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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 and you won't earn rewards.
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.
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 24.24% Variable
Annual fee: $39
APR: The ongoing APR is 18.24% Variable
Annual fee: $49
APR: The ongoing APR is 14.24% Variable
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 27.24% 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. 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.
4. You won't be able to upgrade to an unsecured card
Once your credit is strong enough for you to qualify for an unsecured card, you don't necessarily need to keep a secured card in your wallet, but closing any credit card can harm your scores. Unfortunately, you usually have to close your secured card to get your deposit back.
Some issuers who offer both secured and unsecured cards will give you the chance to upgrade to a secured card after several months of on-time payments. But since First Progress only offers secured cards, this isn't an option. The website does note that you can apply for a second card after six months of on-time payments, but this isn't a product change. You'd be applying for a second secured credit card — and a second annual fee.
If you're looking for a card with a potential upgrade path, consider the Discover it® Secured Credit Card. After seven months, Discover will automatically review your account each month to see if you qualify to upgrade to an unsecured credit card.
5. They don't make good travel companions
Since First Progress cards are Mastercards, they will be accepted almost anywhere. But if you use your card outside of the country, you will have to pay a 3% foreign transaction fee. This isn't necessarily a dealbreaker for a secured credit card, but it could make a trip overseas more expensive.
Capital One, on the other hand, doesn't charge foreign exchange fees on any credit cards, making the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card and the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card good alternatives.