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2020

Best Secured Credit Cards

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If you have bad or limited credit you won't qualify for the best credit cards on the market. But there are still options available to help you rebuild, including secured cards. Secured credit cards require a refundable security deposit when you're approved. This deposit will fund your credit limit for the card. Card issuers require a security deposit because it makes the deal less risky for them.

Our Selection Criteria Is a Secured Card Right for You?

Credit Card Insider receives compensation from advertisers whose products may be mentioned on this page. Advertiser relationships do not affect card evaluations. Advertising partners do not edit or endorse our editorial content. Content is accurate to the best of our knowledge when it's published. Learn more in our Editorial Guidelines.

The information related to Discover it® Secured, Secured Mastercard® from Capital One, and Citi® Secured Mastercard® have been collected by Credit Card Insider and have not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of these products.

Our Selection Criteria

  • No annual fee, or a reasonable fee: The best secured cards either have no annual fee or the fee is quite manageable, around $30 to $50.
  • No extra fees: Some secured cards have additional costs like application fees, card issuance fees, monthly maintenance fees, and others. Avoid cards with fees like these!
  • Reports to all three of the major consumer credit agencies: The major credit card issuers will report to all three major credit bureaus, but this isn’t always the case for smaller credit unions so it’s worth checking. When building a credit history it’s better to have your monthly payment activity recorded with all three credit bureaus.
  • An appropriate security deposit and credit limit: Secured cards have different maximum credit limits. Depending on your spending habits and financial needs, you may want a card with a very large maximum limit. Or you might be satisfied with a smaller limit.
  • A program to refund the security deposit: Some card issuers will refund the security deposit and allow you to continue using the card, if you prove yourself to be a responsible credit user.
  • A program to upgrade to a different card account: In some cases, depending on your creditworthiness, card issuers will offer an upgrade to a completely different, unsecured credit card.
  • Rewards, in some cases: It’s rare to find a secured card with a rewards program, allowing you to earn points or cash back. But there are some out there.
  • Additional benefits: Most secured cards come with a very basic set of extra benefits, like Purchase Protection and some others. Occasionally you’ll find a secured card with more valuable benefits, like the ability to get a higher credit line with Capital One.

Is a Secured Card Right for You?

Secured credit cards are designed to give people with poor, limited, or no credit history a way into the world of credit.

Unlike other types of cards, a secured card requires a refundable security deposit when you’re approved. This will fund the line of credit for the card.

You can use secured cards to build up your credit because your card activity will be reported to the credit bureaus, unlike with prepaid cards or debit cards.

Other than the deposit, secured cards are pretty much just like any other credit card. You need to pay your bills on time. And if you carry a balance from month to month you’ll be charged interest, usually at a very high interest rate.

If you’re looking for unsecured credit cards for bad credit (which do not require a deposit), check out the Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit. And if you’re looking for unsecured cards for limited or no credit, see the Best Credit Cards for Limited or No Credit.

Consider a secured credit card if you:

  • Have poor, limited, or no credit and want to improve
  • Can put down a security deposit, usually at least $200
  • Will use it responsibly to build or rebuild your credit
  • Understand how to pay off your card correctly every billing period
  • Checked out other unsecured credit card options first

Best Pick For...

Earning Rewards

Discover it® Secured

  • Min. Credit Level Bad
  • Annual Fee $0
  • Regular APR See Terms
Why We Picked It

The Discover it® Secured (Review) is is probably the best secured credit card thanks to its rewards program, which is pretty good even compared to many unsecured cards.

It requires a minimum security deposit of $200. The maximum allowable deposit will be determined by your creditworthiness, with an upper limit of $2,500. Your credit limit will be equal to the amount you deposit.

Discover will review your account and your credit every eight months. With responsible card use, they may return your security deposit and allow you to continue using the card. There is no program to upgrade to a different Discover card.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent per quarter at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
Introductory Bonus Offer
  • Cashback Match: Double all cash back earned in the first year; awarded at the end of the first year
Key Features
  • Free credit score: Check your FICO Score 8 for free, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Social Security number alerts: Get notified if your SSN is found on any thousands of risky websites.
  • New account alerts: Get notified of any new accounts or inquiries on your Experian credit report.
  • Purchase APR: See Terms
  • Balance Transfer APR: See Terms for See Terms, then See Terms
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Security deposit: $200 to $2,500

The information related to Discover it® Secured has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

Low Security Deposit

Secured Mastercard® from Capital One

  • Min. Credit Level Bad
  • Annual Fee $0
  • Regular APR 26.99% (Variable)
Why We Picked It

With most secured cards, your credit limit will be equal to the amount you provide for the security deposit. But that’s not necessarily true for the Secured Mastercard® from Capital One (Review).

Instead you’ll be told a minimum required security deposit, based on your creditworthiness. This will be one of the following:

  • $49
  • $99
  • $200

Whichever amount you’re required to pay, this will fund an initial credit limit of $200. So even if you’re only required to deposit $49, you’ll still get a $200 credit limit.

Capital One will allow you to deposit more than your minimum required amount, up to a maximum of $1,000. If you deposit more, the total amount deposited will become your credit limit (so a deposit of $1,000 will get you a $1,000 credit line).

Deposits must be made within 80 days of being approved for the card, and before activating the card. Once you activate the card your initial credit limit will be set.

Key Features
  • Access a higher credit line: You may be automatically considered for a higher credit line after six months.
  • CreditWise: Monitor your VantageScore 3.0 based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Shopping and travel protections: Price Protection, Extended Warranty, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, and more
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 26.99% (Variable)
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Security deposit: $49 to $1,000
Highlights
  • No annual fee
  • Unlike a prepaid card, there is regular reporting to the 3 major credit bureaus
  • Accepted at millions of locations worldwide
  • Make the minimum required security deposit and you’ll get an initial credit line of $200. Plus, deposit more money before your account opens to get a higher credit line
  • Access to an authorized bank account is required to make your $49, $99 or $200 refundable security deposit
  • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
  • Easily manage your account 24/7 with online access, by phone or using our mobile app

The information related to Secured Mastercard® from Capital One has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

No Bank Account Required

Citi® Secured Mastercard®

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securely on the issuer's website

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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. Credit Level Bad
  • Annual Fee $0
  • Regular APR 22.49% (Variable)
Why We Picked It

If you don’t have a bank account to make your security deposit, you won’t be able to apply for most secured cards.

But the Citi® Secured Mastercard® (Review) allows you to pay the deposit by other methods, although you’ll need to visit a Citibank location in person to do this. If you do have a bank account, you can simply use the online application as you normally would.

A security deposit of $200 to $2,500 is required. Your credit limit will be equal to the deposit.

After using the card for some time, Citi may review your card account and credit to see if you qualify for an upgrade. We heard from a reader who was offered an upgrade to the Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card (Review) in less than a year.

Key Features
  • Free FICO score: Access your FICO Bankcard Score 8, based on your Equifax credit report, to monitor your credit situation.
  • Shopping and travel protections: You may get some benefits from Citi and/or Mastercard.
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 22.49% (Variable)
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Security deposit: $200 to $2,500
Runner Up 1

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

  • No bank account required to fund security deposit
  • No credit check necessary
  • Purchase APR: 17.39% Variable
  • Annual fee: $35
  • Security deposit: $200–$3,000
View card details
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.
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 22.49%. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi’s discretion.

The information related to Citi® Secured Mastercard® has been collected by Credit Card Insider and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer or provider of this product.

No Annual Fee

BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card

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securely on the issuer's website

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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. Credit Level Bad
  • Annual Fee $0
  • Regular APR 22.99% Variable
Why We Picked It

Some secured cards have annual fees, others don’t. Not only is the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card lacking an annual fee, it also gives you one of the largest potential credit lines compared to other secured cards.

You can deposit anywhere from $300 to $4,900, and your credit line will equal your deposit. Not bad if you plan on making a lot of purchases each billing period.

Like with all the cool secured cards, Bank of America will check your credit and may give your security deposit back, allowing you to continue using an unsecured version of the card.

Key Features
  • Free credit score: View your FICO Score 8, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Deposit return: Bank of America will periodically review your account and overall credit history, and may decide to return your security deposit.
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 22.99% Variable
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Security deposit: $300 to $4,900
Highlights
  • No application fees or activation fees
  • Credit line of $300–$4,900
  • Your maximum credit line is determined by your individual ability to pay based on the income that you provide and your security deposit
  • Important account information is shared with the 3 major credit bureaus—helping you build your credit history
  • After 12 months, you may qualify to have your security deposit returned while you continue to use your card
  • Get free access to your FICO® Score from TransUnion, updated monthly.
  • Access to credit education topics like using credit cards responsibly, budgeting and more
  • No annual fee
High Security Deposit

U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card

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securely on the issuer's website

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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. Credit Level Limited Credit History
  • Annual Fee $29
  • Regular APR 19.99% Variable
Why We Picked It

Trying to build up your credit, but need a lot of spending power? The U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card might be right for you, although you’ll need to put down a deposit to match.

Your security deposit can range from $300 to $5,000, so that should cover a month’s purchases for most people. If you need to use your card more than that, you can make payments throughout the month (maxing out your credit card each month is bad for your credit utilization, so try to avoid that).

This is one of very few secured cards where your security deposit will actually earn interest, although it’s just a tiny bit. The only downside here is the small annual fee, but it’s not a very high price to pay for the chance to improve your credit.

Key Features
  • Free credit score: Check your VantageScore 3.0 credit score whenever you’d like, based on your TransUnion credit report.
  • Earn interest: Your security deposit is used to open an FDIC-insured, interest-earning U.S. Bank savings account.
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 19.99% Variable
  • Annual fee: $29
  • Security deposit: $300 to $5,000
Highlights
  • The deposit is used to open a U.S. Bank savings account to ensure your card can be paid. The savings account is FDIC-insured, earns interest and won’t be touched as long as your account remains open and in good standing
  • Set up automatic payments so you never miss a due date
  • Free VantageScore Credit Score based on your TransUnion credit report
  • Choose your payment due date
No Credit Check

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card

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securely on the issuer's website

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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. Credit Level Limited Credit History
  • Annual Fee $35
  • Regular APR 17.39% Variable
Why We Picked It

Most credit cards require a credit check when you apply — they’ll use a hard inquiry to take a look at your credit reports, and they’ll use that information in their approval decision.

But the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card (Review) is different because OpenSky won’t run that credit check, giving you a better shot at approval if you’re struggling with bad marks on your credit reports.

You’ll just need to provide a deposit to qualify: $200 to $3,000, pretty standard for a secured card.

You can also fund that deposit by means other than a bank account, including debit card, money order, and Western Union.

Key Features
  • No bank account required to fund security deposit
  • No credit check necessary
  • Purchase APR: 17.39% Variable
  • Annual fee: $35
  • Security deposit: $200–$3,000
Highlights
  • No credit check necessary to apply. OpenSky believes in giving an opportunity to everyone.
  • The refundable* deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
  • Build credit quickly. OpenSky reports to all 3 major credit bureaus.
  • 99% of our customers who started without a credit score earned a credit score record with the credit bureaus in as little as 6 months.
  • We have a Facebook community of people just like you; there is a forum for shared experiences, and insights from others on our Facebook Fan page. (Search “OpenSky Card” in Facebook.)
  • OpenSky provides credit tips and a dedicated credit education page on our website to support you along the way.
  • *View our Cardholder Agreement located at the bottom of the application page for details of the card.
Self Customers

Self Secured Visa® Credit Card

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securely on the issuer's website

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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. Credit Level Limited Credit History
  • Annual Fee $25
  • Regular APR 23.99% Variable
Why We Picked It

Secured cards are a great way to rebuild your credit scores, but have you heard of credit builder loans?

Self’s credit builder loans give you another way. They’re a type of loan used exclusively to build your credit, rather than give you cash. First you pay off the loan amount, ideally showing a responsible record of payments, and then you get the money.

Self took things a step further and now offers the Self Secured Visa® Credit Card (Review), an extension of its loan program. It’s only available to Self customers; you’ll just need to:

  1. Create a Self Credit Builder Account
  2. Make at least your last three monthly payments on time
  3. Save $100 or more in your account to be used as your credit line
  4. Pay all outstanding fees
  5. Choose your credit limit based on your savings and get your card
Key Features
  • Purchase APR: 23.99% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $25
  • Security deposit: $100 minimum; depends on credit builder loan savings
Highlights
  • Secured card
  • No hard inquiry
  • No chance of rejection
  • No application
  • No extra deposit needed
  • Credit limit based on Self Credit Builder Account savings
  • $25 annual fee
  • Issued by Lead Bank
Military Members and Their Families

NFCU nRewards® Secured Credit Card

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securely on the issuer's website

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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. Credit Level Bad
  • Annual Fee $0
  • Regular APR 18.00% Variable
Why We Picked It

Military members (retired and active-duty) and their families have several credit unions to choose from, but none can match the NFCU nRewards® Secured Credit Card if you’re trying to recover from bad credit and earn some points.

The minimum required security deposit is quite low at $200, giving you an easy way in. And NFCU includes a pair of great features:

  • After only three months, NFCU will check your credit and may increase your credit limit
  • After six months, NFCU will begin reviewing your account monthly to see if you qualify for an upgrade to the unsecured Navy Federal Visa cashRewards Card

And, like with other credit unions, you’ll enjoy no annual fee, no balance transfer fee, and no foreign transaction fee.

See more great credit cards for the military right here.

Rewards
Spending Rewards
  • 1X point per dollar on all purchases

Every point you earn is usually worth 1 cent, giving you the equivalent of 1% cash back. Unsecured reward cards earn more, but this isn’t bad for a secured card.

Key Features
  • Member Deals: Get free shipping, additional rewards, and other perks for shopping through Member Deals.
  • Free FICO credit score: Check your FICO Score 9 for free, based on your Equifax credit report.
  • Shopping and travel protections: Cell Phone Protection, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, and potentially more
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 18.00% Variable
  • No balance transfer fee
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $0
  • Security deposit: $200 minimum
Highlights
  • Starting at six months, NFCU will review your account and credit monthly to see if you qualify for an upgrade to the Navy Federal Visa cashRewards Card
  • Choose either Visa or Mastercard and receive respectable benefits
  • Cell phone protection
  • Access to one of your FICO scores
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No cash advance fees at eligible locations
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • No annual fee
Business Owners

Wells Fargo® Business Secured Credit Card

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securely on the issuer's website

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securely on the issuer's website

  • Min. Credit Level Limited Credit History
  • Annual Fee $25
  • Regular APR Prime + 11.90% Variable
Why We Picked It

If you’re dealing with poor credit but you need a card for business spending, the Wells Fargo® Business Secured Credit Card will be one of your few options.

As with most secured cards, you’ll have to provide a security deposit (of $500 to $25,000) to fund your credit line, and your credit line will only be as big as your deposit. This is one of the larger potential credit limits you’ll find on a secured business card, though it still could put a damper on things if your business spends a lot more than that every month. But you can pay it off throughout the month if necessary, all the while improving your credit (assuming you use it responsibly) and earning rewards.

And here’s a nice feature: Wells Fargo will check in on your credit and credit card activity periodically, to see if you qualify for an upgrade to an unsecured card. Then you’d get your deposit back.

Rewards
Spending Rewards: Choose One Program
  • Cash Back:
    • 1.5% cash back on all purchases
  • Rewards Points:
    • 1X point per dollar on all purchases
    • 1,000 bonus points when your company spends $1,000 or more in a given month
    • 10% point bonus when redeeming online
Key Features
  • Employee cards: Get up to 10 employee cards to distribute.
  • Earn More Mall: Earn more bonus points at select retailers (points program only).
  • Upgrade to unsecured card: Wells Fargo will periodically review your account and credit history, and may offer you an upgrade to an unsecured card.
  • Purchase APR: Prime + 11.90% Variable
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Annual fee: $25
  • Security deposit: $500–$25,000
Runners Up 2

BBVA Compass Business Secured Visa Credit Card

  • 3X points per dollar spent at Office supply stores
  • 2X points per dollar spent at:
    • Gas stations
    • Restaurants
  • 1X point per dollar spent on everything else
  • Only available in select states
  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 16.24% Variable
  • Annual fee: $40, $0 first year
  • Security deposit: $500 minimum
View card details

Business Edition® Secured Visa® Card

  • Purchase and Balance Transfer APR: 20.24% Variable
  • Annual fee: $39
  • Security deposit: $2,000–$100,000; deposit will be 110% of credit limit
View card details
Highlights
  • Up to 10 cards for you & employees
  • Your choice of a cash back rewards program or a point rewards program
  • More Bonus Points: When you shop online or in person at the Earn More Mall.
  • Card Design Studio: Design your own card.
  • $25 annual fee per card

How Does a Secured Credit Card Work?

Secured credit cards work almost exactly like regular credit cards. The main difference is that, with a secured card, you have to provide a refundable security deposit that typically determines the card’s credit limit.

Most secured cards are designed for cardholders with no credit, bad credit, or limited credit. The risk of nonpayment or default can be higher among these groups, so lenders require security deposits as a safeguard.

With some secured cards, you might be able to get your deposit back without closing the account simply by demonstrating responsible credit management practices. Some credit card companies will even upgrade you to a different (and potentially more rewarding) unsecured card if you exhibit good behavior.

Other than that, the differences between secured and traditional credit cards are minimal. You still have to make a minimum monthly payment, and you’ll still be charged interest when carrying a balance.

Secured cards tend to offer fewer rewards and benefits (if any), but that’s normal for cards geared toward those with limited or poor credit.

No Credit Check Credit Cards

There are some secured credit cards that don’t require a credit check when applying, which means you’re almost guaranteed to be approved. There is still a possibility of denial, but it’s relatively low.

If you’ve been denied for other secured cards these may be your last options. Since they won’t check your credit you can probably get one of the following cards as long as your finances can handle it (some cards like these may check your credit, but they don’t necessarily use it to make the approval decision). You may still be denied if your identity can’t be verified, or if your income is too low.

These cards don’t require credit checks for approval but they’re known for having relatively poor customer support, and the payment processing systems may be slower or buggier than with other cards. This makes them riskier to use, and we don’t recommend them unless you truly can’t get anything else (even then, they probably aren’t a good idea). Some cards like these don’t require bank accounts, making them more attractive for people in certain situations.

If you use one of these cards, be sure to completely understand how to make on-time payments so you don’t wind up accidentally hurting your credit instead of helping it.

How To Build Or Rebuild Credit With Secured Credit Cards

Using a secured card is basically like using any other credit card. Most of the same rules apply, but a refundable deposit is also involved.

  • When approved for the card, make as large a security deposit as you comfortably can to get as large a credit limit as possible. This will make it easier to keep your credit utilization lower, which is better for credit scores. And you won’t have to worry as much about hitting the limit when shopping, because you’ll have more available credit.
  • Always pay your bills on time. Make at least the minimum monthly payments.
  • We recommend paying more than just the minimum payment. Aim to pay off your statement balance in full each month to avoid interest and help your credit utilization.
  • Be patient. The only way to establish a positive credit history is to consistently make on-time payments over a long period.
  • Track your credit using a free credit monitoring service to be sure that you’re making progress, and to get specific tips based on your credit reports.
  • As your credit improves, eventually you’ll be able to qualify for more rewarding credit cards. You can always check to see if you’re pre-qualified for any cards without hurting your credit scores at all.
  • When you’re ready to move on to an unsecured card, pay off your card balance in full. Then you can close the card account and get your security deposit back (some issuers also have programs that let you upgrade to an unsecured card account).

Can You Be Denied When You Apply for a Secured Credit Card?

Because secured credit cards require a deposit, the risk on the lender’s part might seem low enough that there’s no point in denying applications. But that’s not exactly how it works.

You can be denied for a secured credit card. And in general, it’s for the same overarching reason(s) you’d be denied for any credit card: Your credit history or other personal/financial information doesn’t measure up to the issuer’s standards, or there was something wrong with your application.

The actual reasons for your denial may vary, but they may include warning signs like bankruptcies, inadequate income (or lack of a stable income), perpetually late payments, and even poor management of any bank accounts you hold/have held with the issuer in question.

The good news? It’s your right to know why you were denied, and you should ask if the issuer doesn’t tell you. That way, you know exactly what to work on in order to get your credit to a place where you’re more likely to be approved.

Why Do Banks Turn Down Applications for Secured Cards?

Learn More: Q&A Videos

Will I Build Credit Faster with a Secured Credit Card?

Does Closing or Converting a Secured Credit Card Hurt My Credit Score?

Credit Builder Loans

If you have poor or limited credit there are a few different routes available to you. As an alternative or complement to a secured card, you may want to look into credit builder loans. A credit builder loan is a special type of installment loan that’s designed to build a positive credit history and good credit scores.

If you’re approved for one of these loans, the amount of the loan goes into a special account you can’t access. You make payments every month to “pay off” the loan, and the bank reports this positive activity to credit bureaus. Once you’ve paid the entire amount of the loan, you’ll get the money that was “loaned” to you from the special account that you couldn’t access until the loan was paid off.

Learn more about credit builder loans offered by Self Lender.

Secured Business Credit Cards

When starting a new business entity, your business needs to build credit too.

You can typically open business credit cards based on your personal credit, and, like regular consumer cards, it’s possible to start with a secured business card if your credit isn’t so great. This could be a good option if you’ve been denied for unsecured business cards.

Learn more about secured business cards and see if one could be right for you.

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