Last updated on March 16th, 2021 to reflect new developments in the Canadian secured credit cards market and update the secured card rankings for 2021.
Secured credit card is a card issued by a financial institution, which is backed by a deposit. Sometimes these cards are known as “guaranteed credit cards”. Very often the application process ends with instant approval or denial of the borrower as everything is done online. In theory it should be easier to obtain a secured card versus a regular one, but this is not always the case in Canada. Some lenders don’t do credit checks and will give you a card with a security deposit of just a few hundred dollars, while others will do rigorous checks and possibly deny your secured credit card application.
2020 has been a tough year for many and getting secured credit card in Canada is getting harder, because fewer and fewer financial institutions offer them. The financial products offered to Canadians with bad credit are far and few between, and this segment of the market is badly under-served. I get daily emails asking how to get a secured card, which one to get, which cards are easy to get, what credit score do you need to qualify for one, etc. My advice to you is to read the article below, read the many user comments talking about their experience in applying for a credit card secured by deposit, and make a decision based on your research.
My first credit card was with CIBC, and because I had no credit history I had to settle for a secured credit card. The card had $500 limit, which I had to deposit with the bank – not much of a credit card :). I used it for 2 years making small purchases and paying it off every month diligently, which helped me establish good credit history. While many of the big banks advertise financial products targeted at recent immigrants, and people who simply have no credit history yet, the fact is that getting even a secured credit card is much tougher nowadays in Canada. Even Peoples Trust out of British Columbia, which was a major player in the Canadian secured credit card space, decided to discontinue their card.
In the early 2000’s all major Canadian banks offered secured credit cards, but this is no longer the case. I haven’t seen a secured card advertised by a major Canadian financial institution for a while, and I know for a fact that Scotiabank and CIBC have no such products. Even if the rest of the big banks still have such cards on offer, they are not easy to find or their use is discouraged.
If you are in the market for secured card, you might also consider getting a unsecured credit card with low limit, which should be easier to get. You can try store credit cards like Canadian Tire Triangle MasterCard or Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard for example. While not perfect these cards are somewhat easier to obtain, and with less and less financial institutions offering secured credit cards, it may be the right choice for you.
Find a solution to credit issues – get a secured credit card
People with bad credit usually apply for a secured card because they have a more limited choice, especially when it comes to specialty cards with attractive rates and terms. They are also offered to those who are new to credit as well as recent immigrants, newcomers, and students. Secured credit cards are available from unions, small and major banks, and other establishments and help consumers establish credit.
How Secured Credit Cards Work
Issuers require a cash deposit or security funds as a guarantee of on-time payment. It is usually equal to or larger than the limit offered. The only difference between secured and unsecured cards is the fact that security funds are required because financial institutions deal with high-risk borrowers who are more likely to default. Your credit card is backed by your deposit, hence the term “secured”. Other than that, holders can use the card to make payments online and in-store, to pay bills, and of course to build their credit.
Benefits for Users
The main benefit for users is that payments are reported regularly to major credit bureaus such as TransUnion and Experian. Customers who keep their balance low and make on-time payments gradually establish or reestablish credit. The timing of reports and the issuer’s reporting practices determine how long it takes before your card appears on your credit file.
What Is the Right Credit Card for You?
The choice of a secured card depends on whether you are a regular bank customer or a union member and other factors. When comparison shopping, look at the credit limit, grace period, and purchase and penalty interest. In general, whether a product is right for you depends on the issuer’s reporting practices. Some establishments report only missed and late payments while others report all payments and help build credit with time.
Who Is Eligible to Apply
Individuals with any credit profile qualify, from tarnished and fair to stellar. Legal residents and Canadian citizens of legal age are eligible to apply for secured credit card. You must be of the age of majority for the province or territory where you reside. Some major banks like TD even offer secured cards to customers who don’t have Canadian credit history, including international students and foreign nationals (temporary residents). The range of products available depends on different factors, including your credit rating and financial situation. When applying for a secured card, consumers are often asked about estimated monthly payments, including lines of credit, loans, mortgages, and other accounts. Financial institutions also request information about your rent or mortgage payments as well as income amount, employer, and sources of income. Many card issuers require that applicants have a verifiable permanent address in Canada and a verifiable source of income (i.e. proof of income).
Secured Credit Card Picks for 2021
#1 – First Place
Refresh Secured Card
This is a brand new secured card from Refresh Financial targeted at customers with bad or no credit, and people looking to build or re-build their credit. This secured Visa doesn’t require a credit check, so it should be very easy to get. Here are the main Refresh Secured Card features.
- Credit limit: $200 to $10,000
- Purchase Interest rate: 17.99 percent
- Annual fee: CAD $48.95
#2 – Second Place
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
This is NOT a secured credit card but the advantage it has is a higher chance for approval compared to the Big Five banks. Customers earn unlimited rewards and can either redeem them into their savings accounts or add them to their card balance. The Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card has:
- No annual fee
- Interest Rate: 19.95%
- 0.50% Money-Back Rewards on all your other everyday purchases.
- 2 percent back on select purchases (categories of your choice).
#3 – Third Place
No-Fee Scotiabank Value® VISA Card
A yet another credit card by Scotiabank, this is a great solution to transfer existing balances, even though this is not a secured card. The introductory rate is just 3.99 percent and is in effect within 6 months of opening the account. The intro rate applies to credit card checks, balance transfers, and cash advances. The interest-free period is 21 days. Special discounts are offered, including car rental discounts. Optional credit card protection coverage is also available in the event of job loss, disability, or another unfortunate event.
- Balance transfer fees: none
- Interest rate: 16.99 percent
- Annual fee: none
#4 – Fourth Place
Home Trust Secured Visa Card
Home Trust also offers a credit card that helps consumers to enhance their credit profile. Virtually everyone applying for a secured Visa gets approved, and there are two options available:
- No annual fee with 19.99 percent interest rate
- Annual fee of $59 with 14.9 percent interest rate
In addition to attractive terms and interest rate, this card goes with benefits such as the option to add an authorized user and a credit limit that can be as high as $10,000. The minimum limit is $500. This card can be used to book a vacation, make purchases online and over the phone, and access cash.
#5 – Fifth Place
Vancity enviro Secured Visa
Vancity features a secured card with a deposit of just $500 and plenty of added and optional perks, including delay and lost baggage insurance, price protection, travel accident insurance, and others. This card is available to applicants who don’t have a previous Canadian credit history and to recent immigrants. There are different options to look into, for example, enviro Classic which is a good choice for customers who pay the full balance. This card helps borrowers to rebuild credit and is intended for customers who have experienced financial problems in the past.
- Annual fee: none
- Interest rate: 19.5 percent
#6 – Sixth Place
RBC Visa Classic Low Rate
RBC features a low-cost card designed for customers who carry a balance. The card features optional and standard add-ons such as travel insurance and chip and PIN technology and can be used as a tool for debt consolidation to save on interest payments. Users are also offered additional cards with no annual fee. There is a card registration service for important documents and cards and auto payment service for ease and convenience.
- Interest rate: 11.99 percent
- Annual fee: $20
#7 – Seventh Place
Capital One® Guaranteed Secured MasterCard®
This card is ideal for individuals who need to establish credit history and goes with guaranteed approval. The credit limit varies and can be $300 or higher. The minimum security funds to deposit with the bank and access credit are in the amount of $75. Standard benefits that go with this card include referral to the closest ATM, zero liability, and others. Holders are free to make internet and in-store purchases, hotel reservations, car rental bookings, gas purchases, and more.
- Purchase rate: 19.8 percent
- Annual fee: $59
- Grace period: min 25 days
#2 – Old Second Place
Peoples Trust Secured MasterCard®
This card is no longer available.
This secured card is a flexible solution designed for customers with limited or no credit exposure, new immigrants to Canada, students, and anyone looking to build credit. It is also ideal for borrowers with poor ratings such as discharged bankrupts and those with serious credit problems. Similar to standard cards, this MasterCard helps holders to improve their rating with time. Customers with a verifiable source of income qualify.
- Credit limit: $500 or higher
- Purchase Interest rate: 12.99 percent
- Monthly fee: CAD $5.80
- Interest rate on cash advances: 24.50 percent
Fees, Limits, and Rates
The interest rate varies by issuer and is usually around 20 percent. It is in effect once the account has been activated. The rate on balance transfers and cash advances can be the same or different. In general, the rate is slightly higher compared to unsecured cards because financial institutions take more risk. Many applicants have a history of missed or late payments, maxed out cards, defaults, foreclosure, and even bankruptcy. This is why fees and service charges are usually higher as well. At the same time, there are many banks that feature credit cards with no annual fee, including Scotiabank and TD Canada Trust.
The grace period also varies from 19 to 25 days and applies to regular bank transfers and new purchases. Secured cards have a zero-day grace period on special bank transfers and cash advances. The available limit and security funds required depend on your financial circumstances and can be as high as $10,000 and as low as $500. Some banks even offer cards with lower credit limits. If you plan to make large purchases (one-time and big-ticket items), it is better to choose a card with a larger limit provided that you make timely payments and pay at least the minimum before the deadline (grace period). The minimum payment can be $10 or 3 percent or fees plus interest but this depends on the card of choice. Make sure you check the minimum monthly payment, especially if you only pay the minimum.
I recently came to Canada. What card is best to apply for with minimum risk of declining.
Welcome to Canada. Newcomers usually apply for secured credit card first. They are easy to get because they require a cash deposit or security funds as a guarantee. Try the No-Fee Scotiabank Value VISA Card or the Peoples Trust Secured MasterCard.
rl bell says
never volunteer you pay rent. thats how to qualify. dont volunteer uneccessary information
Hi , I live in Qc and am looking for credit card to start rebuilding my credit . I have not had credit in the past 6 years , (1 charged off Capital one that should drop off in 4 months ) I just need one secure card Max $500. Thanks !
Steven Jones says
It’s worth noting for people who declared personal bankruptcy that most of the big banks won’t give you a secured credit card right away. Some will make you wait 4 years passed your discharge date and I think Scotiabank had told me I’d have to wait 6 years (when the bankruptcy comes off my credit report). So call ahead and ask specifically about bankruptcies before booking an appointment.
CIBC offered me a secured card within a month after Bankruptcy.
I just wana know how much money you had in your bank account when they offered you secured visa. Also your account was in CBC.?
Can you tell more about the CIBC? How much is the deposit, I was discharged from bankruptcy for 2 months and TD refuse to get me any sort of secured card, I haven’t try other banks yet. Also which city is your CIBC?
Hi there; thanks you for the information,
However, I am not sure about DCU Visa Platinum Secured Credit Card, this appears to be a US Bank based in Massachusetts, USA, so, I am not sure DCU would accept the Canadian residents’ application, could you verify that please, thanks !! Ali
I agree with what Ali said. DCU is based in Massachussetts and I’m not sure if they’d accept Canadian applications. Please update!
Turns out you need an SSN number to apply for that card.
Don Pacundo says
Home Trust is the way to go if you want to rebuild your credit. If you declared bankruptcy, you’re under consumer proposal, no credit, bad credit – Home Trust is the way to go. Its a secured card so you need a minimum $500 deposited to the card first.
Their customer service is crap and half their website doesn’t work. I tried to load some reoccurring payments for utilities and cell phone and they kept getting declined costing me money. I am going to try and get away from Home Trust.
Why is Home Trust considered better than a card from Capital One?
Capital one has been amazing for me. While I was in my consumer proposal I was accepted for a secured MasterCard. 75$ got me a 1000$ limit. After about 2 years they upped my limit to 4000$. Then a year later they send my deposit back and sent me an unsecured gold card. If I have questions there are virtually no hold times and they answer 24 hrs a day. It doesn’t get better than this! They gave me a chance and I am grateful. That’s more than I can say for our major banks and their “secured” cards. Rbc scotia all turned me down even after I was discharged with good payment history.
What do you mean 75$ got to 1000$?
Jodi , He put $75 deposit down and got a card with a $1000 limit.
Was your gold card an upgrade? Or a new edition to your wallet? Ive been with capitalone 2 years now. They only gave me 100$ limit increase after starting me off at 300$. I kinda got discouraged and put up another 600$ of a deposit. Now my limit is 1000$ the lady did mention something about an upgrade after a certain time of being with them.
I did this. $300 for a $300 limit. Recently there was an error in the transaction history restoring the $300 but it was taken back. When asked they said it will be returned with the closure or upgrade of the account. My limit was available for increase to $2000 after a year of keeping it below 30%.
Need credit says
Thank you. I’m doing this today
I was at a trustees office and they have the applications fir Affirm credit cards there. Wonder how that one measures up yo the rest. Will have to check it out.
Jaysee Reyes says
I’m an immigrant in Montreal for less than 2years. I never had a credit card and what’s best for me?
I lived there 1 year. Now in my home country. At present planning to re-visit once PR card is renewed. I have established credit history in home country ( India ). But no Canadian Credit history.
How should I start building credit history before arriving to Canada.
I just applied today to Capital one.
Online. Instant approval was done.
I wish I had done so a year ago upon my discharge
They provided me a reference number to forward $75 from my online banking.
How much was the limit provided?
Hi can some one tell me if I would be able to get a home trust secured visa I was hoping to get one with jest $500 limit on it I applied for a Capitol one secured card but was turn down for it do to me on disability I’m currently looking to build up my credit but I only get over $11.000 but I’m looking for basic part time work though if that helps thank you also I’m a past bankruptcy in 2015
I applied for capital one secured visa and approved with $75 sec deposit…I should get the details of credit within 10 days … I dont have the credit limit yet but it starts at $300…I’m from Qc and currently on Consumer Propodal 2 yrs passed out of 5 yrs. This makes hotel reservation easier 🙂
I received my approval today for $2500, paid $75 security deposit …. The credit card will follow
I just applied to capital one and they said approved and I will receive the card in 7-10 days.. When do I pay the deposit?
Hudsonbay rez says
You don’t need to if you were accepted for a gold master card.
I have a secured master card and it was a $75 deposit for me.
Poor credit due to health issues preventing me from working for a while. Back to work now so applied for a Capital One account. Was approved instantly and given info to transfer the $75 security fee. Expected a $300 credit limit but was given $1000. Card arrived quickly and everything has been smooth. Major banks wouldn’t touch me but Capital One did so they have earned my gratitude and my future business.
Just wondering if capital one contacted you by phone at all or did you just receive your card and info about limit by mail?
Same for me. I applied for a card at a bank where I have had a decent amount of money that has been increasing steadily for the past year or so and they turned me down. I will not forget Capital One for extending me this opportunity.
(I realise this sounds like paid advertising but I’m just a few minutes off getting approved and am feeling grateful for the opportunity to start rebuilding my credit.)
So I tried to apply for the bay credit card and I was not approved. Which sucked because I knew I had some small debt (under $500) that I cleared out over a year ago. Anyway I tried to buy my credit score on Equifax. And an error message kept popping up. Apparently I have no credit score! So I fumbled across this site and I applied to the Scotia Bank card and I was not approved. But when I kind of became hopeful when I seen people were being approved for capital one secured card. Now my hopes were that I too would only need to pay a $75 deposit. But mine was calculated at $300. And I will have to wait for capital one to reach out to me to let me know what my limit will be.
John C says
What did your limit end up being?
I’ve just finished my bankruptcy and wish to apply for a card. Does the no fee scotia bank value card work for me when I can put a deposit on it. If not, what is the next best thing.
John C says
I just applied and was instantly approved by Capital One with a $75 deposit. I don’t know how much my limit will be, They’ll send details in 7 – 10 days. I’ll post here again when I get it.
CapitalOne is more restrictive during the application process. Once you’re accepted, you can start with $75 of deposit and $300 credit limit. That was enough for me, as you can easily add more money if you need to spend more. I didn’t have any problems with that. Later, they increased my limit to $2000. They never offered me an option to convert that card to an unsecured one, but they lowered my interest rate to 12.99%.
Home Trust is less restrictive, you can apply on the day of your discharge, just make sure to send them your certificate. However, your credit limit is equal to your security deposit. Also, you can’t temporarily increase your limit by adding more money to the card. In order to increase your limit, you have to increase your security deposit. Later, if you don’t need that limit, you can ask them to lower your limit and send you money back.
That is time consuming.
One advise to people who are considering bankruptcy or credit proposal: get your secured card BEFORE.
Kawartha Jane says
Totally agree with you. Secured card is the way to go if you want to improve your credit score.
I just recently close my credit card on rbc in order for me to get my secured deposit. I’ve been using that credit card for almost 1 year and half. I am a temporary worker here in canada. After closing it I asked the agent in rbc if i can open again a new credit card since i just want to get my secured deposit thats why i closed it. But he said that since i am not a resident here i need again to have a secured deposit if ever i wanna get a new credit card.
I’ve been a good credit card user and payer. Im just wondering why in my secured deposit they gave me options like i can withdraw it after a year or reinvest it again and now i cannot open a new credit card without secured deposit?
Have you tried other banks or credit unions? I know most big Canadian banks have credit products targeted at newcommers, so this is strange that RBC would not give you an unsecured credit card after having a secured one for 1.5 years and diligently paying it off every month.
Thank you for your responsed. I haven’t tried other bank. But i will try again in rbc maybe will go to their branch personally and explain clearly.
Vancity are not bad. I was approved quickly for their secured card.
Like some others posting here I applied for the Capital One card and got approved within 30 seconds of hitting submit. They asked for 75 which I sent them from my bank account within a few minutes. I do not yet know what my limit will be. I have no other credit cards and a pretty poor credit history though much of that was more than 6 years ago may be off my record. I have had over 10 000 in savings for the past six months in a Canadian bank account and that may have helped.
Hope this helped someone. If I remember I’ll follow-up with the amount and any other cards I apply for online.
This is a follow-up to my post from a couple weeks ago. I ended up getting approved for a $2500 limit on the Capital One card which, according to the welcome letter they sent, is the current maximum on their secued card. I received a congratulations/welcome letter in less than a week saying that I needed to go to a Canada Post to verify my identity. I took that first packet and the lady at the post office said I was missing a document for the verification as they either need to stamp and submit or scan to verify someone’s identity. I went home and called Capital One and they said a different packet was on its way so my trip there was a waste of time.
The next day I got a notice that a registered letter was waiting for me at my local post office. Once I showed my ID they handed over the mail which contained a letter saying thanks for confirming your identity, your card is now on the way and will arrive in 7-10 days. That was 5 days ago and it has yet to arrive.
That same night after my first post here I also got approved at National Bank for their Masercard and without a deposit. The limit was even slightly higher than the Capital One secured card but I didn’t know what it was until I received my welcome package. I can’t see any special name for this line of card but it is a $0 annual fee card. My own bank turned me down despite having a steadily rising deposit of now over $20 000. I don’t know the explanation but it is kind of annoying.
Hope this helps someone.
One last follow-up. I needed my PIN to activate my Capital One Card and I didn’t receive that until December 5. In total that is about 22 days from hitting submit and getting approved to actually having an activated card. That involved no delays at all on my part starting with sending in my deposit within ten minutes of getting approved.
So, if you get approved for the card don’t be surprised if it takes 3 weeks before you can use it. Another non-secured card that I was approved for about an hour after the Capital One card was in my hands activated in 14 days.
Card # 5, DCU is an american banking institution and they do not bank within Canada. They do not offer credit cards to Canadians.
It’s worth noting that while the Refresh card (#2 on this list) has an annual fee of just $12.95, it also has a $3 monthly fee on top of that.
This means it actually costs $48.95 per year, not $12.95. Bit of a difference between those two numbers.
Yes! It should be updated to include that as well!
Where is form for DCU Visa? I go for application but no Manitoba, only American places. Where is I can go for Canadian DCU Visa card? I wants to apply but forms are not for me in Manitoba.
I applied for the first one on the list and was denied. Their credit inquiry also dropped my score by 7 points 🙁
I did get a card from the #2 listed.
I’m glad that the Refresh card worked for you Hannah!
Scott steele says
Is there a secured card that if you give 500 they will give you 750 or 1000 limit?
I was discharged from a first bankruptcy in July 2014. I have 2 collections amounts still active on my credit reports since 2013 because I found out about them after my discharge and my trustee said he sent them a note about 3 years ago… I guess they stay there for 6 years….
Based on the new Scotia/Transunion partnership, my Credit score with Transunion is 690.
I have a Secured Capital One since Fall 2015 which started with a security deposit of $75.00 and a limit of $1,000.00 and now I am at $3,500.00 limit always paying on time. I don’t have anything else under my name.
I want to get another Credit card…..I live in Quebec so Refresh Credit Card is not available in my area. Does that mean the only other option is Home Trust? Any suggestions? I am planning to get a mortgage in 2 years and by that time the bankruptcy would have fallen off the credit report (yay).
Oh and to everyone, there is a light at the end of the tunnel…. Patience
Thank you in advance
Vancity was fast and easy I got approved even though my credit score was around 280
Somebody mentioned to get a secure credit card before you apply for a consumer proposal… but don’t they take all your credit cards away once during the proposal process?
Lisa, I’m not sure they’ll take away a secured credit card, but I think they might allow you to keep it as there is no real credit involved.
The rules recently, and constantly seem to change(d) that you don’t have to turn in cards with zero balances (CP’s only). However as soon as those credit card issuers learn you filed, they’ll shut you down. It’s in their fine print
As for getting your secured card first, it may work with Capital One, but like unsecured cards, Home Trust WILL shut you down if your part of any bankruptcy proceedings.
I have heard Triangle pretty much accepts anyone over 18 and breathing, unless they’re part of your current bankruptcy proceedings.
What is the best no hassle, quick, simple and easy, secured credit card with NO ANNUAL FEE?
Most secured credit cards do not have annual fee in my experience. Who do you bank with? Have you spoken to your bank about getting a secured card?
Mike S. says
Is there a secured credit card which requires less than $1,000 deposit. I’m looking for something like maybe $500 deposit max. Does such card exist n Canada (I’m in Ontario)?
You should be able to find a card that requires $500 deposit only. I believe the minimum Refresh Financial requires is $200. Keep in mind that if you want to rent a car, most rental companies put a hold of $500 on your card, so even with a $500 dollar credit limit you probably won’t be able to rent a car.
FYI of July 2019, Refresh increased their minimum deposit to $1,000.
I am told $2000 minimum
I think Capital One will work with a deposit of $500, maybe even less.
Yes Richard, last time I checked the minimum Capital one secured card deposit was only $300.
I see that the Capital one secured credit card has the word “Guaranteed” in the title. Is there such a thing as a guaranteed credit card? I mean would they approve anybody who applies even though they have terrible credit?
There are no guarantees in life, and nobody can guarantee you anything, much less a credit card. That being said I’ve heard that capital one approves pretty much everybody. Maybe talk to your friends and acquaintances and see if anybody applied for their card and what their experience was?
Capital One is a joke, avoid them is my advice! I’m looking into Refresh right now, trying to find reviews before making a decision. The $12.95 annual fee sounds great but it’s not quite that low when you add the $3 per month maintenance fee. It works out to $48.95 per year, compared to $59 for others
I see comments here that Capital One approves everybody, which is simply not the case. I was denied last year, and my credit is really not that bad!
…and that’s why they declined you. You have reasonably good credit.
Does gic boast your credit score
Anyone using Refresh? It will be great to have some feedback.
Overall, my concern is that this smaller players, compared to the Big Five, do not have the capabilities to protect customers’ information and can easily be hacked.
Any thought on this and pros and cons on Refresh credit card secured? Thanks!
CRA got hacked recently so protecting personal information is getting harder and harder. I think hackers usually target the big players, not the small fish. CRA was recently hit by two cyberattacks that compromised thousands of accounts linked to its services.
I have a thin credit. Which credit card should I apply for or best for me?
Just go to your bank’s closest branch and ask if they offer secured credit card, if this doesn’t work try Refresh.
What credit score does one need to qualify for the Home Trust Secured Visa?
Mel, This is a secured credit card and I think your credit score doesn’t really matter as you’ll be putting down a security deposit. The idea of this card is to improve your credit rating.