Looking to establish a good credit profile, but don’t have credit or have bad credit? You might have come across two of the popular secured credit cards to take on that task: the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® and the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card. We broke them down to help you find the better card.
|Card||Capital One® Secured MasterCard®||First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card|
|Credit limit||$200 to $3,000 (min. initial deposit $49)||$300 to $5,000|
|Transition to unsecured card?||None. (Free Credit Tracker Tool to watch progress.)||None|
|--||Learn more||Learn more|
Read on to examine card features in detail:
Annual fees Compared
Due to the greater risk taken on by card issuers to offer a credit card to someone with no credit or bad credit, they tend to charge an annual fee, in addition to higher-than-normal interest rates.
Coincidentally, both the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® and the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured card have the same annual fee: $29. If you are using the secured credit cards properly (to build credit), you shouldn’t be paying this fee for long. In about 2 years, you should be able to switch to a non-secured credit card, assuming you’ve been using the card properly to boost your credit score.
In terms of annual fees, the two cards stand on equal ground.
The Capital One Secured MasterCard has a 22.9% APR, which is rather alarming for any credit card. It is higher than First Progress Platinum Elite card, which 19.99% APR.
When it comes to any type of debt that is held for a long period of time, a small difference in the interest rate can result in a major difference in the total interest paid.
Let’s say you had a $2,000 card balance and paid $100 every month. At a 22.9% APR, it would take 26 months to pay off your balance and you would have paid $543.29 in interest. At a 19.99% APR, it would take 25 months to eliminate the balance and you would have paid $452.92 in interest.
Regardless of the type of loan or line of credit, a lower interest rate is always better.
WINNER: First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card
Credit Card Limits
Having a non-existent or tarnished credit profile is already a major red flag for credit card issuers, so it’s not surprising when they offer lower-than-usual spending limits on secured credit cards (whereas it is common to having a credit line of more than $20,000 on unsecured credit cards).
The Capital One® Secured MasterCard® offers a credit limit range of $200 to $3,000, depending on your security deposit. The interesting policy on this card is the minimum initial security deposit of $49 — you can get the card with a $200 spending limit on a $49 deposit. You still have to deposit $200 within 80 days, but the low initial security deposit is attractive to people who don’t have much cash around.
With good credit behavior, Capital One may even offer to raise your credit limit without additional deposits.
First Progress Platinum Elite allows you to have a minimum initial security deposit of $300 to $2,000. Then, you can increase the deposit limit up to $5,000 with additional deposits.
Although the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card has the potential for a high credit limit, the credit limit policy on the Capital One Secured MasterCard is more consumer-friendly — you can get a higher credit line without as much in security deposits.
WINNER: Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
Transition to an unsecured credit card
The whole point of getting a secured credit card is to improve your credit profile to the point where you qualify for traditional forms of credit. Most likely, you’re thinking about getting an unsecured credit card, which often have no annual fees and lower interest rates.
Therefore, the transition process from a secured credit card to an unsecured credit card is an important factor. Some secured credit card issuers will allow cardmembers to graduate to an unsecured credit card, many do not.
Neither the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® nor the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Card has a graduation program to an unsecured credit card.
However, Capital One offers its free Credit Tracker tool, which comes with a monthly TransUnion credit score and credit score simulator. The simulator allows you see the effects to your credit score in various credit scenarios (e.g., a rising card balance, making a late payment, etc.).
This one is a close battle, because neither card has a graduation program. But, the Capital One Secured MasterCard slightly edges out the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Card card because Capital One’s Credit Tracker tool will at least help you track your credit-improvement progress — and you’ll feel more confident that you’ll qualify for an unsecured credit card.
WINNER: Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
Verdict: Capital One® Secured MasterCard®
The tamed, no-frills nature of the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard Secured Credit Card isn’t a bad trait, we just think that its competition has a leg up on it.
With its friendlier credit-limit policy and helpful credit education tools, the Capital One® Secured MasterCard® stands as the better secured credit card to help you build credit.
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