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The First Access Visa® Credit Card is an option for those who are looking to build credit but would prefer an unsecured credit card without a security deposit. The card, issued by The Bank of Missouri, is widely accepted at retailers.
However, there are some serious drawbacks that make other cards for bad credit or no credit more appealing options. The First Access Visa® Credit Card piles on a laundry list of fees, and should you get into debt, it charges an astronomical interest rate. Though you can earn cash back on your spending, it’s a pittance compared with the annual cost of carrying this card.
Here are five things to know about the First Access Visa® Credit Card.
» MORE: Unsecured cards for bad credit
1. It’s an unsecured card for credit building …
For the most part, credit cards for those with bad or no credit are secured cards, which require a security deposit upfront. That deposit becomes your credit limit, and it’s eventually refunded to you when you establish or shore up your credit scores and graduate to an unsecured card.
But that security deposit can set you back the moment you get a secured card, sometimes by $200 or more. The First Access Visa® Credit Card doesn’t require a security deposit, but other costs associated with carrying this card might make a security deposit seem more palatable, especially if you can qualify for a card with a relatively modest deposit requirement. With the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, for instance, you may be eligible for a $200 credit limit with a security deposit as low as $49.
The First Access Visa® Credit Card does report your payment activity to the three main credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax and TransUnion — which can help you build credit over the long term with careful use, such as paying your card bill in full and on time every month.
2. … But it charges a flurry of fees
The First Access Visa® Credit Card charges a surprising amount of pricey fees, while other credit-building options cost substantially less. Here’s what you’ll pay as a cardholder:
Program fee: You must pay this one-time $95 fee within 60 days of your application getting approved. Once you do, you can activate and begin using your card.
Annual fee: $75 for first year, then $48.
Monthly servicing fee: This fee is waived for the first year but then costs $8.25 per month, or $99 per year.
Additional card fee: Adding cards for authorized users will cost $29 per card, per year.
Credit limit increase fee: You must have the First Access Visa® Credit Card for a year before you can potentially qualify for a credit limit increase. If you do, you’ll pay a fee of 20% of the credit limit increase, which eats into your overall credit limit. So if you’re granted an increase of $100, you pay a $20 fee and get an actual increase of only $80.
Premium plastic card design fee: Pay up to $10 for a “premium” card design.
If you just pay those first three fees and skip adding cards, requesting a credit limit increase or opting for a snazzier card design, the First Access Visa® Credit Card will cost you $170 in the first year and $147 per year after that. Unlike a security deposit for a secured card, that’s money you won’t get back.
3. You can earn cash back, but with caveats
Rewards aren't a main priority when you're building credit, but the First Access Visa® Credit Card does earn 1% cash back. Still, there are several things to note about the card's rewards program.
First, unlike with most other rewards cards, you earn cash back not by making purchases with the card but rather by making payments on your card bill. Second, you have to wait six months before you can redeem any rewards for a statement credit. And finally, you must redeem in increments of 500 points, or $5.
If you’re open to a secured card, some no-annual-fee options also earn cash-back rewards that are much more straightforward. The Discover it® Secured Credit Card earns 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined spending each quarter and 1% cash back on all other purchases. There’s no waiting period to redeem, either. You can redeem your rewards at any time, in any amount. New cardholders can qualify for a sign-up bonus, which Discover phrases like this: INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. Just a dollar-for-dollar match.
If you're seeking rewards but want to avoid an upfront security deposit and an annual fee, some “alternative” credit cards can tick all those boxes. These types of cards consider financial factors beyond credit scores, like your income, when you apply.
4. Beware of the sky-high interest rate
The ongoing APR is 35.99% Fixed APR, which is staggeringly high, even compared with other cards for bad credit. Making on-time payments of at least the minimum amount due will help you establish credit, but if you don't pay your bill in full, it can lock you into a cycle of expensive debt that can take years to get out of.
5. A checking account is required
You must have a checking account to qualify for the First Access Visa® Credit Card, which can present a challenge to anyone who wants to build credit but is unbanked.
An alternative is the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, a secured card with a $35 annual fee. You can fund your security deposit with a check if you’re able, but you can also do so with a Western Union transfer or money order.