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Citi Secured Card Review

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Aug 15, 2018, but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.

Who the card is best for

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a $0 annual fee secured card that provides cardholders the opportunity to build credit when used responsibly. This card is just OK when compared to other secured cards, given you won’t earn any rewards or receive substantial perks. Although that means you can focus solely on building credit, it can be a drawback if you’re looking for a secured card with rewards or above-average benefits. If that’s the case, check out other secured card options.

  • Monthly reporting to the three major credit bureaus

  • Auto Pay can help you stay on top of your bill

  • Use your card anywhere that accepts Mastercard®

  • No Annual Fee, and unlike a prepaid card, it helps build credit history with monthly notifications to the credit bureaus 
  • A security deposit is required for this product (minimum $200) 
  • Pay your bill on time every month to avoid damaging your credit. Citi can help keep you on track with Auto Pay, online Bill Pay and alerts. 
  • Use the card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide

See additional details for Citi® Secured Mastercard®

More Info

Where this card stands out in its category

This card offers a high credit limit range of $200-$2,500. But remember that this is a secured card, so your credit limit is equal to your security deposit. That means if you want a $2,500 credit limit you will have to deposit $2,500, which is no small feat, though it does give you the ability to have a high credit limit if desired.

Where this card falls short in its category

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is very basic and lacks additional card perks that some other secured cards have like rewards, added insurances, travel assistance, no foreign transaction fees and more. Therefore, this card is less appealing compared to competitors that have similar terms plus the added benefits of rewards and other noteworthy features.

Additional card benefits

Unfortunately, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® doesn’t come with any additional card benefits besides those that are standard to credit cards such as identity theft solutions, $0 liability on unauthorized charges and your free credit score.

How to use it most effectively

You can see the most benefit from the Citi® Secured Mastercard® when you follow proper credit behavior. An important factor in managing your card is to pay each statement on time and in full. That means you shouldn’t only pay the minimum due or carry a balance, because that will incur fees and paying late also results in a penalty APR, not to mention potentially damage your credit. Paying in full and on time saves you money and helps your credit score.

Another important practice is to keep a low utilization rate — that’s the amount of your available credit you use. The less you use of your available credit, the better, but a good rule of thumb is to keep your credit utilization rate around 20%. For example, if you have a $400 credit limit, try to spend less than $80 before paying off your balance. Citi also provides credit and financial management resources at their Credit Knowledge Center.

Compare it with the Discover it® Secured

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® and Discover it® Secured both require a minimum $200 security deposit but offer different card benefits. People looking to earn rewards with their card won’t find any with the Citi® Secured Mastercard®, but they will with the Discover it® Secured — 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases. So, if you want to build credit and earn rewards, check out the Discover it® Secured.

  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.

  • Credit line will equal your security deposit of $200 or more*

  • No annual fee, no late fee on your first late payment. No penalty APR*

  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • It’s a real credit card. You can build a credit history with the three major credit bureaus. Generally, debit and prepaid cards can't help you build a credit history.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit from $200-$2500 after being approved. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • We automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
  • Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
  • See Rates & Fees

See additional details for Discover it® Secured

More Info

Regarding other card benefits, the Discover it® Secured has a more robust program than the Citi® Secured Mastercard® with no foreign transaction fees and a waived late fee for your first missed payment, among other perks. The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is very basic and doesn’t offer any benefits beyond standard features like identity theft protection. Overall, if you’re looking for a well-rounded secured card, the Discover it® Secured is a great choice, and the Citi® Secured Mastercard® can be an alternative if you want a no-frills card.

Here’s a breakdown of the key features of each card:

Citi® Secured Mastercard® Discover it® Secured
Annual Fee $0 $0
Minimum Security Deposit $200 $200
Purchase Intro Rate N/A N/A
Balance Transfer Intro Rate N/A 10.99% APR for 6 Months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum 3%
Regular Purchase APR 24.49%* (Variable) 24.99% Variable
Rewards None 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases every quarter, automatically. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases.
Sign Up Bonus N/A Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.
Foreign Transaction Fee 3% None

Bottom line

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is an OK secured credit card. It can provide you with the foundation on which to build your credit, but you can easily find secured cards from other major issuers that provide rewards and other benefits.

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