7 Best Cash-Back Secured Credit Cards (Feb. 2024)

Best Cash Back Secured Credit Cards

Secured credit cards have come a long way. They once offered only the most essential benefits, but the best ones now provide various perks, including cash back rewards.

We’ve assembled a list of the best cash back secured credit cards that welcome subprime applicants. We also provide expert answers to several frequently asked questions about secured credit cards. Continue reading to see which card best fits your needs.

Best Secured Cards With Cash Rewards

These secured cards are easy to get, regardless of your credit score. You only have to pay the refundable security deposit, which may be as low as $100. 

Each card pays cash back rewards that can save you hundreds of dollars over a year’s time. They also are typically less expensive to own than subprime unsecured cards.

  • 1% Cash Back Rewards on payments
  • Choose your own credit line – $200 to $2000 – based on your security deposit
  • Build your credit score.¹ Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
  • No minimum credit score required for approval!
  • ¹ Cardholders who keep their balance low and pay their credit card bill on time every month typically do see an increase in their credit score.
★★★★★

4.6

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
9 minutes 19.24% (V) Yes 7.5/10

The First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card ranks as this review’s best secured credit card. It offers this issuer’s best compromise between annual fee and APR. The card favors cardmembers who may occasionally carry a balance across billing cycles but want to avoid the highest annual fee.

You don’t need a credit history to get this card. To qualify, you must be a US resident, age 18 or older. Penalty fees apply for late and returned payments. The card has an interest-free grace period that allows you to avoid interest by paying your entire balance by the due date each month.

  • 1% Cash Back Rewards on payments
  • Choose your own credit line – $200 to $2000 – based on your security deposit
  • Build your credit score.¹ Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
  • No minimum credit score required for approval!
  • ¹ Cardholders who keep their balance low and pay their credit card bill on time every month typically do see an increase in their credit score.
★★★★★

4.5

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
8 minutes 15.24% (V) Yes 7.5/10

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card targets those consumers likely to carry balances across multiple billing periods. The card’s APR is lower than that of other cards from this issuer, but it charges a slightly higher annual fee that varies with the Prime Rate. This secured Mastercard is a close runner-up for best secured card in this group.

Not surprisingly, this secured credit card does not support balance transfers, but you can use it for cash advances and foreign transactions (fees apply). You may be ineligible for the card if you previously received approval for a credit card from First Progress.

  • Earn 1% Cash Back Rewards on payments made to your First Latitude Secured credit card account.
  • Past credit issues shouldn’t prevent you from getting a credit card with great benefits & rewards!
  • Choose your own fully-refundable credit line – $200 to $2000 – based on your security deposit.
  • Build or rebuild your credit!¹
  • Accepted wherever Mastercard® is accepted
  • Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
  • No minimum credit score required for approval!
  • ¹Cardholders who keep their balance low and pay their credit card bill on time every month typically do see an increase in their credit score.
  • *See Important Disclosures for complete offer details
★★★★★

4.5

Overall Rating

Application Length Interest Rate Reports Monthly Reputation Score
5 minutes 19.24% (V) Yes 8.0/10

You can choose from a wide range of deposit amounts for the First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card to secure an equal spending limit. This secured Mastercard pays cash back on all eligible purchases. The one-time program fee is low, and you can avoid the card’s purchase APR by paying your entire balance each billing cycle.

You don’t need a credit history for card approval. You can qualify for a second, unsecured card by paying your bills on time for six months. This card charges a small, one-time setup fee and an annual fee that increases in the second year.

4. Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card has many features you’d find on cards for consumers with good credit, even though it targets folks with credit scores below 670. It is the best credit card for Bank of America loyalists with bad credit.

Bank of America Customized Cash Rewards Secured Credit Card
  • Pays up to 3% cash back on eligible purchases
  • Security deposits range from $200 to $5,000
  • No annual fee

Features include low fees and optional overdraft protection. This secured Visa credit card allows you to access your FICO credit score for free on its online banking website or mobile app.

5. Quicksilver Secured from Capital One

The Quicksilver Secured Rewards from Capital One provides unlimited cash back on all eligible purchases. You can increase your initial credit line by depositing additional money before activating your card.

Quicksilver Secured Rewards from Capital One
  • Pays 1.5% cash back rewards on all eligible purchases
  • Reports to all three major credit bureaus
  • No annual fee

The maximum permitted deposit depends on your credit profile. Capital One regularly refunds the deposits of responsible cardmembers, thereby converting Quicksilver to an unsecured card.

6. Discover it® Secured Card

The Discover it Secured Card offers cash back and a low-APR promotion on balance transfers. You don’t need a credit score to apply.

Discover it Secured Card
  • Pays up to 2% cash back on eligible purchases
  • New cardmembers receive a Cashback Match at the end of the first year
  • No annual fee

You can secure a $200 to $2,500 credit line by making an equal deposit. You also get $0 fraud liability protection and free FICO credit scores. Cashback Match makes this the best credit card for consumers who want to maximize their first-year rewards.

7. U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured Visa Card

The U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured Visa Card helps you build credit while paying you cash back rewards. The issuer regularly reports your card status to the three major credit bureaus.

U.S. Bank Cash+ Secured Visa Card
  • Pays up to 5% cash back on eligible purchases
  • Security deposits range from $300 to $5,000
  • No annual fee

This secured Visa credit card lets you choose your monthly payment due date. It provides $0 fraud liability, contactless payments, an autopay option, and support for mobile wallets.

What Is a Secured Cash Back Credit Card?

A secured credit card requires a deposit from the cardholder before approval and, when used responsibly, can help consumers rebuild credit. A secured cash back card provides cash rewards on eligible purchases.

Secured cards allow consumers with no credit history to establish a line of credit and, eventually, a credit score. They work in the same manner as unsecured cards, except for the required deposit.

Your deposit acts as collateral for the card’s credit line. Secured cards typically accept deposits ranging from $100 to $5,000. Your deposit amount establishes your credit limit — if you’re required to make a $300 deposit, you will receive a $300 credit limit. 

At least one partially secured credit is available. It requires a deposit smaller than your assigned credit limit. Receiving a partially secured line of credit depends on your credit history, and your eligibility is at the issuer’s sole discretion.

Several secured credit cards provide cash back rewards on eligible purchases. The cards offer three cash back schemes — flat, tiered, and revolving:

  • Flat rate: These cards pay 1% to 2% cash back on all eligible purchases. A flat rate card lets you earn an unlimited amount of cash back.
  • Tiered rates: These cards offer one or more bonus reward rates for different merchant categories (e.g., gas stations, office stores, restaurants, etc.). They usually cap the purchase amounts that qualify for the bonus rates. All other eligible purchases receive the card’s default reward rate, typically 1%.
  • Rotating categories: These cards specify a new merchant category to receive the top bonus rate each quarter. You must reenroll each quarter to receive the bonus cash back. These cards may include tiered bonus rates, but all have default rates, typically 1%, for non-bonus purchases.

Cash rewards generally don’t expire while the account remains open. Discover is unique because you don’t forfeit your unredeemed rewards if you cancel the card.

In most cases, you can redeem your cash back at any time and in any amount. Depending on the card, you may receive your cash back as a statement credit, check, electronic deposit, or gift card.

How Do I Get a Secured Credit Card?

You can apply for a secured credit card just as you would any other credit card. The easiest way to do so is online. You fill out and submit an application containing information about your identity, income, employment, housing costs, and debts.

Screenshot of First Progress card application
Completing a credit card application will require personal information including contact and income details.

Most issuers will approve or deny your application within seconds, although some secured credit cards may take longer. Reading the card’s terms and details is critical to understanding the approval criteria.

Some people aren’t comfortable revealing personal information online. That’s not a problem — you can apply over the phone if you prefer. The issuer’s phone number is readily available on its website.

If the issuer approves your application, it will require you to submit a security deposit before it sends you the card. Failure to send in the deposit within a set period will cause the issuer to cancel your application.

Some cards require a minimum deposit at first but allow you to increase the amount once the deposit clears. Each issuer independently sets its deposit policy.

Should I Get a Secured or an Unsecured Credit Card?

Secured cards often make more sense for consumers with bad credit. Compared to unsecured cards, secured cards have higher credit limits, are easier to get, cost less, and refund your deposit when you close the account or graduate to an unsecured card.

Secured Credit Cards

Many consumers consider the requirement for a security deposit well worth paying to receive the benefits of a secured credit card, which include the following:

  • The deposit is refundable: You will usually receive a full refund if you pay your bills on time. Secured cards start you with deposits as low as $100 to $200. Contrast this amount to the cost of an unsecured subprime card with a $200 credit limit. The unsecured card may impose a $99 setup fee, a $10 monthly maintenance charge, and a $79 annual fee. The money you spend on these expenses is gone forever, whereas most secured cards carry no such fees and will eventually return your deposit. Which deal sounds better to you?
  • Lower costs: Because secured cards are less risky, issuers can afford to charge lower interest rates and fees. Few secured cards impose a setup or monthly maintenance fee. You can expect interest rates to top out around 29%; some may have lower APRs than 20%.
  • Higher credit limits: Secured cards usually provide a starting credit limit of $100 to $300 (with a matching security deposit). But almost all secured cards let you deposit additional funds to increase your credit limit. In this review, the top credit limit for a secured card is $5,000, which is pretty generous considering that the cardmembers have subprime credit. Some secured cards will increase your credit limit without an additional deposit. Most simply refund your money.
  • Good rewards: Secured cards may offer bonus rewards of 3% or higher on select purchases. And the Discover it Secured Card provides new cardmembers an unlimited Cashback Match for the first year. Unsecured credit cards for poor credit seldom offer rewards, and if they do, they usually max out at 1%.
  • No credit check: Many secured cards don’t check an applicant’s credit. After all, cardmembers secure their credit lines with cash, rendering credit scores less relevant. Not only do you avoid rejection due to bad credit, but you also sidestep a hard inquiry that may impact your already poor credit score.

Issuers of secured credit cards are more inclined to approve subprime applicants because security deposits reduce the issuer’s cost of defaults. Secured cards provide an excellent way to establish first-time credit or rebuild after a financial setback.

Secured versus unsecured credit cards

Issuers of secured cards typically refund deposits once cardmembers establish their creditworthiness. Depending on the issuer, it may take as few as six consecutive on-time payments to graduate to an unsecured credit card. Alternatively, a secured card issuer may increase your credit limit without an additional deposit.

Secured cards make a lot of sense when you have no credit, limited credit, or bad credit. Their biggest benefit is that they report your payments to all three credit bureaus, allowing you to efficiently build credit by paying your bills on time.

Unsecured Credit Cards For Bad Credit

Unsecured credit cards for bad credit do not require collateral. They compose a significant segment of the credit card market. The outcome of your application for an unsecured card depends on your creditworthiness, as evidenced by your credit score, income, and debts.

Unsecured cards for poor credit typically have several drawbacks, including:

  • Meager credit limits: These cards will saddle you with an initial credit limit as low as $200. Your credit line can grow if you pay your bills on time and minimize your unpaid balances.
  • High interest rates: You will likely encounter 25% to 36% APRs. These high interest rates can challenge your budget if you don’t pay your entire balance on time each month.
  • Many fees: Unsecured cards for subprime credit charge the same fees you find on cards for good credit, but they also pile on costs unique to their segment. These include high annual fees, one-time program fees, monthly maintenance charges, a fee for extra cards, and even fees for credit limit increases. Add to these the usual charges for foreign transactions, cash advances, and late payments, and you’ll likely experience fee overload.
  • Few perks: Most subprime unsecured cards do not pay rewards on purchases, nor do they offer signup bonuses, or extend 0% introductory APRs. Don’t expect many benefits other than fraud protection and free access to credit scores.
  • Hidden costs: A few unsecured cards for bad credit bury information about unpleasant provisions in the fine print. For example, at least two cards do not provide a grace period for purchases. They start charging interest on the transaction date rather than the payment due date. Another shocker is a fee for credit limit increases. Cards of this type may raise your credit limit and then grab a fee as high as 25% of the increase.

Subprime consumers have many reasons to dislike low credit scores. But the deficiencies of unsecured credit cards are surely near the top of the list.

What Costs and Credit Limits Should I Expect from a Secured Card?

Secured credit cards generally are cheaper and have potentially higher credit limits than their equivalent unsecured siblings. The credit limits of most subprime unsecured cards range from $200 to $2,000, whereas secured cards offer limits as high as $10,000 (with a matching deposit).

Both types of cards have fees for late payments and cash advances. Many also have annual fees, but those for unsecured subprime cards are usually higher. 

Two fees common to subprime unsecured cards are almost always absent from secured cards:

  • Program fees: These are one-time signup fees that can reach $100 or more.
  • Monthly maintenance fees: These charges usually range from $5 to $10 per month beginning in the second year of card ownership.

As far as we can tell, the only function of these two fees is to drain your wallet.

While secured cards require an upfront deposit, issuers usually refund the money sometime in the first year if you pay your bills on time. 

The bottom line is that secured cards are generally a much better deal than subprime unsecured cards. The cherry on the top is that several secured cards pay cash back rewards.

How Should I Choose a Cash Back Secured Card?

The factors to consider when choosing a cash back secured card include the following:

  • Minimum deposit requirement: Look for a card with a deposit requirement that fits your budget. The minimum deposit generally ranges from $200 to $300. Some cash back secured cards let you deposit as much as $10,000.
  • Rewards: Look for the cash back deals that best fit your spending patterns. You may like the simplicity of a flat-rate card or prefer the potentially higher cash back from tiered and rotating rewards. You can estimate how much you’ll earn over the course of a year but don’t forget to subtract the annual fee.
  • Interest Rates: Check the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), as this will be the interest you’ll pay if you carry a balance from month to month. A lower APR is generally better if you think you may not pay off the balance in full every month.
  • Fees: Many secured cards waive annual, application, and monthly maintenance fees. Look for a card with minimal costs, especially if you want to save money.
  • Graduation to an unsecured card: Most secured cards allow you to graduate to an unsecured card after six or more months of timely payments. The issuer will refund your deposit, but you should verify that the replacement card doesn’t impose higher costs.
  • Credit reporting: Virtually all secured credit card reports to all three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, Equifax). Triple reporting is the most efficient way to build credit. Avoid cards that don’t provide this feature.
  • Additional features and benefits: While not common, some secured cards offer perks such as rental car insurance, free credit scores, or 0% APR promotions.
  • Mobile app: Look for a card with an easy-to-use mobile app that lets you track spending, make payments, and manage your account.
  • Customer service: Consider the issuer’s reputation for customer service. Having attentive support is helpful when you have questions or concerns about your account.
  • Acceptance criteria: Check the card’s eligibility requirements. Many secured cards are more forgiving of bad or no credit history, while others are more stringent.
  • Terms and conditions: Read the fine print to understand the card’s features, fees, penalties, interest rates, and other essential details.
  • Reviews and recommendations: Look online for reviews such as this one. Ask friends and family for suggestions based on their experiences.

Your spending habits, financial goals, and need for credit will help you determine which card is best for you. Think about what you require most from the card and choose accordingly.

How Do I Build Credit With a Secured Card?

Secured credit cards are excellent tools for establishing, building, and rebuilding credit. They’re perfect for subprime consumers who can’t or don’t want to qualify for an unsecured card. Let’s review how to use your secured credit card to raise your credit score.

Use Your Secured Card Regularly

Using your credit card regularly will help boost your score. Your secured card reports your activity and balances each month, usually to all three credit bureaus, and this data shapes your credit profile. Failure to use your card will cause your score to stagnate.

Consider developing a budget if you’re concerned your credit card will tempt you into overspending. You can assign fixed expenses, such as your cellphone bill or HOA dues, to your credit card. Doing so will change the source of payments rather than the amounts, causing little impact on your budget.

As you gain confidence, you can extend your credit card use to everyday purchases such as groceries and gas. Adhering to your budget and using your card responsibly evidences creditworthy behavior that can improve your credit profile.

Pay on Time

Timely payments are the cornerstone of good credit and comprise 35% of your FICO score. Paying on time, every time, will eventually boost your credit score.

FICO score factors
Payment history accounts for 35% of your FICO credit score.

You can set up automatic payments with your credit card issuer to ensure you always pay the minimum amount due each month. Alternatively, you can use personal financial software such as Quicken to schedule payments. 

If you don’t automate payments and miss a payment, contact the credit card issuer immediately and explain the issue. Call the issuer quickly because delinquencies will appear on your credit report when they are 30 days past due

Promptly communicating with your card issuer may prevent a late payment from appearing on your credit report. You’ll face a late payment fee of $25 to $41 (although Discover waives the charge if it is your first missed payment).

Keep Your Debt Levels in Check

The amount you owe makes up 30% of your FICO score. One of the measurements FICO uses is your credit utilization ratio (i.e., your credit card balances divided by your credit limits). For example, if your card has a $1,000 credit limit and you’ve run up a $800 balance, your CUR is 80%, a very high figure. 

This chart illustrates how to calculate CUR:

How to calculate your credit utilization ratio

It’s best to keep your total credit utilization below 30%, but your credit scores will be rewarded for maintaining an even lower CUR. Your credit score may also reflect your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Lenders typically become uncomfortable with DTI ratios above 35%, although some (i.e., mortgage lenders, and car financing companies) may accept a higher figure.

You can improve your credit score by paying down your credit card balances. Doing so will reduce your DTI ratio and CUR. 

In addition, try to pay new charges immediately so they don’t increase your CUR, which the credit card companies report monthly. By always staying up to date on your payments, you increase the chances of having a low CUR on the day your card sends its report. 

You usually cannot use a secured card to consolidate debt via balance transfers. But as you build credit and accumulate unsecured cards, you may qualify for a card offering a 0% balance transfer promotion for six to 18 months. You can transfer debts to the balance transfer card and use the interest savings to pay down your debt aggressively.

Can the Credit Card Company Reject My Application for a Secured Card?

Getting a secured credit card is pretty straightforward, but no issuer approves 100% of the applications it receives. It may reject your application for several reasons, including the following:

  • You are less than 18 years old
  • You don’t reside in the United States
  • You didn’t provide a valid Social Security number
  • You don’t have a checking account
  • Your income is too low
  • You have too much debt
  • You already have a secured card from the issuer
  • The issuer cannot verify the information on your application
  • Your credit history shows recent late payments
  • You are currently in bankruptcy proceedings
  • You previously defaulted on a card from the issuer

Notice that we didn’t include having a low credit score in the list. Many issuers of secured cards accept applicants with poor credit. Furthermore, most do not perform hard credit pulls, meaning your application won’t impact your credit score.

If the credit card issuer denies your application, the Fair Credit Reporting Act entitles you to receive an Adverse Action Notice (AAN) in the mail within seven to 10 business days. The issuer must include the following information in an AAN:

  • The reasons for your rejection
  • The information (typically from a major credit bureau) upon which the creditor relied, including your credit scores and reports
  • Instructions on how to get a free copy of your credit reports
  • Information on disputing credit report items you feel to be in error

Use the AAN as a resource to help you fix the issues preventing you from qualifying for a secured credit card.

How Many Secured Cards Should I Have?

You need only a single secured card to rebuild credit. After a short period of responsible use, you may receive an upgrade to an unsecured card. At that point, you can decide how many cards you want in light of your credit needs, income, and debt. 

That said, a second secured card may accelerate your credit rehabilitation by providing another source of positive information to the three credit bureaus. But only get a second card if it doesn’t tempt you to overspend and undo your progress toward a better score.

Several websites offer credit score simulators to help determine how a second secured card will impact your score. 

What Should I Do If I Can’t Pay My Credit Card Bill?

Fast action is the best response when you can’t pay your credit card bill. Contacting your credit card issuer should be your first step. Explain why you can’t pay the minimum, how much you can afford to pay, and when you can restart your normal payments. 

Many issuers may be willing to work with you during a financial emergency. For example, they may reduce your minimum payment requirement or temporarily suspend billing. Expect the issuer to freeze your card until your emergency subsides.

Consider getting help from a nonprofit credit counselor. These organizations teach you how to handle money, create realistic budgets, and use credit responsibly. They can also help you work out a debt consolidation plan to eventually reduce your debt and save the money you spend on interest charges.

Don’t confuse credit counseling with debt settlement, an aggressive strategy to have creditors forgive some of your debt. Debt settlement is expensive and risky.

Compare the Best Cash-Back Secured Credit Cards

The secured cards in this review welcome subprime consumers and shower cardmembers with cash back rewards. The price of admission is a refundable deposit as small as $100. 

These cards can help you establish or rebuild credit. Use them responsibly, and you may soon qualify for an unsecured card with better rewards and benefits.

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