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If you have poor or limited credit history, getting approved for a secured credit card can be easier than getting a traditional credit card. Because secured cards require you to place a cash deposit as collateral when opening the account, lenders can be less restrictive when approving applications.
The security deposit is typically equal to the card's credit limit, which reduces risk to the lender because they can simply keep the deposit to pay off the balance of the account if the cardholder stops making payments.
Once you pay the deposit on a secured card, you can use the card just like any other credit card. Most secured cards allow applicants to pay deposits of anywhere between $200 and $3,000.
Why Secured Credit Cards Can Be a Good Option
Secured cards give people with limited or poor credit history the opportunity to establish and build their credit. They can also serve as stepping stones to obtaining other forms of credit.
Unlike prepaid cards—which are preloaded with cash and are used like debit cards—secured cards typically report your account and payment history to at least one of the three major credit bureaus. Having your information reported to the credit bureaus is crucial to establishing and building your credit score, so you should confirm with the issuer of your secured card that it will report your account history.
Some card issuers may return your original security deposit or increase your credit limit if you demonstrate responsible use, or may even convert the card to an unsecured card. For example, the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One may offer cardholders a higher credit limit in as little as six months, and the security deposit can be earned back as a statement credit by responsibly using the card.
Can You Get Denied for a Secured Credit Card?
When issuing a secured credit card, companies are typically not as concerned with an applicant's credit history as they are when issuing an unsecured card. Most will still look at your credit file for red flags like past bankruptcies or a history of missed payments, but are often willing to accommodate people with a poor or limited credit history. Since some issuers still look for a minimum credit score when considering applicants, it's important to understand where your credit stands before you apply.
Secured Cards With No Minimum Credit Score Requirement
For people with poor credit, or no credit history at all, there are still some options when it comes to getting a secured card. The following secured cards have no or minimal requirements for credit history or minimum score, and can be used just like normal credit cards:
Check out Experian CreditMatch™ to find out if you're matched with any of these secured cards.
Important Factors to Consider When Choosing a Secured Credit Card
It's important to pay close attention to the annual fees, APRs and miscellaneous fees associated with the secured card you choose. Some secured cards may have higher APRs than others, so paying attention to these details can help you save money over time.
You should also make sure that the card issuer reports your information to at least one, and preferably all three, major credit bureaus. Managing a secured credit card responsibly and having your on-time payments reflected in your credit reports can help you build, or rebuild, your credit.
As you start to use your secured credit card, it is important to know how your credit scores are calculated and what you can do to improve them over time. Checking your credit reports and scores regularly can help you stay on top of your finances and track any changes to your scores over time.
Do Secured Cards Offer Rewards or Benefits?
Beyond helping to build credit, some secured cards come with some of the same perks that make traditional credit cards so desirable. For example, a few secured credit cards come with benefits like cash back rewards, purchase and fraud protections and rental car insurance.
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