The Bottom Line: A card for building credit doesn't have to be flashy, and this one isn't. Instead, it just keeps costs low. Be advised that you have to join the issuing credit union to be eligible to apply, but membership is easy.
DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
recommended credit score
Pros & Cons
Qualify with limited / bad credit
No annual fee
No foreign transaction fee
Alternate Pick: No credit check
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
No credit check, no bank account
People with badly damaged credit can be rejected even for secured cards because they can't pass a credit check. It's also hard to get a credit card if you don't have a traditional bank account. This card removes those obstacles. It has no rewards and charges an annual fee of $35, but it's a legitimate option for those who don't have many.Read our review
Compare to Other Cards
25.24% Variable APR
26.99% Variable APR
10.99% on Balance Transfers for 6 months
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
If you have bad credit, the credit card options available to you tend to come with high fees, high interest rates or both. Not so with the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card. Although this card, like all secured cards, requires a cash deposit, it doesn't try to bleed you at every turn. As secured credit cards go, it's one of the best.
DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card: Basics
Card type: Secured.
Annual fee: $0
Interest rate: The ongoing APR is 13.75%, Variable
Foreign transaction fees: None.
Cash advance fees: None.
Balance transfer fees: None.
Why you might want the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card
Cards for people with bad credit are notorious for high fees: annual fees, monthly fees, processing fees, application fees, the list goes on. The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card eliminates just about all of them. Beyond the $0 annual fee, the card imposes no fee for purchases outside the U.S. (Many other cards charge 3%.) Even cash advances are fee-free, and you don't pay a higher interest rate on advances. (Many cards charge a fee and impose a higher rate.) You must put down a refundable security deposit when you open the account. But beyond that, the card costs very little.
Low interest rate
The ongoing APR is 13.75%, Variable. That's around 10 percentage points lower than the typical rate on secured cards, and in it's lower even than the rates on many cards for people with good credit. In general, it's best not to carry a balance on a credit card from month to month. If you pay in full, you don't have to worry about interest, and keeping balances low is good for your credit score. But if you have to carry debt, it won't cost as much with this card as it would with many others.
No limit to your credit line
As a secure card, the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card requires a collateral deposit equal to your credit line. But the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card doesn't put a cap on how high that credit line can be. As long as you have enough cash held with the credit union to cover it in case you default, you can have all the spending flexibility you need.
The purpose of a secured credit card is to help you rebuild your credit. That can't happen if the card issuer doesn't report your card activity to the companies that compile credit reports, the basis for credi scores. Some small, local banks may report to only one or two of the three major credit bureaus, or none at all. The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card does report to all three bureaus, making it easier for you to get back on track to building your credit. With card, you also get free access to your FICO credit score, so you can track your progress.
Why you might want a different card
Credit union membership required
With most credit cards, you don't need to have an account with the issuer's retail bank to be approved. Not so with the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card. You must be a member of the Massachusetts-based Digital Federal Credit Union. There are several paths to membership:
You work for or are retired from a participating employer.
You live, work, worship or attend school in a community that has been designated as underserved and the credit union has a branch in it.
You are related to a current member.
You belong to a participating organization. This is the easiest way in for people outside the credit union's service area. Participating organizations include environmental and educational nonprofits and other groups with membership fees as low as $10.
Because membership criteria aren't terribly tight, this requirement may not be a big deal. Still, it's another hoop you need to jump through to apply.
Security deposit required
No question, the security deposit required to open a secured card account is a barrier for some people. First, it requires coming up with hundreds of dollars; then, it requires tying that money up for as long as the account is open. If you want a high credit line, you have to put up a deposit to match it.
The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® requires a security deposit, too, but you my be able to qualify for a deposit that's less than your credit line. A $200 initial credit line can be had for a deposit of $49, $99 or $200. The issuer allows you to pay your deposit in installments. And if you make your first five monthly payments on time, you could gain access to a higher credit line with no additional deposit required.
If you're struggling with bad credit, rewards aren't as important as developing good credit habits. Still, it's nice to get a little something back for your spending. The Discover it® Secured pays 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. All other purchases earn 1% cash back. The annual fee is $0.
Explore other options across all credit card categories at NerdWallet's top credit cards page.
Is the DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card right for you?
The DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card makes a great starter card, with its low fees, low interest and flexibility. The credit union membership membership might be a deal breaker for some people, and others will sniff at its lack of rewards. But when you're building credit, there's nothing wrong with a safe, sensible choice.