If you’re building or rebuilding your credit, you’re probably looking into a secured credit card like the U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card. And as a potentially useful bridge to a more rewarding card, it’s one of the better secured credit cards on the market.
Like all secured credit cards, U.S. Bank Secured Visa requires a security deposit before you can begin using it. Don’t worry: You get it back when you pay off your balance and close or upgrade the account. And in the meantime, you build credit — as long as you use the card responsibly.
U.S. Bank Secured Visa isn’t perfect, though. Before you rush out to apply, understand its ins and outs.
What Is the U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card?
The U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card is a secured credit card with no annual fee. Once you make the initial security deposit, you use the card as you would any other, paying off your monthly statement or carrying a balance with interest.
The U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card has no notable incentives, such as a rewards program or sign-up bonus. It’s not meant for long-term use but rather for building or improving your credit until you’re in a position to apply for a more generous cash-back credit card.
What Sets the U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card Apart?
The U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card shares a lot in common with other secured credit cards and has no unique features of note. To the extent that it stands out at all, it’s because it has:
- No annual fee. Without an annual fee, you don’t have to worry about losing money each year you keep it.
- No preset credit limit. Your credit limit is always equal to your security deposit, but U.S. Bank doesn’t set a minimum or maximum. If you have the means to make a big deposit, you enjoy greater spending power than with competing cards that set low initial limits.
- No need for a FICO score. U.S. Bank considers your credit history if you have one, but you don’t have to have a FICO score to apply. So this card could work as your very first.
Key Features of the U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card
The U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card is very straightforward. The most important things to know about it are the rules around security deposits, credit limits, and credit reporting.
Before you can begin using this card, you must make a security deposit into a special FDIC-insured bank account controlled by U.S. Bank.
Your deposit remains locked up until you upgrade to an unsecured card or pay off your balance and close the account. You make monthly payments from your regular bank account, not your security account.
If you stop making at least the minimum payment on your account, U.S. Bank may use your security deposit to cover the shortfall. If that happens, U.S. Bank closes your account and you get a serious black mark on your credit report.
Your credit limit is always equal to your security deposit. You can charge up to your limit, but you can’t exceed it without first paying off previous charges.
Credit Reporting & Monitoring
U.S. Bank reports your payment history and credit utilization to the three major credit reporting bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You have access to your FICO credit score in your online account dashboard, so you can track how these reports affect your credit score (hopefully for the better) as time goes on.
You don’t need a U.S. Bank checking account to qualify for this card, but if you have one, you can use your U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card as a backup to cover negative balances in that account. U.S. Bank charges the negative amount to your credit card to make your bank account whole.
There’s no additional fee for this service, but overdraft protection charges begin accruing interest right away. You should pay them off as soon as you can to reduce your net cost.
This card has no annual fee. Foreign transaction fees cost 3% of the transaction amount. Balance transfers cost the greater of 3% or $5.
There’s no introductory promotion. The APR for purchases and balance transfers is 28.99% from day one.
If you have enough credit history to have a FICO score, you need fair or better credit to qualify for this card. You probably won’t qualify with a recent bankruptcy on your record.
But if you have no credit history at all, U.S. Bank may consider noncredit factors like income and assets when assessing your application. You don’t absolutely need a FICO score to qualify.
The U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card’s biggest advantages concern its relaxed underwriting standards, flexible credit limit, and credit-building capabilities. It doesn’t hurt that it has no annual fee either.
- No annual fee. This card has no annual fee. Many other secured cards charge recurring fees, so this is a notable and positive feature.
- Relaxed standards. You can qualify for this card with fair or better credit. Some secured credit cards have surprisingly strict standards, requiring FICO scores close to 700.
- May qualify with limited or no credit. If you don’t have a FICO score due to limited credit history, you may still qualify for this card based on noncredit factors like income and occupation. That’s another advantage over some competing secured cards that strictly require FICO scores.
- Deposit sits in an FDIC-insured account. Your security deposit is safe in an FDIC-insured account until you close your credit card account. You’d expect this from a major bank, but it’s still nice to have the peace of mind.
- You can control your credit limit. Your credit limit depends on the size of your initial deposit, which means you can boost your spending power if you’re willing to lock away more cash upfront.
- Comes with free credit monitoring tools. With this card, you always know where your credit stands. That’s a nice perk if you don’t already have a credit monitoring service.
- May offer a path to unsecured status. After several months of responsible use, you may qualify for an unsecured credit card from U.S. Bank. U.S. Bank is vague about how long that takes and how it determines who’s eligible, but it’s something to aspire to nonetheless.
This card’s downsides revolve around its total lack of cardholder incentives. That isn’t surprising for a basic secured credit card, but it’s disappointing nonetheless.
- No sign-up bonus. This card has no sign-up bonus for new cardholders who hit an early spending target. Such an incentive would be nice right out of the gate.
- No APR promotion. The U.S. Bank Secured Visa doesn’t have a 0% intro APR promotion. This feature is uncommon in the secured credit card space, but it’s increasingly popular on unsecured entry-level credit cards for people with fair or limited credit.
- Few perks. This card has few extra benefits to speak of. If you can qualify for a card with more perks, don’t waste your time with this one.
- No rewards program. This card has no ongoing rewards program. While it’s still not necessarily common in the space, some competing secured credit cards do, including a few without annual fees. Look into those if you qualify.
How the U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card Stacks Up
The U.S. Bank Secured Visa Card isn’t the only no-annual-fee secured credit card from a major U.S. financial institution. Before you apply, see how it compares to another popular option: the Citi Secured Mastercard.
|U.S. Bank Secured Visa
|Citi Secured Mastercard
|Depends on deposit
|Up to $2,500
The U.S. Bank Secured Visa® Card has a lot of advantages relative to other secured credit cards. It has no annual fee, which is relatively rare, and it doesn’t require a FICO score to qualify. The credit limit is flexible too — based on your initial deposit.
But it’s not perfect by any means. With few extra perks, it offers little in the way of incentives for cardholders. It’s best used as a stepping stone to better credit, which is probably your plan, anyhow.