Upgrading from a secured to an unsecured credit card

Learn more about what it means to graduate from a secured credit card to an unsecured credit card at Capital One.

When used responsibly, secured credit cards can be a great tool to help build good credit. And after you’ve worked on your credit over time, you may be eligible to upgrade from a secured credit card to an unsecured credit card. But how exactly does unsecuring work? 

Find out what to expect if you’re a Capital One cardholder and your secured credit card graduates to an unsecured credit card. Plus, get answers to a few other frequently asked questions about unsecuring.

Secured vs. unsecured credit cards

Before you learn about unsecuring, you might be wondering: What’s the difference between secured and unsecured cards?

A secured credit card is a type of credit card that requires a security deposit to open the account. The terms and amount you pay as a security deposit can vary. A security deposit may be the same amount as your line of credit. For example, a $200 deposit might give you a $200 credit limit.

On the other hand, some cards—like the Capital One Platinum Secured card—might provide a credit limit that’s higher than the amount of the security deposit. For example, a $200 credit limit might only require a $99 security deposit.

If you’re looking to build or rebuild your credit, you might use a secured card to help yourself establish a successful track record. 

And unsecured credit cards are what most people are referring to when they simply say “credit card.” Unsecured means the card doesn’t require a deposit to open the account.

What is unsecuring?

If you consistently use a secured credit card responsibly over time, you may be eligible to upgrade to an unsecured credit card. 

So what happens if your card graduates to an unsecured credit card at Capital One? It’s pretty simple: You’ll get a notification from Capital One that your card has been upgraded. And you’ll get your security deposit back, and your card is now a traditional, unsecured credit card. 

Keep in mind that these are generally the only two changes. Unless you get a notification from Capital One saying otherwise, your credit limit, APR, payment due date and other card terms all stay the same after unsecuring. 

What happens to my security deposit? 

When you’re upgraded to a Capital One unsecured credit card, your security deposit is returned to you as a statement credit. That credit is automatically applied to any balance on your card. 

So if your card balance is $50 when you get your $200 security deposit back, your balance will be paid off. And you’ll have a $150 credit to go toward future purchases.

You can check that your deposit has been returned by signing in to your account or looking for it on your next credit card statement.

How long does it take for a secured credit card to be unsecured? 

Once you get a notification that your Capital One secured card has upgraded to an unsecured card, that change is effective immediately.

Still have a secured card and wondering when to expect an upgrade? There isn’t one set timeline for graduating from a secured to an unsecured card. But if you keep using your card responsibly, you might become eligible. And Capital One will notify you if you do. 

Does unsecuring mean my card is less secure? 

Not at all. Unsecuring simply means that you’ve upgraded from a secured credit card to an unsecured credit card, and you get your security deposit back. 

After the upgrade, your card still keeps all the same security and fraud protection features it always had. 

For Capital One cards, that might include things like:

  • Fraud alerts. 
  • Instant purchase notifications.
  • Card lock.1  
  • Eno, your Capital One assistant.2  

Why do you get upgraded to an unsecured card? 

You might become eligible to upgrade to an unsecured credit card when you consistently use the secured card responsibly over time. 

Responsible credit card use might include things like managing your payment history, credit utilization ratio, the length of your credit history, new credit applications and more.

Do I need a new card? 

Nope. The card you already have in your wallet is now automatically upgraded. Your card number and account information all stay the same. 

So you don’t need to worry about waiting for a new card in the mail or changing any card information in your digital wallets

How does unsecuring impact my credit limit? 

Upgrading from a Capital One secured credit card to an unsecured card does not change any of your card terms unless you get a notification from Capital One saying otherwise. And that includes your credit limit.

If you want to review your credit limit—or any other card terms—you can sign in to your Capital One account

Does the unsecured card come with rewards? 

Your card terms typically stay the same after you upgrade to an unsecured card. That includes credit card rewards. So if your secured card had rewards, your card would keep those rewards after it’s unsecured. 

With Quicksilver Secured Rewards from Capital One—for example—you earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase. And if that card graduates to an unsecured card, you still get the same cash back rewards

Does unsecuring impact my credit scores? 

Upgrading to an unsecured card likely won’t impact your credit scores directly. 

When it comes to credit scores, it’s important to understand that there’s no such thing as one definitive credit score. That’s because there are multiple credit-scoring companies that use different scoring models

And your scores might vary depending on which credit-scoring company calculated them and which scoring model was used. 

But using any credit card responsibly is one way to help maintain good credit scores and work to improve your credit over time. 

How can I continue to improve my credit? 

Whether you have a secured card or you’ve upgraded to an unsecured card, you should know how to maintain healthy credit. 

Here are a few things you can do to work on improving your credit scores: 

Pay on time, every time 

Your payment history can be an important part of your credit scores. Just one late or missed payment might have a negative impact on them. If remembering payment dates is challenging, you could consider setting up automatic payments or reminders. 

Stay well below your total credit limit 

Credit utilization is a measure of how much of your total available revolving credit you’re using. It’s sometimes called a credit utilization ratio, and it’s often expressed as a percentage. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends keeping your credit utilization at 30% or less to help you maintain a good credit score and show lenders you’re responsible with credit.  

Only apply for the credit you need

Each new credit application generally creates a hard inquiry, which can cause your credit scores to drop by a few points. And hard inquiries can stay on your credit report for up to two years. 

Multiple credit applications in a short period of time could be seen as a sign your financial situation has changed negatively—and they might cause your credit scores to drop, the CFPB says.

When you do need to apply for a new credit card, you could first check with the lender to see if they can tell you whether you may be pre-qualified or pre-approved for one of their cards. 

For example, Capital One’s pre-approval tool uses what’s known as a soft inquiry to check your credit, which won’t hurt your scores. Keep in mind that pre-qualification or pre-approval doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved for a card when you apply.

Monitor your credit with CreditWise from Capital One 

Keeping an eye on your credit is another important habit when it comes to using credit responsibly. 

One way to monitor your credit is with CreditWise from Capital One. CreditWise gives you free access to your TransUnion® credit report and weekly VantageScore® 3.0 credit score—without hurting your score. CreditWise is free. And you don’t have to be a Capital One customer to use it.

You can also get free copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to learn more.

Monitoring your credit is part of using any credit card responsibly. And if you’re a secured cardholder, it can also help you keep an eye on your progress toward potentially unsecuring your card.

1Some activity may continue, including returns, credits, payments, interest, dispute adjustments, other account fees, purchase transactions during system downtime and certain other exempted transactions.

2Certain bank accounts are not eligible to text with Eno.

We hope you found this helpful. Our content is not intended to provide legal, investment or financial advice or to indicate that a particular Capital One product or service is available or right for you. For specific advice about your unique circumstances, consider talking with a qualified professional.

Capital One does not provide, endorse or guarantee any third-party product, service, information, or recommendation listed above. The third parties listed are solely responsible for their products and services, and all trademarks listed are the property of their respective owners.

Your CreditWise score is calculated using the TransUnion® VantageScore® 3.0 model, which is one of many credit scoring models. Your CreditWise score is a good measure of your overall credit health, but it is not likely to be the same score used by creditors. The availability of the CreditWise tool depends on our ability to obtain your credit history from TransUnion. Some monitoring and alerts may not be available to you if the information you enter at enrollment does not match the information in your credit file at (or you do not have a file at) one or more consumer reporting agencies.

CreditWise Alerts are based on changes to your TransUnion and Experian® credit reports and information we find on the dark web.

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