The Citi Secured Mastercard is best for consumers with a limited credit history who need to build credit but can’t get approved for a traditional credit card. Ideally, someone who applies for this card will use it to improve their credit score, so they can transition to an unsecured credit card with better rates and perks.
No annual fee
Easy qualification requirements
Reports to all three credit bureaus
Requires a bank account
- No annual fee: It is common for secured cards to charge annual fees (some even charge monthly fees)—but not this one. With the money saved you might be able to leave a bigger deposit or pay off other bills.
- Easy qualification requirements: As with all secured credit cards, you won’t need to have excellent credit to qualify.
- Reports to all three credit bureaus: The Citi Secured Mastercard will report your payment and usage history to all three credit reporting agencies—Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. If you use credit responsibly and make all your payments early or on time, this can help you boost your credit score.
Secured credit card fees can hit you twice—first in the wallet and next in the credit score. That’s because those fees are added to your account balance, which reduces your total available credit. You want to use as little of your available credit as possible—definitely less than 30%—to avoid risk to your credit score.
- No rewards: While earning rewards is not a priority if you’re trying to build your credit score, note that some secured credit cards do offer cash back for each dollar you spend.
- Requires a bank account: To apply online you’ll need a bank account—or access to one—to transfer the security deposit to Citibank. If not, you’ll need to visit a Citibank branch. By contrast, some secured cards will allow you to fund the deposit via check sent by mail.
Citi was ranked sixth out of 11 major U.S. credit card issuers in J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study. The bank earned 799 out of 1,000 possible points, near the industry average of 806.
The card issuer does offer a mobile app with features like mobile bill payment, but J.D. Power’s 2019 U.S. Credit Card Mobile App Satisfaction Study gave Citi the seventh spot on that list.
One nice feature the Citi Secured Mastercard does give you is access to your FICO credit score for free on your credit card statement, making it easier to monitor your progress over time.
Citi offers basic protection against fraud for customers, including account monitoring and zero liability for fraudulent purchases. Citi credit cards also come with Citi Identity Theft Solutions, which can help you identify and remove fraudulent accounts and information from your credit reports once fraud has taken place.
Citi Secured Mastercard Fees to Watch Out For
While the Citi Secured Mastercard doesn’t charge annual or account maintenance fees, you’ll want to be careful if you plan to use your credit card abroad. You’ll pay a 3% foreign transaction fee on every purchase you make outside the United States.