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The Mercury Rewards Visa Card, issued by First Bank & Trust, was launched in August 2022 by Mercury Financial, a technology company that aims to help its customers build credit.
The Mercury credit card earns rewards and forgoes pesky fees — two features that are nice to see in a card for people with thin credit histories. But the card’s website is lacking in some useful information about the product’s features, making it difficult to comparison shop when you’re looking for a credit card. (Efforts to reach the company with questions and clarifications were unsuccessful.)
Here are five things to know about the Mercury Rewards Visa Card.
1. You have to be invited to apply
There’s no prominent “apply now” button on the Mercury credit card’s website. Instead, Mercury mails out preapproved offers with reservation codes. These preapprovals are based on information in your credit profile.
If you misplaced your reservation code, or just want to see whether you were preapproved, you can input your last name, ZIP code and last four digits of your Social Security number on Mercury’s website.
2. It’s inexpensive to carry
When you’re newer to building credit, many card options pile on the fees. Annual fees are the most common, but some also charge monthly maintenance fees, one-time processing fees and more. The cost of carrying cards like these can add up quickly.
The Mercury Rewards Visa Card charges none of those fees. Just be mindful that there are fees for things like late payments or purchases in foreign countries.
3. The card earns cash back
The Mercury Rewards Visa Card earns cash-back rewards on every qualifying purchase, according to the card’s website. Missing from the site is how many rewards each purchase will earn, which would be useful information to have as you consider getting the card.
It’s also not easy to find out how much points are worth when redeemed, or how you can redeem them. Blink and you’ll miss it on the website, but you can redeem points for a statement credit, or use them to shop on Amazon.com, at a value of 1 cent per point. If there are other redemption options available, they’re not mentioned.
4. The app provides helpful tools
The Mercury Cards app is available on both the Apple and Google Play app stores. You can use it to not just check your balance and pay your bills, but also to get tips on how to attain your personal financial goals, compare different payment and interest scenarios, split larger payments up into smaller ones, and more.
It’s far from the only app out there that allows you to manage your card. But anything that makes tracking and goal-setting simpler for those who are building credit is a good thing.
5. Beware of the interest rate
As of this writing, cardholders will pay 29.99% to 30.24% variable APR if they get into credit card debt — well above the average of 22.77% among credit cards assessing interest as of August 2023, according to the Federal Reserve. Credit cards for people with no credit or bad credit tend to charge higher interest rates, since you’ve yet to prove yourself to lenders as a thoughtful user of credit.
Still, roughly 30% APR is a number to be mindful of as you use the Mercury credit card. If you’re unable to pay your bills in full, the resulting credit card debt can quickly spiral out of control. An alternative could be a credit-building card with guardrails. These cards require you to open a funding account, but they limit how much you can charge to what’s in that account so you can’t overspend. Plus, your bills are automatically paid in full each month, so you can’t get into debt.
However, the Mercury Rewards Visa Card functions more like a traditional credit card, so when you’re ready to graduate to other options from different issuers, you’ve had more practice managing such a card.