Citi Secured Mastercard Review [2021]: An Effortless Way to Build Credit

The Citi Secured Mastercard can help you build and repair your credit when you have little-to-no credit history or your credit is less than stellar.
Last updated Apr 29, 2021 | By Ben Walker

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If you’re concerned about your ability to qualify for a credit card, consider looking into secured credit cards. Secured credit cards are specifically designed to help individuals who need to build or repair their credit, so the qualification process is less strict. However, you do typically have to provide collateral in the form of a security deposit with many secured cards.

With the Citi Secured Mastercard, you’re able to work your way toward better financial security by building your credit score and credit history. In this Citi Secured Mastercard review, you’ll learn who should get the Citi Secured Mastercard, what its benefits and drawbacks are, and other beneficial information. This will help you decide whether the Citi Secured Mastercard is the right card to get your financial future back on track.

Credit Lines up to $2,500

Citi Secured Mastercard

Citi Secured Mastercard

Citi Secured Mastercard

Benefits

  • Flexible payment dates
  • Helps build credit
  • No annual fee

Drawbacks

  • Requires security deposit

In this Citi Secured credit card review:

Who should get the Citi Secured Mastercard?

The Citi Secured Mastercard isn’t a travel rewards card, cashback credit card, or balance transfer card. Rather, it’s a secured credit card that provides you with an opportunity to use an actual credit card and build some credit history. It has a $0 annual fee, but you’re required to put a minimum $200 security deposit down to qualify for this card. Your security deposit will act as a line of credit.  

It can be difficult to make any headway on improving your credit score if you don’t have any credit history or your credit score is lower than you’d like. That’s because most credit card companies require a reasonable amount of credit history and an above-average credit score to qualify for their products. However, the Citi Secured Mastercard doesn’t have those same restrictions. You don’t need the stellar credit score or credit history, but the security deposit is required so Citibank is protected for the credit it’s lending you.

If you compare credit cards, it’s easy to find a variety of credit cards with better benefits than the Citi Secured Mastercard. If you can qualify for a credit card with benefits and earning potential, you’d likely be better off going with that option because the Citi Secured Mastercard offers very little in terms of card benefits. However, if you don’t have other options, this card is a great choice to open up more opportunities in the future.

Card basics

Card type Secured
Credit card issuer Citibank
Credit card network Mastercard
Annual fee $0
Intro bonus None
Recommended credit score Fair, Good
Foreign transaction fee 3%

Citi Secured Mastercard benefits and perks

  • Easier qualification: Compared to most credit cards, qualification for the Citi Secured Mastercard is much easier. There’s little-to-no credit history required for approval.
  • Building credit: As an actual credit card, not a debit card, you can build your credit history and improve your credit score when you use the Citi Secured Mastercard. Your payment history will be shared with the major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian, and Transunion — and appear on your credit report. Your available credit limit is equal to your security deposit, which can be between $200 and $2,500.
  • Free access to your FICO score: Once you establish a credit history, you'll get free access to your FICO score online.
  • $0 annual fee: Don’t stress about an annual cost because the annual fee is $0.
  • Contactless and digital: For your convenience, the Citi Secured Mastercard can be used with digital wallets and at applicable contactless payment terminals.
  • Citi Identity Theft Solutions: This service can help you work through and resolve identity theft issues.
  • Protection against unauthorized charges: This card offers $0 liability for unauthorized charges, which means you're protected if an expense that you did not authorize is charged to your card.
  • Automatic payments and account alerts: The Citi Secured Mastercard comes with an auto-pay feature and you can choose to get account alerts to help you stay on track with on-time payments. 

Drawbacks to the Citi Secured Mastercard

  • Security deposit: You have to pay a one-time security deposit to be approved for the Citi Secured Mastercard. The minimum deposit is $200, and your total deposit will be placed in a collateral holding account for an initial term of 18 months.
  • Lack of benefits: This card offers no additional benefits like purchase protection, extended warranty protection, or anything similar.
  • No earning potential: You won’t earn any points or cash back when you make purchases with this card.

Citi Secured Mastercard FAQs

Is the Citi Secured Mastercard a good card?

The Citi Secured Mastercard is a good card if you don’t qualify for most types of credit cards because your credit history is too new or your credit score is below average. This card requires little-to-no credit history for approval, so it’s a viable option if you still want a credit card to help build or repair your credit. The bottom line is, the best credit card for you will depend upon your unique needs and financial situation. 

What credit score do you need for the Citi Secured Mastercard?

As a secured credit card, the Citi Secured Mastercard requires little-to-no credit history or fair to good credit. This may mean your credit history is brand new or doesn’t go back very far. Or your credit score is average or less than average. Citi will look at your creditworthiness during the application process for this card, but having limited credit or bad credit doesn't necessarily mean your application will be rejected.

Can your Citi Secured Mastercard become an unsecured credit card?

Cardholders have a period of 18 months in which the Citi Secured card remains in a secured state. After this period, Citi will review your account to see whether your card can become an unsecured card and changed to a different Citi credit card.

Does Citi increase your credit limit automatically?

Citi may automatically review your Citi account and increase your credit limit every now and then. You can also request a credit limit increase from Citi yourself by logging into your online account and clicking on the “Request a credit line increase” option. Or you can call Citi directly by using the number on the back of your Citi credit card.

Does Citibank approve your credit card application instantly?

Citibank does have instant approval for its credit cards, though some applications may take longer. If you don’t immediately receive a decision on a credit card application, it may take up to two weeks to hear back about it. Citibank may also require more information from you during the application process. If so, you will be notified.

Other cards to consider

The Citi Secured Mastercard provides a great opportunity to qualify for a credit card even if you have no previous credit history or it’s very sparse. However, another secured credit card, like the OpenSky Secured Visa Card or the Secured MasterCard® from Capital One, may be a better fit for you.

The OpenSky Secured Visa Card doesn’t require a credit check when you apply and can be used anywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. It does have a $35 annual fee, but your credit limit can go up to $3,000 if that’s how much of a refundable deposit you make.

With the Secured MasterCard from Capital One, you get a $0 annual fee and access to travel benefits and extended warranty coverage. Most secured credit cards don’t include these types of benefits, which puts this card a step above the rest. The minimum security deposit also starts off at $49, which is much lower than many other secured credit cards.

Credit Lines up to $2,500

Citi Secured Mastercard

Citi Secured Mastercard

Citi Secured Mastercard

Special Offer

Helps those with little to no credit history build their credit

See how these cards compare:

OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
  • Credit limit defined by your refundable deposit
  • Choose your limit between $200 and $3,000
  • No credit check when applying
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
  • $200 initial credit line after making minimum security deposit
  • Consideration for higher credit line as soon as 6 months after account opening
  • No annual fee
  • Pick your monthly due date

Author Details

Ben Walker Ben Walker is a credit cards and travel writer at FinanceBuzz who loves helping others achieve their travel goals through financially-sound decisions. For nearly a decade, he has been using credit card points and miles for the sole purpose of traveling the world. Ben has been featured in The Washington Post, MSN, Debt.com, and Finder.com.