What do I need to know about secured credit cards?

A secured card may be a good option, if you can't get a regular credit card. Research the card and company carefully before making a decision.

You may want to get a secured credit card, if:

  • You have no credit history.
  • You have no Canadian credit history (new to Canada).
  • You had credit problems in the past and want to improve your credit rating.
  • You recently filed for bankruptcy.

Security Deposit

To get a secured credit card, you need to make a security deposit with the credit issuer. This may be cash, furniture or something else that the company will accept. This may also be called "collateral."

Generally, your credit limit is the same or more than the value of your deposit. In most cases you can invest your deposit in securities such as GICs, RRSPs or term deposits.

If you don’t make your credit card payments, the credit issuer may take money out of your deposit.

If you use the card for a while and pay your bills on time, you can build a positive credit history. With good credit you may be eligible for an regular credit card and you can get your deposit back.

Things to Know

  • Secured credit cards normally have a higher interest rate than unsecured cards.
  • Secured credit cards usually have monthly or annual fees. Also, you might have to pay service fees for some transactions.
  • Make sure your deposit is insured with the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) or a provincial deposit insurance corporation. This protects you if the financial institution holding your deposit declares bankruptcy.
  • Beware of secured card offers from unknown institutions or issuers outside Canada. Contact the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada for assistance.
  • Avoid offers for secured cards that do not have a recognized brand name such as VISA, MasterCard or American Express. These cards may only be accepted at a small number of stores or may require you to make purchases from a specific catalogue.
  • Read and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions associated with a secured card before you accept it.

For More Information

This article contains information from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada.

Last updated: December 15, 2015 4001367