The First Choice Secured Visa is a secured credit card which targets people who want to rebuild a less-than-perfect credit history. Applicants are required to provide a security deposit which is then held as collateral as long as you have the account. This is not a rewards card so members do not earn miles, points or cash back on purchases. The First Choice Secured Visa does offer a low APR (especially for a secured card) but also charges a fee for almost every card activity. Unlike a prepaid card, it does report your payment history to the three main credit bureaus each month. The annual fee is $49.
To begin, you must deposit a minimum of $200 (up to a maximum of $5,000 in $50 increments) in order to open an account. You are also required to open an FDIC Insured Savings Deposit with First Choice Bank to obtain this account. You have 30 days from when you apply to fully fund your security deposit. If your deposit is not received within that time your application will be voided. Your credit limit is equal to whatever amount you provide as a security deposit. Once First Choice Bank receives your deposit, your credit card will be sent.
Some highlights of the card are:
- Low fixed interest rates with no penalty rate
- Fast, easy application process
- No application or processing fees
- Reports to all three major credit bureaus
- No credit check
- Guaranteed approval as long as your monthly income exceeds your monthly expenses by $100 or more (see application for details)
This card offers a low APR of 9.99% on purchases. The APR on cash advances is 18.99%. There is no balance transfer option with the First Choice Secured Visa.
As stated previously, this card comes with a long list of fees. These include:
- Cash Advance Fee – Either $5 or 5% of the amount of the cash advance (whichever is greater)
- Foreign Transaction Fee – 3% of each transaction
- Late Payment Fee – Up to $29
- Returned Payment Fee – Up to $29
- Additional Card Fee – $29
- Replacement Card Fee – $29
- Stop Payment Fee – $29
- Credit Limit Increase Fee – Up to $49
Important: All fees, with the exception of the annual fee, post to your account as cash advances. (The annual fee is considered a purchase.) You are charged interest on cash advances from the date they post to your account until they are paid in full.
The First Choice Secured Visa differs from a prepaid card in that it reports your payment history to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) each month. Making consistent, on-time payments can slowly increase your credit score over time.
The annual fee for this card is $49.
Below we have broken down the specific details of the First Choice Secured Visa to help you determine if it’s the right choice for you.
An APR of 9.99% on purchases is almost unheard of for a secured credit card. If you often carry a balance on your credit card account, this is an important consideration.
No credit checks:
There are no credit checks associated with this card so there won’t be an additional inquiry on your credit report.
Bad credit is ok:
This card is specifically designed for people with bad credit so a low FICO score is acceptable (to apply).
Reports to credit bureaus:
This is a very important factor if you are trying to rebuild your credit. The First Choice Secured Visa differs from a prepaid card in that it reports your payment history to the three major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) each month. Making consistent, on-time payments can slowly increase your credit score over time.
No balance transfer option:
Card members cannot transfer an existing high interest credit card balance to this card.
The First Choice Secured Visa has an annual fee of $49. This charge will appear on your first monthly statement and will immediately reduce your available credit amount.
Abundance of fees:
The card charges for most every card activity including when you make credit limit increases. If you are constantly getting hit with fees it will quickly undo the benefit of having a low APR.
Does not graduate to an unsecured card:
There are no unsecured versions of this card so members cannot obtain an unsecured card once you’ve rebuilt your credit.
Note: First Choice Bank offers two versions of the Secured Visa – the Gold which we have reviewed here and the Classic. There are two main differences between these cards: the Visa Gold comes with an APR of 9.99% and has an annual fee of $49. The Visa Classic offers an APR of 13.99% and comes with an annual fee of $39. You can choose which card you prefer when you apply online. First Choice also offers both the Classic and Gold in MasterCard versions.