Best Secured Credit Cards of 2019

Secured cards can be easy to qualify for even with bad credit or no credit history at all. Check out our picks for the best secured cards.

Mike Brown
Mike Brown
Updated: June 3, 2019

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As much as some people would like to think they can get along without them, the reality is it’s very difficult to get through life without a credit card. However, for people who are trying to establish or rebuild their credit, the frustration is that they can’t always choose between the best credit cards until they demonstrate their creditworthiness.

That’s where secured credit cards come into play. Secured cards are real credit cards. They have the same attributes and acceptance rates as a standard credit card, but a good credit history is not required to obtain one. And because secured cards can help build your credit history, they’re a good stepping stone to obtaining an unsecured credit card in the future.

Unfortunately, not all secured credit cards are created equal. Some charge high fees or have other unfavorable terms, so to help you find the right card for you, we’ve analyzed the top secured cards using weighted averages across eight data categories to determine which ones have the most to offer. Here are our top picks.

LendEDU’s 9 Best Secured Credit Cards of 2019

Navy Federal nRewards Secured Credit Card

Navy Federal nRewards Secured Credit Card

$0 Annual Fee $200 Minimum Security Deposit

Navy Federal nRewards Secured Credit Card

  • With no fees and an average minimum deposit requirement, this card is an excellent option for those trying to build credit
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent
  • Redeem points for gift cards
  • The card is only available to members of the Navy Federal Credit Union
Apply Now

on Navy Federal's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.00% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Poor/Average

Card Highlights

Our top-rated secured card is an ideal choice for military members: the Navy Federal Secured Card. Its low APR and zero annual fee make it among the most affordable cards around.

And, as if that’s not enough, the credit card offers a generous rewards program that provides one point per dollar spent, too. You only need 1,000 points to redeem and 5,000 points earns you a $50 gift card to Best Buy or Macy’s.

APR & Fees

  • APR of 18.00%
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No fees for cash advances

Bottom Line

The nRewards Secured Card from Navy Federal Credit Union is a top pick because it’s such an affordable card. Not only is the APR below the rate many competitors charge, but you also have no other common card fees and you get the chance to earn rewards. Unfortunately, only members of the military can take advantage of this great secured card.

State Department EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card

  • With no annual fee and few other penalties, this card is a great option for rebuilding credit
  • Earn 1 Flexpoint per $1 spent
  • Redeem Flexpoints for cruise vacations, travel, event tickets, merchandise, gift cards, or donations
  • You don't need to be employed by the State Department to apply for this card
Apply Now

on State Department Federal Credit Union's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

14.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Poor/Average

Card Highlights

You’ll need to be a member of the State Department Federal Credit Union to qualify for the EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card, but you don't need to be an employee of the department. New members are also subject to a credit check. But, if you can qualify, this card has ample perks including no income verification, low fees for cash advances, few other fees, and the chance to earn Flexpoints Rewards. Credit lines also start as low as $250 and are secured by funds in your State Department Federal Credit Union savings account.

Although not all secured cards offer rewards programs, this card does a pretty good job rewarding you for the spending you do. For each $1 spent on your State Department EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card, you’ll get one Flexpoint. Points can be redeemed towards cruise vacations, event tickets, travel, merchandise, gift cards, and charitable donations.

APR & Fees

  • APR of 14.24%
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Late Payment fee of up to $25
  • $3.00 cash advance fees for cash obtained at ATMs; no fees for obtaining a cash advance from a teller

Bottom Line

When you want a card with an affordable APR, few fees and a good rewards program, the EMV Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card is a top choice. But be aware you do need to be a member of the State Department Federal Credit Union. The good news is, income verification isn’t required for this card and you can get a low credit limit, which means your security deposit requirement is also low.

Discover it Secured Card

Discover it Secured Card

$0 Annual Fee $200 Minimum Security Deposit

Discover it Secured Card

  • Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and grocery stores on up to $1,000 in purchases per quarter
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • Double your cash back at the end of your first year
  • Automatic account review and potential return of deposit after eight months of responsible use
Apply Now

on Discover's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

25.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Poor/Average

Card Highlights

Like our other top picks for secured cards, the Discover it Secured offers rewards for spending. You’ll earn a generous 2% cash back at gas stations and grocery stores on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, plus 1% cash back on all other purchases. That’s a more generous rewards program than most of the competitor cards on our list, making this a top pick for people who aren’t eligible for the previous two cards. And as an added bonus, Discover matches all cash back earned at the end of your first year as a cardmember.

Other big card benefits include a free FICO score reporting, free Social Security number alerts, and no annual fee for being a card member. Finally, after eight months of on-time payments, Discover will review your account, and you may get your security deposit back and get upgraded to a standard credit card.

APR & Fees

  • APR of 25.24%
  • No annual fee
  • 3% balance transfer fee for balances transferred by 8/10/2019; then a 5% fee for future balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • $10 or 5% fee for cash advances

Bottom Line

If your focus is on cash back rewards, the Discover it Secured is probably the best secured card available. While the APR is higher than on some competitor cards, as are the balance transfer and cash advance fees, this card’s rewards program is one of the best offered by any secured card.

First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card

First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card

$39 Annual Fee $200 Minimum Security Deposit

First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card

  • No credit history required
  • Not available in AR, IA, NY, or WI
  • Credit lines up to $2,000
  • Monthly reporting to all three major credit bureaus
Apply Now

on First Progress' secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

14.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$39

Credit Needed

Poor/None

Card Highlights

Unlike other cards on our list, this secured card comes with a $39 annual fee — but this is still more affordable than many secured cards on the market. You’ll have flexibility in your deposited amount, with a minimum security deposit of $200. The card also offers a low APR, and there is no credit history required for approval. If you can’t get approved for other secured cards, this card could be a great option for you.

APR & Fees

  • APR of 14.99%
  • $39 annual fee
  • Balance transfers not available
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Cash advance fee of $10 or 3% of the cash advance amount, whichever is greater

Bottom Line

Approval with no credit history and no minimum credit score is the major selling point of the Platinum Select MasterCard Secured Credit Card. Cardholders will also appreciate the relatively low 14.99% APR, which is below what many competitors charge to borrow. Just be aware the card does charge an annual fee, a foreign transaction fee, and a cash advance fee. Also, it doesn’t offer a rewards program, unlike some competitor cards on our list.

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

$49 Annual Fee $200 Minimum Security Deposit

Green Dot primor® Visa® Gold Secured Credit Card

  • The 9.99% interest rate is fixed
  • Cash advances limited to half of your credit limit amount
  • $0 fraud liability
  • Monthly reporting to all three major credit bureaus
Apply Now

on Green Dot primor’s secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

9.99% Fixed APR

Annual Fee

$49

Credit Needed

Poor/None

Card Highlights

The Primor Secured Visa Gold Card has a low fixed interest rate of 9.99%, which makes it one of the lowest-interest-rate cards in the industry. You can get the Visa card with a refundable deposit of $200 to $5,000, and there’s no minimum score requirement, no processing fee, and no application fee.

While you don’t earn rewards, your payment history is reported to all three major credit bureaus. And the application process is quick and easy, so you can get approved within minutes.

APR & Fees

  • 9.99% fixed APR
  • $49 annual fee, plus a $29 fee for each additional card
  • Balance transfers not available
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Cash advance fee of $5 or 5% of the cash advance amount

Bottom Line

The annual fee is higher on the Primor Secured Visa Gold Card than on some of the other cards on our list, but the APR is low.

Approval is also quick and easy, even if you have damaged credit, which makes this a good card to apply for if you can’t qualify for some of the free secured cards on this list. And, while there aren’t any rewards available with this card, you have lots of flexibility in your credit line and can open an account with a refundable security deposit of as low as $200.

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card

$50 Annual Fee $300 Minimum Security Deposit

SKYPASS Visa Secured Card

  • Earn 1 SKYPASS Bonus Mile per $1 spent
  • Receive 5,000 miles after your first purchase, plus 1,000 miles after you renew your card
  • Redeem miles for travel and upgrades on Korean Air and SkyTeam partners
  • Secure a credit limit up to $5,000
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver included with card
Apply Now

on US Bank’s secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

18.49% Fixed APR

Annual Fee

$50

Credit Needed

Poor/None

Card Highlights

The SKYPASS Visa Secured credit card is an ideal choice for travelers who want to earn rewards while building credit. Not only can you earn one mile for every dollar spent on purchases, but you also earn a bonus 5,000 SKYPASS miles after making your first purchase on the card. And if you renew your card after your first year, you get 1,000 bonus miles at renewal.

As if all these travel benefits aren’t enough, you get some additional perks as a cardholder. These include $250,000 in travel accident insurance; auto rental collision damage waivers; and no cap on miles you can earn.

APR & Fees

  • 18.49% variable APR
  • Annual fee of $50
  • Balance transfer fee of 3% with a $5 minimum
  • Foreign transaction fees of 3%
  • Cash advance fees equal to 4% of the advanced amount with a $5 minimum

Bottom Line

Although the SKYPASS Visa has a high annual fee, the cardholder benefits, including travel accident insurance and the card’s rewards program, make it a decent option. If you enjoy traveling domestically, this card could be the ideal choice for you.

Capital One Secured Mastercard

Capital One Secured Mastercard

$0 Annual Fee $49, $99, or $200 Minimum Deposit, based on creditworthiness

Capital One Secured Mastercard

  • You could secure a credit limit higher than your deposit amount
  • Potential to access a higher credit limit after five months of responsible use
  • A good choice for people who are serious about rebuilding their credit, but watch out for the high APR
Apply Now

on Capital One's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

26.99% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$0

Credit Needed

Poor

Card Highlights

The Capital One Secured Mastercard is unique as a secured card because it’s possible your initial credit limit could be higher than the security deposit you make. You’ll be able to get a $200 initial credit line with a deposit of either $49, $99, or $200 depending on your credit score.

Also, the Capital One Secured card offers you access to a higher credit line with no additional deposit after five months of responsible use and on-time monthly payments. This is a major benefit, which makes this card a top choice even though it doesn’t offer a rewards program.

The Capital One Secured Card also comes with no annual fee.

APR & Fees

  • APR of 26.99%
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfers are available
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Cash advance fees of 3% of the cash advance amount with a minimum $10 fee

Bottom Line

The Capital One Secured MasterCard is a top choice if you want a card with no annual fee that is truly focused on helping you build credit as fast as possible. Although you’ll have to forego a rewards program if you want this card, the fact that you could get a credit line higher than your deposited amount makes this card a great choice since it may tie up less of your money. Automatic credit line increases can also make building credit faster and easier.

Wells Fargo Secured Card

Wells Fargo Secured Card

$25 Annual Fee $300 Minimum Deposit

Wells Fargo Secured Card

  • Available to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and nonresident aliens
  • Upgrades to standard credit cards are restricted to U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens with a valid SSN or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Access your FICO credit score, credit education and tools with Wells Fargo Online
  • Auto rental collision damage waiver, roadside dispatch, and cell phone protection
Apply Now

on Wells Fargo's secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

21.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$25

Credit Needed

Poor/None

Card Highlights

The Wells Fargo Secured Credit Card allows you to make a security deposit of $300 to open your card. You’ll have to pay a $25 annual fee for the card, but it’s available not just to U.S. citizens but also to permanent American residents and non-resident aliens. While there is no rewards program for the card, it does come with helpful budgeting and tracking tools that make managing your money easier.

APR & Fees

  • APR of 21.24%
  • Annual fee of $25
  • Balance transfer fee of 5% of the transferred amount with a minimum of $5
  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • Cash advance fees of 5% of the transferred amount with a minimum $10 fee

Bottom Line

Although the Wells Fargo Secured Credit Card has no rewards program, it’s one of just a few cards open to non-resident aliens and permanent residents who are not U.S. citizens. It also provides helpful money management and credit building tools, and the annual fee of just $25 is relatively affordable compared to some competitor cards.

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard

$49 Annual Fee $200 Minimum Deposit

First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard

  • No credit history or minimum credit score is required for approval
  • No rewards program, but monthly payments are reported to the three major credit bureaus
  • High APR and fees for cash advances
Apply Now

on First Progress' secure website

Intro APR

N/A

Regular APR

10.74% Variable APR

Annual Fee

$49

Credit Needed

Poor/None

Card Highlights

The Platinum Prestige MasterCard is accepted nationwide and has no minimum credit score or credit history requirements. Its variable APR for purchases is lower than many competitor rates, and its $49 annual fee is on par with many similar cards. Unfortunately, the card doesn’t offer any rewards for cardholders — but it does report to each of the three major credit bureaus, so it will be helpful in building your credit score.

APR & Fees

  • APR of 10.74%
  • Annual fee of $49
  • No balance transfers are available
  • Foreign transaction fees of 3% of the transaction amount
  • Cash advance fee equal to 3% of the cash advance amount with a minimum $10 fee

Bottom Line

The Platinum Prestige MasterCard is easy to get approved for, regardless of your FICO credit score or lack of credit history. While the lack of rewards is disappointing, the affordable APR and reasonable annual fee make it a worthy card to consider if you’re looking for a secured card to help you improve your credit report.

Best Secured Credit Cards Comparison

What You Should Know About Secured Credit Cards

How Secured Credit Cards Work

A secured credit card looks, feels, and acts virtually the same as an unsecured credit card. It is usually issued as a Visa or Mastercard, so it is widely accepted with most merchants in the U.S. or abroad.

As with unsecured credit cards, you’re charged interest monthly when you carry a balance on secured cards, and there’s sometimes an annual fee for being a card member. And, just like a regular card, if you’re late with a payment, you’ll be charged a late payment fee.

The only real difference between secured and unsecured cards is that the credit line on a secured card is established based on the value of a savings deposit in a special bank account with the issuing financial institution.

The deposit, which is typically in the range of $200 to $3,000, is usually equal to your line of credit. However, with some secured cards, a percentage of your deposit is held in reserve as a cushion in case you go over your credit limit or miss a payment. Conversely, some banks actually add some real credit on top of your secured line and if you demonstrate responsible card use and a solid payment history, they’ll further increase your credit limit.

When your credit card issuer starts increasing your credit limit, you may be ready to apply for an unsecured card.

How Secured Credit Cards Help Build Credit

With most secured cards, your payments are reported to the credit bureaus — although you should verify that this is the case with your card issuer. Depending on your overall credit and financial situation, you could build a payment history sufficient enough to qualify for additional credit within a six- to 12-month period by using your secured card and making on-time payments.

Your goal should be to convert to an unsecured card as quickly as possible, so it’s important to manage your use of a secured credit card just as you should with an unsecured card. That means making on-time payments and keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30% of your credit limit — at most. It’s even better to pay your balance in full each month.

>> Read More: How to Build Credit With a Credit Card

Secured Credit Cards Have Become Popular

Secured credit cards have come a long way since the early days when they were a costly option only for people without credit. In fact, you might be surprised to know secured credit cards have gone mainstream and a study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia shows their popularity is on the rise.

An increasing number of people are using secured cards out of practicality and in pursuit of frugality, which has become fashionable in recent years. Secured credit cards have become a go-to for households and businesses that want more structure in their budget and who want to more effectively manage their cash flow. Secured cards can also be a good option for families who want to use them as a starter credit card for their teenage children to help them learn good credit habits — although a student credit card might be a better option for this purpose.

How Secured Credit Cards Have Changed

There’s good reason that secured cards have become more mainstream: these cards have changed a lot. Here are a few big changes:

  • Reduced fees: Once notorious for high account fees, secured credit cards can now be found with fees lower than many non-secured cards or with no fees at all. The growing interest in secured credit cards has spurred a competition among issuers, making these cost-effective cards widely available.
  • Interest payments: Some bank-issued cards allow you to deposit your security deposit in an interest-bearing account that puts your balance to work until it’s returned to you.
  • Rewards: An increasing number of secured card issuers offer rewards and cash-back programs, allowing you to earn perks for spending while building your credit.
  • Banking from home: As with other credit cards, most secured credit card issuers offer online access to your account, making it very easy to manage your banking, bills, cash flow, and budget.
  • Fraud and warranty protection: One of the more important reasons to use a credit card for any purchase is to gain protection against problems with products. Your money is also protected against the fraudulent use of your card.

What to Look for in a Secured Credit Card

The growing popularity of secured credit cards has increased competition among credit card issuers, which has led to many upgrades in the features and terms that secured cards offer. With more choices available, it’s more important than ever to compare secured card options and not settle for an average card. When looking for the perfect card, here are a few key features to compare:

  • Credit bureau reporting: The primary reason for obtaining a secured card is likely building credit — which can’t happen if the issuer doesn’t report payments to the credit bureaus. It is important to check to see that the issuer reports payments to all three credit bureaus.
  • Credit limit: Although most secured credit card accounts start out with a credit limit based on your initial deposit, some issuers allow cardholders to increase their limit by adding to their deposits. Depending on your creditworthiness, some issuers will also increase the credit limit beyond the initial deposit amount.
  • Upgrades to unsecured cards: Some secured credit card issuers include a specific pathway to convert a secured credit card account into an unsecured account based on payment history. Issuers that offer this opportunity will monitor your account and upgrade your account after a certain number of payments (usually 6–12 months of on-time payments)
  • Reasonable fees: Secured credit card fees have come down substantially and most charge annual fees below $40. Many cards also have no annual fee, but applicants should always watch for smaller hidden fees and avoid cards that require monthly maintenance or application processing fees.
  • Reasonable APRs: Generally, the annual percentage rate (APR) on secured credit cards is higher than unsecured credit cards. Although the APR shouldn’t be a major consideration (because secured credit card users should always strive to pay their balance in full each month), some cards offer reasonable rates in the range of 20% to 29%. Some cards can be found with rates below 15%.
  • Interest on deposits: Some card issuers treat your deposit as a savings account that can earn interest. It’s nice to know that your money is working for you while it’s deposited to help you build credit.

Best Secured Credit Cards FAQs

Why Do Secured Credit Cards Rarely Offer Rewards to Cardholders?

Higher-risk customers generally hold secured credit cards, including customers with low credit scores or no credit at all. Lenders are less likely to offer rewards to these high-risk customers.

Unsecured cards are also designed to have a low barrier to entry and therefore have lower fees (or no fees). Credit card companies don’t make as much money off their secured credit card customers as they do other unsecured cards, so they are hesitant to offer rewards for these less profitable accounts.

Finally, most secured cards also have low spending limits. The best rewards credit cards often come with spending minimums to reap the most benefits from the rewards, and secured cards can’t do this if credit limits are low.

Will Closing a Secured Credit Card Hurt Your Credit Score?

Closing any credit card can have an impact on your credit score. That’s because the three major credit bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian — factor in how much of your available credit you’ve used as well as the length of your credit history. When you close an old card, you shorten your average age of credit and reduce total credit available to you, which impacts your credit utilization ratio.

While many people close secured cards when they graduate to a new unsecured card, you might want to postpone this decision until you've got a larger line of credit with the new card.

What Are Your Options if You've Been Turned Down for a Secured Credit Card?

Secured credit cards typically offer credit to those who have no credit history or with low credit scores. But that doesn’t always mean just anyone can get a secured credit card — you will still need to meet certain criteria.

If you have issues with payment history (which accounts for about 35 percent of your FICO score), or if you have experienced a recent bankruptcy, you could still be denied. If that happens to you, don’t keep applying to credit cards as too many new applications will reduce your credit score even more.

Instead, consider getting a share-secured loan. These loans are available from some credit unions and are a way to build credit. Share-secured loans rely on a customer deposit, which you then borrow against. Some credit unions also offer credit builder loans.

Review the Best Secured Credit Cards Before Making Your Final Decision

Even people with the worst credit have an opportunity to get approved for some of the best secured credit cards. And, if your credit is at least fair, your options open up to secured credit cards with low or no annual fees, lower APRs, and higher credit limits.

Whatever your situation, you should carefully compare secured credit cards by looking at all of their features and terms. And remember, any secured credit card should be used strictly with the goal of building credit in mind, which means limiting its use, making payments on time, and paying the balance in full each month.