NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Prepaid debit cards may be all the rage these days, but those looking to build credit are probably better off opting for a different kind of plastic.

Unlike prepaid alternatives, secured cards, which require customers to put down a sum of money upfront to cover the line of credit and thereby minimize the risk of default, can actually help your credit score as long as the issuer reports the information to Experian, Equifax or TransUnion. 

“Unless the disclosure statements specify that they report to the major credit bureaus, I advise consumers to call the issuer and ask if they report to the big three,” says Beverly Harzog, credit card expert with “It's possible that a secured card issuer will say they report, but if it’s not to the big three, it doesn’t help the consumer.”

Harzog says that most secured cards backed by major banks or issuers are in the habit of furnishing the data, but smaller lenders may not, so it never hurts to double check. To save you some time, here are a few good secured cards that can give your credit score a boost. 

Orchard Bank Classic MasterCard

Orchard Bank remains a popular choice among credit-seekers since its application process helps them figure out which of its three offerings they are likely to be approved for before they formally apply. The secured option requires a $200 minimum security deposit to ensure the credit line. It carries a low annual percentage rate of 7.99% and a $35 annual fee, which is waived for the first year. 

Capital One Secured MasterCard

This card requires a $49, $99 or $200 refundable deposit based on your credit history. The credit line ranges between $200 and $3,000, depending on how much you put down. The annual percentage rate is 22.9% and there is a $29 annual fee associated with the card.

Citi Secured MasterCard

Citi actually invests the money you use to back your credit into an 18-month certificate of deposit with a high interest rate (around 4%). The minimum deposit required is $200, but you can put up to $5,000 into the CD. The card itself has an annual percentage rate of 18.24% and a $29 annual fee. Citi also advertises that you may become eligible for an unsecured Citi Platinum Select MasterCard after 18 months of responsible usage.
Navy Federal Secured Card

Highly recommended by Harzog, the credit union’s secured card actually has rewards attached to it. Cardholders earn one point with every $1 of net purchases, which can be redeemed for a variety of gift cards. It also has a low annual percentage rate of 8.99% and no annual fee, and the minimum deposit required to obtain the card is $500. The credit union is open to serving military members and their families.

What else should you know to have a good credit score? Find out in this MainStreet roundup revealing eight common credit card myths.

—Jeanine Skowronski is staff reporter for MainStreet. You can reach her by email at, or follow her on Twitter at @JeanineSko.