Citi Secured Mastercard Review: A Secured Credit Card Perfect for Building Credit

Please Note: Information about the Citi® Secured Mastercard® and Discover it® Secured have been collected independently by The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

A great choice for those with little-to-no credit looking to establish their history.

Citi® Secured Mastercard® lets you get in the credit game by offering you a line of credit equal to your security deposit. The card reports to all three of the major credit bureaus each month, so you are actively building credit when you make purchases and pay the card on time. Citi® Secured Mastercard® functions the same way as an unsecured card; no one will know the difference. You can use it worldwide wherever you see the Mastercard logo, and it comes with some standard Citi features, like 0% liability for unauthorized purchases.

What we like about Citi® Secured Mastercard®

  • This Citi® Secured Mastercard® reports to the top three credit bureaus every month, which is the fastest way to build credit.
  • There is no annual fee, which helps you save cash.
  • Unlike some unsecured cards for people with limited credit histories, there are no fees to set up the card and no monthly fees.
  • The amount of the secured deposit matches your credit line and ranges from $200 to $2,500.
  • Your account is protected through Citi Identity Theft Solutions and features 0% liability on unauthorized purchases.
  • You can manage the account online 24/7 with free online and mobile banking tools that let you make payments and view transactions and balances.

Things to consider

  • The security deposit won’t earn any interest while it’s being held in a collateral holding account.
  • Unlike some other secured cards, this Citi® Secured Mastercard® doesn’t specify exactly what cardholders have to do to get their security back early and transition to an unsecured credit card.
  • You’ll have to pay the full security of $200 within 14 days of opening the account.
  • The card is not available to people with poor credit.
  • You can’t apply for the card if you have declared bankruptcy in the past two years.
  • It can take you up to 18 months to get your security deposit back, which is a long period of time compared to some other secured cards.

Credit-building details

The main reason someone would apply for Citi® Secured Mastercard® is to establish a credit history. Because this Citi® Secured Mastercard® reports to all three of the main credit bureaus each month — Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax — you’ll be able to improve your credit score by making on-time payments. The smartest way to manage the card is to use it for all your everyday purchases, pay the card on time every month, and never carry a balance. That way, you’ll avoid costly interest payments and keep your card utilization ratio low, which can help with your credit score. Citi® Secured Mastercard® also has some features to help you on your credit journey. You can check your FICO score for free through your online account; it updates once a month. You can also choose a flexible monthly payment date so that the card balance comes due at a time that’s convenient for you.

Fee details

Unless you stick to U.S. purchases and pay the card on time each month, Citi® Secured Mastercard® can be pricey to own. The standard variable APR for cash advances is 25.24%, and you’ll pay $10 or 5% of the amount of the cash advance, whichever is greater. The balance transfer fee is $5 or 3% of each transfer, whichever is greater. The foreign purchase fee is 3%. You should definitely avoid making late payments on Citi® Secured Mastercard®. For one thing, late payments could delay your transition to an unsecured card. It also makes it more expensive to carry a balance on the card.

How does it compare to other secured credit cards?

Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no-frills card specifically designed for people wanting to establish — as opposed to rebuild — their credit. The Discover it® Secured and Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, on the other hand, are two other secured, no annual fee cards available to people with poor credit. Discover it® Secured offers cash back rewards but is accepted by fewer merchants worldwide. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card lets eligible cardholders put down less than the initial credit limit, which is a great perk for cash-strapped cardholders.

Card nameAPRAnnual FeeIntro BonusCredit NeededKey features
Citi® Secured Mastercard®See TermsSee TermsNoneNo credit history
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
  • Free access to FICO Score
  • Establish a credit line anywhere from $200 to 2,500
Discover it® SecuredSee TermsSee TermsMatches all cash back rewards at the end of the yearNo credit history
  • 2% cashback on gas and restaurants (up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter)
  • 1% on everything else
  • Automatic review to retrieve security deposit starts after eight months
Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card26.99% Variable$0NonePoor
  • Get a $200 credit line with a deposit as low as $49
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Personalized account alerts and Autopay options

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Valerie Fulton

Contributing Writer

Valerie Fulton is a freelance writer who specializes in personal finance, real estate, higher education, home improvement and business copy.
Her work has been published at Veros Real Estate Solutions, Bluehost, Sears, UPS, Movoto, Peak Communications and the University of Tennessee. Every summer, she travels from Austin, Texas to the coast of Maine with her two standard poodles in order to manage the vacation property she bought for a steal several years ago.