[Disclosure: Cards from our partners are reviewed below.]
Consumers with poor or nonexistent credit should consider secured credit cards for their spending and credit-building needs. Secured cards have looser credit restrictions and require a security deposit up front to open, but otherwise they operate like traditional credit cards.
With secured cards, your poor or limited credit history won’t necessarily keep you from earning rewards. While most secured credit cards are no-frills affairs, some do offer spending incentives.
Here are five secured credit cards with real rewards.
Rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at restaurants and gas stations per quarter; 1% cash back on everything else.
Sign-Up Bonus: First-year cash back match.
Annual Fee: None
APR:Variable 23.99% on purchases; 10.99% for six months on balance transfers, then variable 23.99%.
Why We Picked It: Gas and dining purchases earn double cash back, and there’s a lucrative sign-up bonus.
Benefits: All gas station and restaurant spending earns 2% cash back for up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter. Other purchases earn 1% cash back. Discover’s match bonus doubles the first-year cash back value.
Drawbacks: If you don’t own a car or dine out often, your cash back potential is diminished.
2. SKYPASS Visa Secured Card
Rewards: One mile for every dollar spent on eligible purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: 5,000 SKYPASS bonus miles upon your first purchase.
Annual Fee: $50
APR:Variable 17.24% on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: Cardholders can earn miles with select airlines.
Benefits: Every purchase earns one SKYPASS mile per dollar. You’ll get 5,000 bonus miles right out of the gate and 1,000 bonus miles every year upon renewal. Points can be redeemed for flights and upgrades with SkyTeam partners—including Delta, Korean Air, and Air France—or for other travel expenses.
Drawbacks: There’s a $50 annual fee, and miles are limited to twenty participating airlines.
3. Best Western Rewards Secured MasterCard
Rewards: Thirteen points for every dollar spent on Best Western stays; two points for every dollar spent on other purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: 5,000 bonus points upon your first purchase.
Annual Fee: $29
APR:Variable 21.99% on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: Frequent Best Western guests can earn points for future reservations and more.
Benefits: Cardholders earn thirteen points per dollar on Best Western stays, with ten points through the Best Western Rewards program and three points for using your card. All other purchases earn double points. Points can be redeemed for Best Western stays, gift cards, merchandise, and more.
Drawbacks: If you aren’t a loyal Best Western guest, this card isn’t for you.
4. Navy Federal nRewards Secured Credit Card
Rewards: One point per dollar spent on all purchases.
Sign-Up Bonus: None
Annual Fee: $0
APR:Variable 9.99% to 18% on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: Navy Federal members can earn points for goodies.
Benefits: All purchases earn one point. Points can be redeemed for gift cards or merchandise.
Drawbacks: You must be a Navy Federal member to access this card. Points expire after four years.
5. AeroMexico Visa Secured Card
Rewards: Two miles for every dollar spent on gas and groceries; one mile for every dollar spent on everything else.
Sign-Up Bonus: 5,000 bonus miles and a companion flight certificate with your first purchase.
Annual Fee: $0 the first year, then $25.
APR: Variable 23.99% on purchases and balance transfers.
Why We Picked It: Frequent AeroMexico flyers can enjoy the miles earned with this card.
Benefits: Gas and grocery purchases earn double miles, and all other purchase earn single miles. Your first purchase earns 5,000 bonus miles and a companion certificate. Plus, you’ll get an additional $99 companion certificate each year you renew.
Drawbacks: If you don’t fly AeroMexico, you won’t see much value in this card.
Choosing a Secured Credit Card with Rewards
Because secured credit cards are primarily intended for consumers with poor or nonexistent credit, building credit should be your primary goal. Rewards should be a secondary concern.
Pay close attention to the fees and APR associated with any cards you’re considering. Annual fees and interest can eat into the overall value of earned rewards.
You’ll also want to evaluate security deposit policies. Many secured credit cards can be opened with as little as $200, and the credit limit will equal your deposit. Some cards may increase your credit limit without requiring an additional deposit after a period of timely payments and responsible card use.
When it comes to rewards, choose a card that rewards your specific spending habits and provides redemption options you’ll actually use.
What Credit Is Required to Get a Secured Credit Card?
Secured credit cards are generally available to consumers with poor or nonexistent credit history, but that doesn’t mean approval is guaranteed. To increase your chances of approval, you should check your credit score before you apply to make sure you meet the requirements. You can check your credit report for free at Credit.com.
At publishing time, the Discover it Secured Credit Card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.