Capital One Secured Mastercard: Good Choice for Bad Credit
Build or rebuild credit with a card backed by a cash security deposit. It's a good option for those who pay in full each month.
- No annual fee, and all the credit building benefits with responsible card use
- Unlike a prepaid card, it builds credit when used responsibly, with regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
- You will get an initial $200 credit line after making a security deposit of $49, $99, or $200, determined based on your creditworthiness
Alternate Pick: No credit check
Pros & Cons
- Qualify with limited / bad credit
- No annual fee
- No foreign transaction fee
- No rewards
- High APR
recommended credit score
The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good option if you’re looking to boost your credit score. It has no hidden charges and an annual fee of $0. The ongoing APR is 24.99% Variable APR, which is high. But even so, it’s a good secured credit card with few fees from a reputable company.
The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has a few other notable features, including a range of deposit options that start low and the ability to increase your credit line without having to deposit more money.
Flexible security deposit
Like all secured credit cards, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a refundable security deposit. But unlike most secured cards, which set your credit limit equal to your deposit, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® allows for a lower deposit based on your creditworthiness. Your deposit may be $49, $99 or $200 for a starter credit line of $200. You can increase your limit up to $3,000 by making more than the minimum deposit before activating your account.
Best of all, if you can’t pay your security deposit upfront, Capital One will let you pay it in installments, as long as you provide the full amount within 80 days of your approval. This is a great benefit for those on a fixed income.
If you’re approved for the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, the ongoing APR will apply right away; there’s no introductory period with 0% interest.
However, most credit cards for bad credit don’t offer a 0% introductory APR anyway, so you’re not missing anything. The ongoing APR is quite high, but that doesn’t have to affect you. Pay off your balance every month, on time and in full, and no interest will accrue.
Like most secured cards, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® doesn’t offer rewards.
There are a few secured cards that do offer rewards, though, like the Discover it® Secured. This card pays 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent per quarter on dining and gas, and 1% back on all other purchases. It has an annual fee of $0. There’s even a bonus for new cardholders: Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
However, there’s a minimum security deposit of $200 for the Discover it® Secured, much higher than the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®‘s $49 or $99 options for those who qualify. Unlike the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®, the Discover it® Secured provides a credit limit equal to your security deposit in all cases — and not a penny more.
To see more potential card options for building or rebuilding your credit, take a look at our best credit cards roundup.
Consider your options
If you’re trying to build your credit, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is one of the best choices available. It has earned our respect for having a low minimum security deposit, and for offering a credit limit higher than the security deposit for individuals who qualify.
No matter which card you choose, using a secured credit card responsibly can help you build your credit score. Keep it up, and you should be able to graduate to a card with lower fees and interest, greater rewards — and no security deposit at all.
NerdWallet reviews are the result of independent research by our editorial team while cardholder reviews are contributions from independent users not affiliated with NerdWallet. Banks, issuers and credit card companies are not responsible for any content posted on the NerdWallet site, nor do they endorse or guarantee any posted comments or reviews.