The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Saturday, May 28, 2022

2022 Citi® Secured Mastercard® Review

Citi Secured Credit Card Review

credit card advice

Eric Bank

Written by: Eric Bank

Eric Bank

Eric Bank has been covering business and financial topics since 1985, specializing in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences. In addition to his work on CardRates.com, Eric has appeared regularly on Credible.com, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Get.com, Zacks, Chron and dozens of other outlets. A former software engineer, Eric holds an M.B.A. from New York University and an M.S. in finance from DePaul University.

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Edited by: Ashley Dull

Ashley Dull

Ashley has overseen content and public relations on CardRates.com since 2015. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media campaigns. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among others.

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Reviewed by: Danielle Spurlin

Danielle Spurlin

Danielle is our Compliance and Operations Manager at CardRates.com. In addition to her bookkeeping and accounting duties, she works directly with our affiliates to ensure our content is accurate, up to date, and meets the high standards of the credit card issuers we partner with.

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Advertiser Disclosure

This Citi secured credit card review should interest the 26 million Americans who are credit invisible (i.e., without enough credit history to earn a credit score). Citi designed this card for consumers with limited or no credit. Unlike most secured cards, this one doesn’t favor consumers with less-than-good credit.

A Good Card For Building Credit

Secured credit cards offer a solid strategy for establishing and building credit, but you will only succeed if you adopt creditworthy behavior. Every time you pay your bill on time, you’re helping to nudge your credit score higher. 

Over time, you can graduate to an unsecured credit card and gain access to better rewards, lower costs, and more benefits. 

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® speeds your credit-building efforts by sending updates to Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion every month. The card keeps costs down through its no-frills philosophy. 

SECURED RATING

★★★★★

4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
  • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
  • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
  • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
  • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
  • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 23.24%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
23.24% (Variable)
$0
Limited History, No Credit, New-to-Credit

Additional Disclosure: Citi is a CardRates advertiser.

While you won’t receive cash back or points from this card, you will receive protection against fraud and identity theft. 

Citi® Secured Mastercard® Benefits

The list of Citi® Secured Mastercard® benefits begins with its name, as merchants across the globe welcome cards with the Mastercard logo. You can get the card in exchange for a refundable deposit as low as $200. 

Once you receive your card, you’ll have immediate free access to your FICO score as often as you’d like, with no impact on your credit score.

The card offers flexible payment due dates that you can set to work best for you. You can speak to a Citi customer representative anytime, day or night, who can answer your questions and resolve problems. 

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® offers solid account protection with $0 liability on unauthorized purchases and Citi Identity Theft Solutions, which offers free, personalized support if someone steals your identity. The bank routinely monitors your account to detect fraud or unauthorized use and will contact you when necessary to confirm suspicious purchases. 

Citi fends off potential data hackers with 128-bit SSL encryption, denying them the ability to see your information. The card offers additional security measures that include:

  • Security questions: You can block fraudsters from accessing your online account by setting your answers to various security questions.
  • One-time use passcodes: Citi will send you a single-use passcode via messaging or email to verify your identity.
  • Date/time stamp: The Citi Mobile App records each time you sign on, including the device you used.
  • Session timeouts: Citi will terminate your session if it’s inactive for several minutes. 
  • Automated notifications: The bank will notify you via confirmation emails reporting changes to your user ID or password.
  • Automatic account lock: If Citi determines that someone may have compromised your sign-on credentials, it will lock your account and invite you to reset your password. 
  • Extended Validation SSL Certificate: The padlock on the address bar assures encrypted communication between the web server and your browser.
  • Mobile app security: You can sign onto the Citi Mobile App through encrypted biometric means (fingerprint or facial recognition) to secure your privacy and security. Moreover, the app doesn’t store personal account information, keeping your data safe from theft or loss.

Other card benefits include contactless pay, digital wallet integration, and automatic account alerts about payments due, transactions, and balance amounts. 

No Minimum Credit Score Is Required For Approval

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® welcomes newbies looking to establish credit for the first time. Citi understands that it’s hard to get credit if you don’t already have credit, so it offers a card with a credit limit secured by your cash deposit. 

While the initial amount starts at $200, you can deposit up to $2,500, establishing a credit line much higher than that of most subprime unsecured cards. 

Secured vs. Unsecured Credit Cards

Even though Citi does not require a credit score, it will review your age, income, and debt to see whether you meet its credit qualification criteria. Other factors, such as pending or recent bankruptcy, can also impact approval. Poor credit can cause Citi to deny your application.

You can prequalify for a Citi credit card without affecting your credit score. The bank offers a pre-selection process that helps you quickly know whether you have a good chance of getting the card. 

However, Citi will pull your credit history (if any) when you apply for the card and use the information to help decide whether to approve you. The card does not claim to be geared toward consumers with poor credit, instead choosing to focus on those with no or limited credit history.

It may take up to two weeks after approval to receive the card, delivered via first-class mail. Once you receive your card, you’ll be eligible for the Citi Flex Pay program that makes big purchases more manageable with predictable monthly payments split over defined periods.

5 Alternatives to the Citi® Secured Mastercard®

This Citi® Secured Mastercard® review wouldn’t be complete without discussing these five secured cards that rank well at CardRates.com. You’ll want to compare their benefits and costs closely to see which best fits your lifestyle.

  • No annual or hidden fees, and you can earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase, every day. See if you’re approved in seconds
  • Put down a refundable $200 security deposit to get a $200 initial credit line
  • Building your credit? Using a card like this responsibly could help
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

The Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card is a top contender for the best secured credit card because it lets you earn cash back rewards (as a statement credit) without charging you an annual fee. The card offers card upgrades and credit limit increases if you use it responsibly when rebuilding credit.

SECURED RATING

★★★★★

4.7

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you’re approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won’t be responsible for unauthorized charges
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
26.99% (Variable)
$0
Limited, Bad

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card charges no annual fee or foreign transaction fees if you make overseas purchases. It is the only major card offering qualified applicants a credit limit greater than the initial deposit. Capital One may raise your credit limit after six timely payments.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank N.A.’ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★

4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • No credit check to apply and find out instantly if you are approved.
  • OpenSky gives everyone an opportunity to improve their credit with an 85% average approval rate for the past 5 years
  • Get considered for a credit line increase after 6 months, with no additional deposit required
  • You could be eligible for the OpenSky Gold Unsecured Card after as few as 6 months
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus monthly, unlike a prepaid or debit card
  • Nearly half of OpenSky cardholders who make on-time payments improve their FICO score 30+ points in the first 3 months
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.64% (variable)
$35
Poor

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card is our favorite among secured cards with no minimum credit score or credit check required for approval. The variable APR is below average, but the card charges a small annual fee. This card is good for building or rebuilding credit with only a modest minimum deposit because it reports to all three major credit bureaus.

Discover it® Secured Credit Card Review

at Discover Card’ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★

4.5

OVERALL RATING

  • No credit score required to apply.*
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Using your secured credit card helps build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, prepaid and debit cards can’t do that.
  • Establish your credit line with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. That means a $200 deposit for a $200 credit line. Or a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit, and the security deposit equals your credit limit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.*
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
23.24% Variable APR
$0
New/Rebuilding

If you want the best secured credit card with rewards, check out the Discover it® Secured Credit Card. In addition to cash back and a free FICO score, new cardmembers receive a one-time Cashback Match at the end of the first year following account opening.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer’ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★

4.6

OVERALL RATING

  • Earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice: gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores, or home improvement/furnishings and 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs on the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club purchases each quarter, then earn 1%
  • Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • A minimum refundable security deposit of $300 (maximum of $4,900) is required to open this account
  • Access your FICO® Score updated monthly for free, within your Mobile Banking app or in Online Banking
  • Optional overdraft protection option helps prevent declined purchases, returned checks or other overdrafts when you link your eligible Bank of America® checking account to your credit card. Transfer fees may apply.
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
24.24% Variable
$0
Bad/Limited

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card is a no-brainer for consumers who want or already have a relationship with BoA. The only knock against this card is its regular APR, with a higher maximum than we’d expect from a secured credit card.

Is the Citi® Secured Mastercard® a Good Card?

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® competes well among the secured cards CardRates.com evaluates. 

We like the Citi card because it doesn’t charge an annual fee, offers quick approval, and reports your payments to each major credit bureau. We earlier described the card’s benefits, which include some impressive security features.

Credit cards from major banks such as Citi usually offer synergies. For example, you can link the card with your Citi checking, savings, investment, and loan accounts and get the benefit of relationship pricing. You also get real-time transfers and payments, as well as easy access with a single user ID and password.

Alas, the card would be even better if it offered rewards or a signup bonus. Other items we don’t like include:

  • The long (18-month) review period to receive an upgrade to an unsecured card
  • The delay of up to 100 days to refund your deposit if you close the account
  • The short deadline (14 days) to pay your security deposit
  • The relatively moderate maximum credit limit of $2,500
  • The stiff penalty APR for late payments
  • The requirement for applicants to have a bank account

Nevertheless, if you want a solid value card or already have a relationship with Citi, it’s worth seriously considering the Citi® Secured Mastercard®.

What Type of Credit Card is the Citi® Secured Mastercard®?

As the name confirms, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a secured credit card. It is a good choice for consumers with limited or no credit history.

Characteristics of a secured credit card include:

  • Required deposit: You must provide a cash deposit, usually equal to your credit line, to get a secured card. The collateral doesn’t pay for your purchases unless you fail to make the minimum payment due for a billing cycle. In most cases, the credit card company will decline any transactions that create a balance above your credit limit. A credit card issuer will typically refund your deposit and graduate you to an unsecured card if you make timely payments for a set period.
  • Costs are relatively low: Compared with a subprime unsecured card or business credit card, secured cards usually have lower APRs and fewer fees. For example, you’ll never see a secured card with a signup or monthly maintenance fee. Many secured cards, including the Citi® Secured Mastercard®, do not charge an annual fee.
  • Easy to obtain: Some secured credit cards do not pull your credit when evaluating your application, and a credit card issuer often uses other criteria beyond your credit score. For example, Citi looks at your income and debt when you have little or no credit history. Secured cards are a classic way to establish a credit score or rebuild your credit.
  • Rewards may be available: Even though the Citi® Secured Mastercard® doesn’t offer rewards for purchases, several other secured cards do. While the rewards rate is sometimes below that of an equivalent traditional credit card, it is a nice perk to have.
  • Reporting to all major credit bureaus: Most secured credit cards, including the one from Citi, report your payments to each major credit bureau. Your credit score can rise when the reports indicate timely payments and your outstanding balance is less than 30% of your available credit limit.
  • Credit monitoring: Many secured cards offer free access to some type of credit score. Citi provides you with your FICO Score, the most important score in use today. Look for cards that monitor any changes to your credit, as well as transactions, balances, and payments due.

In many ways, secured cards are better than subprime traditional credit card offerings, especially concerning fees, APRs, availability, and credit limits. They refund your security deposit, whereas subprime unsecured cards never refund fees. If you can afford a security deposit as low as $49, you can get a secured credit card with minimum hassle.

What Is the Highest Credit Limit For the Citi® Secured Mastercard®?

The Citi secured card sets its credit limit equal to your security deposit, which maxes out at $2,500. Citi does not pay interest on your security deposit, but it is FDIC insured

You have 14 days after approval to submit your bank account information, which Citi uses to collect the deposit via ACH. Citi Bank won’t open your account until it receives your deposit. Citi advises unbanked consumers to visit a local branch to apply for the card. 

Citi keeps your deposit in a collateral holding account for up to 18 months. Unless the account goes into default, you should expect a refund by the end of the holding period or once you close your account. Note that refunds may take up to 100 days to receive. 

Does Citi Increase Your Credit Limit?

Citi will increase your credit limit only when you add money to your security deposit, up to the $2,500 max. The bank may refund your deposit and upgrade you to an unsecured card within 18 months of account opening.

The 18-month review period is not competitive with the shorter periods that rival secured cards offer. For example, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card begins reviewing your eligibility for an upgrade after only seven months.

Citi does grant requests for higher credit limits on its unsecured cards. You can ask for a higher limit online, at a branch, or over the phone. As a general rule, you should wait at least six months before requesting a higher limit. 

How to Increase Citi Unsecured Card Limit

Citi may do a credit check when you ask for more credit, which may cause minor damage to your credit score. You can enhance your approval chances by paying your bills on time and boosting your credit score.

Is the Citi® Secured Mastercard® the Right Choice For You?

After reading this Citi secured credit card review, you may be unsure whether it is your best credit card choice. We think you should consider it a stepping stone to an unsecured card. You can use the card to boost your credit score by paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization ratio below 30%.

In its favor, the card charges no annual fee, reports to all three major credit bureaus, and offers free monitoring of your FICO Score. It’s also a logical choice if you already have an account with Citi. We suggest you closely compare the Citi® Secured Mastercard® against the reviewed alternatives and choose the best credit card for you.

Advertiser Disclosure

CardRates.com is a free online resource that offers valuable content and comparison services to users. To keep this resource 100% free, we receive compensation for referrals for many of the offers listed on the site. Along with key review factors, this compensation may impact how and where products appear across CardRates.com (including, for example, the order in which they appear). CardRates.com does not include the entire universe of available offers. Editorial opinions expressed on the site are strictly our own and are not provided, endorsed, or approved by advertisers.