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How Many Secured Credit Cards Do You Need To Build Credit?

How many secured credit cards do you need?

If you choose to use secured credit cards to build or rebuild your credit, very often having just one secured credit card is enough. However, we do not recommend it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, you want at least two cards from two different networks (ie have a Visa and Amex, or Discover and Mastercard). Secondly, you want to have at least two just in case you lose your card or if an issuer shuts down your account. We'll explore more of this here.

One Secured is often enough to build your credit

As we just mentioned, one secured credit card is enough to build your credit. Here are a couple of comments from some folks:

"I applied for the Capital One secured card six months after by BK discharge. Score was about 480. I got approved for a $200 credit line with $99 deposit. I deposited $199 instead to get a $300 credit line. One of the cool things about Cap One is their app. It is really handy because you can track all your transactions, pay your bills and track your credit score. I took the advice of many folks here and simply charge a small amount every month and pay it off in full every month. On my 8th statement, I noticed that my credit line has been upped to $600. A year later, I received a notification in the app that I was being upgraded to an unsecured card and my $199 would be credited against the account. A few months later, I got another CLI to $2000. Thanks CapOne for helping me rehab my credit. And BTW - my score is now 650."

"Discover has helped me improved my credit score. It was about 568 when I applied and it is now 660 after 11 months.""

So as you can see, it is possible to build up a credit history and score with just one secured credit card (until you can get regular unsecured credit cards). However, despite this, we do not recommend just having one and here the reasons.

Always have another secured card as a backup

Whether you have a secured credit card or a regular unsecured credit card, it is always prudent to have a backup.

Why? Because you might lose your card and need to use a credit card immediately. For example, if you misplaced one of your cards at home and need to order something from Amazon (right now) or pay the caterer for your party, having a spare credit card in your wallet will always come in handy.

Even if you report that your credit card is lost, it will take a minimum of day (possible with Amex) or 2-3 business day for your new card to arrive. Having a spare one will always come in handy.

Always have two cards at least from different networks

Another reason for having a second secured credit card is that you should have cards from different networks. For example, if you decide to get the USAA secured American Express because you love USAA, it is wise to get a Secured Visa credit card simply because American Express is not accepted everywhere. You always want a Visa or Mastercard even if your main card is an Amex.

Or you may decide to get the Discover It Secured Card (which is a great card). Though Discover is almost universally accepted in the US, there are still some places which do not accept Discover. And Discover is not as universally accepted abroad like say in Europe. If you travel abroad, you would want to have a Visa or Mastercard in your wallet. If you have the Discover secured card, it would be smart to get a card like say the Capital One secured Mastercard as well.

Have a backup from a different issuer

Though it seldom happens, credit card issuers have been known to cancel your card for reasons that you do not understand. A good rule of thumb would be to have two credit cards not just from different networks, but also from different issuers. For example though USAA has both a American Express and Visa secured card, it would not be such a good idea to get both of them. Instead, you could get either one and maybe a Mastercard from Capital One. That way, if you have any problem with one issuer, your other card should be safe with another issuer.

If 2 secured credit cards are enough, is 3 or 4 too many?

So to sum up, we recommend at least two secured credit cards if this is the route you choose to build your credit. If you read enough forums around the internet, you will find that many will ask if having 3 or 4 secured credit cards will be even better than having.

The answer for the most part is probably not. Having two secured credit cards and using them responsibly a a period of time (like six months to a year) is probably the best thing to do once you get your two secured credit cards. If you keep your utilization ratio low and pay your bills in full and on time, then your scores should improve to the point where you can get an unsecured credit card with no annual fee. That typically happens when your score reaches about 650.

Having 3 or more secured credit cards also mean you probably have to use all of them because you do not really want to leave any with zero balance. That means more hassles and having to monitor more accounts, setting up more auto-pays and downloading more apps on your phone.

If you already have two secured credit cards and have had it for a while, your score would probably have improved if you have used your cards responsibly. In this case, it would be better to try to get an unsecured credit card even if your secured credit card has not graduated you.

What's Next

What is a secured credit card and how does it work?

Pros and Cons of Secured credit cards

How does deposits on secured credit cards work?

What should a typical deposit be on a secured credit card?

How to use secured credit cards wisely?

How fast can secured credit cards build credit?