Bank of America Secured Credit Card Review

Posted by CreditCardGuru

Bank of America secured cardWhen your credit is shot, you may find yourself needing a credit card to help you rebuild — but unable to get approved for one. If you’ve had delinquencies or a bankruptcy in the past, you will probably have to start from the ground up — a secured credit card.

With these cards, there are several drawbacks (like the security deposit, lack of benefits, and fees). However the major benefit is that almost anyone can get approved, even if you’ve got a credit history with plenty of potholes. But is the Bank of America secured credit card the best way to go?

Quick Overview: Compared with other secured cards, Bank of America’s offer is pretty good. I think the best way to look at BofA’s offer is thinking of it as a fully secured card (which it is) with a $39 annual fee.

Check out these reviews of the best secured credit cards to see how BofA stacks up against the competition. My favorite one for 2014 is this:

Now, here’s how Bank of America runs their program…

The BofA secured Visa card in a nutshell

  • This is now a fully secured card, so every $1 of your deposit = $1 worth of credit limit. In the past Bank of America used to offer partially secured (a $500 limit for a $99 deposit) that anyone could openly apply for, but they stopped that during the recession. Now it’s rarely offered, as the only time I hear about it is when they send it as a targeted offer to certain banking customers.
  • The amount of the security deposit can range from $300 to $4,900 (don’t ask me why they do $4,900 instead of an even $5k, but that’s how it is). They used to allow you to do a higher deposit of up to $10,000 (which meant a $10k credit limit) but sometime back in 2010 or 2011 they chopped that down to the $4,900 maximum.
  • The annual fee is $39. This is actually fairly reasonable when compared to other secured offers on the market that charge $50 or more.
  • The APR is 20.24 percent at time of this review and according to the application, everyone is given the same rate (no better, no worse).
  • The card comes with an EMV chip. As with most U.S.-issued EMV cards, this one has chip-and-signature technology (Bank of America doesn’t do chip-and-PIN, which is the norm abroad). Still, it’s a nice feature to have on a secured card, given that EMV is most commonly offered on premium cards.

The compliments and complaints?

Pro: Possible conversion of secured to unsecured
Con: You may have to wait a very long time!

The credit card’s application says this:

BofA secured to unsecured conversion rules

Sounds good, right? Well the main complaint about this is that whether or not you’re eligible for a conversion might not be entirely based on how well you manage the secured credit card from Bank of America.

Instead – if you look above that term – you will see your credit limit is based on “income, ability to pay, and security deposit.”

So even if you maintain a perfect history with your secured account, it might not be enough to score an unsecured conversion. This is by far the #1 complaint I see about this card.

I have read reviews from customers on the forums who say they have had this credit card for 2 or almost three years and still don’t qualify for the conversion! The reason? Their credit report doesn’t show enough other accounts to qualify.

For example one poster said that BofA refused to upgrade him because his only other line of active credit was a car loan he had through BofA. Even though the loan was almost three years old and the secured credit card more than two years old, they wouldn’t do it because they wanted to see even more active credit accounts on file. Plus, even after you’re upgraded to an unsecured account and get your deposit back, the annual fee may still continue to be charged. For a card with few extra benefits, that’s not a good deal.

Conclusion? In order to qualify for the unsecured upgrade, you will probably have to build up a credit history. And by that time you might as well just apply for an unsecured card elsewhere.

PRO: The annual fee is low.
CON: You don’t get much in return… just a basic Visa with few benefits.

Still, $39 is pretty low in comparison to some other secured cards on the market. You’re getting the card for credit building — not for earning rewards.

PRO: Bank of America is huge, with branches coast to coast.
CON: On the entry and mid-tier credit cards, customer service complaints are common… especially for this one.

application's fine print about no interest paidHowever in my personal opinion, the sub-par phone support department isn’t a maker or breaker because let’s be honest… most cards in the secured category will be the same.

I think the biggest drawback is that you can’t get much help from Bank of America branches for your credit card. In the past I’ve gone in and asked for help dealing with an issue (and this is for an unsecured card) but all they tell me is to call customer support because the branches don’t handle credit card support.

So logic would tell you that getting a card from BofA might make sense since you would have a local branch to go to. But, because their local branches don’t deal with the cards, it’s basically no different than dealing with a card issuer a thousand miles away.

Worth it or not?

I’d say go for it if you’re already a customer of theirs for your checking/savings. HOWEVER, part of rebuilding credit is having accounts from multiple creditors. So you should get more than one credit card.

I would recommend trying out this to see if there are any offers you are matched for:
This post was written or last updated July 17, 2014


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Editorial Disclosure: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

49 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Julia Sosa September 7, 2014 at 6:20AM

    i went to a branch of bank of america and i applied in person for their secured credit card and i gave them there the $300 and 2 weeks later i got a letter in the mail telling me i was not approved for their secured credit card and they returned the $300 to me, they are tough….

  2. Megan Smith September 7, 2014 at 5:36AM

    i applied for a Bank Of America SECURED Visa Card with a $300 deposit, They Approved me and even allowed me to get the CashBack Reward feature of 1%, 2% and 3% on the SECURED Card because i have a Checking account with them, And after 10 months of making All my payments On Time i called them to Request my Security deposit back and they gave me my $300 back and increased my Credit Limit to $1,000 UNSECURED, i also told them that i Don’t want to continue paying the $39 Annual fee and they said there is nothing they can do about that, i called 8 more times and spoke to 8 different people and everyone told me that the only way i wouldn’t have to pay the $39 Annual fee was if i Apply to One of their Regular NO Annual fee Credit Cards, So i Applied and i was REJECTED / DENIED, They said i already have One of their Credit Cards and that my Limited Credit History Doesn’t qualify to get One of their Regular Credit Cards, WELL, After i got some NO Annual fee Regular Credit Cards from OTHER Banks i Cancelled my SECURED Credit Card i had with them……….BofA want to keep charging you the $39 fee forever!

  3. Manuel August 18, 2014 at 1:48PM

    As any other card you need to know all the pros and cons, and make decisions as time goes by.

    I have my secured card and asked to add the cash rewards, they say no problem. I use it for gas and groceries. In 4 months I already got back more than the annual fee. I think that’s great. All I did was login and chat.

    If your card does not graduate or you don’t want to pay the annual fee, you have to open other cards and close this one, it still report for 10 years on your credit reports. You get your money back and don’t have to pay the fee.

    This is a card for people building history from scratch or rebuilding. When the card is not use for you just close it.

    I read in several forums that people were able to permanently remove the annual fee, some even had to call several times. So it is possible.

  4. Brian July 17, 2014 at 6:03AM

    I applied for my card in Oct 13 and didn’t activate until Nov 13. After 9 months I decided to call there is a department they transfer you to and the automated option is to covert to unsecured. I spoke with a very nice woman who went through my credit report right while I was on the phone. I assume they are more than customer service reps since they have the power to unsecure and increase limits. The woman asked me about my credit from 10 years ago which I thought was odd. Either way she unsecured and gave me a limit of 1k. They do a hard pull. I do all banking and bill paying online and have never had any issues with payments. Whether people like Boa or not they are a major bank and one of the few nationwide banks other than Wells Fargo (whom are very selective about their secured card). They do show up as secured on your report and they do deny secured apps. Once unsecured you can convert your card. Boa has a MasterCard and an amex you can avoid the annual fee by converting to one of their other unsecured cards. This is a major bank card and will help your credit more down the line than a Capone secured. Capone does not unsecure their card they do allow you to apply for unsecured but you would have to close the secured account which would decrease your score forsure.

  5. Debbie June 7, 2014 at 10:08AM

    secured card really????? I asked not once but twice if credit check was done for secured card and was told “NO” The only reason I wanted the card is to improve credit score in prep for a mortgage. “WELL GUESS WHAT THEY DID DO A CREDIT CHECK WHICH WILL DECREASE MY CREDIT SCORE BY A COUPLE POINTS & THEY DENIED THE CARD” Legally I don’t think you institution can do this and I will darn sure check with my lawyer.I was told “the only way this would get denied is if your a criminal which I am not” I was denied due to a 2 year old bankruptcy.

  6. buck June 5, 2014 at 4:12PM

    just curious. do you have to have a regular bank account(checking/savings) with the issuing bank to qualify for a card

  7. walter May 20, 2014 at 9:57AM

    I had a secured account with a deposit of $300.

    I after more than ten months, durring which they charge 20.5%, they claimed they didn’t get a $35 payement. Then they closed the account wiping 100 points off my credit score and kept my $300.

    So its a great card if you want to pay 300 dollars to knock 100 point off your credit score

    • Samantha July 12, 2014 at 6:53AM

      I’ve had my secured card for one year. I paid the balance monthly just like an AMEX. I never carried a balance to the next month. I also only used 20-30% of the card monthly.

      After doing that for a year they bumped me to $600 and returned the $300.

      When I saw my score increased I obtained the following cards that were unsecured to support my credit:

      - Walmart
      - Sam’s
      - Amazon

      Store credit cards are easy to obtain and I use them for general purchases. Since I’m buying household goods and food monthly, I just use the cards and make a full payment with cash.

      When I began I will shamelessly say my score was 469 it’s now 702! Moreover, I’ve received increases from ALL store cards as well. In fact Amazon just increased my limit yesterday.

      I hope this helps someone.

      • Eric July 15, 2014 at 7:27PM

        That is great. Just to clarify, you brought your score up from 469 in just one year?

      • Adgurl August 4, 2014 at 4:28PM

        Great story! Question…did you start with a secured card from BoA? If so, how long did it take you to get approved? I have a very low credit score (due to lawsuits and study loans) but a decent income. I put down $4k for my secured card and now waiting for approval. I’m hoping to get my $4k returned to me in 12 months and increase my credit score.

      • Choir August 12, 2014 at 2:30AM

        That DID help. THANKS!!!!

  8. Ashley April 6, 2014 at 1:19AM

    I don’t have any complaints as far as the costumer service but the terms when it comes to the deposit isn’t has clear as it should be. I have had this card going on 4 years and still haven’t gotten my deposit back yet. Never missed a payment, and in excellent standing. When I called and ask for the deposit back I was told my credit didn’t allow me to get it back at that time. I was told when I first got the card that I would be given my deposit back after a year, that was totally incorrect. Don’t get your hopes up for your deposit back right away. My credit is good enough now that I qualify for unsecured cards so I’m not sure why they won’t give me back my money.

  9. julio a rosado March 5, 2014 at 4:54PM

    it isn’t true that to get a unsecured credit card from bank of america you have to apply in person to a branch, i did apply for mine on line and got approved without setting a foot on a branch, until this day i have bank of america for 7 years and i haven’t set a foot on a branch for nothing.

    • Adgurl August 4, 2014 at 4:30PM

      I was told I must apply at the branch…when I tried to apply online it wouldn’t let me.

  10. Adam January 13, 2014 at 9:27PM

    I was recently offered the partial secured card from Bank of America. I wasn’t able to find it on my own but it was offered when I applied for a different card.

  11. jack December 27, 2013 at 7:44AM

    Don’t ever go for BOA secured. Even when they convert to unsecured after 1year, they will still charge you annual fee saying that your credit history is not good or blah blah….better to go with other cards….

  12. parru December 19, 2013 at 2:16PM

    Bank of America Secured Card is not worth it as no interest, will not be converted automatically to unsecured (you need to manually request) otherwise annual fee is being charged.

    • Abraham March 31, 2014 at 11:23PM

      Interest rates are so low for savings accounts that you are not missing anything. At best, you would get 1% interest which is $10 for a $1,000 deposit over a year. If that amount is a major factor then you probably shouldn’t even worry about credit cards. BoA is more likely to convert your account to an unsecured card than Capital One. My suggestion is to open secure cards with both to increase your lines of credit and available credit. If one converts your account, apply for a card with another bank/ discover, after approval you can close the other card and save the annual fee. As a CFP, paying an annual fee if it is not necessary is a waste of money and we always recommend those are the first accounts to close.

    • Amy June 21, 2014 at 6:18AM

      Correction- even when you do get converted to unsecured, the annual fee is charged and will continue to be charged until you close the card. I’ll be closing mine before the next annual charge. It’s an unpleasant trap. Close my oldest account or pay an annual fee. foooey!

  13. sani December 5, 2013 at 6:35AM

    I haven’t seen any worse customer service in any other financial institution. I have been using their card since a few months but I have never been able to access their online a/c – it’s so confusing: whenever I tried to “enroll” online, it says it can’t process it this time. I have been super busy for my exams during last few months and so haven’t been able to call them and didn’t want to waste 20/30 min in phone. I agree that maybe I should have been more serious and should call them earlier, but they only take calls during weekdays whereas I manage most of my personal stuffs on week-ends because I remain very busy on weekdays, specially during exams. After my exam I called them and found my a/c has been closed and they charged me a fee of about $100!!! $100???????? can u imagine???? and for a new customer????? I requested her to cancel the late fee and let me pay the original due because I am a poor student AND have been very busy for my exam AND because I couldn’t access it online AND I am a new customer BUT NOTHING MATTERS TO THEM. Then I asked whether they will pay me $100 cash reward which is supposed to be given to new customers if they spend a certain amount in first few months, but they said since my a/c has been closed nothing is honored.

    SUMMARY: I suggest NEVER EVER create any account in BoA or take any card from them EVER.

    • Melissa July 19, 2014 at 12:17AM

      they only take calls during weekdays

      This is false.

  14. Pete December 1, 2013 at 5:03AM

    Does BofA secured credit card has the logo on front says “secure” on it, like debate card on the front of the card. Or is just like having a reg. Credit card. Thank you :)

    • Adri December 22, 2013 at 9:15PM

      The credit card does not have the word “secure” on it.. it looks just like an other credit card

    • Ashley April 6, 2014 at 1:21AM

      No it looks exactly like a regular credit card. It doesn’t say anything but your name, account number, name of bank.

  15. mario November 13, 2013 at 10:42PM

    Hello everyone, Here is my experience with BOA. In 2012 I applied for a secured CC for 2 thousand. I was paying the full amount every month.
    7 Months later they send me a check for 2 thousand. Finally my CC was unsecured.the day after I request a credit increase for 5 thousand and was approved the very next day. 6 weeks later I made another request for 10 thousand and was approved the very next day. two day ago I went to a branch and apply for a new CC with a lower APR. I will keep you posted on that. Thank you..

    • dewayne February 18, 2014 at 1:21PM

      You seem to be having the same experiences that I have. What is everyone crying about? BOA is awesome.

  16. Rodney November 4, 2013 at 11:00PM

    So when you apply for a secured card, does it matter how low your credit is at that point? As long as I pay the deposit, I can get the card?

    • Liz February 4, 2014 at 12:51PM

      I was just turned down for a $300 secured credit card! I can’t believe it. I have a good job, a house, a car. I was scammed last year, had to file for bankruptcy. They say that’s why. How on earth do they expect someone to build credit? Hoping another bank will be more forgiving.

      • Nadia March 5, 2014 at 11:51AM

        Hey Liz, how long did it take to get a answer from BOA?

  17. Carrotstick October 31, 2013 at 1:21PM

    What if I get approved for the secured card and decide to cancel after a year or two after building up my credit history, will I get my deposit back?

    • Jacob Aberle November 25, 2013 at 1:53PM

      Yes you will, however you must pay off the card entirely first. They will ding you if you make them use your security deposit to close the account. Also, in general, you probably shouldn’t close this account a few years down the road because your credit will always take a ding when you close an account (unless you have way too many open accounts), ESPECIALLY if it is your oldest account. Keep that card open and in good standing, actively being used for as long as possible.

  18. ZHA October 30, 2013 at 6:00PM

    Hello Guys,

    My BOA secured card show up on my Experian credit report as “Secured Card” and all others as “Revolving Accounts”. I was denied a loan because they knew I did not have a real “unsecured” credit history even though I have a history of 6 months of on time payments with BOA. The loaner was reviewing my Credit Report (Live Person). There are other secured cards that I have heard of that don’t report as “Secured Card”, for example Capital One Card; however I can not confirm that for you because I do not have a Capital One Secured Card. Maybe some else can chip in on this by replying.

    FYI as of 10/30/2013: EXP 714, EQI 571 , TRU 704.

    I only have one secured card and no credit cards at all. This is my experience with BOA secured card reflecting on my Credit Score with Equifax.

    * Equifax in July 544, August 554, September 561, and October 572.

    With that said BOA card does help boost up your credit score by an average of 9 points per month with on time payments. However, anyone pulling your credit report for a loan will know it is a secured card. Your best bet is an automated online application for a store card/credit card that will read your Credit Score rather then your Credit Report and instantly approve you or denied you with a friendly letter in the mail. I use “Credit Pulls Database” to have an idea of where I can get approved for credit based on my credit score.

    I hope you guys find this information as helpful.

  19. Ryan September 30, 2013 at 2:52PM

    Got the letter in the mail about a month ago. Applied the day after my house closed (9/13), and received the card today forwarded to my new address. $99 deposit, 500 limit 20.24% APR. Not a bad deal at all. Took about a year to really get the credit ball rolling again. a year ago I was at a 518, now a 687. I have 2 other cards USAA 1k secured, Credit One unsecured 550 limit, and now this one. I am done with new cards for awhile. Once the mortgage establishes, I’m hoping to see that score start moving toward 700.

  20. Bill September 15, 2013 at 2:32PM

    DO NOT TAKE THE BANK OF AMERICA SECURED CARD!
    I was a happy customer. I took the card in november and graduated to an unsecured card 8 months later. My credit limit was raised, and my deposit returned.

    So far, so good.

    But then I asked them: now that my card is unsecured, will I stop paying the annual fee? (the regular 1-2-3 BoA card does not have such a fee)
    The answer: no! I will have to keep paying the fee as long as I have the card.

    The problem: my credit history is tied to this card, and cancelling it would drastically reduce my average length of history and therefore reduce my score.

    The only thing I can do is apply for a new one and replace my current card (that has one year of payment history) with one that has no history.

    This should, according to Creditkarma.com, reduce my credit score by nearly 100 points.

    This is clearly wrong and predatory. Stay away from this card!

    • Joanne October 12, 2013 at 6:58AM

      Great review! I have just been offered this card from Bank of America when turned down for the unsecured card. After being a faithful customer for over 3 years, with my account always being in surplus sometimes by thousands of $. You’ll think it would count for something. I would be absolutely livid if I’m told after a year, I’m stuck with the fee’s forever!!! Thanks for the warning!

  21. Chris Elser August 27, 2013 at 4:01AM

    I had my BOA secured card since 2007. I have received and accepted 11 other cards, with a credit line now over 50,000 dollars, yet never heard a peep from BOA. i WENT INTO THEIR BRANCH I OPENED MY CARD IN AND WAS asked to apply for a non secured credit card with BOA, which I refused. They had plenty of time to act in good faith and refused to do so. I just received notice they were hitting me with the 39 dollar annual fee, despite their banks representative assuring me I had no outstanding balance, and would receive my refund within 21 days, but waited over a month to add the 30 dollar fee.I should have cancelled in 2010,w hen offers began pouring in, but merely forgot about it, mainly because I hate going there. Wells Fargo charges only 12 dollars for a secured card. with much more benefits by the way,because I got one there as well to expedite the process.I haven’t returned that one either and they only waived the fee, but still no offer and none will be accepted. Capital one has been great,upping my credit line 3 times now!!!!!!! BOA is the Walmart of Banks!!!!

  22. Sky August 22, 2013 at 7:49PM

    Hi, can someone please tell me if there is something i need to do to get the bank to send me this offer? like should i apply for the card first, should i do a certain thing with my current account?

  23. Jessie Neel July 2, 2013 at 7:50PM

    My BOA secured card just converted today and I received a check for my deposit today! It was a pleasant surprise!

    I picked up the card to build my credit as I’m a recent grad with not much going credit wise. Not bad credit, just a thin credit file. I’m right at 12 months with the card, and paid off balances each month like clockwork. I deposited $1000 for the deposit, so it was nice to see that come back to me today. So far, so good with BOA! This, along with the Capitol 1 card took me from 618 to 727 in about 6-8 months. Not bad. Now I’m looking for other ways to increase my score. Anyone know what I can try next?

  24. Itscaramelbaby January 6, 2013 at 3:46PM

    Hi! i got approved for a BofA secured card with the $99 deposit and a $500 limit today

    • Richard Downs March 2, 2013 at 8:57PM

      hello, just got the same offer, is 99.00 dollars is all you need to open? and is 500 credit limit true or do you have to give more for a security deposit? thanks

      • Jelani March 4, 2013 at 7:29PM

        can you guys provide the link that has this offer? I have looked all over the internet and it is not there. thanks!

    • Richard Downs March 11, 2013 at 10:19PM

      that’s good but is 99.00 dollars all you need to receive the card with a 500.00 dollar limit,plz respond to this matter,confused?/

      • Richard Downs March 11, 2013 at 10:30PM

        oh,BTW (Jelani),it is offered by the bank for bank customers,it is sent to your address if you have a BOA account. hope this helps

      • Monica W April 11, 2013 at 7:20AM

        Hi Jelani, Unless you received a letter in the mail for the special offer of: a $99 security deposit for a $500 credit limit, you will not be able to get this offer. This offer is only available through the mail, it is not available online. This is a good deal as you only need to deposit $99 and you’d be granted the $500 limit. Don’t be discouraged, there are better offers out there, while they may be $1 for $1 they give you things like rewards, or rental collision coverage, one of those is Navy Federal Credit Union, if you are a member of any armed service or if you are a federal employee, you qualify. :-)

    • ickums June 5, 2013 at 8:29PM

      Did they send you a pre approval or did you just apply? Also, what credit scores did you have at application if you can share?

    • Mukesh July 2, 2014 at 9:37PM

      after how many months your card became unsecured and how much credit limit did BofA gave after unsecured.

      same has been offer for me from BofA…4th bill got genarated and paid off full every amount…

  25. RuBRNded October 9, 2012 at 5:45PM

    Good day, fyi I just received,10/09/2012, an offer from BofA with the $99 deposit and a $500 limit.

    • Ricky July 2, 2014 at 9:40PM

      after how many months your card became unsecured and how much credit limit did BofA gave after unsecured.

      same has been offer for me from BofA…4th bill got genarated and paid off full every amount…

  26. Neel August 25, 2012 at 11:32AM

    Certainly agree with above review. I had a BOA secured credit card for about an year. And at the end of an year they told me that they could not apply for a new one for me since i had a foreign address in their records and I need a state now to update that foreign address to a US address..
    So in summary my security deposit stuck for an year, plus there is no benefit of getting an unsecured card. And it may possible impact my credit score in terms of closing a credit account..

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