MoneyGeek’s Take

Citi Secured Mastercard Review

You might feel that getting approved for a credit card without any credit history would be impossible. Without your credit history, lenders have a difficult time determining how much money they should give you access to. In such circumstances, you can apply for a secured credit card. The Citi Secured Mastercard helps you build a credit score. This card is perfect for those with no credit or limited credit, although it’s not a great option for those with bad credit. Although it does not charge an annual fee, you must pay an upfront deposit of at least $200.

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The Citi Secured Mastercard is a good choice for those with limited or no credit history who are not eligible for a traditional credit card. This card comes with a secured credit limit of $2,500. You can utilize this card to build your credit and eventually transition to an unsecured credit card with better rewards and perks.

Our review of the Citi Secured Mastercard gives you the lowdown on all the important aspects to help you decide whether this is the right card for you.

Card Details to Know Up Front
  • Bonus, Fee or Feature
    Has or Not
  • Has Annual Fee
  • Security Deposit Required
  • Has Rewarding Welcome Offer
  • Has APR Offer
  • Has Balance Transfer Fee
Click to see this card’s rates, fees and how they compare to other cards in our dataset.

Citi Secured Mastercard at a Glance

If your credit score is less than ideal and you want to improve it, you could use a secured credit card that charges a security deposit upfront. Although the card does not offer any rewards, it does offer a chance to increase your credit score and build a relationship with Citi.


  • Citi Secured Mastercard

    Best credit card for building credit with no or limited credit history


    • None–PoorCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • $200 minimumMin. Security Deposit
    • 3# of Reporting Bureaus
    • 22.49%APR

Pros & Cons Explained

Although this card provides a head start to those who wish to build a good credit score, it is important to be aware of its benefits and possible pitfalls.

Pros

  • Benefits
    Description
  • No annual fee
    While many banks charge annual fees for secured cards, this card does not charge an annual fee.
  • Reports to all three credit bureaus
    The Citi Secured Mastercard sends monthly reports to all three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion. Using the card responsibly and making regular payments will help build your credit score.
  • Refundable security deposit
    Citi will review your usage history after 18 months to check if you are eligible to have your deposit returned to you. This is based on responsible usage of the card and making regular payments.

Cons

  • Drawbacks
    Description
  • Not ideal if you have bad credit
    This card is designed for those with limited or no credit history. If you have had any major credit issues in the past, you may not qualify for the card. As an example, Citi states that applicants must not have declared bankruptcy in the past two years to qualify for this card.
  • No rewards or perks
    This card does not offer any rewards or cash back options. This is one significant drawback of most secured cards, as there are rarely many perks offered.
  • High APR
    The Citi Secured Mastercard comes with a high APR of 22.49% for both purchases and balance transfers. Although it is strongly recommended to pay off all balances in full each month to avoid any interest charges, it's a good idea to keep the APR in mind before you decide on the best option.
  • Foreign transaction fee
    Using this card for foreign transactions is not advisable as it charges 3% on all international transactions.
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LOOKING FOR THE BEST CREDIT CARDS OF 2021?

The Citi Secured Mastercard made it to MoneyGeek’s list of the best secured credit cards of 2021. You can read our full review to learn more about the other cards that made our list and the reasons for including them.

Other Features Explained

Track your FICO score for free: The Citi Secured Mastercard provides your FICO score free of charge to help you check your progress in building your credit.

Choose your credit limit: You also have the option of choosing your credit limit with the card. Once you are approved for the card, the security deposit you pay is your credit limit. You can choose any limit between $200 and $2,500. You can choose a higher credit limit by paying an equivalent security deposit and keep your credit utilization ratio lower.

Upgrade to an unsecured card: Demonstrating a consistently responsible usage of your secured card with Citi can help you upgrade to other credit cards. Although this may take time (up to 18 months), there have been instances where cardholders have graduated to an unsecured card in under a year.

  • Card Feature
    Description
  • No Annual Fee
    Unlike some other secured cards, this card has no annual fee, but you must provide a security deposit of at least $200 to activate the card after you have been approved.
  • Deposit
    This deposit must be paid within 14 days, which may be a short window for some. The deposit amount will be returned to you when you close the card.
  • Option to pay higher deposit
    You can choose to pay a higher deposit amount in increments of $100.
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MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP

Since this card will help you build a good credit score, you shouldn’t close it after improving your credit and upgrading to better cards. This is even more important if this is your first card, as accounts that have positive credit histories over a long period are great for your credit score.

Understanding the Fine Print

The Citi Secured Mastercard is meant to start you off on building a trustworthy credit score so, understandably, it does not offer any rewards or cash back benefits. What it does offer is flexibility in choosing your credit limit and no annual fees.

Still, you must take note of the other charges that this card comes with.

  • Card Feature
    Amount or Rate
  • APR
    22.49%
  • Annual Fee
    $0
  • Min. Security Deposit
    $200 minimum
  • Balance Transfer Fee
    3%
  • Balance Transfer APR
    22.49%
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    Regular APR

    The APR offered by the Citi Secured Mastercard is 22.49%, which is rather high. The APR starts accruing interest from the date of the transaction.

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    Balance Transfer APR

    The balance transfer APR for this card is also 22.49%, which is again high. The bank will also charge a balance transfer fee of $5 or 3% of each transaction, whichever is greater. This means if you transfer a balance of $500 from your previous credit card, you will end up paying $15 as balance transfer fees. There is no intro APR offer with the card, so the APR will come into effect from your first billing cycle.

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    Cash Advance APR

    The cash advance APR for this card is even higher at 25.24%. This means that if you use this card to take out a cash advance and do not pay off your complete balance by the due date, you will accrue heavy interest.

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    Upfront Deposit

    Once you get approved for the card, the minimum deposit payable upfront is $200. This is high when compared to other cards in the market. The Secured Mastercard offered by Capital One offers a relatively low minimum deposit starting from $49.

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    Late Fees

    If you miss making a payment by the due date, you will not only pay a late fee of $40, but it may also lead to lowering your credit score.

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FINDING YOUR CARD'S RATES AND FEES

When comparing this card with other secured cards, you must keep in mind important aspects such as the annual fee, security deposit and credit limit. If you wish to understand all the benefits and compare them with a card you already have, you can find this information in the last billing statement of your existing card. You can also get this information on your card provider's website or the credit card agreement database maintained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Who Should & Shouldn’t Consider Citi Secured Mastercard?

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Other Considerations for Citi Secured Mastercard

It is important to assess the purpose of your card to determine if it’s a good fit for your needs. Is this going to be your primary card or if you are going to use it with other cards?

Things to Consider if This is Will Be Your First or Only Credit Card

If you are going to use this as your only card, then you must keep in mind its high APR. Another thing to consider is the credit limit. If you expect your expenses to regularly cross $2,500, you will be better off considering another card with a higher limit.

This card also does not offer any rewards or cash back options. All the purchases you make using this card will not earn any additional benefits. Still, if you’re looking to build your credit, the Citi Secured Mastercard is a solid choice.

Things to Consider if This is Will Be an Additional Card in Your Wallet

This card could be a good option if you are using it in combination with another card. While you can use other cards for purchases to earn rewards and cash back, this card can be used to increase your credit score.

However, it’s likely that you will not qualify for cards with strong rewards programs if your credit is low enough to necessitate a Citi Secured Mastercard.

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WHY TRUST OUR REVIEWS

At MoneyGeek, we strive to give you unbiased and extensive reviews. We compile data on numerous cards and score several features that impact your finances to give an impartial opinion. Our reviews follow a well-calibrated approach to provide you with the most important information.

How Citi Secured Mastercard Compares to Other Cards

While the Citi Secured Mastercard is a good choice for those who wish to start building their credit, there are better options available in the market. We stacked it up against other credit cards in the same category to provide insight and help you make an informed choice.

Quick Comparison of Citi Secured Mastercard

creditCard

Citi Secured Mastercard

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Recommended credit score: N/A
  • Intro APR: No
  • Cash back rewards: No
  • Mini verdict: Best for those with average or no credit at all
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Discover it Secured Credit Card

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Recommended credit score: Poor
  • Intro APR: 10.99% intro APR on balance transfers for 6 months
  • Cash back rewards: 2% on select categories and 1% on all other purchases
  • Mini verdict: Best for those with poor credit who want to earn rewards

Other Helpful Decision-Making Q&As

There are many good options for secured credit cards in the market. It is important to note some of the most common questions about this card to make an informed decision.

Still not sure about this card? Consider these options.

If you are looking for other options, you can check secured cards that require a lower upfront deposit and provide intro APR offers. If you are looking for higher rewards for credit card usage, you can choose a rewards card.

Learn more about credit cards in general

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