Secured Credit Card Reviews

Cliff Brody and the Reviews.com research team looked at 25 secured credit cards and reviewed 6 of the best based on 29 unique features.

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Cliff Brody

Cliff Brody

Secured Credit Cards Expert

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What Secured Credit Card Features Matter and Why?

Credit Limit

Very Important
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Credit Limit focuses on the amount of credit that is available for the cardholder using a secured card. Some of the more important features relating to Credit Limit are being able to increase the credit line on a card due to good payment history or an additional security deposit. In terms of Credit Limit, the minimum and maximum credit lines are something that any cardholder will need to know. Credit Limit is a significant category for secured credit cards because it touches on the exact reason people need these type of cards, which is to establish good credit.

  • Fund Account Online - You can fund your account online.
  • Increase Credit Limit with Additional Security Deposit - You can increase your credit limit by depositing more money.
  • Increase Credit Limit with Good Payment History - You can earn credit limit increases based on your credit and payment history.
  • No Approval Required for Credit Limit Increase - You do not need additional approval for credit limit increases.

Benefits

Fairly Important
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Benefits is focused on the extra things provided by a secured card that may be of interest to the cardholder. Secured credit cards offer different benefits than regular credit cards because the benefits are more focused on credit monitoring and automatic credit reporting as opposed to insurance. The benefits for the best cards are not overwhelming, however, having a card that automatically reports and monitors credit, while also providing fraud liability can be of great help to the cardholder.

  • Automatic Credit Reporting - The credit card will automatically report your credit standing to the three major credit bureaus.
  • Fraud Liability - The credit card offers fraud liability protection.
  • Free Credit Monitoring - The credit card offers free credit monitoring services.
  • Online Account Access - You can access your account 24/7 online.

Penalty Fees

Fairly Important
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Penalty Fees examines the changes in interest rate and any additional fees assigned to a delinquent account. It's common for a secured card to apply a late fee and a fee for a returned payment. Most of the best secured credit cards won't charge an over-limit fee. The Penalty Fees category outlines these penalty requirements and allows cardholders to be better informed about some of the consequences of a late payment.

  • Grace Period - The credit card has a grace period before interest starts to accrue.
  • No Late Payment Fee - The credit card does not have a late payment fee.
  • No Minimum Interest Charge - The credit card does not have a minimum interest charge.
  • No Over-Limit Fee - The credit card does not have an over-credit-limit fee.
  • No Returned Payment Fee - The credit card does not have a returned payment fee.

Rates and Fees

Fairly Important
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Rates and Fees refers to the interest rates and costs associated with owning a secured card. Rates and Fees highlights introductory and standard rates, the cost of annual membership, and whether the issuer charges foreign currency transaction fees. In general, the issuers will charge an annual fee and a cash advance fee, but in some cases, cards will not charge a foreign transaction fee. For those who plan on carrying a balance on the card, looking for a lower APR will be a key selling point.

  • Annual Fee Less Than $35 - The credit card's annual fee is less than $35.
  • Annual Fee Less Than $45 - The credit card's annual fee is less than $45.
  • Annual Fee Less Than $55 - The credit card's annual fee is less than $55.
  • No Annual Fee - The credit card does not have an annual fee.
  • No Cash Advance Fee - The credit card does not have a cash advance fee.
  • No Foreign Currency Transaction Fee - The credit card does not have a foreign currency transaction fee.
  • No Set-up Fee - The credit card does not have a set-up fee.

Security Deposit

Fairly Important
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Security Deposit has to do with the preliminary requirements for obtaining a secured card. All of the best secured credit cards will require a minimum security deposit that is fully refundable and FDIC-insured. It's important to be sure that the security deposit is affordable when selecting from a secured or "bad credit card." Some of the top cards will offer security deposit options that are less than $200.

  • Deposit Earns Interest - You can earn interest on your security deposit.
  • Deposit Fully Refundable - The security deposit is fully refundable.
  • Funds FDIC Insured - The security deposit is FDIC-insured.
  • No Minimum Deposit - The credit card does not require a minimum security deposit.

Application

Less Important
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Application refers to the different ways to apply for the secured card, and whether instant approval is available. Having the ability to apply online is the most important option, but in certain circumstances, it might be convenient to apply on the phone or in person. Instant approval is a feature offered by most credit cards, but it is often dependent upon creditworthiness.

  • Apply By Phone - You can complete the credit card application process over the phone.
  • Apply In Person - You can apply for the credit card live in person.
  • Apply Online - You can complete the entire credit card application process online.
  • Instant Approval - The card offers instant approval for the credit card.

Balance Transfers

Less Important
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Balance Transfers discusses features associated with transferring existing balances onto a credit card. Balance Transfers will include information regarding the standard transfer rate, as well as any introductory offers. The majority of secured credit cards don't allow any balance transfers, which makes this category less important for these cards. However, having the ability to transfer a balance is a nice additional feature.

  • No Balance Transfer Fee - The credit card does not have a balance transfer fee.
  • Transfer from Credit Cards - You can transfer a balance from another credit card.
  • Transfer from Loans - You can transfer a balance from a loan to the credit card.

What is the Difference Between a Secured Credit Card and a Prepaid Card?


There are a number of reasons why someone would want to own a secured card, all of which may vary from person to person. Most people who have bad credit and want a credit card are looking for a secured card because they need to establish or rebuild their credit history. The goal of using a secured credit card is to eventually be able to sign up for an regular rewards card or get access to credit in other ways. Another choice for people with poor credit is to use a prepaid card, but those cards won't report payment activity to credit agencies, so the cards won't help get a poor credit rating back on track.

Secured Credit Cards

With secured cards, a cardholder must deposit a certain amount of money to obtain a credit line. The best secured credit cards will offer a similar credit line to the amount deposited into the account. Just like using a regular credit card, a cardholder must make regular payments each month. It's fairly common for secured credit cards to have higher fees and APRs than regular credit cards. Secured cards will serve as a tool to establish credit and are mostly targeted to adults.

Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards are different from secured cards because they are not actually credit cards. The owner of a prepaid card can only spend the money that is actually stored on the card. Prepaid cards are a valuable tool for people who don't have access to a regular credit card, but prepaid cards will not help someone establish credit. Since there is no credit line involved with prepaid credit cards, it's a good way for parents to safely give their children money in a form other than cash. The card can then be used to make purchases online, if needed.

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