For the longest time, I had to tell folks that they could only apply for the Citi Secured MasterCard in a Citi bank branch. Thank goodness that changed because it really limited access to this card.
When it comes to secured credit cards, the Citi Secured MasterCard is one of the good ones. This card isn’t always easy to get approved for, but don’t let that scare you off. Keep reading to see if it might be a good fit for your needs.
Here are a few nuggets from the website:
- You must not have any bankruptcy history within the last two years.
- Your debt and income will be reviewed.
- Your credit limit will equal your deposit, which is between $200 and $2,500. The maximum used to be $5,000, so note the change.
- Your payment history is reported to the major credit bureaus.
Citibank used to invest your deposit in an 18-month Certificate of Deposit (CD) savings account, but that’s changed. Now, Citi holds your deposit in a “Collateral Holding Account” for 18 months and you do not earn interest.
Rates and fees for the Citi Secured Mastercard
Now, the APR for the Citi Secured Mastercard has gone up by 1 percent. Actually, I can remember several years back when this rate was only 18.24 percent. But I’ve noticed many other credit cards have increased APRs over the past year, too.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: If you don’t carry a balance, the APR doesn’t matter at all.
So stay focused on the big picture, which is to rebuild (or establish) your credit. Use this card responsibly and you’ll be on your way.
APR: You get a variable rate of 22.99 percent. Don’t carry a balance and it won’t matter. Have I ever told you that? Okay, I’ll stop now.
Balance transfers: There isn’t a zero percent intro offer. Unless you’re offered a promotional rate, the balance transfer APR is a variable 22.99 percent and you must complete the transfer within two months. The transfer fee is 3 percent.
APR for cash advances: You get a variable 25.74 percent (a teeny tiny increase since my last review). The transaction fee is 5 percent. Interest on a cash advance starts ticking right away. I mean as soon as the transaction hits your account. So if you’re desperate for cash, explore all other options first.
Annual fee: None! It used to be $25 per year, so kudos to Citi.
Foreign transaction fees: It’s 3 percent.
Penalty APR: This can go as high as 29.99 percent. To avoid this fate, don’t make a late payment or make one that is returned.
Credit limit: Your credit limit will equal your deposit, which is between $200 and $2,500.
The bottom line
The Citi Secured MasterCard is a top-tier card on my list of the Best (and Worst) Secured Credit Cards. I’m even moving it up a couple of notches since there’s no longer an annual fee.
There used to be a statement on the home page that, after 18 months, you would be considered for an unsecured Citi card. I was concerned when I didn’t see it. But fortunately, David posted in the Comments section to let me know that the fine print you receive states that within the first 18 months, your account will be reviewed and you’ll be considered for an unsecured credit card. He also alerted me that the annual fee was waived. Thanks, David!
And via email, I’ve heard from others who graduated to an unsecured Citi card between 12 and 18 months. So keep a low balance and pay your bill in full and on time and good things might happen to you.
One more thing: If you apply for this card, transferring your deposit from your account to Citi’s account can take up to 30 days. Just letting you know that it takes a while to get this card.
I know it’s a little discombobulating to see your money disappear and not have the physical card yet. You know, I’ve been wanting to use the word “discombobulating” because I’m just a word nerd at heart. But it actually is a great word to describe the impact of some credit card procedures, isn’t it?
If you’ve used this card recently, and you graduated to an unsecured Citi card, please share it with us. I love success stories! But hey, if this didn’t go well for you, share that, too. Feel free to vent and maybe we can offer advice. The folks who post here are awesome!
Note: Credit card agreements change frequently. So my review is based on the information that I believed to be in effect today. Be sure you read all the disclosure statements carefully before you choose a credit card in case there have been changes to the terms.