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Citi Secured Mastercard Review: A No Annual Fee Card to Help Build Credit

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.  Citi is an advertising partner of The Ascent.

For consumers who don't have the best credit, Citi offers the Citi® Secured Mastercard®. Like most secured credit cards, you'll need to pay a deposit as collateral and can then build your credit score by making regular on-time payments. This Citi® Secured Mastercard® review breaks down what the card does well and where it could be better.

Citi® Secured Mastercard®
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
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Credit Score:
New to Credit Under(579) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Intro APR

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Regular APR

24.74% (Variable)

Rewards

N/A

Annual Fee

$0

Welcome Offer

N/A

  • Makes for a great starter card, particularly with no annual fee and the ability to graduate to an unsecured credit card with good credit hygiene.

    • No minimum credit score required
    • No annual fee
    • Can graduate to an unsecured card
    • Free credit score monitoring
    • Flexible credit limit
    • Foreign transaction fee
    • Minimum deposit amount
    • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
    • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
    • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
    • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
    • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
    • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
    • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.

Full Citi Secured Mastercard review

This credit card is a good fit for: Consumers trying to improve a poor or limited credit history without paying unnecessary fees.

Top perks

No annual fee: Many credit cards charge a fee every year to keep the account open, which is something you don't need while you're working on your credit. The Citi® Secured Mastercard® has no annual fee, so all you pay is the security deposit.

Can graduate to an unsecured card: Another important feature to look for in a secured credit card is the opportunity to graduate. Graduation is when the card issuer refunds your deposit and upgrades you to an unsecured card. This will happen if you pay on time and don't use too much of your available credit. If you can't graduate, you'll need to either cancel your card or let the card issuer hold on to your deposit indefinitely, neither of which is a good option.

You can graduate from the Citi® Secured Mastercard® to other Citi credit cards. It's not always the fastest process, with the typical timeframe being 18 months, but there are also cardholders who have graduated in under a year.

Choose your credit limit: The security deposit you pay when you get this card is your credit limit, and you can choose any amount between $200 and $2,500. It's helpful to have that kind of flexibility. You can pay less if you need to save money, or pay more for a higher limit to keep your credit utilization ratio lower.

Payments reported to all three credit bureaus: Citi reports your payments to the three credit bureaus that handle consumer credit scores: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. That means you can build a positive payment history with all three, instead of having one or two where your credit isn't improving.

Free FICO® Score tracking: Citi provides your FICO® Score free of charge so you can check your credit building progress. Your score is updated monthly by Equifax, so you can stay on top of whether it's going up or down.

Note that there are many different types of FICO® Scores, and the one Citi shows you is the FICO® Bankcard Score 8. This score ranges from 250 to 900, which is a bit different from the more commonly used range of 300 to 850. But don't worry, it will still give you an accurate idea of how good your credit is.

See more: Best No Annual Fee Credit Cards

Compared to other top credit cards

  • This card: Citi® Secured Mastercard®
  • For rewards: Discover it® Secured Credit Card
  • For a smaller security deposit: Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
As of Sep. 26, 2022
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Citi® Secured Mastercard®

Discover it® Secured Credit Card Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 5.00 out of 5 stars.
5.00 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rating image, 4.50 out of 5 stars.
4.50 stars
Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Our ratings are based on a 5 star scale. 5 stars equals Best. 4 stars equals Excellent. 3 stars equals Good. 2 stars equals Fair. 1 star equals Poor. We want your money to work harder for you. Which is why our ratings are biased toward offers that deliver versatility while cutting out-of-pocket costs.
= Best
= Excellent
= Good
= Fair
= Poor
Rates & Fees

Credit Rating Requirement:

New to Credit Under(579) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Credit Rating Requirement:

New/Rebuilding Under(579) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Credit Rating Requirement:

Fair/New to Credit Under(669) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. Falling within this credit range does not guarantee approval by the issuer. An application must be submitted to the issuer for a potential approval decision. There are different types of credit scores and creditors use a variety of credit scores to make lending decisions.

Welcome Offer:

N/A

Welcome Offer: Welcome Offer info Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.

Cashback Match

Welcome Offer:

N/A

Rewards Program:

N/A

Rewards Program: Info Icon Circle with letter I in it. 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. 1% unlimited cash back on all other purchases - automatically

1% - 2% Cashback

Rewards Program:

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Intro APR:

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Intro APR:

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: 10.99% Intro APR, 6 months

Intro APR:

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: N/A

Regular APR:

24.74% (Variable)

Regular APR:

25.24% Variable APR

Regular APR:

26.99% Variable

Annual Fee:

$0

Annual Fee:

$0

Annual Fee:

$0

Highlights:

  • The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a no annual fee credit card that helps you build your credit when used responsibly.
  • Unlike a debit card, it helps build your credit history with monthly reporting to all 3 major credit bureaus. Once available, you will also have free access to your FICO score online.
  • Use your card anywhere Mastercard® is accepted — worldwide.
  • A security deposit is required. Once approved, your credit limit will be equal to your security deposit (minimum of $200).
  • Get help staying on track with Auto Pay and account alerts.
  • With Flexible Payment Due Dates, you can choose any available due date in the beginning, middle or end of the month.
  • Manage your account 24/7 online, by phone, or in our mobile app.

Highlights:

  • No credit score required to apply.
  • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit with responsible use.
  • Establish your credit line by providing a refundable security deposit of at least $200. That means a $200 deposit for a $200 credit line. Or a $500 deposit for a $500 credit line. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit, and the security deposit equals your credit limit.
  • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
  • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • NEW! Discover helps remove your personal information from select people-search websites. Activate by mobile app for free.
  • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites.* Activate for free.
  • Click "Apply Now" to see terms and conditions.

Highlights:

  • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
  • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
  • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
  • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
  • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
  • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking to access your account from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
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What could be improved

Minimum deposit amount: You need a security deposit of at least $200 to open the Citi® Secured Mastercard®. This isn't a huge issue, but some consumers may need a cheaper deposit. There are secured credit cards that offer lower minimum deposit amounts, even under $100.

The ability to increase your credit limit: Citi won't let you increase your credit limit by adding to your security deposit. The amount you deposit when you get this card will be your credit limit for as long as you have it. That could be frustrating if you decide you want a higher credit limit later.

Foreign transaction fee: Since this card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee, it's not one you'd want to use while traveling internationally.

For more options, take a look at our picks for the best secured credit cards.

Find the best credit card for your needs

Compare credit card rewards, fees, APRs, and more using our side-by-side comparison tool.

Suggested credit score

There's no minimum credit score to get the Citi® Secured Mastercard®. Although you can use this card to rebuild your credit, Citi won't approve your application if you have any bankruptcy history in the last two years.

Keep in mind that upon approval, you'll have 14 days to provide your bank account information and pay the security deposit.

See more: Best Starter Credit Cards for No Credit

This credit card is right for you if:

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® will be a good fit if you're trying to either build your credit history or fix your credit after past problems, as long as all of the following are true:

  • You can pay at least $200 to cover the security deposit.
  • You don't plan to use your card internationally.
  • You don't have a bankruptcy on your credit file within the last two years.

What's most important with credit cards for bad credit is that they allow you to raise your credit score without costing you money through dubious fees. By that standard, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® has everything you need.

Read more: Best Citi Credit Cards

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