This article is from the Credit cards and Consumer Credit FAQ, by firstname.lastname@example.org (Steve Adams) with numerous contributions by others.
Secured cards require you to make a bank deposit up front. The
limit on the card is usually related to the amount of the bank
deposit. The bank has the right to take money from your deposit if
you don't pay your bill.
Secured cards are usually sold to people who have credit problems
and can't get a regular "unsecured" card. But a secured card from a
bank may be a good deal for anyone; see section 2, "Good deals, bad
A secured MasterCard or Visa looks just like a regular one, and the
law ensures that it has all the same consumer protections built in.
You can obtain a report on secured cards from:
RAM Research Corporation
Frederick, MD 21702
The cost is $10.00 and it has 100 secured card programs listed with
most of the information one is interested in to choose a card: issuer
name, issuer address, telephone numbers, cards offered(visa,master),
issuing areas (national, or some states), APR, intrest calculation
method, annual fee, grace period for purchase, et cetera.
Bankcard holders of America
560 Herndon Parkway, Suite 120
Herndon, VA 22070
The cost is $4.00 and it has 21 bankcard issuers, most of which
had the Veribanc green rating.