If you have a bad credit score and are looking for ways to improve it, the Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card could be exactly what you need to get started. This bare-bones, credit-building card won’t help you earn rewards or access many meaningful cardholder perks, but it does help users build credit over time through responsible use.

Of course, the key to maximizing the Mission Lane Visa Card is in how you use it over time. The fact is, this card can be a boon for your finances if you use it in a disciplined and strategic way, but it can make your credit worse if you use it without a plan.

If your goal is improving your credit with the Mission Lane Visa Card so you can qualify for a better credit card later on, read on to learn about this card’s features and how to maximize them.

Features of the Mission Lane Visa Card

Since the Mission Lane Visa is geared toward people with credit scores as low as 500, it doesn’t have many cardholder perks or benefits. However, this card still has some major strengths to be aware of, detailed below.

Higher credit lines over time

While the minimum credit limit on this card starts at $300, you can qualify for higher credit limits over time. While it’s hard to say exactly how high your credit limit could go, here’s what Mission Lane says about this on their website:

“We see all your hard work, and when you’re eligible, we’ll bump up your credit limit.”

The issuer will evaluate your account for a higher credit line in as few as 7 months. Not only can a higher credit limit give you more purchasing power, but higher credit limits make it easier to keep your credit utilization ratio on the lower end. This can help you improve your credit score even more over time.

Convenience of having a Visa credit card

The Mission Lane Visa is a real Visa credit card, so you can use it at millions of places where Visa is accepted worldwide. Having a credit card can make in-person transactions more convenient, but you can also use your card for online purchases you make.

Transparent pricing

Mission Lane charges an annual fee between $0 and $59 depending on your creditworthiness. However, the card issuer is upfront about this fee from the start, and they don’t list any other hidden fees in the fine print.

That said, the Mission Lane Visa does charge a foreign transaction fee of 3 percent, so it’s not ideal for purchases made abroad. You may also be charged a fee for a cash advance or a penalty fee of up to $35 if you pay your bill late.

Instant credit decision

The Mission Lane Visa offers the option for an instant credit decision, so you won’t have to wait days or weeks to find out if you’re approved. Perhaps more importantly, this card lets you get prequalified online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This helps you gauge your approval odds before you apply, as well as the interest rate and annual fee you’ll likely be assigned.

Maximizing the Mission Lane Visa Card

If you decide to sign up for the Mission Lane Visa, you’ll want to use it in the most strategic way possible. Ultimately, your goal should be maximizing the card’s benefits and improving your credit enough so you can qualify for a rewards credit card with better perks.

If you want to use the Mission Lane Visa Card to your full advantage, take the following steps after you sign up:

  • Pay your bill in full. The first step you should take is paying your bill in full each month, mostly due to the card’s incredibly high APR. If you carry a balance from one month to the next, you should note that you’ll pay a variable APR between 26.99 and 29.99 percent.
  • Pay your bill on time. On top of avoiding debt, cardholders with the Mission Lane Visa Credit Card should also pay their credit card bill early or on time each month. After all, payment history is the most important determinant of FICO credit scores, so on-time payments can help build credit more than anything else. Paying your bill on time will also help you avoid the card’s $35 penalty fee for late payments.
  • Do not use the card for a cash advance. While you can technically use this card to get cash from an ATM, doing so will be a costly experience. Not only will you have to pay an upfront cash advance fee of 3 percent ($10 minimum) on the transaction, but you’ll pay a higher cash advance APR and you’ll lose your grace period. This means interest starts piling up on your cash advance from day one.
  • Keep credit utilization on the low end. It’s also important to keep credit utilization in mind with this card due to its low starting limit of $300. Most experts suggest keeping your credit utilization rate below 10 percent to 30 percent for the best results, which would mean maintaining a balance of $90 or less with a credit limit of $300. If your credit limit winds up being $500, on the other hand, you should strive to never carry a balance of more than $150.
  • Monitor your credit health. Finally, make sure you keep an eye on your credit score and its progress as you use the Mission Lane Visa to build credit over time. With months of responsible credit use behind you, including on-time payments without any exception, you may be able to upgrade from this card to a better option once enough time passes.

The bottom line

Reading over our Mission Lane Visa Credit Card review can help you learn more about this card and how it could benefit you. However, you should also take the time to compare other credit cards for bad credit, including secured credit cards that require a cash deposit as collateral.

By comparing different credit-building cards and seeing how they stack up, you can decide if the Mission Lane Visa Credit Card is the best option to get you where you want to be.