The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card review: A fairly run-of-the-mill secured option
This card checks all the boxes for your standard secured credit card, leaving much to be desired.
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The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card overview
The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card is designed to help cardholders build credit with no credit check and no credit history required to apply. Credit limits between $200 and $2,000 are available depending on the amount of your initial deposit, and First Progress reports to all three credit bureaus, making it easier to increase your credit rating over time.
Though you won’t have to jump through too many hoops to get approved, you will still be on the hook for a sizable security deposit (minimum of $200), which will serve as your credit limit. However, paying a deposit is a common tradeoff for building credit with a secured credit card. You’ll also pay an annual fee on top of your deposit charge, which can dampen this card’s competitiveness rather quickly.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- The card charges a $29 annual fee in addition to your initial security deposit, hampering the card’s affordability.
- There’s no way to upgrade to an unsecured credit card, so its long-term value isn’t very substantial.
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: N/A
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: $29
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 20.24 percent variable
Current welcome offer
As a secured credit card, the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard doesn’t come with any welcome offers, sign-up bonuses or reward rates. Instead, its biggest draw is providing access to credit even if your credit history or credit rating isn’t ideal.
Instead of taking you through a lengthy application process involving credit and income checks, First Progress prioritizes application speed. You can easily apply online, and applications are processed ASAP without a hard credit pull, meaning you won’t experience a temporary ding to your credit score. Once approved, you’ll need to provide a security deposit to offset lender risk; this is the trade-off for no credit check during the initial part of the application process.
While you aren’t committed to a fixed amount—you can open an account with a deposit ranging from $200 to $2,000—the amount of your deposit sets your credit limit. This means that if your deposit is $200, your available credit is also $200. We recommend going for the higher end of this range in order to improve your credit utilization ratio and bump up your score faster. Fortunately, you can later request to increase your credit limit up to $5,000 by increasing your security deposit accordingly.
Other cardholder perks
The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card doesn’t offer many other advantages outside credit building, but this shouldn’t be a deal-breaker since few secured cards provide extra features.
Wide international acceptance
As a Mastercard-branded credit option, merchants nationwide and globally accept this First Progress card wherever they take Mastercard credit cards. This factor puts it a step above retail-branded credit cards that can help boost your credit rating but only allow you to make purchases in their brick-and-mortar and online stores.
The Mastercard Nearby mobile app can help you find merchants and ATMs that accept Mastercard around you, but beware the 3 percent foreign transaction fee when you use this card abroad.
Credit reporting to all three bureaus
First Progress reports all of its credit data to all three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. While reporting data to any one of these agencies helps boost your credit rating, regular reporting to all three makes it easier to build your credit more quickly.
Rates and fees
The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Card comes with a $29 annual fee that is charged to the card itself, meaning that if you put down a $200 deposit you’ll only have $171 worth of credit to use until you pay that fee off.
This card also has a 3 percent foreign transaction fee along with an up to $40 late payment fee and an up to $29 returned payment fee. In addition, cash advances come with a $10 or 3 percent total transaction fee, whichever is greater, and a 25.24 percent variable APR for cash advances.
The standard APR for this card is 20.24 percent variable, which can be better than average for similar secured cards. If you’re worried your payment won’t be posted before your due date, you can make an expedited telephone payment in exchange for a $10 fee. There’s also a potential $1 request fee if you ever need a copy of a billing statement prior to six months ago.
How the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured compares to other secured cards
It’s no surprise that the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card makes our list of the best secured credit cards thanks to its easy online application and expedited processing. But how does it compare to other credit cards for bad credit?
Although unsecured credit cards designed for less-than-perfect credit might seem appealing since they don’t require security deposits, a secured card could offer a better opportunity to improve your credit score with a potentially higher credit limit and lower ongoing costs.
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured vs. Discover it® Secured Credit Card
The Discover it Secured Credit Card is one of the best cards on the market if you have limited credit. It’s one of the few secured cards to offer cash back—2 percent cash back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined purchases per quarter, then 1 percent) along with 1 percent on all other purchases—and a welcome offer: all cash back you earn in your first year as a cardholder is matched. More importantly, Discover reviews your account at seven months for good credit habits to possibly upgrade your account to an unsecured card. If you’re a credit-builder or rebuilder who thrives on incentives, the Discover it Secured may be your pick as the First Progress Platinum Elite lacks all of these extra perks.
However, the First Progress Platinum Elite does have the more palatable ongoing APR. A lower APR can be more cost-effective for people working to get back on track with their credit and who may need to carry a balance. Neither card offers an intro APR on purchases, so the First Progress Platinum Elite does win out on APR affordability at 20.24 percent variable APR vs. the Discover it Secured’s 23.24 percent variable APR. The First Progress Platinum is also more ideal if you think you’ll be derailed by the lure of chasing rewards.
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured vs. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is another solid option to consider that still passes up on the rewards front, but offers a bit more room to grow in terms of annual fees, credit lines and upgrades. If you’re concerned about forking up a big deposit, your security deposit could be as low as $49 with the Capital One Secured and you’d still secure at least a $200 credit line with no annual fee to offset. The First Progress Platinum Elite has a $29 annual fee that is not included as part of your required deposit and can hamper down on your already limited credit line.
Capital One’s secured card also excels as a stepping stone to a better, full-fledged unsecured credit card. It reviews your account activity for an upgrade to an unsecured card after six months, slightly beating out Discover’s account review timeline. Buyers beware, however, of the ongoing APR for the Capital One Platinum Secured since it’s substantially higher than the First Progress Platinum Elite at 26.99 percent variable with no intro APR offers. Carrying balances over on the Capital One Secured can prove significantly more costly, so the First Progress Platinum Elite might be a safer option.
Best cards to pair with the First Progress Platinum Elite
Our recommendation for the best card to pair with the First Progress Platinum Elite would be one of the two cards mentioned above. Both the Discover it Secured and the Capital One Platinum Secured skip the annual fee, making them more affordable alternatives and increasing their long-term value if you outgrow the First Progress Platinum Elite. The Discover it Secured offers a great rewards rate on a couple of popular spending categories and both the Discover it Secured and the Capital One Secured provide easier access to credit line increases and unsecured card upgrades, which could provide more incentive to keep up with your positive credit-building habits.
Bankrate’s Take—Is the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured worth it?
The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured credit card offers credit-building potential with a quick application process, no credit check and a customizable deposit amount starting at $200, making it a great choice if you’re looking to build a credit history or improve a damaged credit rating.
The downside is that this card doesn’t stand out from the secured credit crowd very much. Other secured cards like the BankAmericard Secured credit card offer higher initial credit limits, while the Discover it Secured card comes with cash back rewards. It’s also worth noting that, unlike some competitors, you can’t upgrade your First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured card into an unsecured card after a certain amount of on-time payments or card ownership, but you can shore up your secured credit line upon request.
However, the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured may have a leg up since there is no hard credit pull when applying and the ongoing APR (20.24 percent variable) can be lower than competing cards’ rates.