An unsecured credit card is a credit card with a credit line that is not "secured" by collateral such as a refundable security deposit. In contrast, secured credit cards require a deposit of at least $200-$300, and the deposit amount becomes the account’s spending limit. Most of the time, the phrase "credit card" refers to an unsecured credit card.
What kinds of unsecured credit cards are there?
More than 9 in 10 credit card offers are unsecured, with no deposit needed. So, it’s no surprise there are lots of slightly different types of unsecured credit cards. There are unsecured cards for each credit rating, from excellent credit to bad credit. There are unsecured credit cards for students, small business owners and everyone else. Some reward cardholders for making purchases, while others offer low introductory APRs. Some have low fees; others don’t.
Given the variety, finding the right card for your needs is not as simple as just setting out in search of an unsecured credit card. You need to compare the available offers based on the features – other than security deposit requirements – that figure to have the greatest impact on your life. For your convenience, we’ll highlight a handful of the best, most popular unsecured card offers below.
Here are some popular unsecured credit cards:
Should you choose a secured or unsecured credit card?
Deciding between an unsecured credit card and a secured credit card is a matter of creditworthiness. People with bad credit or limited credit history will benefit most from a secured card because they may not be able to get good terms with an unsecured card. Few banks and credit unions are willing to take on the risk of lending to applicants with badly damaged credit. As a result, there is a limited selection of unsecured credit card offers for people with below-average credit, and the cards that are available can be pretty expensive. Credit cards for students with no credit are a notable exception, though.
Given that borrowers basically prepay for their purchasing power with secured credit cards, such cards offer higher approval odds and charge lower fees than unsecured cards for poor credit. Secured credit cards also report to the major credit bureaus each month, and they look exactly like unsecured credit cards on credit reports. That means using a secured card responsibly can help you build or rebuild your credit just like an unsecured credit card. To learn more, check out our secured vs. unsecured credit cards comparison.
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