The Ultimate Guide to Credit Cards
Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Secured Credit Cards with Low Deposits in 2021

Secured Credit Cards With Low Deposits

credit card advice

Adam West
By: Adam West
Posted: November 23, 2020
Advertiser Disclosure

Secured credit cards with low deposits are one of the easiest — and most affordable — ways to build or rebuild your credit score.

A secured credit card requires a refundable security deposit for approval. But these cards work just like a traditional credit card. That means you can shop online or in person and pay bills while enjoying the convenience of credit.

And since your security deposit backs your account, you may not have to worry about a lender running a credit check and turning you down because of your bad credit score.

Lowest Deposit | More Secured Cards | FAQs

Secured Card with the Lowest Deposit Minimum

The Secured Mastercard® from Capital One is one of the few secured card products that may not require you to make a full security deposit that matches your credit limit. Instead, you may qualify for an account that requires a deposit of as low as $49 to secure your credit line, depending on your creditworthiness.

  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One 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

Capital One will monitor your account every six months to see if you qualify for a credit limit increase that will not require additional deposit funds. Furthermore, Capital One may switch you over to an unsecured account and return your security deposit to you as a statement credit if you are deemed eligible.

More Secured Credit Cards with Low Deposits

The following credit cards make your credit limit equal to the amount of your security deposit. So, for example, a $300 deposit will yield a $300 credit limit.

But no matter how small or large your credit limit, the card issuer will report your payment history to one or more of the three major credit bureaus. That means you can build your credit history while choosing how much you spend on your security deposit.

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Better than Prepaid...Go with a Secured Card! Load One Time - Keep On Using
  • Absolutely No Credit Check or Minimum Credit Score Required
  • Automatic Reporting to All Three National Credit Bureaus
  • 9.99% Low Fixed APR - Your Rate Won’t Go Up Even if You Are Late
  • Activate Today with a $200 Minimum Deposit - Maximum $1,000. * Increase Your Credit Limit up to $5,000 by Adding Additional Deposits Anytime
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
9.99%
$48
Poor/Fair/Limited/Damaged

You need not submit to a credit check for the Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card because the bank has no minimum credit score requirements for approval. Instead, you can fill out a short account creation form on the bank’s website and supply a low refundable security deposit.

Once you do that, you can activate your card account the same day and begin to reap the credit score benefits of automatic reporting to all three major credit bureaus. One caveat, however, is that while the APR is low, it does not provide a grace period for new purchases, so that’s something to be aware of before committing to this card.

Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
4.4

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • 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
23.99% Variable
$0
Bad/Limited

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card is a rare secured rewards card that offers cash back on your eligible purchases.

Bank of America also periodically checks each secured credit card account and, if your account status and improved credit score qualify, the bank will refund your security deposit while allowing you to enjoy the same benefits your card provides.

BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.3/5.0
  • A secured credit card designed to help establish, strengthen or rebuild credit
  • 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
  • Your account will periodically be reviewed, and, based on your overall credit history (including other credit cards and loans), you may qualify to have your security deposit returned. Not all customers will qualify.
  • $0 annual fee
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
22.99% Variable
$0
Bad/Limited

The BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card‘s name pays homage to Bank of America’s first credit offering — the BankAmericard — which was introduced in 1958 as the first consumer credit card ever offered to the public.

Today, the card continues to serve the masses with a low security deposit the bank will refund to you if your credit score qualifies during a periodic review. All cardholders also receive free monthly access to their FICO score through BofA’s Mobile Banking app.

Citi® Secured Mastercard® Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.4/5.0
  • 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.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
22.49% Variable
$0
Limited History, No Credit, New-to-Credit

Every Citi® Secured Mastercard® cardholder receives a host of benefits beyond the typical access to credit. These include Citi® Identity Theft Solutions that help lock down your account if there is a security breach and $0 liability on unauthorized charges.

Citi requires a credit check for approval, but this secured card offering has very forgiving acceptance standards. This card has a low variable APR and one of the lowest minimum security deposit requirements on this list.

Progress Credit Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
3.9

OVERALL RATING

3.0/5.0
  • Get both a Secured MasterCard® and an Unsecured VISA® Credit Card from our trusted partners with this unique program
  • The Secured Card offered by our partners at First Progress requires no credit history or minimum score for approval
  • The unsecured VISA card does not require perfect credit; our partners at First Access Card may approve you when others won’t
  • Open accounts with both VISA and MasterCard so you’ll always have access
  • Both accounts report activity separately to all three Credit Bureaus every month
  • Both cards are genuine credit cards with security protections and nationwide acceptance
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
See website for Details
See website for Details
Bad, Fair, or No Credit

Progress Credit offers a trio of secured credit cards that all have a low minimum security deposit requirement and varying annual fees. The amount of your annual fee will determine your variable APR. The higher the fee, the lower your interest rate.

Your first year’s annual fee will be automatically deducted from your available credit on card activation. These cards are not available to residents of Arkansas, Iowa, New York, or Wisconsin.

Merrick Bank Secured Visa® from Merrick Bank Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
4.3

OVERALL RATING

3.3/5.0
  • Choose your own credit line based on how much money you want to put down as a security deposit.
  • Initial deposits can be from $200 to $3,000. You can increase your credit line at any time by adding additional money to your security deposit, up to $3,000.
  • After 9 months, we review your account for a credit line increase. No additional deposit required!
  • Secured Credit Cards are great for people looking to build or rebuild credit and are available to people with all kinds of credit backgrounds.
  • Unlike a debit card or a pre-paid card, it helps build your credit history. As you pay your bill every month, we report to all three major credit-reporting agencies.
  • Get 100% U.S.-based customer service & get your FICO® Credit Score for free each month.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.45% Variable
$36 for first year. Billed $3 per month thereafter
See website for Details*

The Merrick Bank Secured Visa® from Merrick Bank reports to each credit bureau to help you rebuild your credit faster. The bank’s low minimum deposit requirement will give you access to a free set of online account management tools and $0 fraud liability for unauthorized charges.

To qualify, applicants must be at least 18 years old with a valid Social Security number and physical U.S. home address. Applicants must also pass the bank’s income assessment and identity verification requirements and have no pending bankruptcy or other outstanding federal, state, or local tax obligations.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

3.2/5.0
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.39% (variable)
$35
Poor

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card does not require a credit check for approval and provides an online application that takes a matter of minutes to complete and activate your new account.

Once you begin using your account, OpenSky will report your monthly payment history to each credit bureau. Responsible behavior helps you build your credit score faster and replace previous negative items on your credit history with positive data.

First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
3.9

OVERALL RATING

2.9/5.0
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
9.99% (V)
$49
Bad / No Credit

The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Credit Card has a slightly higher-than-average annual fee, but its low variable interest rate can offset that cost if you tend to carry a balance from month to month.

First Progress claims that it often approves applicants who struggle to find approval elsewhere. Note that this card is not available to residents of New York, Iowa, Arkansas, and Wisconsin.

The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
3.8

OVERALL RATING

2.3/5.0
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
19.99% (V)
$29
Poor/Limited/No Credit

The First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card has a lower annual fee than its Platinum Prestige sibling — but the card also charges a slightly higher interest rate. That said, this card offers credit-building opportunities similar to those of the other cards on the list, but the cost of credit places this card lower in the rankings.

As with the other First Progress secured credit card offerings, this card is not available to residents of New York, Iowa, Arkansas, and Wisconsin.

First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★
3.8

OVERALL RATING

2.7/5.0
  • Receive Your Card More Quickly with New Expedited Processing Option
  • No Credit History or Minimum Credit Score Required for Approval
  • Quick and Complete Online Application; No credit inquiry required!
  • Includes Free Real-Time Access to Your Credit Score and Ongoing Credit Monitoring powered by Experian
  • Full-Feature Platinum Mastercard® Secured Credit Card; Try our new Mobile App for Android users!
  • Good for Car Rental, Hotels; Anywhere Credit Cards Are Accepted!
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
13.99% (V)
$39
Poor/Limited/No Credit

The First Progress Platinum Select MasterCard® Secured Credit Card doesn’t require credit history to approve your application. You can use the card to build or rebuild your credit, and it charges a low competitive APR for purchases.

The annual fee will be deducted from your available credit line upon card activation. First Progress may increase your credit limit without requiring you to add to your deposit account. Any increases in your credit limit are subject to credit approval.

What is a Secured Credit Card?

A secured credit card functions similarly to any traditional credit card on the market. The only difference is that it requires a refundable security deposit to get approved for the card.

These cards rarely require a credit check for approval and are designed to help the cardholder build — or rebuild — his or her credit history. Since most secured card members have fair credit or poor credit, the banks require the deposit to back the account in case the cardholder fails to pay the credit card bill.

Unsecured vs Secured Credit Cards

Think of this as you would renting an apartment. Before you move in, the landlord requires a security deposit to cover any damages you may make to the dwelling. If you move out without trashing the place, you get your money back. If you damage the apartment, the money you paid upon moving in will cover the repairs.

The same goes for a secured credit card. If you eventually cancel your account with no outstanding debts, the bank will return your deposit. If you stop making payments or default on your account altogether, the bank will use your deposit to cover your debt.

That is why most secured credit cards match your available credit limit to the amount of your security deposit.

Once approved, your secured credit card functions the same as an unsecured credit card. You can shop online or in person, pay bills, or pay for services rendered. A few secured credit cards even offer cash back rewards options.

The real reason to use a secured credit card is for its credit-building capabilities. Each month, your credit card company will report your payment history to one or all of the three major credit bureaus. These are the businesses that collect your credit history and calculate your credit scores.

If you make on-time payments and maintain a low balance on your card, you can begin to build a positive history that will increase your credit score over time.

Doing so could help you qualify for an unsecured credit card that will not require a security deposit. Certain secured cards, including the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card, will routinely monitor your account and refund your deposit if you show continued responsible behavior with your account.

Larger banks that offer secured credit cards, such as Capital One, Citi, and Bank of America, can eventually graduate your account from a secured to an unsecured card. If this happens, the bank will issue you a new card and refund your security deposit.

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score with a Secured Credit Card?

Any good secured credit card will report your payment history and current balance each month to at least one credit bureau. Positive reports will increase your credit score over time.

There are three main credit bureaus that generate credit scores under your name — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Each bureau depends on lenders and banks to submit monthly updates on your accounts to keep your credit score up-to-date and accurate.

If you have bad credit because of previous financial mistakes, you can improve your credit score by adding new, positive information that gradually pushes old data further down your personal credit report. You can do this by keeping a low balance on your secured credit card and making on-time payments each month.

Like most things in the financial world, your most recent data is the most important part of your credit history. As items get older, they lose their impact on your score.

In time, older items will age off your report and be gone forever. This typically takes up to seven years for most items.

Chart Showing Negative Account Credit Report Lifespan

During that time, the negative items will become less and less important as they get older, and positive items take their place at the top of your credit file.

But you can continue to damage your credit score if you make mistakes with your secured credit card. One 30-day late payment can take as many as 100 points off your credit score

Other important credit scores, such as your FICO score, factor your total debt into the credit score equation. In this case, 30% of your credit score depends on your current balance. If you keep your balance low and make prompt payments, you will see a positive change in your credit score.

Which Secured Credit Card Has the Lowest Deposit?

The Secured Mastercard® from Capital One requires the lowest possible deposit of any secured card.

Capital One currently has a tiered system that uses your credit score to determine the amount of deposit you are required to make. While all new cardholders start with the same credit limit, your cash deposit may be just a fraction of how much you have available to spend.

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 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

Capital One monitors accounts every six months and could increase your credit limit if you maintain a clean account record. If this happens, the bank will not require a further deposit from you.

At publciation, more than half of the credit cards listed above require a minimum cash deposit of $200. Some cards may have a slightly higher minimum of $300. Few cards have higher minimums.

Banks regularly change their credit card terms and conditions. This means that a secured credit card issuer could change their minimum and maximum security deposits at any time. Thankfully, if you already have an account when these changes take place, you will not have to add more to your deposit if you fall below the new minimum.

Is a Secured Credit Card the Same as a Prepaid Card?

A secured credit card and prepaid card are two very different things. Not only do they function differently at the register, but only a secured credit card can help you build your credit score.

A secured credit card functions in many of the same ways as a traditional credit card. You use it to make purchases against a line of credit. Although you back your card account with a security deposit, you still have to make monthly payments for any credit card charges you accrue.

A prepaid card is similar to a debit card. You put money into your prepaid card account and use your card to make purchases with that money, so you can only spend the amount of money you have in your account.

You do not need to make monthly payments, but you will need to reload your card with more money whenever you spend the money already in the account.

Since prepaid cards do not include a line of credit, the credit card company will not report your payment history to any credit bureau. As a result, this card cannot help you rebuild or establish a credit history.

On the other hand, a secured credit card does draw from a revolving credit line. That means on-time payments and low balances can help you build your credit history.

Do All Secured Credit Cards Require a Deposit?

Yes. All secured credit cards will require some type of refundable security deposit for approval.

Banks typically design these cards for consumers who have poor credit or previous financial mistakes on their credit histories. Because of those mistakes, lenders tend to consider these consumers a greater risk than someone who has good credit or excellent personal credit. That often means these people have a much harder time qualifying for a traditional unsecured credit card that does not require a deposit.

After all, if those old mistakes happen again — and the cardholder stops paying on his or her debt — the bank loses a substantial amount of money.

To help these consumers create a path toward rebuilding their credit, banks created secured credit cards. For a low deposit — typically anywhere between $49 and $300 — a secured credit card can help consumers open the door to a revolving line of credit and a better credit score.

This is similar to the scenario consumers face when they rent a car. At the time you pick up the vehicle, the rental agency will charge the cost of the rental plus a security deposit to cover the cost of any potential damage you do to the car.

If you return the car in the same condition you received it in, you get your money back. If there is damage, your security deposit covers the repairs.

The same goes for your secured credit card. As long as you close your account in good standing, you will receive your money back.

If a bank provided a secured credit card without a deposit, it would not be a secured card. It would instead be an unsecured credit card, which means there is nothing to secure the account against potential default.

What is the Easiest Secured Credit Card to Get?

Two of the cards listed above clearly state that no credit check is required. They are the Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card and the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card. You can qualify for these cards as long as you can provide the necessary security deposit for approval.

Applied Bank® Secured Visa® Gold Preferred® Credit Card Review

at the issuer'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.6

OVERALL RATING

4.0/5.0
  • Better than Prepaid...Go with a Secured Card! Load One Time - Keep On Using
  • Absolutely No Credit Check or Minimum Credit Score Required
  • Automatic Reporting to All Three National Credit Bureaus
  • 9.99% Low Fixed APR - Your Rate Won’t Go Up Even if You Are Late
  • Activate Today with a $200 Minimum Deposit - Maximum $1,000. * Increase Your Credit Limit up to $5,000 by Adding Additional Deposits Anytime
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
9.99%
$48
Poor/Fair/Limited/Damaged
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

at Capital Bank'ssecure website

SECURED RATING

★★★★★
4.7

OVERALL RATING

3.2/5.0
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
17.39% (variable)
$35
Poor

While these two secured card products don’t require a credit check, other secured card issuers may want a peek at your credit report before printing a card in your name.

The need for a credit check is not always to judge your credit score. Instead, many banks will not approve a secured credit card application for someone who has a pending bankruptcy case or has active tax liabilities or collections accounts.

A credit check will show if any of these negative items appear in your name. If they do, the bank will reject your credit application. If they do not, you stand a very good chance at approval — even with a bad credit score.

Banks understand that most consumers who apply for a secured credit card do so to build, or rebuild, their credit. That means they do not expect every applicant to have a sterling credit history.

With that in mind, consumers who have good credit can opt for a secured credit card because it helps keep them disciplined with a card that has a small credit limit and little temptation to spend.

In short, if you do not have an active bankruptcy, tax liability or lien, or an account in collections — and you can afford at least the minimum required security deposit — you should find that just about any secured credit card on the market is attainable.

Can You Increase a Secured Card’s Credit Limit?

This depends on the card you have and the rules surrounding deposits.

Most secured credit card issuers allow you to increase your credit limit by adding to your security deposit. In many cases, this will come with a processing fee that can range between $9 and $49.

Other card issuers may allow you to increase your credit limit during a short window. Capital One, for instance, will allow you to add to your deposit to increase your credit limit during your first 80 days after card activation.

Some secured card products, such as the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One, offer periodic credit limit increases at no additional charge.

Every Capital One cardholder — secured or unsecured — gains automatic enrollment in the bank’s automatic credit limit increase monitoring program. The bank will monitor your account once every six months to see if you qualify for a higher credit line.

If you do, Capital One will immediately initiate the increase. For secured cardholders, this comes at no additional cost.

Over time, you may also qualify for an account upgrade to an unsecured credit card. If that happens, Capital One will refund your deposit as a statement credit.

Other banks similarly conduct routine account monitoring that may work in your favor. Although it may not result in a higher credit line, Bank of America monitors secured card accounts and will refund your security deposit early if you show a pattern of responsible financial behaviors.

And since Bank of America maintains a large unsecured card portfolio, you could also eventually earn an upgrade to a more affordable — and more lucrative — credit card.

How Fast Will a Secured Card Build Credit?

Most consumers will see a positive change to their credit score after six months of on-time payments and maintaining a low balance. If you have a very poor credit score, it could take much longer.

The time it takes to build your credit score will depend greatly on the type of items currently on your credit report. For example, one late payment can begin to lose its impact if you replace it with consecutive on-time payments. A recent bankruptcy, on the other hand, could take several years to overcome.

Whatever your mission, a steady flow of on-time payments will help push whatever negatives you have further down your credit profile. In time, the older items will lose their impact on your score, so long as they are replaced with positive items.

FICO Score FactorsIn addition to making on-time payments, maintaining a low balance on your credit cards during your credit rebuilding journey is equally important.

Approximately 30% of your credit score is based on your credit utilization rate. You can calculate your credit utilization by dividing your overall credit limit by your card’s current balance.

For example, a credit card with a $1,000 credit limit and a $500 current balance has a 50% credit utilization ratio. In other words, the consumer is using 50% of his or her total available credit.

Banks like to see no more than a 30% credit utilization ratio on a credit application. Anything above that may make you look like you are over your head in debt and seeking more money.

This can get especially tricky if you have a secured card with a low credit limit.

Most of the secured credit cards with low deposits allow for a security deposit as low as $200. In most cases, this will yield a credit limit of $200.

If you maintain no more than a 30% credit utilization rate, you can have no more than $60 in debt on your card at the end of every billing cycle. This is why it is so important to pay as much as you can each month to eliminate your debt.

Doing so will not only keep your credit utilization ratio down, but it will also minimize interest charges and other fees that you may have to pay to your card issuer.

Do I Get My Deposit Back from a Secured Credit Card?

As long as you close your account in good standing — with no debts due to the bank — you will receive a refund for your security deposit in full.

You will not receive a refund if you close your account with outstanding debts or charges due. Instead, the bank will use your deposit to cover any money you owe it. If there is money left over after satisfying those debts, the bank will refund it to you.

In some cases, a bank may decide to refund your security deposit early. Bank of America has two different secured card offerings — the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card and the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card.

With both offerings, the bank will monitor your account every six months to see if you have a strong pattern of responsible financial behavior. If you do, Bank of America will refund your security deposit while still giving you access to your full credit line and card benefits.

In time, you could even earn an upgrade to an unsecured credit card that requires no security deposit.

Your refund will typically come via a paper check from your credit card’s issuing bank. The check usually arrives within seven to 10 business days after you close your account.

In some cases, the bank could refund your deposit to a linked checking account or savings account at a bank account or credit union. In those cases, you could receive your refund within two to three business days.

How Much Should I Put Down on a Secured Credit Card?

The beauty of secured credit cards is that they allow you to essentially create your own credit limit. The amount you put down as a security deposit on a secured credit card will be your credit limit.

Remember that your security deposit does not count as a payment. If you pay the bank $500 as a deposit and then get your card two weeks later and immediately charge $500 to it, you will have to repay the full $500 to the bank.

If you do not feel comfortable taking on that much debt, consider making a smaller security deposit. This type of flexibility makes secured cards very popular with all types of consumers — not just those who have bad credit.

Many people who have excellent credit still rely on secured credit cards to help them stick to a monthly budget. After all, a card with a $5,000 credit limit may tempt you to spend money that you do not necessarily have to spend. That is how people accrue debt and begin a financial cycle that is hard to break.

But if you keep a secured card with a small limit in your wallet, you always have access to a credit card for emergencies, but the card will not provide the temptation to rack up large bills.

Can You Be Denied a Secured Credit Card?

Like any financial product, a bank could deny your application for credit if you do not meet its standards for lending.

Those standards are typically much lower for a secured credit card, though, because your security deposit eliminates much of the risk a bank would carry by lending money to someone who potentially has bad credit.

But there are still times where a bank will think you are too much of a risk — even with a security deposit. This can include:

  • A pending bankruptcy case: During an active bankruptcy proceeding, a judge could lump all of your debts — including your new credit card — into the pending discharge. That could leave your new card issuer holding the bag on any outstanding debt you charge to the card.
  • Outstanding tax liabilities or liens: This could be federal, state, or county taxes. A tax lien could cause automatic payroll deductions that make it harder for you to pay your monthly bill.
  • An account in collections: If you recently defaulted on a loan, most lenders will shy away from extending you more credit. The way they see it is if you did it once, you will do it again.
  • You do not meet the bank’s income requirements: A bank will only extend credit to someone who has the means to repay it. If you are unemployed — or underemployed — a bank may reject your application for credit until you can boost your income.

Secured credit cards are not your typical credit card product. While an unsecured card will rely on your credit score for approval, secured cards will look more at your potential than your previous history.

This includes your income and any outstanding liabilities that could affect your ability to maintain your account in the future. If you meet the bank’s requirements, you will likely qualify for the secured card of your choice.

How Long Does it Take for a Secured Credit Card to Become Unsecured?

Banks that offer both secured and unsecured cards will typically consider you for an upgrade to an unsecured card every six months. That does not mean you will move from a secured to an unsecured card in just six months, though.

The time you will need to upgrade will depend on your credit score and the factors that are holding it down. You can quickly overcome certain negative items on your credit history, such as a few late payments or too many hard inquiries. Other negative items take more time.

If you have defaults, collection accounts, or a previous bankruptcy, a bank will want to see a much longer pattern of responsible behavior before extending unsecured credit to you. Depending on the severity of your past mistakes, it could take several years. If you have less severe transgressions on your credit report, you could graduate to a new card in a year or less.

Although issuers like Capital One and Bank of America monitor accounts every six months to see if you qualify for a deposit refund, higher credit limit, or card upgrade, you can still request an account change at any time.

To contact Capital One about moving to an unsecured card, call 1-800-227-4825. Bank of America cardholders can call 1-800-732-9194.

While an upgrade is never guaranteed, it won’t hurt to ask. Just remember that if you call and request an account change too often, you could hurt your chances of getting what you want.

Does Applying for a Secured Credit Card Count as a Hard Inquiry?

Some secured credit card issuers do not require a credit check for approval, which means you won’t accrue a hard inquiry. If the issuing bank does require a credit check, it will add an inquiry to your credit history.

Any time you apply for credit, the lender or bank will need your permission to access your credit history and conduct a credit check. No lender can access this information without your permission.

Hard Credit Inquiry vs. Soft Credit Inquiry

An inquiry is essentially a notation placed on your credit history that shows that a bank accessed your credit report during an application process. It does not state whether you were approved or denied credit.

Inquiries work twofold. On one hand, they let consumers know who has accessed their credit history. If you see inquiries on your credit report that you did not approve, someone else may have access to your Social Security number or other identifying information.

On the other hand, banks want to know how often you apply for credit. The number of inquiries on your credit report show whether you are applying too often for loans or credit cards.

A few inquiries are expected on everyone’s credit report. But too many inquiries can make you look desperate for money. Inquiries live on your credit report for two years.

A general rule of thumb is that three inquiries at any time are okay. More than that and you could see a small dip in your credit score until older inquiries age off your file.

Can I Get a Secured Business Credit Card?

While most banks build secured credit card offerings for consumers who want to build or rebuild their credit scores, a few secured business credit card options can give you access to a revolving line of credit to grow your business.

The Wells Fargo Business Secured Credit Card offers rewards, and you can set your credit limit based on your refundable security deposit of between $500 and $25,000 while paying no annual fee. The card also charges no foreign transaction fee and allows the primary cardholder to have up to 10 employee cards printed at no extra cost.

The BBVA Secured Visa® Business Credit Card charges no annual fee for the first year, but you will find a $40 annual fee after your first anniversary. Cardholders can open their account with a $500 minimum security deposit and make future deposits in $100 increments to increase their credit limits.

Employee cards also come at no additional cost and can feature spending limits and itemized billing on each statement.

Compare Secured Credit Cards with Low Deposits Online

You may want to find secured credit cards with low deposits for several reasons. Maybe you want to build credit for the first time or you want to adhere to a strict monthly budget. Perhaps you want to rewrite your personal credit history to make up for previous mistakes.

Whatever your reason, a secured credit card can help you reach your goals while setting your own credit limit. This flexibility allows you to be the author of the next chapter of your credit-building journey.

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