Citi® Secured Mastercard® review

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Garrett Yarbrough  in  Credit History How we rate our cards  | 

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Best for no monthly maintenance fee

Annual Fee:
$0
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
22.49% (Variable)
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Best starter card for Citi members

  • Rewards rate: N/A
  • Welcome offer: N/A
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 22.49% (variable)

Although it doesn’t earn rewards or carry special perks like some of the top secured cards, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® can be an accessible entry-level credit card if you have limited or no credit history. It’s an easy way to build your credit with all three major credit bureaus for no annual fee and a comparatively low APR (22.49 percent variable)—especially if you already have a banking relationship with Citi.

Since Citi determines your credit limit by looking at other financial indicators like income and debt, having a positive financial history with Citibank might help you qualify for a higher security deposit and credit limit. Plus, you can earn rewards with eligible Citibank accounts that you can later transfer to a reward-earning Citi credit card.

It’s worth noting that the Citi Secured card isn’t specifically marketed for those with bad credit, and you can’t apply if you’ve had any bankruptcy history in the last two years. Continue reading our Citi Secured Mastercard review to see if this is the right starter card for you.

Current welcome offer

The Citi Secured Mastercard doesn’t currently offer a welcome bonus. Sign-up bonuses aren’t common for secured cards, but a few may provide introductory APR rates or other first-year offers.

Rewards

Like many secured cards, the Citi Secured Mastercard doesn’t earn rewards. This isn’t a deal-breaker, though, since secured cards are meant to be used as a steppingstone to bigger and better rewards cards.

Benefits

Unfortunately, this card doesn’t carry extra perks aside from basic account management features and the Citi Entertainment program, which is available to nearly all Citi cardholders. These features add up to a perfectly serviceable experience while you shore up your credit score, but a student credit card may carry a stronger roster of benefits if you’re currently enrolled in college.

Graduate to an unsecured card

There isn’t a defined card graduation process to an unsecured card like you may find on other credit-building cards, but the card terms state that Citi may upgrade your card by refunding your deposit at 18 months.

A year and a half is plenty of time to demonstrate responsible use and boost your credit score through on-time payments and low credit utilization, however, so you may have already built up enough credit by then to spring for a better card anyway.

Account management features

Features like automatic account alerts, auto pay, choice of payment due dates and identity theft protections are standard perks you should find on any card worth applying for. These standard perks are all present on the Citi Secured Mastercard and can help you keep your credit score journey on track. You can also monitor your progress online with free access to your FICO score at any time.

Digital wallet access and contactless pay

Your Citi Secured card will be able to join your digital wallet for easy access on and offline. Plus, the physical card comes with a contactless payment chip enabled for quick, safe transactions.

Citi Entertainment

With Citi Entertainment, you gain access to exclusive travel, dining and entertainment events. If you’re already planning excursions for next year, Citi Entertainment is a great way to snag presale concert tickets and more before the general public can.

Rates and fees

The main appeal of the Citi Secured Mastercard is its low-cost, no-frills approach to credit building. There is no annual fee, and the $200 minimum security deposit may be less of a burden than the upfront cost of similar secured cards. Even the 22.49 percent (variable) ongoing APR is a bit lower than competing cards’ interest rates. It’s still well above the current average interest rate though, so make sure you don’t carry a balance.

Citi’s secured card also may not be the best to use abroad, since it charges a 3 percent foreign transaction fee (after USD conversion). While you’re exploring your credit card options, you should also take note of the 29.99 percent penalty variable APR and up to $40 late payment fee in case you miss a payment.

How the Citi Secured Mastercard compares to other secured cards

Though the Citi Secured Mastercard may be a good choice thanks to its bare-bones structure, some other secured credit cards carry fewer fees and more benefits—even rewards, in some cases.

For example, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card and Secured Mastercard® from Capital One both charge no annual fee, no foreign transaction fees and no penalty APR. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card also waives your first late payment fee (After that, up to $40) and earns 2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1 percent) with 1 percent back on all other purchases.

Perhaps more importantly, both cards hold automatic reviews periodically to graduate you to a higher credit line—starting at six months with the Capital One card and eight months with the Discover card.

Unless you’re already a loyal Citi customer, you might want to consider one of these alternatives.

Card Rewards rate Annual fee First-year offer Other details
Discover it® Secured Credit Card
  • 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, then 1%)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $0 annual fee
  • $200 to $2,500 security deposit
  • Initial credit line matches deposit
All cash back earned in the first 12 months is matched.
  • Six-month 10.99% intro APR for balance transfers posted to your account by April 10, 2021 (3% intro balance
    transfer fee, up to 5%
    fee on future balance
    transfers (see terms)* )
  • 22.99% ongoing variable APR
  • Automatic monthly credit line reviews starting at eight months for a possible credit line upgrade
  • No penalty APR
  • First late payment fee waived, up to $40 after
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
  • N/A
  • $0 annual fee
  • $49, $99 or $200 minimum security deposit (depending on creditworthiness)
  • $200 to $1,000 initial credit line (depending on creditworthiness)
N/A
  • 26.99% ongoing variable APR
  • Automatic credit line reviews starting at six months
  • No penalty APR
  • Up to $40 late payment
BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card
  • N/A
  • $0 annual fee
  • $300 to $4,900 security deposit
  • Initial credit line matches deposit
N/A
  • 22.99% variable APR
  • No penalty APR
  • Up to $40 late payment

Bankrate’s Take—Is the Citi Secured Mastercard worth it?

The Citi Secured Mastercard offers an opportunity to build credit at a low cost. Its rates and fees beat out quite a few middle and lower-tier options, but the bare-bones Citi Secured is a few ranks shy of being crowned the top secured card.

It’s a good option if you bank with Citi and plan to get a Citi rewards card afterward, but the Citi Secured’s penalty APR and lack of credit-building features make cards like the Discover it® Secured Credit Card and the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One better overall choices.

Pros

  • No annual fee
  • Only $200 minimum needed for security deposit
  • Low ongoing APR compared to other secured cards

Cons

  • Not many additional benefits
  • No rewards
  • A few competing secured cards offer better rates and benefits with fewer fees

All information about the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.