such as the Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card. But there’s a risk in doing so.

You won’t automatically be approved for a secured card — especially if you have insufficient income or a past bankruptcy. And during the application process, most credit card issuers will check your credit, regardless of the size of your security deposit. That credit check, known as a “hard pull” or hard inquiry, lowers your score slightly. So being rejected for one secured card can make it even harder to get approved for a different one.

» MORE: ‘Hard’ vs. ‘soft’ credit inquiries

If you want to avoid a hard pull

A few secured credit cards, such as the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, don’t check applicants’ credit. As long as you’re earning enough to cover your basic expenses, you have a very good chance of approval.

Because the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card reports your account activity to all three credit bureaus, responsible use of this card will improve your credit.

» MORE: How do secured credit cards work?

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card has one other major advantage for people who are trying to improve their financial picture: You don’t need a bank account to be approved. The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card allows new cardholders to pay the security deposit with a personal check, but unlike most secured cards, this isn’t its only option. You can also fund your account with a wire transfer, debit card or money order.

Security deposits for the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card range from $200 to $3,000. Your credit limit will be equal to your deposit. The $35.

If you’re feeling ambitious

A credit limit of $3,000 might not be enough for some people. If you frequently make large purchases, such as plane tickets, or you have to put a lot of work expenses on your personal card, you might want a higher credit limit.

The Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card has one of the highest limits of any secured card we’ve seen. Your deposit can be as much as $10,000, and your credit limit will be the same as your deposit. Unlike the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, however, its application does require a credit check.

» MORE: What to do if you’re denied a secured credit card

If you can make a sizable deposit, have a steady income and think your credit isn’t too bad, the Wells Fargo Secured Visa Card can be a good choice. It also reports to all three credit bureaus, so using it for day-to-day purchases and paying your bill on time will likely improve your score over time. The $25.

Other options

If you want a secured credit card that offers rewards: The Discover it® Secured pays 2% cash back on up to $1,000 worth of combined spending per quarter at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% on all other spending. Discover also makes it easy to upgrade to an unsecured card later on.

If you want a credit limit that’s higher than your security deposit: The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® offers a credit limit of $200 with a deposit of $49, $99 or $200, depending on your credit history. Because there’s the possibility of putting up less collateral, this card can be harder to qualify for than other secured cards.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best secured credit cards

Virginia C. McGuire is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: Twitter: @vcmcguire.