Convert a Secured Card to an Unsecured Credit Card

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Updated on Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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A secured credit card is a great way to build your credit history. When no one else will give you a credit card, a secured card offers you the opportunity to improve your credit score in a controlled way. However, at some point the goal is to convert from a secured card to an unsecured card. We will help you decide when is the best time to make that conversion, and how to do it.

When to Make the Switch

The only reason to have a secured credit card is to get a better credit score. Once your score is good enough to get another credit card, you should consider making the switch. Some secured cards, like Capital One, actually show your credit score on your statement every month, which can help you plan.

Once your credit score is 650 or higher, you will have a number of options for a credit card. Once your score is 700, you can pretty much take your pick of any credit card out there.

So, we recommend keeping the secured card for at least a year. After 12 months of positive activity (never spending more than 20% of the available limit and paying on time), you should start looking closely at your score. If it is above 650, you have a very good chance. If your score is above 700, you should definitely switch.

How to Make the Switch

You have 2 options when switching from secured to unsecured:

  1. Your secured card is migrated to a new credit card, or
  2. You apply for a new credit card and close your secured credit card

For the first option, just call your bank directly and ask for a conversion. I helped my wife establish credit with a secured credit card, and I had to pro-actively speak with the bank in order to get the conversion completed. Just make sure you remember to do the following:

  • Ask to be converted to a credit card that does not have an annual fee
  • Ensure that you receive a refund of your original deposit. At Bank of America, I had to chase them a few times before we received our deposit refund
  • Ask to keep the same account number, so that your credit history continues to build

Banks like secured cards, because you are keeping money with them, and they earn interest on that money. They are not always eager to make the conversion for you. If that is the case, then you need to apply for a new card.

If your credit score is less than perfect, you should consider a credit card issued by a department store. For example, Synchrony Bank issues a Walmart Credit Card that has no annual fee and typically approve less than perfect credit scores. You can learn more about that card here.

Store card options:

Walmart Rewards Card

The information related to Walmart Rewards Card has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Walmart Rewards Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% back on purchases made at Walmart.com and on the Walmart app, 2% back on Walmart purchases in stores outside of the introductory offer, and 2% back at Walmart Fuel Stations.
Regular Purchase APR
26.99% variable
Target REDcard™ Credit Card

The information related to Target REDcard™ Credit Card has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Target REDcard™ Credit Card

Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
5% at Target & Target.com
Regular Purchase APR
25.15% Variable

If your have a good or excellent credit score, find the best cashback credit card for your needs.

Cashback card options:

Chase Freedom®

The information related to Chase Freedom® has been independently collected by MagnifyMoney and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication.

Chase Freedom®

Regular Purchase APR
14.99% to 23.74% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months
Intro BT APR
0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers for 15 months
Annual fee
$0
Rewards Rate
Earn 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in combined purchases in bonus categories each quarter you activate. Enjoy new 5% categories every 3 months. Unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee
3% when you transfer during the first 60 days of account opening, with a minimum of $5
Credit required
good-credit

Excellent/Good

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

APPLY NOW Secured

on American Express’s secure website

Terms Apply |  Rates & Fees

Read Full Review

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Regular Purchase APR
13.99%-23.99% Variable
Intro Purchase APR
0% on purchases for 12 months
Intro BT APR
N/A
Annual fee
$95
Rewards Rate
6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%). 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Credit required
good-credit
Excellent/Good

Do not close your secured card until you are approved for a new credit card. Once you are approved for your new credit card, call the bank that issued your secured card. Tell them that you are going to close the account unless they convert you to a secured card. It is always worthwhile trying to get the conversion, and here you will be making a threat that you will keep. Because, if they don’t convert your card, you will close it. That means you will likely end up in retention unit.

If you do close the card, make sure you receive a refund of the deposit. Closed accounts stay on your credit report for 7 years, so you should not worry about your credit score. The other credit card you opened will help to build your score, so long as you continue to use it responsibly.

If the retention office agrees to convert your card, follow the same advice we gave above: get your deposit refunded, switch to a fee-free credit card, and make sure you keep the same account number.

The purpose of a secured credit card is to establish your credit score. Once you have a good score, you shouldn’t continue to pay fees or keep you money tied up in a deposit with the credit card company.

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