Q&A Video – Why Do Banks Turn Down Applications For Secured Credit Cards?

John Ulzheimer

John Ulzheimer | Q&A Videos

Dec 01, 2014 | Updated Aug 07, 2015

Secured credit cards are designed for people with poor or no credit, and require an initial security deposit to fund the credit limit.

In some cases, however, applicants will actually be denied for secured cards.

This can happen for a variety of reasons, and it happens more often than you might think.

Learn why people get denied for secured credit cards in our video with credit expert John Ulzheimer.


My name is John Ulzheimer, and I’m a credit expert who contributes to creditcardinsider.com.

Today’s question is this…

Why do banks sometimes turn down applications for secured credit cards even though the applicant funds the credit limit with a deposit?

That’s a very good question.

A lot of people can’t understand why some banks will actually deny applications for secured cards.

Now, if you’re not familiar with a secured card, here’s how it works.

Secured cards are generally for consumers who either have bad credit or no credit.

And they’re used either as a way to rebuild your report or to build a credit report from scratch.

What you will generally do is make a deposit from a bank, say $500, and then the bank will issue you a credit card with a credit limit equal to your deposit, or in some scenarios, slightly more.

So in the $500 scenario you may actually get a credit card with a $500 credit limit.

So the bank is fully secured with their extension of credit because you’ve already made a deposit for the entire credit limit.

So if you charge items or charge services and you refuse to make the payments, they’ve already got your money, so they’re just going to apply that money and offset your charges.

So what’s a little counter-intuitive to some people is, why in the world would they ever deny somebody for that type of credit card when they’ve already essentially got all the payments prepaid in advance?

Well, here’s the answer to the question…

And you’re right, not all secured card applications are approved. In many cases, they’re denied.

Secured cards do not generate a lot of revenue for credit card issuers, but in some cases they can generate a lot of headaches for the card issuer.

Think about someone who has a credit card with a limit of $10,000, $15,000 $20,000.

They’re out there charging, running up very large balances, carrying those balances from month to month, and paying somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-29% as an annual percentage rate.

That is a very profitable customer for a credit card issuer.

Someone who has a secured card generally has a credit limit of $300 to $500.

You don’t see many secured cards with limits in the $10,000 and $15,000 range because that would require you to put that large amount of money down when you’re opening the card.

Because you have such a small credit limit, it’s very unlikely that you’re carrying a very large balance from month to month, which means that you’re not generating a lot of revenue for the card issuer.

If you’ve got very very poor credit, and when I say very poor, I’m talking credit scores in the 400s and the 500s, which basically scream don’t do business with me because I’m not gonna pay my bills on time.

The credit card issuer still has no interest in doing business with you because they know you’re not gonna make your payments.

And all that, essentially what that’s gonna force them to do is to offset your charges with the money that you’ve already put down as a deposit, and then eventually close your card and return the unused amount of the deposit, and then send you on your way.

That’s not a very good experience for the credit card issuer.

They’ve made little to no money.

It’s a huge headache.

It’s a bad consumer experience because you’re not happy with them.

And so all in all it was an F in the consumer relationship report card.

So that’s why some secured card issuers will still deny you even though you’ve prepaid all of the charges.

Another reason, and this is less likely, but still something to keep in mind, is that a lot of people who move to the United States from other countries, and therefore try to establish credit in this country, try to do so using a secured card.

The problem is that the laws, the federal laws on the books because of the Patriot Act are very strict with respect to issuing credit to people who have just moved to this country and aren’t actually citizens.

So that can also be one of the reasons why it’s more difficult to open a secured card, but primarily the reason why secured card applications are denied is because, even though they’re targeted to consumers who are riskier borrowers, there are actually some consumers who are just such a hot potato, that even secured card companies really don’t wanna do business with them.

If you have any other questions pertaining to credit or other financial topics, please submit them to creditcardinsider.com.

Thanks for watching.

Have a great day.

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