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First Progress is a credit card company that's focused on helping people build or rebuild their credit. It offers three secured credit cards, each with similar features and requirements but different annual fees. The Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has the lowest annual fee, but the highest annual percentage rate (APR). It's a good tradeoff if you plan to pay off your balance in full each month.
|No credit history or minimum score requirement||Annual fee and foreign transaction fee|
|Modest annual fee||Authorized users are not allowed|
|Reports to all three major credit bureaus||High interest rate|
|Not available to residents of Arkansas, Iowa, New York or Wisconsin|
|First Progress Customer Service|
First Progress Card
P.O. Box 9053
Johnson City, TN 37615-9053
Secured credit cards are designed for people who want to build or rebuild their credit. However, it can be difficult to qualify for some of the best secured cards (which don't have an annual fee) if you have a poor credit history. The Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card may be a good alternative: It has a reasonable annual fee and no minimum credit history length or score requirement.
Qualify With Any Credit History
One way to help rebuild your credit is to open a new credit card, use it and pay your bill in full and on time each month. Over time, the positive information can help improve your credit scores.
Unlike some secured credit cards, the Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card doesn't have minimum credit score or credit history requirements. Even if you recently had accounts go to collections or discharged a bankruptcy, you can get started rebuilding your credit right away.
Your application also won't result in a hard inquiry, the type that can impact your credit scores. There may be a soft credit inquiry, though, if First Progress reviews your credit to verify your identity. If you don't have any credit history, you may have to share a copy of your government ID, utility bill or a different form of identification to open your account.
Keep in mind you could be denied if you already have a First Progress card. Residents of Arkansas, Iowa, New York and Wisconsin also aren't eligible for any of the three First Progress cards.
Pay a Modest Annual Fee
The three First Progress secured credit cards have the same requirements—if you can qualify for one of the cards, you'll qualify for all three. The cards also have most of the same benefits and fees. The main difference is that the cards have either a $29, $39 or $49 annual fee. The lower the fee, the higher your purchase and cash advance APR.
The Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card offers the lowest annual fee ($29) of the three. It's the best option if you're looking to save money while building or rebuilding your credit. It may even be the best option if you occasionally use the card to take out a cash advance or revolve a balance.
For example, the Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has the highest annual fee ($49) and lowest APR, and you'll pay an extra $20 each year for a 10% lower APR. But if you have a $200 balance on both cards, it will take 333 days before the higher-rate card accrues $20 more interest than the lower rate card.
The APRs and calculations may change over time. But as long as you generally pay your bill in full, and rarely use the card for cash advances, you're likely best off with the Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.
There are also a few secured cards that don't have an annual fee, although they may have stricter approval requirements than the First Progress Cards. If you can get one of the no annual fee cards, that may be a better option, even if it has a slightly higher APR.
Build Your Credit and Choose Your Deposit
The main benefit of the Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is that it will report your account to all three major credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion and Equifax—which could help you build credit. You'll also receive a few other benefits with the card:
- You're not liable for unauthorized purchases.
- You can choose to put down $200, or $300 to $2,000, as your refundable security deposit. The amount you choose will set your card's credit limit.
There are a few secured cards that also offer rewards programs, but most secured cards don't. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as you may want to focus on keeping your balance low and paying your monthly bill on time, both of which can improve your credit scores. Then, once you improve your credit, you can look for an unsecured card with a good rewards program.
Don't Overlook the Usage Fees
While you'll have to pay the annual fee no matter what, there are a few fees you only pay based on how you use your Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. These are common usage-based fees that appear on secured and unsecured cards alike.
For example, there is a 3% foreign transaction fee if you use the card to make purchases outside the U.S. You'll also pay a 3% or $10 cash advance fee, whichever is greater, if you use your card to take out cash, plus a higher APR on your cash advance amount than on your purchases.
One fee that's not as common is the optional $19.95 charge for expedited application processing. Paying for expedited processing can reduce the processing time by about a week, bringing it down from around seven to 10 business days to three to five business days. After that, it can still take a few weeks for the card to be created and shipped.
|Purchase APR: 19.99%||Grace period: 25 days|
|Transfer APR: N/A||Annual fee: $29|
|Cash advance APR: 24.99%||Balance transfer fee: N/A|
|Minimum interest charge: $1.50||Cash advance fee: 3% ($10 minimum)|
|Foreign transaction fee: 3%|
|Late payment fee: Up to $40|
|Returned payment fee: Up to $29|
Is This Card Right for You?
The Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is the best of the three options if you're trying to minimize your non-interest fees. And even if it has the highest interest rate of the three Progress secured cards, you won't pay interest if you pay in full each month. You may come out ahead even if you occasionally revolve a small balance because you'll be saving money on the annual fee.
Other secured cards that don't have an annual fee may be more appealing. But if you don't want to deal with a credit check or minimum credit history or score requirements, this could be the card you're looking for.