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Citi Secured Card Review

*Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

This article was last updated Aug 15, 2018. Terms and conditions may have changed. For the most accurate information, please consult the issuer website.

Who the card is best for

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® issued by our partner Citi 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.

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, 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 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 each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically 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 each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically

  • 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*

Highlights
  • 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 with your tax return by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200 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.
  • 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.
  • Get 100% U.S. based customer service & get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score
  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • 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% for 6 months
Balance Transfer Fee 3% of each balance transfer; $5 minimum 3% intro balance transfer fee, up to 5% fee on future balance transfers (see terms)*
Regular Purchase APR 22.49% (Variable) 22.99% Variable
Rewards None 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically
Sign Up Bonus N/A Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
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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Highlights
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