There's no shortage of excellent credit card deals if you have near-perfect credit scores. The rewards are rich, the rates are low and the sign-up bonuses are aplenty. But if you're in a slightly lower credit range, your options become a lot more limited. It's difficult to find a card that offers both robust rewards and no annual fees, and getting approved can be difficult.
That's why I was intrigued by two new credit cards tailored specifically to Experian customers in the fair to good credit range (typically, a FICO® Score* between 580 and 700): the Ollo Platinum Mastercard® and the Ollo Rewards Mastercard®.
I have covered credit cards for a long time, so I was a little skeptical of the idea that a card aimed at consumers in this middle credit range could be a good deal for them, even if it is offered by my own company.
Sumit Agarwal, head of digital marketing and lending innovation for Fair Square Financial, the company behind the Ollo card, explained to me that they created this card with specific input from consumers in this credit range.
"For this population segment, known as ‘near prime,' there aren't too many great products available," says Agarwal. "There are many good cards for people in the upper end of the range, but not those in the middle or bottom."
Ollo Card Features
Indeed, the Ollo cards offer several attractive features that consumers in higher credit ranges have come to take for granted, such as the elimination of many common credit card fees. The Ollo cards carry no penalty rate increases, no annual fee, no return-payment fee, no over-limit fee, and no foreign-transaction fees.
The cards also offer a unique reward for good payment behavior: After making payments on time for the first five months of owning the card, cardholders are eligible for a credit limit increase—without a hard inquiry on their credit reports. Agarwal says credit limit approval depends on a consumer's creditworthiness; it could be as low $500 or as high as $3,500 to start with, "but the line grows with you," he adds.
The Ollo Rewards Mastercard® comes with the same features as the Ollo Platinum Mastercard®, but also offers consumers the chance to earn cash back rewards on everyday purchases: 2% back on purchases at gas stations, grocery stores and drugstores, and 1% back on everything else. There is no limit to the number of rewards you can earn, and they never expire as long as the account is open.
So Is the Ollo Card Right For You?
Potential Ollo users should be aware that both cards come with a variable 24.99% APR, which is a high rate that would wipe out any rewards you'd earn and compound your debt if you carry a balance on the card.
"It's a bad idea to carry a balance on a credit card in general, but 25% is much higher than the average credit card interest rate that is around 15% right now," says credit card expert Jason Steele. "About half of all Americans who have a credit card will carry a balance at some point during the year. So people carrying a balance should focus on finding a card with the lowest interest rate they can."
However, Steele adds that consumers in the fair to good credit range are unlikely to qualify for any card that comes with an interest rate lower than 20%. "If you're in the upper 600s, you might end up with an 18% or 20% APR," he says. Those in a lower credit range probably wouldn't qualify for a card with an APR lower than 24%.
So the Ollo cards' rates are comparable to other cards for those with lower credit scores. However, if you plan on carrying any kind of a balance, shop around for a card that offers a lower one, or consider holding off on additional spending until you pay down some credit card debt first. But if you know you'll pay the card off every month, the Ollo card is a compelling offer for consumers in this credit range.
How Do You Know If You Qualify?
To find out if you qualify for one of these cards, you can sign up for a free account in Experian CreditMatch which enables you to get matched with cards based on your credit profile and spending habits.
Once signed into the Experian site, you click on the "Credit Cards" tab at the top of your screen to get a list of personalized credit card offers matched to your overall credit profile. If you qualify for the Ollo cards, they will appear in the list, typically in the top five options.
(As an Experian CreditWorks member, you also get access to your FICO® Score online for free, as well as credit tools to help you understand your scores.)
Agarwal says that because Experian pre-screens consumers before matching them with offers in Experian CreditMatch, there's a good chance you will be approved if the card shows up in your personalized list.
"Our card products and services are designed for everyday hard-working Americans on a mission to create a better financial future," says Agarwal. "With Ollo, there are no surprises. Customers get clear and simple products, streamlined servicing and credit that grows with them."