5 Things to Know About First Progress Credit Cards

First Progress credit card review: These secured cards are options for those looking to build credit, but you'll have to pay an annual fee and deal with less-than-robust customer service.
Feb 16, 2022

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As of February 2022, First Progress credit cards are available to people in all 50 states. We're updating this article to reflect these changes. 

First Progress offers three different secured credit cards that could be decent, if expensive, options for consumers looking to build their credit:

Each requires an initial deposit of $200 to $2,000, which becomes your credit limit. But unlike some other secured cards, you'll also owe an annual fee, you won't earn rewards, and there's no clear upgrade path to a "normal" unsecured product from First Progress.

Still, you can apply for these cards without dinging your credit scores, and all of them report your activity to the three major credit bureaus. Plus, they come with comparatively low interest rates for cards in their class, ideal if you carry a balance.

Here are five things to know about First Progress secured credit cards.

Nerdy tip: First Progress provides limited ways to contact customer support and pay your credit card bill, with a heavy reliance on snail mail. If you'd prefer a secured card you can manage online or through an app, consider other options like the Discover it® Secured Credit Card or Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card.

1. The annual fees and interest rates are inversely related

All three First Progress credit cards charge an annual fee. The higher the card’s fee, the lower the interest rate it charges. Here’s how the cards compare:

Annual fee: $29

APR: The ongoing APR is 20.24% Variable

First Progress Platinum Elite Credit Card
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Annual fee: $39

APR: The ongoing APR is 14.24% Variable

First Progress Platinum Select Credit Card
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Annual fee: $49

APR: The ongoing APR is 10.24% Variable

First Progress Platinum Prestige Credit Card
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2. The annual fee will eat into your credit limit for the first month

The annual fee is due upon account opening, which means you’ll automatically have a balance of $29, $39 or $49 on your first statement (and any statement in the future when the annual fee comes due). That’s important to note, especially if you provided the lowest allowable deposit of $200, which would reduce your credit limit to $171, $161 or $151 in the first month.

No-annual-fee secured credit cards are available, though they typically charge higher interest rates.

For instance, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card has a $0 annual fee and it charges a 10.99% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 6 months, and then the ongoing APR of 23.24% Variable APR. Unlike the First Progress cards, this card earns rewards: 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in gas station and restaurant purchases each quarter, and 1% back everywhere else. Plus, there’s a bonus for new cardholders, phrased this way: "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." The minimum security deposit is $200.

The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card doesn’t offer rewards, but it’s possible to get a $200 credit limit with a lower initial deposit if you're eligible. Depending on your financial situation, you may qualify for a minimum security deposit of $49, $99 or $200.

3. You need a qualifying bank account

Regardless of which First Progress card you apply for, you must have a qualifying Synovus Bank account to be approved. Your security deposit (of at least $200) will live there. First Progress notes that you'll also need a bank account to make your monthly payments and "avoid having to incur separate costs imposed by outside payment vendors."

If this requirement is a deal-breaker for you, you may want to consider the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, which doesn't require a bank account or a credit check. You'll still owe an annual fee of $35.

4. Applying won’t take a bite out of your credit scores

Unlike some other secured cards, applying for one of the First Progress secured credit cards won’t have a negative effect on your credit scores. That’s because completing an application doesn’t result in a credit inquiry, which is especially helpful for consumers who have low credit scores.

Among secured cards, this is a relatively rare feature, although it's not unheard of. A handful of no-credit-check credit cards that charge no annual fee and may not even require an upfront deposit at all.

See NerdWallet's full list of the best credit cards for more choices.

5. Residents of certain states won’t qualify

First Progress secured credit cards aren't available to residents of Arkansas, Iowa, New York or Wisconsin.

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