45 million people in the U.S. are currently living without credit scores.
For a country living on credit (the average American household carries more than $15,000 in debt), this is a shocking number. And while there's no doubt that living on credit is a problem, so too is not having access to credit at all.
Without a credit score, it's nearly impossible to secure credit for things like a new home or car or a line of credit during times of need. It's equally as hard to secure credit with a low credit score. If lenders won't work with people who have less than perfect credit, then those people can't get access to the one thing that will can them increase their scores: new credit.
That's where secured credit cards come in.
A secured credit card is a credit card that you are given when you put down a security deposit. That money is collateral - it mitigates the risk for your lender and enables you to obtain much-needed new credit. With a secured credit card, anyone with low or no credit history can finally get the credit they need to create a new, positive credit history.
So, if you're someone who has a low credit score or no history, how can you obtain a secured credit card? There are many options to choose from, but today we're going to dig deep on one in particular: The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card.
How Does The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card Work?
The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card offers a chance to build a credit history for the first time or to rebuild a less than perfect credit history. Potential card users must maintain a minimum security balance of at least $200 to qualify, with initial credit lines ranging between $200-$2,000.
This card comes with a low variable APR, but it also has a $44 annual fee, which is steeper than other secured cards. If you can only maintain a credit limit of a few hundred dollars, it will be important to evaluate whether or not this annual fee is worth it for you.
Additional Secured Credit Card Options
Customers who qualify for the First Progress Platinum Prestige Secured also qualify for the First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card and the First Progress Platinum Elite MasterCard® Secured Credit Card. These have higher variable APRs, but they serve as additional means for accessing credit and boosting your credit score.
The Option to Use a Cash Advance
If you’re in a financial pinch, you can use your card to get a cash advance. However, First Progress charges a higher APR on cash advances, so be mindful of the costs you'll incur if you use this option. Consumer advocate Beverly Harzog cautions that interest on cash advances begins accruing immediately, so if you're using this option frequently then the costs could get out of hand really fast.
First Progress Reports to All the Major Credit Bureaus
First Progress reports activity on your credit card to all the major credit bureaus, which is great news for your credit score if you always make payments on time. As you use your secured card on regular purchases and make regular on-time payments, then your credit score will go up over time. Keep your account in good standing and you'll soon be able to move to unsecured loans and lines of credit.
You Can Use Your First First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card Anywhere Nationwide
The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card operates as a standard credit card. You can use exactly as you would any other credit line, anywhere in the country.
Who Should Use The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card?
The First Progress Platinum Prestige MasterCard® Secured Card is a no-frills card (read: no bonuses or rewards). Although you can apply for a credit line increase as time goes on, this is not the type of credit card to help you gain things like cash-back incentives or points for travel.
Making payments on this card has been said to be slow and cumbersome, so card users should account for that when they schedule their payments. It might be a good idea to pay a couple days ahead of the due date to ensure that there are no issues. In terms of you receiving your new card, you can opt to pay $19.95 for expedited processing, but that only ensures that the card will come within seven days (which isn't that much faster than standard credit card shipments).
Taking all of the pros and cons into consideration, how can you know if this is the card for you? First of all, if you're looking for a way to build or rebuild your credit, then this card can certainly help you do so. The only other consideration is whether or not the annual fee is too high for you or if it makes sense when you balance the benefits of the card and the credit limit you'll get. All in all, this and other secured credit cards are a good option for anyone struggling to be taken seriously by traditional lenders.