Top Secured & Unsecured Credit Cards in Canada
Secured vs Unsecured Credit Cards
Secured credit cards operate just like a regular credit card, but you need to provide a deposit to match the size of your credit limit.
The credit card company holds your deposit in a savings account and will use it to cover the balance if you default on a monthly payment.
An unsecured credit card just means that you don’t need to provide a security deposit, and is the type of ‘normal’ credit card that most consumers are familiar with.
The secured and unsecured credit cards we recommend below permit you to build up your credit score even if you have bad credit.
Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit (Secured/Unsecured) in Canada in 2019
- Editor's Choice Capital One® Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard® - Top Guaranteed Unsecured Credit Card for Bad Credit in Canada Apply Now Read Our Review >
- Capital One® Guaranteed Secured Mastercard® - Top Guaranteed Approval Secured Credit Card for Bad Credit in Canada Apply Now Read Our Review >
- Refresh Financial Secured Visa - Top Low-Interest Secured Credit Card for Bad Credit in Canada Apply Now Read Our Review >
- Home Trust Secured No Fee Visa - Top No Annual Fee Secured Credit Card for Bad Credit in Canada Apply Now Read Our Review >
– Credit score required: Bad-Poor
– Min personal income required: $0
– Annual fees: $79 (APR: 14.9%; CAR: 19.8%)
Canadians with blemishes in their credit history—like bankruptcies, consumer proposals, or simply low credit scores—appreciate a credit card that offers the rare combination of guaranteed approval and a low interest rate.
Though its $79 annual fee may seem relatively steep for some, the Capital One Low Rate Guaranteed Mastercard can help rescue virtually every applicant from high interest rates (though they’ll need to meet minor requirements like being at least the age of majority and other elementary criteria). The card’s key features are as follows:
- 14.9% interest rate on purchases and balance transfers and 19.8% on cash advances
- Annual fee of $79
- Guaranteed approval
We should clarify that although some form of approval is guaranteed upon meeting basic criteria, not everyone will be approved for the unsecured version of the card. Subject to certain conditions, those with lower credit scores might be approved for secured version, which requires security funds. But both iterations of the card feature the same low interest rate.
The unsecured version has some added benefits that serve to improve an already-valuable package, with the most impressive being Price Protection. This feature allows cardholders to ask for reimbursement from the retailer for the price difference up to $100 per item and $500 per calendar year when they see items they’d previously charged to the card, but displayed for a lower price. Within 60 days of the item’s purchase, a cardholder can get up to $100 back per item, and they can redeem up to $500 this way each year total. The Mastercard also comes with travel benefits like common carrier travel accident insurance, and coverage for baggage and rental vehicles.
– Credit score required: Bad-Poor
– Min personal income required: $0
– Annual fees: $59 (APR: 19.8%; CAR: 19.8%)
Canadians with poor credit know that at the end of the day, it’s always at the bank’s discretion to approve their application or not. And though most banks scrutinize applications less harshly if they’re for a secured card, approval is still far from certain. The aptly-named Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard dispels this uncertainty by offering low-barrier access to credit in Canada. Applicants simply need to meet the following requirements:
- Be able to provide the security funds necessary for the card, ranging from $75-$300
- Be at least the age of majority in their province or territory of residence
- Have not applied for a Capital One product more than once in the 30 days prior to application for the Guaranteed Secured Mastercard
- Have no existing Capital One accounts, pending applications for a Capital One product, or a Capital One account that wasn’t in good standing within the last year.
Besides providing a chance to build credit, the card itself is broadly beneficial for cardholders. As a Mastercard, it’s accepted virtually everywhere and comes with the global support provided by Mastercard Global ServiceTM. Cardholders can share the card and account by adding another authorized user for free, and the card has built-in liability protection against fraudulent use. These features of the Capital One Guaranteed Secured Mastercard are well worth its $59 annual fee.
The Refresh Financial Secured Visa is a rare credit card in Canada that guarantees every application will be successful, as long as the applicant makes the minimum deposit. There’s no credit check before approval, so even if you have a bankruptcy or foreclosure in your financial history, you can still get this card. Other key features include:
- Interest rate of 17.99%
- Annual fee $48.95 if you pay it annually, $3 every month if you choose to pay monthly plus a $12.95 fee
- Minimum deposit just $200, up to a maximum of $10000
Refresh Financial Secured Visa has a 21-day interest-free grace period on all new purchases. Aside from having a low annual fee, its other fees are also low—only $0.10 if your transaction is declined and $0.50 to pay a bill. You’ll be charged $5 for every ATM cash advance in Canada and $5 the first time you go over your credit limit. The penalty for going over your credit limit a second time, however, is severe: your card will be cancelled. It’s also important to point out that Refresh Financial Secured Visa does charge $2 every month that you don’t use the card, so it’s only a good choice for cardholders who are going to use it regularly.
The Refresh Financial Secured Visa is a guaranteed credit card that won’t charge sky-high interest rates. It’s ideal for everyone with no credit history, bad credit history, and/or recent bankruptcies.
Though applying for one of the Home Trust Secured card does involve a credit check, most applicants are approved. Once approved, you can use it like any other credit card, and Home Trust will report your payments to both Equifax and TransUnion, helping you re-establish your credit. The card’s key features are:
- Standard interest rate of 19.99%
- $0 annual fee
- Credit limit is set at the size of your security deposit, beginning from $500 and up to a maximum of $10000
The card comes with a standard 21-day grace period on all new purchases before you’ll be charged interest, so you can avoid paying the slightly higher interest rate as long as you pay off your balance within that time frame.
Foreign transactions incur a % fee, and cash advances are charged a minimum of $2.50, depending on the amount you withdraw at once. The Home Trust Secured Visa No Annual Fee does permit users to go over their credit limit, but you’ll be charged $29 each time this happens.
Strategies To Get Credit Cards for Bad Credit
If you’re hunting for a credit card in the noble pursuit of improving your credit, remember these two key ideas:
- get an unsecured credit card;
- get a secured credit card with minimal annual fee for a short term.
Unsecured Credit Card – The Simpler Option
We really recommend that you first try for an unsecured card. The application process is simpler, you won’t risk losing your security deposit, and you won’t tie up your money in a security deposit.
But don’t apply for every credit card under the sun – doing so will further lower your credit score. If you’re in bankruptcy, consumer proposal, or on a debt repayment plan, an unsecured card designated specifically for those with bad credit might be the only realistic unsecured card option you have.
Secured Credit Card, Minimal Fee, Short Term
If you can’t qualify for an unsecured credit card for bad credit, there are nonetheless advantages to getting a secured credit card instead.
- Rebuild your credit score
- Access the convenience of paying through Mastercard and Visa
We recommend getting one without an annual fee or with a low annual fee. Once you’ve re-established your credit enough to qualify for an unsecured card, you can cancel your secured credit card and move up to a card for those with fair or average credit, which will be more substantive and offer some cash back and rewards.
And, remember; make all of your payments on time. In fact, you should set-up all your credit cards for pre-authorized payments, so you’re never late!\