Editorial Review

Citi Secured Review: Good for Building Credit and Moving On

This card is designed for those with no credit or limited credit, rather than folks with bad credit. There's no annual fee, but you must put down a deposit of at least $200.

Kimberly PalmerMarch 18, 2020

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THIS PAGE MAY BE OUT OF DATE

This page includes information about one or more products not currently available on NerdWallet:

  • Citi® Secured Mastercard®
  • Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
  • Deserve® Pro Mastercard

As a result, offers described on this page may be out of date. See our NerdWallet’s Best Credit Cards page for updated offers.

Our Take

4.6

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line: If you have no credit or limited credit, this card is a good choice: It reports to all three major credit bureaus and comes with no annual fee.

Citibank Citi® Secured Mastercard® Credit Card

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

22.49% Variable APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick Facts

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Qualify with limited / no credit

Cons

  • No rewards

  • High APR

Alternate Pick: No deposit required

Deserve® Pro Mastercard

Cash-back rewards

This card is marketed to those who are new to credit, including newcomers to the U.S. Because it's not a secured credit card, it doesn't require a cash deposit; instead, you can qualify if you satisfy certain income and employment verification requirements and have a Social Security number. It offers cash-back rewards and charges an annual fee of $0.

Read our review

Compare to Other Cards

Citibank Citi® Secured Mastercard® Credit Card

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Capital One Secured Mastercard Credit Card

Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Annual Fee

$0

Regular APR

22.49% Variable APR

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

22.99% Variable APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

Full Review

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a little different from other secured credit cards: It's designed specifically for those with no credit or limited credit, not bad credit. And if you're eligible, it's a good choice, too, since it charges an annual fee of $0 and reports to all three major credit bureaus. It can help you establish good credit if you use it to borrow responsibly and pay on time.

But it falls slightly short of the best secured credit cards, in part because it can take up to 18 months for the issuer to determine if you're eligible to have your deposit returned early. And you have to pay the full $200 deposit within 14 days of opening the account, which can be a stretch for some.

Key features of the Citi® Secured Mastercard®

  • Card type: Secured.

  • Annual fee: $0.

  • Security deposit: $200 minimum, $2,500 maximum.

  • Sign-up bonus: None.

  • Rewards: None.

  • Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 22.49% Variable APR.

Benefits of the Citi® Secured Mastercard®

No Annual fee

Unlike some secured cards on the market, this one charges an annual fee of $0. While you have to provide a security deposit of at least $200 to open the card, that money will be returned to you when you close the card in good standing.

That makes it preferable to many unsecured cards that target people with no credit and pile on outrageous fees — annual fees of up to $99, monthly fees and even application fees.

Reports to all three credit bureaus

While Citi doesn’t outline a direct path to qualifying for an unsecured card as a next step, this card is designed to help you build credit. If you make on-time payments each month, they will be reported to the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, TransUnion and Experian — and allow you to build your credit history over time. Then you will be able to apply for other credit cards that require good to excellent credit and come with rewards and other perks.

Drawbacks of the Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Not available to applicants with bad credit

If you have bad credit, you likely won't qualify for this card. You also might not qualify with certain negative marks on your credit report. The card requires, for example, that you not have experienced bankruptcy in the past two years. Bad credit isn’t an obstacle for qualifying for other great secured cards, though, such as the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® and the Discover it® Secured. More on those cards below.

Deposit needs to be funded Relatively quickly

This card requires a security deposit, or collateral, of at least $200. That's about standard among secured cards. But it needs to be paid within 14 days of opening the account, and for some, that might not be quite enough time.

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® offers more flexibility. With this card, you may qualify for a security deposit of $49, $99 or $200, which you can pay in installments within 35 days of approval. The annual fee is also $0.

Relatively Long timeline for Getting Upgraded

With the Citi® Secured Mastercard®, your account will be automatically reviewed within 18 months of opening to determine if you're eligible to have your deposit returned early and continue using the card as an unsecured card. But that can be a long wait.

If you're interested in getting upgraded automatically on a faster timeline, the Discover it® Secured card would be a stronger choice. Discover starts automatically reviewing your account at eight months to see if you qualify for an upgrade. If you get upgraded, you can continue to use your card and your security deposit will be refunded. The annual fee is $0.

For other options, see our roundup of the best secured credit cards as well as NerdWallet's best credit cards page.

Is the Citi® Secured Mastercard® right for you?

If you are looking for a card to help you build your credit, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a great choice. After months of on-time payments and responsible use, you might be able to qualify for a card with more benefits.

Comments

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