I get a lot of requests for reviews of secured credit cards. Thanks to all of you, this list just keeps growing and growing! I’ve recently updated quite a few of these credit card reviews, so I decided it was time to look at the rankings again. My goal is to give you a list of ranked secured credit cards that have unbiased and neurotically thorough reviews.

secured credit cardsOh, and if the issuer deserves it, I throw in a little snark here and there for your reading pleasure. The reason I can say whatever I want? I don’t make any money if you apply for a card and get accepted. I can be honest without worrying about affiliate partnerships with issuers. To learn more, read Why I Don’t Make Money from Credit Card Referrals.

Okay, so I’ve got the cards in tiers: Top, Middle, and Bottom. There’s also a note about whether the issuer reports the card  as “secured” or “unsecured” to the credit bureaus. If anyone notices that a card is no longer reported as listed here, please mention it in the comments and I’ll update the list. And keep in mind that issuers also change policy from time to time, so use this list only as a guideline.

For those who are concerned about a secured card that reports as “secured,” read this post: Does the FICO Score Treat Secured Credit Cards Differently? The quick answer is that it won’t negatively impact your credit score at all. In the post, I also talk about why a card that reports as secured is not always a bad thing.

Okay, so I reviewed the rates and fees of each card and even took into consideration some intangibles, such as customer service and the opportunity to graduate to an unsecured credit card. With almost any credit card you have, especially when you’re in a rebuilding (or establishing) credit mode, you’ll encounter problems from time to time.

I learn a lot about customer service and other issues from all the emails and comments I get from readers. I appreciate this valuable information and it helps others, too.

How to use this list

The goal is to get the best card that you can qualify for. It tends to be more difficult to get approved for the secured credit cards from the major banks and from other top-tier cards, especially if you’ve had a recent bankruptcy. Don’t despair if you can’t qualify for a card in the top tier. Get the best card you can qualify for and focus on using the card responsibly to build or repair your credit.

I put them in a ranked order to give you an idea of which cards to look at first, second, third, and so on. But it’s more important to focus on the tier and not the specific number ranking at this point. For instance, a #7 card isn’t light-years better than a #8 card since they’re both considered top-tier cards. But if you can qualify for #7, that might be a better choice.

Now, the secured cards in the middle tier aren’t too bad. I put cards in this category that aren’t from prestigious banks, but that are easier to obtain. These cards also have limited fees compared to the cards in the bottom tier.

If you only qualify for a card in the bottom tier, you need to be on your toes and be aware of what you’re dealing with. Keep in mind that I have a lot of tips on my site to help you survive the experience while you rebuild your credit. I understand that there are situations where you simply can’t qualify for better options right now.

If you want more information about a card, just click on the card name and you’ll land on my review. I suggest you read the comments, too. You’ll find helpful tips and insider info from those who are using the card that you’re considering. If you’re interested in a secured card that isn’t on this list, shoot me an email and request a card review. I’m happy to do it!

Related:  Dude, Where's My Card?

The Top 

#1: Navy Federal Credit Union nRewards Secured Card

You get a variable APR ranging from 8.99 percent to 18.0 percent. You can earn rewards at the rate of one point for every dollar spent. There’s no annual fee, which is awesome. To be eligible for this card, you have be in the military or related to someone who is. You are also eligible if you’re retired from the military or if you’re related to someone who served and has retired.

Credit bureaus: Reports as unsecured.

#2: SDFCU Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card

You get a variable rate of 13.24 percent, which is awesome for this category.  There’s also a rewards program. You get 1 Flexpoint for every dollar spent. There’s no annual fee. Note: There used to be no credit check. But my contact there has told me your credit will now be checked to confirm your identity. I was also told that regardless of your credit status, almost everyone gets approved.

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#3: Discover it Secured Credit Card

What I like about it: You get the same rewards as the unsecured version and there’s no annual fee. The rate is a little high. You get a variable 23.24 percent APR. Don’t carry a balance, though, and it won’t matter. You can earn rewards while rebuilding credit. And Discover has shown that if folks do a good job with this, they’re willing to graduate secured cardholders to an unsecured card. Yay for that!

Credit bureaus: It used to be reported as unsecured, but now it reports as secured. This doesn’t change my opinion of the card. It’s still one of the best secured cards you can get.

#4: USAA Secured Credit Cards

This issuer offers secured credit cards from Visa and from American Express and the rates and fees are the same. You get a variable rate of 10.15 percent to 20.15 percent. The annual fee is $35 per year and there are no foreign transaction fees. There’s also a rewards program, which is nice. To be eligible for this card, you have be in the military or related to someone who is.

Credit bureaus: Reports as unsecured.

#5: Capital One Secured MasterCard Credit Card

You get a variable rate of 24.99 percent and there’s no annual fee. Don’t carry a balance and this is a low-cost card. Capital One doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees , so if you have bad (or limited) credit and you need to travel overseas in the near future, this is a good choice. CapOne has also shown a willingness to graduate secured cardholders to an unsecured card.

Credit bureaus: Reports as unsecured.

#6: Wells Fargo Secured Card

You get a variable rate of 19.24 percent. The annual fee is $25 per year. If you use the card responsibly, you’ll be considered for an unsecured credit card. I like it!

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#7: BankAmericard Secured Credit Card

You get a variable rate of 21.24 percent. The annual fee is $39 per year. BoA issues fully-secured credit cards as well as partially-secured credit cards, depending on your credit history and score. If you use the card responsibly, you’ll be considered for an unsecured credit card after 12 months of responsible use)..

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#8: U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card

You get a variable rate of 19.49 percent. The annual fee is $29 per year. Some readers have reported that they graduated to an unsecured credit card from U.S. Bank after 12 months, but in many cases, they had to initiate the phone call and ask.

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#9: Citi Secured Mastercard

You get a variable rate of 21.99 percent. The annual fee is $25 per year. You no longer have to apply in person at a branch. You can now apply for it online. If you have a history of bankruptcy within the past two years, it’s unlikely you’ll be approved. This issuer does graduate folks after you use the secured card responsibly. There’s no set timetable, but it seems to be around 12 to 18 months.

Related:  Green Dot Bank primor Secured Visa Classic Card Review

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#10: primor Secured Visa Classic Card

You get a fixed rate of 13.99 percent and the annual fee for the classic card is $39. There’s also a primor Secured Visa Gold Card version and it has a 9.99 percent fixed rate and a $49 annual fee. It’s rare these days to see a credit card with a fixed rate. The issuer claims guaranteed approval if your monthly income exceeds your expenses by at least $100. They also say they don’t check your credit (only a soft inquiry). A few commenters have confirmed this.

Credit bureaus: Reports as unsecured.

#11: AeroMexico Visa Secured Card

This card is also issued by U.S. Bank. You get a variable 23.24 percent APR. The annual fee is $25, but waived for the first year. You also get rewards. It appears that you might be offered an unsecured card if you use the secured card responsibly. But it’s not a graduation, so you have to apply for the unsecured card.

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#12: Harley-Davidson Visa Secured Credit Card

Here’s another card issued by U.S. Bank. Even if you aren’t a biker, you might like this card. The APR is a variable 23.24 percent. The annual fee is zero. Don’t carry a balance and the cost of this card is zero.

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#13: First National Bank Secured Visa Card Review

This card is issued by First Bankcard, which is a division of the First National Bank of Omaha. You get a variable 18.24 percent APR and there’s no annual fee. Moving to an unsecured card in a year or so is a possibility.

Credit bureaus: I’m not sure if it reports as secured or unsecured. If you know, please leave a comment below. Thank you!

#14: DCU Visa Paltinum Secured Credit Card

You get a variable rate of 11.75 percent. Not bad! And there’s no annual fee. I’ve been getting mixed reviews from readers about this card. So in spite of the great rate, this card is on the bubble between the top tier and the middle tier.

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

The Middle 

#15: Merrick Bank’s Secured Visa Card

You get a variable rate of 17.70 percent. This is a pretty good rate for this category. There doesn’t seem to be a process for graduating to an unsecured card. But with responsible card use, you might be offered a chance to apply for an unsecured card with Merrick Bank.

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#16: Open Sky Secured Credit Card

You get a variable rate of 17.64 percent and the annual fee is $35 per year. Reports to all three major credit bureaus. No credit check and no checking account is necessary.

Credit bureaus: Reports as unsecured.

#17: Unity Visa Secured Credit Card

You get a fixed rate of 17.99 percent. That’s pretty good. The annual fee is $39.  This is a decent card, but watch out for the fees and the customer service.

Credit bureaus: I’m not sure if this report as secured or unsecured. If you know, please leave a comment. Thanks!

#18: Union Bank Secured Visa Card

The previous message on their site: Coming Soon: Exciting new credit cards from Union Bank. Well, I just reviewed the new secured card. I don’t know if I’d call it exciting, but I do like their enthusiasm for the products. Now, you get a variable rate of 19.24 percent and an annual fee of $25. Previously, there was no credit check, but I don’t see that claim on the website now.

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

#19: SunTrust Secured Card

You get a variable 20.24 percent APR and the annual fee is $32. An upgrade to an unsecured card isn’t automatic, but you can make the request after you’ve used the secured card responsibly. No time frame was given, but expect at least a year.

Related:  USAA Secured Credit Cards Review

#20: Fifth Third Bank Secured Card

You get a variable rate of 24.24 percent and the annual fee is $24 per year. Reports to all three major credit bureaus. There’s a 29.99 percent penalty rate, so be sure you pay your bill on time.

Credit bureaus: Reports as secured.

Note for the cards in the #21 – #23 slots: First Progress offers three secured credit cards. They’re similar, but I’ve ranked the cards in a 1-2-3 order based on annual fees. The downside is that they put a 10-day hold on your payment, which can create confusion about how much available credit you have. But for anyone who can’t get approved for a top-tier card, these secured cards aren’t too bad at all.

Unfortunately, their website is “…offline for development” so I can’t confirm the rates listed. I’ll reconsider their position on this list when I can verify the terms and rates.

#21: First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card 

You get a variable rate of 19.99 percent, which isn’t too bad for a secured credit card. The annual fee is only $29. Since you shouldn’t carry a balance anyway, I’ve ranked this card highest because it has the lowest annual fee.

Credit bureaus: Reports as unsecured.

#22: First Progress Platinum Select Secured MasterCard Credit Card

The APR is a variable 14.99 percent, which is very good. The annual fee is $39 per year.

Credit bureaus: Reports as unsecured.

#23: First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard Secured Credit Card 

You get a variable rate of 11.99 percent, which is very good for a secured credit card. The annual fee is $44. I don’t want you to carry a balance, but if you think you can’t avoid it, this would be the best pick of the First Progress cards.

Credit bureaus: Reports as unsecured.

 

The Bottom

#24: First PREMIER Bank Secured Credit Card

Online, the terms still say you get a 19.9 percent APR. But from a reader, I’ve learned this might have been raised to 36 percent (this is the rate for the unsecured version). Please let me know in the comments section if you’ve received a letter about an APR increase. At any rate, there are so many other fees, I can’t recommend this card at all. And if the APR is going up to 36 percent, then I might have to call it 5-way tie for last place on this list!

#25 – #28: 4-way tie for last place: Surge Credit CardThe Verve Credit CardThe Matrix MasterCard (formerly The Matrix Discover Credit Card) and Continental Finance Cerulean Discover Credit Card (currently unavailable)

The latest addition to this group of terrible cards is Surge. These cards appear to have the same rates and fees. You can view the cards (except for the Cerulean) right here if you have a morbid curiosity.  These are all hybrid cards, so there are three versions: secured, partially secured, and unsecured credit cards.

Let me make it easy for you. Don’t bother with these cards. I’m including them here because I get questions about them and I want to keep you informed.

The fees are bad, people. The APR for these cards is a variable 30.24 percent, which is ridiculously high. You get a $500 credit limit, but a $125 annual fee is removed right off the bat, so your available credit is only $375. And there’s a $120 annual maintenance fee, which is waived for the first year. Gee, thanks for that!

Note: Credit card agreements change frequently, so read all the disclosure statements carefully. My review is based on my opinion as an expert and on the information that I believed to be in effect on the publication date.

 

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