Citi® Secured Mastercard® Review

If you’re in the market for your first credit card or have limited credit, then the Citi® Secured Mastercard® could be a great option to get you on your way to building a better credit score.

There are plenty of benefits of this introductory credit card– including zero annual fees! Find out everything you need to know in this Citi® Secured Mastercard® Review.

Citi® Secured Mastercard® Overview

For those with low to no credit history, the Citi® Secured Mastercard® could be a great card for you to begin building credit. Though applying will require a hard inquiry on your credit, this secured card is relatively easy to be approved for.

Secured credit cards work by taking a deposit, which then acts as your credit limit.

Unlike a debit or prepaid card, secured credit cards report back to the three major credit bureaus– allowing you to build your credit score over time, especially when paired with good practice financial habits.

Eventually, when your credit score is good enough, you can then graduate to an unsecured card, which will afford you various perks and benefits.

If you’re already banking with Citibank and are in good standing with them, this could help when it comes to your security deposit and credit limit. As the minimum security deposit is only $200, this can be a great entry point credit card.

Additionally, as this credit card is part of the Mastercard family, you can use it anywhere in the world! Just bear in mind that certain fees do apply when used internationally.

Benefits & Perks

There is no welcome bonus associated with the Citi® Secured Mastercard®. Instead, its main perk is that the minimum deposit is only $200 (maximum $2,500).

A Citi® Secured Mastercard® will also give you access to various account management features, such as auto-alerts, auto-pay, and management of payment due dates. You can even manage your card 24/7 and add it to a digital wallet.

Identity theft protection is standard on the Citi® Secured Mastercard® (you won’t be held liable for unauthorized purchases). You can also keep track of your FICO score through their system, and there are contactless payment chips on every card.

Once you have a Citi credit card, you can also access Citi Entertainment. Citi Entertainment is their entertainment access program, which can grant you special access to events, including presales.

Citi Entertainment covers concerts, sports, art and culture, travel, as well as dining events. As a cardholder you won’t need to sign up for this, but you can opt-in to weekly emails.

You will need to use your Citi® Secured Mastercard® to purchase tickets, and may even be able to reserve some Complimentary Tickets (maximum of 1 per account every 6 months).

Citi recommends that you use your card regularly in order to build your credit score, but smaller spending will get you the most benefit out of it.

This is to make sure that you can both make your payments in full and on time, but also to keep your credit card utilization score low.

Who is the Citi® Secured Mastercard® Best For?

For those already banking with Citi and looking for their first credit card, this is a great option!

Equally, those with low or no credit score will find the Citi® Secured Mastercard® a helpful way to build credit.

You can upgrade your card once your credit score is healthy enough and have your deposit refunded from around the 18-month mark.

However, you should bear in mind that this is only a guideline, and will depend entirely on your personal circumstances. Be sure to practice good credit card health and make payments in full and on time– every time.

Additionally, if you have poor spending habits, the limits imposed by the Citi® Secured Mastercard® could be a good way to get a handle on them.

Unless you want to pay hefty fines, this card will stop you from overspending and also make sure that you make your repayments properly. This will only put you in good stead for other cards down the line when you’re able to upgrade.

Pros and Cons


  • Zero annual fee
  • Zero liability with unauthorized charges
  • Security deposit is only $200
  • It could take as little as 18 months to upgrade your card
  • You have 14 days to pay your deposit and provide your banking information to Citi in order to qualify for this card
  • It could be easier to qualify for the Citi® Secured Mastercard®, especially if you have zero credit history
  • Reports to all 3 major credit bureaus
  • The maximum credit available is higher than most other secured credit cards offer


  • There are no rewards available with this card
  • No welcome bonus
  • If you’ve declared bankruptcy over the last 2 years you also won’t be eligible to apply
  • There is no official graduation scheme or timeline for upgrading your card
  • The cash advance fee is high ($10, or 5% of the amount of the cash advance, depending on which is greater)
  • The returned payment fee can be up to $41
  • The regular APR is quite high
  • There is a foreign transaction fee, meaning this may not be the ideal card to take traveling
  • You will not earn interest on your security deposit

Citi® Secured Mastercard® Bonuses & Promotions

There are no bonuses or promotions currently associated with the Citi® Secured Mastercard®.

Rates and Fees

There is no annual fee with the Citi® Secured Mastercard®, which is pretty appealing.

Additionally, as the security deposit is only $200, this could get you up and using this card pretty quickly.

There’s no introductory low APR offer and the regular APR is a little on the higher side compared with other cards.

Fees to be aware of:

  • 3% foreign transaction fee
  • 99% (variable) APR penalty and up to $41 late fees apply
  • 5% balance transfer fee (min. $5)

Alternatives to the Citi® Secured Mastercard®

While the Citi® Secured Mastercard® is an excellent card, be sure to do your due diligence and shop around for the best deal. Here are a few others you should consider:


Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Account Type
Personal Card
Annual Fee


Citi® Double Cash Card - 18 month BT offer

up to 2% Cash Back
Account Type
Personal Card
Annual Fee

Capital One

Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card

Account Type
Personal Card
Annual Fee

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is it to get the Citi Secured Mastercard?

The Citi® Secured Mastercard® is a great card for those who may have a credit history that’s somewhat limited, making it much easier to qualify for. However, there is a level of risk involved with all credit card applications.

Does Citi® Secured increase your credit limit?

No. Your credit limit will stay the same for as long as you have your Citi® Secured card, as they will not allow you to increase your credit limit.

Does Citi Secured do a hard credit pull?

Yes, Citi Secured will do a hard credit pull, though you can still apply even if you have bad credit. However, you should be aware that this will normally cause your credit score to drop a little.

Does the Citi® Secured credit card help build credit?

Yes. As the Citi® Secured credit card will report to major credit bureaus, this can help improve your credit score over time. Just be sure to behave responsibly with the card, and make your payments in full each month.

How long does it take for the Citi Secured Mastercard to become unsecured?

While it depends on your individual circumstances, you could be looking at an unsecured card in around 18 months. However, on the flip side, it could take multiple years!

Is the Citi® Secured Mastercard® Worth It?

If you have low or no credit, then the Citi Secured Mastercard could be a great option for you– especially if you already have a relationship with Citi.

As there is no annual fee, this could be a very worthwhile card to add to your wallet if you’re looking to build credit.

If you’re particularly keen on concerts and live events, this could make it worth it for you to own the Citi Secured Mastercard. The sheer volume and range of ticket partners make this a card that could simultaneously help you build credit and get you into some fun experiences to boot!

However, there are no rewards offered and limited benefits beyond access to Citi Entertainment, making this a card that really is best for building credit and little else. You could, however, be on your way to a better card in as little as 18 months, making this a good starter card.

This would then give you access to further rewards and perks, as well as potentially lower regular APR and fees.

The low security deposit, too, means that you can attain this card quite quickly. Bear in mind, though, that the security deposit also acts as your credit limit– so it would be helpful to have a higher deposit, especially as Citi will not allow you to adjust this after the fact.

If you make sure you can pay off your bills in full and on time each month, the Citi Secured Mastercard could be one that works nicely in your favor!