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Best secured credit cards of 2016

By , Editor-in-chief

Our credit cards articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity and are independent of whether a card is an advertiser (they are neither commissioned by nor reviewed, approved or endorsed by issuers); however we may receive compensation through the issuers' affiliate programs when you click on links to products from our partners and get approved. See details on how we make money here.

Best secured credit cards

With responsible use, secured credit cards can easily boost or rebuild your credit score. Secured credit cards allow you to earn the trust of lenders, without posing a risk, because you're putting your own money on the line. Applicants for secured credit cards put down hundreds (or thousands based on creditworthiness) of dollars as a deposit to back secure credit cards. If you fail to make monthly payments or exceed your limit, your deposit will suffer, and the credit-building the deal you've agreed to is off.

Because of the uncertainty lenders have with secured credit card users, they do require additional scrutiny by loan officers, and can take up to four weeks for approval. We can suggest a couple sources for secured credit cards that may interest you:

Capital One® Secured MasterCard®

Capital One® Secured MasterCard® About Our Ratings
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Our editor's take:
The best part about the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® is the flexible starter line of credit. Most cards require at least $200, but the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® allows cardholders to start at smaller amounts like $49, and $99 based on creditworthiness.

Card Details
Credit required Limited, Bad
Purchase Apr 24.99% (Variable)
Annual fee $0

When the bank reports your low credit utilization and your on-time payments to the credit bureaus, you can get a slight lift in your credit score. Over time you may earn a credit line increase based on your payment history and creditworthiness. The annual fee of $0 makes it easier for consumers who need help getting their credit back on track.

As you could assume, getting credit back on track comes at a price. APR for the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® is a whopping 24.99% (variable), which is easily avoidable by paying your balance in full each month. Consumers have flexibility when it comes to an upfront deposit: $49, $99, or $200 for a starter line of credit – your credit line can grow as you grow, too.

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First National Bank Secured Visa® Card

First National Bank Secured Visa® Card About Our Ratings

Our editor's take:
The First National Bank Secured Visa® is a great stepping stone card. First National sets out a tangible path for cardholders aiming to boost their credit – after 11 months of responsible payments, cardholders can be approved for an unsecured credit card from First National Bank. Mission accomplished.

Card Details
Credit required Bad
Purchase Apr 20.99% Variable
Annual fee $29

In as little as 7 months, cardholders can get approved for additional unsecured credit without sending additional deposits (based on creditworthiness), and 11 months after opening your account you could become eligible for an unsecured card from First National Bank. This makes the First National Bank Secured Visa® Card a great stepping stone card with tangible milestones – perfect for those who like to track their credit-building progress. The only downside: this card requires a $29 annual free.

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DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card

DCU Visa® Platinum Secured Credit Card About Our Ratings

Our editor's take:
Besides the potential to earn the intro $30 cash back incentive, DCU also makes their secured card desirable with no annual fee, no fees or higher rates for cash advances and balance transfers.

Card Details
Credit required Limited
Purchase Apr 11.75% (variable)
Annual fee None

As with many secured credit cards, DCU touts their Visa® Platinum Secured credit card as a great card for students: an opportunity to begin building your own credit history with a card that doesn't require an annual fee. The DCU Visa® offers has a small rewards program: a chance to earn up to $30 by using your credit card. The DCU Visa® is compatible with Apple Pay, which makes shopping easy (but be careful, you're trying to build credit not destroy it).

If you have a savings account set up through DCU you can borrow against your savings or checking account, making it easy to satisfy your deposit, and refill your line of credit – it also helps if you'd like to take advantage of their optional overdraft protection.

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Citi® Secured MasterCard®

CardImage About Our Ratings
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Our editor's take:
Citi® offers cardholders the opportunity to track account information online with AutoPay, Online Bill Pay, and alerts. If you're new to using a credit card, familiarize yourself with these tools, they can make managing your money so much easier!

Card Details
Credit required CreditScoreNeeded
Purchase Apr PurchaseAPRNeeded
Annual fee AnnualFees

The Citi® Secured MasterCard® offers a slightly lower APR than the Capital One® Secured MasterCard®, but it's important to note there is an annual fee of $25. Cardholders will need to provide a security deposit between $200 and $5,000 upon application. The credit limit you are eligible for will match the security deposit you've submitted.

Like most of Citi® Secured MasterCard® requirements, the security deposit procedure is fairly routine: Your security deposit will be held for 18 months -- if your account goes into default at any time during the first 18 months of as a cardholder, your security deposit will be used to cover the balance. The $25 annual fee is a separate cost, so make sure to take that amount into account prior to you first monthly statement.

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OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card About Our Ratings
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Our editor's take:
OpenSky® doesn't charge interest on purchases during the first billing cycle which is a huge perk for anyone just learning about how credit cards work, or someone needing a bit of extra help kick starting their credit score.

Card Details
Credit required Poor/Bad/No Credit
Purchase Apr 17.39% Variable
Annual fee $35

CardRatings supports the responsible use of credit cards, which makes OpenSky®'s access to online financial education for cardholders a huge win in our book. Credit lines for this card range from $200-$3000, with a $35 annual fee. Based on creditworthiness, cardholders may have the option to increase their limit to $5000 in the first year. Each month OpenSky® reports to the three major credit bureaus to help you get your credit back on track quickly.

Be aware: the 17.39% variable APR shoots up to 21.50% for penalty APR, so paying your bill each month is a must. Special perk: there is no interest charged on purchases during the first billing cycle.

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First Command Bank Classic Visa® Card

First Command Bank Classic Visa® Card About Our Ratings

Our editor's take:
The ScoreCard rewards program offered by First Command Bank is unique to secured credit cards. Cardholders can earn points redeemable for air travel, hotels, vacation packages, among other options – pretty great incentive to keep your credit score healthy.

Card Details
Credit required Limited
Purchase Apr 12.50% (variable)
Annual fee None

This no annual fee, secured card is a great card for students, first-time cardholders, or anyone looking to rebuild their credit score. This card touts special benefits like no annual fee, over-limit fee, or balance transfer fee. This card also has a rewards program which is slightly unusual for secured credit cards: the ScoreCard rewards program earns points redeemable for air travel, hotels, vacation packages, cruises, rental cars, and merchandise – a huge incentive for cardholders.

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nRewards® Secured Credit Card

CardImage About Our Ratings
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Our editor's take:
Although this card is specific for servicemen and women (and their families) the overall idea of a credit union credit card is what we really love. If you do qualify for this card, the low 8.99% APR is something to note.

Card Details
Credit required CreditScoreNeeded
Purchase Apr PurchaseAPRNeeded
Annual fee AnnualFees

We are big fans of most credit union offerings, and the nRewards® Secured credit card by the Navy Federal Credit Union is no exception. The secured card for servicemen, women, and families does not have an annual fee and offers up to 1 percent cash back on purchases. The APR for the nRewards® can be as low as 8.99%, which is an incredibly low rate for secured cards.

If you're a teacher, check out the Teachers Federal Credit Union, they also offer a no annual fee secured credit card with an APR below 7%. If you're not a teacher or a veteran, your local credit union may offer similar terms. However, you may have to commit to attending a money management seminar and to bringing your other financial accounts into your credit union membership.

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Desperate for credit?

Here's a final word of caution. Our website about the best credit cards on the market often attracts questions from consumers in trouble with their credit. According to Amber Stubbs, managing editor for CardRatings.com, these questions often indicate a serious money problem that a new account isn't likely to solve.

Having a secured credit card won't magically improve your credit score, and they won't get you instant cash. To enjoy the real benefits of credit cards, you'll need to keep your secured account in good standing for a year or two. Commit to earning and saving more money, so you can control your credit cards instead of letting them control you.

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