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Capital One® Secured Mastercard® Review

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Capital One® Secured Mastercard®

Does This Card’s Stability Outweigh the Lack of Rewards?

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is a good choice for someone looking for a practical starter credit card, or for potential cardholders who may need to start over after a bout with bad credit. While it’s not the kind of card that pays off with a points system or cash rewards, it serves as a stable and transformative tool that can help build credit little by little, until users are ready for an unsecured card. Having good credit is essential when it comes to securing loans, mortgages and low interest rates, and this credit card is a way to start building or repairing your financial standing.

Since applicants generally have bad credit or no credit, Capital One requires a security deposit to serve as collateral on the credit that you accrue. Along with demonstrating to the credit card company that you are backing up your purchases responsibly, it helps ease the risk on the side of the applicant. After putting down a deposit of $49, $99 or $200, based on your credit score, you are granted a credit line of $200. The better your credit, the lower your required deposit.  For someone with particularly bad credit, this could mean putting down a deposit that’s exactly the same amount as your credit line. Your credit line can increase over time, however, by proving that you can make timely payments on the card. While one major drawback of the card is the high variable APR of 26.99%, if cardholders use their cards the way that is intended by making payments on schedule, they shouldn’t be affected by interest charges. If the first five monthly payments are made on time, a user’s credit line is increased. Since this card doesn’t carry any annual or monthly fees aside from late payment charges, cardholders could potentially be able to build credit for free.

Smart Features

No annual fee — When you’re trying to work your way to financial stability, the last thing you want is to have to add an annual or monthly credit card fee to your expenses. Capital One understands this, and the absence of an annual fees is part of what makes this one of the most competitive cards of its kind. The only potential fees would appear if a payment is past due, giving cardholders an incentive to pay their balance in a timely manner.

Access to credit-tracking tools — Capital One gives cardholders access to its Credit Score Tracker, allowing users to see how their standing is improving and to understand the factors that go into their personal score. It also reports to all three major credit reporting agencies, which is important when trying to build credit history.  

No foreign transaction fees — This is a feature of all Capital One credit cards, and is another way that this card helps save users money.  

Platinum MasterCard benefits — Even though the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® isn’t one of the higher end cards, it comes with the same benefits as a Platinum MasterCard. These include an extended warranty on items you buy with the card, auto rental insurance for vehicles you rent, 24/7 roadside assistance, travel accident insurance for fares bought with the card, 24/7 travel assistance and price protection if you find a lower price on an item you purchased with the card within 60 days.

Who It Benefits

Getting a credit card when you have little to no credit can seem prohibitively difficult, which is why secured credit cards like this one are a vital resource for people who fall into this category. The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is built for people with low credit scores, so applicants should not have to worry about whether or not they’ll be approved, unless they’ve filed for bankruptcy, or don’t have a checking and savings account. 

The best way to think of the card is as a tool, more than a credit card — it gives you a chance to show that you can make payments on the card over time, that you understand credit lines and that you have a goal of reaching financial stability. This isn’t a card for someone looking for extensive perks and rewards for spending — the only reward users receive is access to a higher line of credit after making timely payments for the first five months. It’s a solid way to slowly ease your way into the world of credit cards, or start from scratch without any obvious baggage.

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How It Works

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® works by having users pay a security deposit up front, which acts the same way as a security deposit on an apartment rental — though with varying degrees of risk. Once Capital One assesses your credit score, it determines the minimum security deposit you will need to put down — $49, $99, or $200. You will then receive the minimum initial credit line of $200. This credit line can be increased by depositing more than the minimum required security deposit within 80 days of being approved and users can gain up to the maximum approved line of $1,000.

There are other ways to increase your line of credit without making larger security deposits. The card uses the incentive of an increased line of credit to encourage users to make their payments on time — if cardholders pay their balances on time for five months in a row, they can get access to a higher credit line with no additional deposit. Paying more than the minimum amount due is also a good practice (whether or not you have a secured card), as it helps build credit.

If you decide to close your account or transfer the balance to an unsecured card and you do not owe any late fees on your account balance, you will receive the security deposit back.

What's the Catch

The high APR on the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® may be a deal-breaker for some potential cardholders. The APR is 26.99% Variable, which is higher than the 18.79% average for secured cards. The key, however, is making sure that your balance is paid off month-to-month, and not allowing any interest to accrue. Keeping your credit line low makes this a fairly easy process, so ideally, the higher APR shouldn’t present an issue to potential users.

While this card is meant to be accessible to almost anyone, approval is not guaranteed — if your credit has been affected by more serious circumstances, such as an unresolved bankruptcy, your application may be denied.

Just the Math Please

Rewards

There are no rewards with the Capital One® Secured Mastercard®.

Balance Transfers

The APR for a balance transfer is 26.99% variable. Balance transfer requests must be made within 10 days of opening the account. It’s important to note, however, that you can’t transfer a balance between Capital One accounts or any credit card issued by Capital One.

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases

26.99%, will vary based on the Prime Rate.

APR for Balance Transfers

26.99%, will vary based on the Prime Rate.

APR for Cash Advances

26.99% will vary with on the Prime Rate.

Penalty APR and When It Applies

N/A

How to Avoid Paying Interest on Purchases

Your due date is at least 25 days after the close of each billing cycle.

Capital One will not charge you interest on new purchases if you have paid your previous balance in full by the due date each month.

Annual Fee

$0

Transaction Fees

  • Balance Transfer N/A
  • Cash Advance $10 or 3% of each cash advance, whichever is greater.
  • Foreign Purchase Transaction N/A

Penalty Fees

  • Late Payment Up to $39
  • Returned Payment N/A

How It Stacks Up

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is different from many secured cards in that there is more flexibility on the minimum security deposit. Depending on your credit score, you may be able to put down as little as $49 or $99, as opposed to other cards like the Discover it Secured Card, that have you match your $200 credit line with a $200 refundable security deposit regardless of credit standing. However the Discover it Secured Card comes with rewards which the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® does not. The Discover it  Secured Card, which does not have an annual fee, gives you 2% cash back on up to $1,000 spent every three months at restaurants and gas stations and 1% back on all other purchases.

Another secured card worth looking at is the Citi Secured Mastercar. This card has a slightly lower APR, but it has a 3% foreign transaction fee. So if you plan on using the card abroad, that’s something to keep in mind. 

As a starter card, the Capital One® Secured Mastercard® may not have rewards, but it also doesn’t have an annual fee. It’s a simple card designed to help cardholders build credit.

Bottom Line

The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is worth serious consideration for those looking to repair their credit score or those with a nonexistent credit file who are looking to open their first credit card. It focuses on responsible spending and accountability more than rewards for dollars spent, which makes sense for a secured credit card. While cardholders could easily fall into the trap of overstretching their card limits and racking up debt with high interest, for those who are serious about simply building credit, this card is practically foolproof.

Next Steps

  • Finding the right financial advisor that fits your needs doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Saving money is easier said than done, but having a high-yield savings account is a great start. To see what's available today, take a look at our overview of the top savings accounts.

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