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Credit Card Reviews

First Progress Platinum Prestige Secured Card: Low Interest Credit

If you're looking for a low interest secured card to build credit, the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is one of the best you'll find. There's a lot to like about it, such as its favorable rates and the fact that there are no minimum credit requirements.

The card does, however, have some downsides depending on your situation. For one, you can expect to pay a $49 annual fee, which many secured cards don't require. It also doesn't offer an upgrade path to any unsecured cards as you work to build your credit history. If you're looking for a secured credit card to use overseas, other options may better serve you due to this card's foreign transaction fees.

Customer Service Contact Info

First Progress Card
P.O. Box 9053
Johnson City, TN 37615-9053

ProsCons
Low standard interest rateHigh annual fee
Reports to all three major credit bureaus No upgrade path to an unsecured card
No credit history required or minimum credit score Foreign transaction fees
Not available to residents of Arkansas, Iowa, New York, or Wisconsin

Experian Review

Carrying a balance on your credit card isn't ideal, but if paying off your balance in full each month isn't possible, the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a great option. It offers one of the lowest ongoing interest rates among secured credit cards, which helps as you work to pay off the balance.

This card's low interest rate is appealing, especially as secured credit cards go—but ultimately, the other features of the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card fall a bit short. It comes with a $49 annual fee, and while that isn't very high, it's also not hard to find a secured card with no annual fee.

Furthermore, even if you manage your card habits well and your credit score increases as a result, you won't be able to move up to a regular unsecured credit card through First Progress because this carrier doesn't offer any. If you choose this card and want to take advantage of your improved credit, you'll have to decide between keeping this card open and paying an annual fee, or closing it and potentially seeing a hit to your credit—neither of which are very attractive options.

Credit-Building Potential Is the Primary Benefit

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card does one thing well: It helps you build your credit history so you can take advantage of better credit cards and loans with lower interest rates in the future.

There's no requirement for a minimum credit score or credit history, so this card may be easier to get than a traditional unsecured credit card. You'll need to make a secured deposit of at least $200 to open this card, and however much you deposit will be your new credit limit. First Progress will hold on to this deposit until you close your card, after which it'll return your deposit—assuming you've paid off the card completely.

First Progress will also report how you're using your credit card every month to each of the three credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax), which can help increase your credit scores over time as long as you use the card responsibly and pay your bill on time every month.

The rules of managing your credit card well are the same as for any credit card:

  • Always pay your credit card bill on time.
  • Pay off your credit card balance in full every month, if possible.
  • If you must carry a balance, keep it as low as possible.

If you can do these things consistently with this credit card, you can be well on your way to a better credit score. You can track your score over time with Experian.

Be Careful About Carrying a Balance

The reason you'd choose the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card over another secured card is its interest rate, which is lower than most secured cards' rates. That means carrying a balance won't cost you as much as it might with another secured card.

But when it comes to carrying a balance, tread lightly. If you allow yourself to carry a balance from month to month, it's easy to allow that balance to grow. If it grows too much, you could harm your credit score more than you help it. Most credit experts advise keeping your balance below 30% of your available credit limit, and the lower the better. For example, if you have a $1,000 credit limit, it's best to keep your balance below $300.

It's also important to note that secured credit cards often have lower credit limits than other credit cards. When you open the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card, you'll get a credit limit between $200 and $2,000, depending on how large of a security deposit you make. Even if you qualify for the maximum credit limit and are able to make a deposit that large, that means it's best to avoid carrying a balance of more than $600 on this card at any one time.

Consider the Costs Before Applying

There are two disadvantages about the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.

First, it comes with an annual fee. It's not very much ($49 per year), but there are many other secured cards out there with no annual fee. So even though you may save in interest charges, it's possible you'll break even or worse when you count the annual fee.

Second, there isn't any pathway to an unsecured credit card with First Progress. Once you're able to qualify for a better credit card you may want to try out a rewards credit card or at least a card with no annual fee. Many other credit card companies allow you to trade your secured card in for an unsecured credit card, allowing you to get your security deposit back while keeping the same credit line open. Maintaining the same credit card has the advantage of not lowering the average age of your accounts, which is important because how long you've held credit plays an important role in determining your credit score.

Instead, once you're able to qualify for a better card, you'll need to make a tough choice. You can continue to pay the annual fee indefinitely, or you can close the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card and possibly take a hit to your credit score. If you opt for closing the First ProgressPlatinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card, we'd recommend waiting to do so until you've opened your new credit card. That way, any potential drop in your credit score won't hurt your chances of getting approved for the new card and you can continue building your credit history.

Additional Info

Purchase APR: 9.99%, variableGrace period: 25 days
Transfer APR: N/A; transfers not allowedAnnual fee: $49
Cash advance APR: 18.99%, variableBalance transfer fee: N/A; transfers not allowed
Minimum interest charge: $1.50, but only if you are charged interest. You can avoid interest charges entirely by paying off your balance in full by the due date. Cash advance fee: $10 or 3% of the advance amount, whichever is more
Foreign transaction fee: 3%
Late payment fee: Up to $39
Returned payment fee: Up to $28

Authorized-User Policy

First Progress doesn't charge you a fee for adding an authorized user such as a friend or family member, but you'll want to consider this carefully before you add anyone to your account. You'll be responsible for any purchases they make, and if that balance can't be paid, you risk damaging your credit.

Is the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Right for You?

The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a good choice if you're looking to build your credit while carrying a balance on your card. Still, keep your balance as low as possible. A high balance can lower your credit score, and that would negate the purpose of getting the card in the first place.

If you don't plan on carrying a balance on your card, you might consider a secured card that doesn't have an annual fee so you can keep it open longer without having to pay. Especially good would be one that allows you to trade up to a regular unsecured credit card as your credit improves.

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