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Great secured credit cards in 2023
While secured cards don’t have as many benefits as premium cards, credit card companies create these secured cards specifically for people who are new to credit. Here are our recs for great secured cards in 2023.
Secured credit cards are tools that you can use to establish and build your credit in the United States. Credit card companies create these cards specifically for people who are new to credit or who currently have poor credit. As a result, it’s easier to get approved for a secured credit card than an unsecured card.
The drawback is that you’ll need to send the secured credit card issuer a refundable security deposit (that’s what “secures” the account), which will also generally determine your card’s credit limit. While many secured credit cards also have high fees and few perks, they are an excellent tool to build credit.
In narrowing down our list of best secured credit card picks, we looked for cards that have no (or a low) annual fee, offer basic benefits, and, most importantly, report your account to all three major credit bureaus.
Here are our top picks for great secured credit cards:
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Best secured credit card with no U.S. bank account:
The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card (Requires SSN)
While you will likely want to open a bank account in the U.S. at some point, you may want to start building your credit before you get there. Many of the most common secured credit cards require you to use a U.S. bank account to fund the security deposit, but you can open the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card with a money transfer or check.
What the card offers: The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card does not require a credit check, which can make it a good option if you’re new to the U.S. credit system. You can choose your security deposit amount (from $200 to $3,000), which will also be your card’s credit limit.
Potential cons to beware of: While getting an OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card may be easy, the card has a $35 annual fee. This fee is in line with what you’ll pay for many of the best secured credit cards, but there are other no-fee alternatives if you’d prefer that.
Because the card has a high annual percentage rate (APR), you should not open this card to make large purchases and pay them off over time.
Best secured credit card with a low APR:
Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Classic Secured Credit Card
If you think you may need to keep balances on your card after making large purchases, you should look for a card with a relatively low annual percentage rate (APR). The Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Classic Secured Credit Card is a great secured card option for this.
What the card offers: The Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Classic Secured Credit Card has a fixed 13.99% APR for purchases, which is lower than what you may receive with the other secured cards. Carrying a balance can still cost you a lot in interest over time, but the low APR helps limit your interest expenses.
There’s also no minimum credit history or minimum credit score requirement, making it easy to qualify for this secured credit card. However, you’ll need a U.S. bank account to pay for the $200 to $5,000 security deposit.
Potential cons to beware of: You will need to pay the $39 annual fee, in addition to a $29 replacement card fee if your card is lost or stolen. There is also a 3% foreign transaction fee.
You could also consider the Green Dot primor® Mastercard® Gold Secured Credit Card, which has an even lower 9.99% fixed APR, but a higher ($49) annual fee.
Research your decision before applying, since Green Dot charges a $49 fee if you want to upgrade to the Gold Card later or increase your credit limit after opening your account. Even further, these fees accrue interest charges immediately based on the card’s higher APR for cash advances.
Best secured credit card for rewards:
Discover it® Secured Card
There are a few secured credit cards that offer a rewards program in addition to helping you build credit. The Discover it® Secured requires a Social Security Number, a credit check, and a U.S. bank account, but if you meet the requirements, it’s one of the best secured credit cards that you can get.
What the card offers: The Discover it® Secured offers 2% cash back on the first $1,000 you spend in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations every quarter (of the year). You’ll also earn 1% cash back on other eligible purchases.
Discover also doubles your cash back rewards at the end of your first year with the card, which means you’re earning at least 2% cash back on your purchases—a good rewards rate compared to what most unsecured cards offer. You also won’t have to pay an annual fee or foreign transaction fees and Discover waives your first late payment fee.
Potential cons to beware of: Discover cards may not be accepted at as many stores as American Express, Visa or Mastercard credit cards. Thus, even if the card doesn’t have foreign transaction fees, you may find it’s difficult to use it back in your home country.
Additionally, the bank account, Social Security number and credit check requirements could mean some U.S. newcomers will not qualify for the card right away.
You can use your foreign credit history to apply for a U.S. credit card with no credit and without a Social Security Number
Credit history used to stop at the border—until now. Your existing foreign credit history could help you get credit in the United States. No SSN is required to start your credit history today.
Best secured credit card with a low deposit:
Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
Your security deposit amount will generally determine your card’s credit limit, which can impact your card’s usefulness. The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is one of the few cards that may offer you a higher credit line.
What the card offers: The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® has a $200 to $1,000 initial credit line depending on how much you send as your security deposit. However, after reviewing your application, Capital One may offer you the $200 line of credit with a $49 or $99 security deposit requirement rather than the full $200. Regardless of your initial offer, Capital One may increase your credit line (without asking for an additional deposit) if you make your first five monthly payments on time.
There are also no annual fees or foreign transaction fees for the card, making it one of the best secured credit cards.
Potential cons to beware of: While you may be able to save money by avoiding an annual fee, there’s a high variable APR that can make holding a balance particularly expensive. You will also need a checking or savings account to qualify for the card and send your security deposit.
Can I only get a secured credit card if I’m new to the U.S.?
Most newcomers to the U.S. have traditionally needed to start from scratch when building their credit history. This meant they needed to apply for secured cards to establish a new U.S. credit history, before applying to unsecured credit cards and other credit products.
But that’s changing: if you’ve moved from certain countries and have a credit history back home, Nova Credit helps you to use your foreign credit history to apply for U.S. credit products from the moment you arrive.
This includes premium credit cards from American Express, smartphones and phone plans from Verizon, and more. Once you get approved for these products and manage your accounts responsibly, you can accelerate your process of building a U.S. credit history.
Nova Credit supports newcomers moving from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, India, Kenya, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, and the U.K.
More from Nova Credit:
Credit Cards for International Students
How to use your foreign credit history to get credit in the U.S.