The PCB Secured Visa® promises a path to building credit, whether you have a history of bad credit or you’re just new to using it. After you put down a deposit for collateral and make regular payments, the bank — Plains Commerce Bank, based in Hoven, South Dakota — will report your activity to all three credit bureaus.
There are some downsides to the card, including an annual fee, lack of rewards, and no path to eventually upgrading to a better product. So it’s worth exploring all of your options, including other secured credit cards — some of which solve for all of those issues.
Here are five things to know about the PCB Secured Visa®.
1. There are restrictions on who can apply
To get the PCB Secured Visa®, you must have a Collateral Deposit Account with PCB Bank.
No other relationship with the bank is required, Cindy Jager, credit card manager for the bank, said in an email. But you must have a U.S. address to apply for the card, and it’s not available in Wisconsin because of state regulations.
In addition, Jager says applicants must have income of $5,000 a year or higher to get approved for the card.
2. You can increase your deposit and credit limit over time
After opening the PCB Secured Visa® with a minimum deposit of $200, you can add to that amount over time.
During the first year, you can increase your deposit, which equals your credit limit, up to $1,000. Then, after the first year, you can increase it up to $5,000.
3. The card offers no upgrade path to a rewards-earning card
Some secured cards — such as the Discover it® Secured Credit Card and the Navy Federal Credit Union® nRewards® Secured Credit Card — promise automatic reviews of your account after a steady period of on-time payments, to see if it's possible to upgrade you to an unsecured card that may also earn rewards. (In such a case, your security deposit would be returned to you.)
Other cards may allow such upgrades upon request.
But the PCB Secured Visa® doesn’t have that option. Jager says there is no upgrade path, nor a PCB-issued credit card that offers rewards.
4. It charges an annual fee
The card charges an annual fee of $39*, which will be deducted from your deposit and impact your available credit limit.
That means if you begin with a $200 deposit, your credit limit will be $161, unless you increase it by adding to your deposit.
5. Other fees are relatively minimal
The cash advance fee is $0 during the first year, then it’s $5 or 5% of the transaction (whichever is greater). It's ideal to avoid the expense of a cash advance if you can, because interest will start accruing immediately on them. But in terms of the fee, which is separate from the interest, this is a more generous cash advance policy than you'll find with other cards.
The international transaction fee is also waived the first year, then it’s up to 1% of the transaction amount. The lack of that fee in the first year could be useful to anyone with bad credit (FICO scores of 629 or lower) or no credit who plans to travel or live overseas for a period of time, such as a college student studying abroad.