The USAA secured credit card review

Posted by CreditCardGuru

There are certainly a number of positive attributes involving USAA. It is a common misconception that they are a credit union since they require membership and offer below-average interest rates on loans and credit cards. And for those with bad credit, their secured credit card offers several advantages:

  • Reasonable cost: With an annual fee of $35 per year, this is certainly a lot less than what many other banks and card issuers charge for those with impaired credit. For example, First Premier Bank charges upwards of $100 or more per year just to get a card with a credit limit as low as $300.
  • Low foreign transaction fees: For active military who are deployed overseas, this benefit definitely comes in handy- the surcharge for purchases outside the US is only 1 percent. Other issuers will tack on 2 percent to 3 percent for that.
  • Low APR: As with any credit card, as long as you pay your USAA secured account in full each month, you don’t have to worry about interest charges. But if you carry a balance, the APR can be as low as 9.9 percent and as high as 19.90 percent (based on creditworthiness and other factors). The lower end of that spectrum is quite a bit below average..
  • MasterCard or AmEx: You can choose a USAA Secured MasterCard or American Express. But don’t be confused, as AmEx is not the issuer of the card. As discussed here, they are nothing more than a payment network that has contracted with USAA, just like MasterCard.
  • Earns Interest:Very few secured credit cards pay interest on the security deposit, but USAA’s card does. The bad news? Interest rates are so low that it’s hardly anything to be excited about, but something is better than nothing. Right now the interest rate is 0.54 percent, but can change periodically throughout the 2-year term. That means, if you deposit $1,000, you’ll earn a little over $5 a year. I wouldn’t let this be a maker or breaker (unless your deposit is a few thousand bucks).
  • Free “CreditCheck Monitoring” for 6 months: Before you get excited, let me explain how this works.
    1. USAA is using (which is owned by Experian) to offer the monitoring.
    2. Only information on Experian is monitored. Equifax and TransUnion are not included.
    3. You’re not getting a FICO score. Instead you’re getting an Experian PLUS Score, which you can read about here. It’s a score that is different than FICO and it’s not used by lenders. Rather, it’s for “educational purposes” only. Therefore, while this score can help you track your credit-building progress, the benefit is nothing special considering that there are many websites out there which offer FAKO’s (FICO simulators).

The minimum initial deposit for this card is $250, and you can add additional deposits (and request a credit-limit increase) at any time. This was not the case in the past (previously increased CD deposits did not increase your credit limit), but that’s changed:

usaa secured card raise credit limit

As with USAA’s other products, you must be active or retired military (or have a spouse or parent with a USAA account).

The USAA secured card has a lot of advantages (including some not found on other secured cards). However, as with all cards, definitely consider this just a starter card to build your credit. Once you qualify for regular cards, upgrade right away to avoid paying an annual fee on a card with no rewards.

Don’t qualify for USAA’s financial products? Consider this low-cost secured product.

Updated January 2015

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.

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

  1. Damon January 24, 2015 at 9:11PM

    My Accounts Summary
    USAA Secured American Express Card
    Account Details
    Credit Limit: >>> Increase Limit

    This will bring you to:

    Increase My Secured Credit Card Limit page
    Transfer Money From:
    Transfer Amount:

    “You can transfer from $50 to $4,750. Please enter your amount in $50 increments.”

    Yes this reports to all 3 Credit Bureaus. It does not show up on any of my reports as a secured credit card. Everyone’s credit history is different but the card raised my score around 50 points per FICO and over 100 points per Credit Karma for TransUnion, 30 days after getting the card, and having only 10% utilization on the balance. I made several purchases and several payments before the 30 days hit, not sure if it mattered, but I know the utilization is a very important factor for credit scores. The USAA Secured American Express does not have any rewards that I have seen but it does have the following like a regular AMEX. This is straight from USAA website.

    Security, Travel and Retail Benefits2

    Collision damage waiver coverage pays for physical damage and theft to most rental vehicles.

    Zero liability coverage for unauthorized transactions if your card is lost or stolen.

    Provides assistance should you become the victim of identity theft.

    Extended warranty doubles your manufacturers or store brand warranty for up to one year.

    Travel accident covers you and your family members if you purchase common carrier travel tickets using this card.

  2. Scott January 15, 2015 at 1:30PM

    You’re an incompetent idiot. You’re posting incorrect information that anyone with a telephone can verify with USAA, member or not. You should retract, update, and edit this blog with proper, correct information and make an apology to USAA and it’s members. It would be the right thing to do.

  3. MissyK December 17, 2014 at 5:35PM

    Does the USAA secured card report to the 3 credit bureaus as being secured or unsecured?

    • Damon January 24, 2015 at 9:34PM

      Yes, Missy it reports to all 3 bureaus. After letting everything fall off my credit after 7 years, I have 2 collections that I paid off about a year ago. One for less than $90 and one for less than $200. I guess Vantage Score 3.0 just came out this month. My previous TransUnion score December 2014 was 593, now the history shows that it was 651 on the version 3.0. Either way it shows that my Transunion is 732. Oddly enough my Equifax score is 557. (?????) Kinda crazy the point difference, but of course none of my previous accounts reported to all three, but this card shows up on all three with the identical text and format. I really haven’t had any accounts in honestly probably 10 years, so this is my fresh start (except for a buy here/pay here that reported on Experian). BTW my limit on the card is still @ $250, and I make less than 50K a year so how my TransUnion score jumped like that I have no idea. I hope it’s not a fluke and stays that way. What I really need to work on is my Experian bc it wouldn’t score me until I got this card bc they said there wasn’t enough credit info to give me a score, it’s called a Non-Score. USAA is a good card and the secured card isn’t funky in anyway that I’ve seen or heard, except people dislike that the deposit is put in a 2-year CD but I don’t care. I need the discipline and this teaches me I am BORROWING FROM MYSELF, and that what goes out of my account must go back in.

  4. Patrice October 27, 2014 at 1:42PM

    This is not true. You can raise your credit limit and the amount is available immediately. This article needs to be corrected or removed.

    • Lisa December 28, 2014 at 7:30AM

      You are correct….you can increase your crdit limit at anytime. I wonder where this site got their information?

  5. Tyler October 21, 2014 at 2:33PM

    This is NOT accurate. The limit is easily raised upon request with these cards. This web page is near the top of results found in a Google search and is probably misleading quite a number of people, myself included until I called USAA. If this website has any integrity they will amend this page or remove it.

  6. Robert October 13, 2014 at 8:20PM

    I have the USAA Secured Master Card. I raise my limit each month without issue. The credit increase is immediate. I raise by $100 at a time. The maximum for this card is $5000 with a $250 minimum.

  7. Diane October 11, 2014 at 3:11PM

    Can I use the cd to pay off the balance on the card and then close the account? The annual fee wipes out any interest the cd earned.

  8. Cory September 15, 2014 at 4:42PM

    This article is somewhat false. I have the secured card and was able to increase my limit without issue.

    In order to increase your limit, add funds to the card directly and not the CD. The transfer option allows you to do both, so select the card to add funds to the CD AND and CC limit simultaneously. If you add funds to the CD, the limit will not increase.

  9. Tracy August 31, 2014 at 7:42AM

    I have a secured card. I make my payments on time every month. Sometimes I’ll make multiple payments in one month. Well, I decided to pay off my balance last week so I could get a rental car for my vacation. USAA froze the money because I made multiple payments and this one was more than my average payment. They had never held my money before and I’ve made several multiple payments of different amounts. I try to keep my amount due at $0. Of course I called and plead with them. My vacation is over in the morning and they just release my money this morning. My vacation is ruined. Oh, the payment came from my USAA checking account so they knew the money was available. I’m so disappointed!

  10. Stephen July 8, 2014 at 5:39AM

    Incredible secured card. The only one on the market that’s even close is the Citibank secured cards. A few things to keep in mind

    1- Yes. This is a military benefit. Their insurance rates are extreme competitive and service second to none.

    2- The card does have one pitfall. Because they run at such a low margin on these, they take little to no risk. To those ends, if you pay your bill from a non USAA account, it’s 10 business days until those funds become available.

    Example- to build credit, I pay off my balance each month. My credit limit and balance are 1k this for the sake of this exercise. My bill comes and I autopay the balance from my Chase account giving me a zero balance. Cool, as long as I don’t need the funds available on that card. It will show my zero balance, but funds available will remain at zero for 10 business days

    • Jasmine August 10, 2014 at 6:02PM

      How did you set up the autopay im having a hard time adding my usaa account to my chase.

  11. Jeremy Y February 17, 2014 at 12:34PM

    Well I have been with USAA for a few years, I am deciding to open up a secured credit card. You can in fact request for a higher limit by depositing more money in to your CD as stated on their website.

    Your CD will earn interest at a variable rate (currently 0.54% Annual Percentage Yield) which will change periodically throughout your two-year term.1 Plus, our variable rate CD allows you to make additional deposits to your CD at any time — in case you want to build up your savings. When you make additional deposits you can request a credit limit increase on your secured credit card.

    So I guess when I get $300 to deposit ill go and sign up. It looks like a cheap and easy way to start helping build my credit back up.

  12. vasilisa February 16, 2014 at 9:12PM

    How much do I get charged if I decide to close out/ terminate my CD early?

  13. Aaron K. McNeil January 30, 2014 at 10:58AM


    While it may have been locked in the past, you can raise the limit of your secured card by adding to the CD up to $5000.00. You can do it in 50.00 increments.

  14. Paul December 27, 2013 at 9:49AM

    I have a checking & savings with USAA, but not in the military (opened these accounts @the time when it was open to everyone)… Would I be able to qualify for the USAA secured credit card???

    • Donny April 20, 2014 at 5:01PM

      No it’s only open to military and military families.

  15. George December 11, 2013 at 1:11PM

    I had a secure M/C with USAA and everything was great until I went on long term disability for medical reasons. I had to file bankruptcy due to a 40% pay cut but, we re-affirmed the debt to keep the card but they closed my C/C account and told me I have no banking benefits for 7 to 10 years. Now when I login to the web-site, it kicks me to the Mobile login which is the only one I can use now due to the bankruptcy. I will be closing my accounts and going back to Navy Federal Credit Union.

  16. Jami December 8, 2013 at 1:42PM

    You obviously haven’t done much research. Yes USAA does make you pay an annual fee of $35, the APR is 9.9%, and the CD is set at a lower rate (.54%). They also provide Experian for 6 months for free.
    What you are wrong about is that Members can add money at ANY time to up credit limit. (Every 24 hours actually) You can start at $250 and move your way up to $5000. This card is no scam. This is actually one of the best secured cards you can get from a company.
    Let’s look at other banks that start your APR at 21.9% on purchases alone. USAA is set at 9.9% for both purchases and cash advances, the lowest that USAA offers (with the exception of the Rate Advantage Card). Most banks don’t offer free credit check monitoring with the card. So what that it’s not exact, like you said it’s a building tool… Most banks also do a hard hit to your credit when both applying for a card and to up the credit. USAA does neither.
    The only thing that stinks is that it will never graduate into a regular card, but is becoming a possibility in the future-do some research next time. :)

  17. Adam December 3, 2013 at 7:28AM

    I don’t know what everyone is bitching about. It’s a military bank so you have no place to call it a scam. It advertises military and family dumb dumb. Anyways I had a 550 credit score and lower on other reports. I started out with a 500 cd / MasterCard and 18 months later I have a 5000 dollar card and a 2000 dollar card that i slowly increased every month. So yes you can keep adding to thecd as you please and now I’m buying a home so all you lying shmucks can pound sand. Thank you usaa because of you I have good credit savings a home and other credit from other civilian lenders. Sempervivum to and go usaa

  18. Sgt Lopez,M November 11, 2013 at 5:43PM

    I suggest for those people in doubt about of USAA services you should inquire by doing some research.I like to say USAA is mainly concern with the military and it’s families.If you get a secure credit card they require a $250 deposit and you can’t increase your limit,they give you 1% interest rate earning $11 on a $1000 annually at a card rate of 9.99 % So the best Secure card is Navy Federal at 8.99% rate after 12 months it becomes an ensecure credit card,but you to be military or a family member. I hope this helps.

  19. Bob November 5, 2013 at 10:57AM

    I got the secured card from USAA with a $2500 limit. The only drawback I have found so far is that it takes 8 – 10 days for a payment to get processed. If you make a $500 payment, don’t expect it to show up on your credit limit for at least 8 days……..

  20. Tucker September 14, 2013 at 6:48PM

    Per the USAA site now:

    “Save for your future the safe and easy way

    Your CD will earn interest at a variable rate (currently 0.54% Annual Percentage Yield) which will change periodically throughout your two-year term. Plus, our variable rate CD allows you to make additional deposits to your CD at any time — in case you want to build up your savings. When you make additional deposits you can request a credit limit increase on your secured credit card.”

  21. jim July 31, 2013 at 12:02PM

    Don’t be misled like I was about this secured card. I signed up and account and tried for 3 days to signup for a secure card and finally contacted their support and they told me this secure card offer was only available to military members and not the general public. No where when I signed up did they mention that. So basically I entered in all of my personal info including SS and it was for nothing. For this reason I label this a scam. Stay away from USAA and their misleading marketing practices.

    • James August 4, 2013 at 7:47PM

      Cry More, Your not military, so your a nobody, you deserve nothing. Pay your bills on time and get a regular credit card at a civilian bank you bum. USAA is great!

      • sarah August 23, 2013 at 2:32PM

        That’s incredibly ignorant. So please tell that to the next dr saving whomever it is you care about, that because they aren’t military they aren’t needed. I have nothing but the utmost respect for the military but people like you are incredibly ignorant. You think just because you’ve seen war no civilian can have it hard. Go back over seas and stay there.

      • Cherise October 4, 2013 at 10:09AM


        Sorry, i agree with james here. USAA is one of the best companies i’ve ever had the pleasure of working with (around 8 years now). My entire family is customers as well. Sorry you had a bad experience but you are giving completely the wrong impression. Any military family KNOWS how good they are. No one ever has anything bad to say about them. Your comment was not fair.

    • christina October 25, 2013 at 6:17AM

      Jim I am sorry you ran into that issue but I have had USAA for almost 13 years now they are a great company and not a scam

    • Brian December 13, 2013 at 8:43PM

      Your as stupid as they come. Please do the world a favor and refrain from reproducing. USAA is known for being a military benefit. Yes reserved for those of us who served our country not for idiots who sit back and complain about everything in our country especially complaining about one of the very few benefits ex military servicemen and servicewomen get. You wont go far in life expecting everything someone else who did their part gets. I bet your on welfare too but if you don’t qualify I’m sure you will label that a scam too.

      USAA is an incredible deal on everything from banking to insurance. I hate ALL insurance companies except USAA. They are THE only company that has always stood by my side when even I don’t think they should have. I will always keep them and have the highest respect for them

      You are an I.D ten Tango. Serve your country to find out what that means

    • TROY April 13, 2014 at 7:04PM

      Jim, I think you been living in a cave for a while . Everyone knows that USAA is only offered to military personnel and their offspring. I was never in the military but my father was. So I’m a second generation insurance and credit card carrier. Now my children , who were never in the military are third generation carriers. Sometimes , you just have to read the fine print. Actually , you should read everything before you ever divulge ss numbers and other personal info.

  22. Carlos March 26, 2013 at 1:46PM

    What are the minimum requirements to obtain this credit card? I have a USAA bank account but every time I call in I get a different story.

  23. DRock December 3, 2012 at 9:44AM

    Elizabeth is absolutely correct! We started at $300 and now are at $650. It is also reporting correctly on all three CBR’s.

  24. Elizabeth December 1, 2012 at 11:29AM

    All new secured cards through USAA are able to have raised limits.
    Old cards cannot. I believe the date of chance is 12/30/2011.

    It’s a great program if you can become a USAA member.

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