First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card review: A low-interest, credit-building option
This card’s low APR and slightly forgiving terms make it a solid choice for building credit — just watch out for the annual fee.
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First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Overview
The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured Credit Card is a secured credit card designed for people with no credit history or who are trying to get their credit score back on track. Though the card charges an annual fee of $49, you won’t need to meet a minimum credit score to be approved or experience a hard pull on your credit when you apply.
Since you aren’t earning rewards, cutting costs with an introductory zero-interest offer or benefitting from premium features, the $49 annual fee is the biggest concern. The only differences between the three similarly named First Progress secured cards — including the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard Secured Credit Card and First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card — are their rising annual fees and lower ongoing interest rates. The First Progress Platinum Prestige has the highest annual fee, but the only factor to offset this is its 12.24 percent variable APR, which is far below the current average interest rate even for cardholders with excellent credit.
Ultimately, First Progress’ Platinum Prestige card is only worth considering if you’re rebuilding credit but you’ll need a low-interest card to occasionally carry a balance with — which is a very specific context that isn’t too healthy for your credit score.
Pros and cons
- The $49 annual fee coupled with no rewards eats into this card’s value, but is standard for a credit-building secured card
- The low interest rate isn’t useful while building credit since you don’t want to carry a balance while building credit
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: N/A
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: $49
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 12.24 percent variable
Current welcome offer
Like the vast majority of secured credit cards, the First Progress Platinum Prestige doesn’t come with an opportunity to earn a welcome bonus. You’ll also miss out on fancy perks and won’t be able to earn rewards. However, that’s to be expected since secured credit cards are designed primarily for people looking to build or improve their credit, not earn rewards.
Other cardholder perks
Despite the First Progress Platinum Prestige’s lack of rewards and a welcome offer, it does have some features that are useful and convenient to people building credit.
Potential for a higher credit limit
Your initial security deposit becomes your credit limit, and with the First Progress Platinum Prestige, this can be any amount from $200 to $2,000. If you decide to deposit more than $200, your security deposit must be at least $350. We suggest going for the high end of this range if you can because it’ll be less challenging to keep your credit utilization at or below the recommended level. Keeping a low credit utilization ratio will help improve your credit score faster, which can be challenging with a lower limit. The general guideline is to keep this ratio under 30 percent, but the minimum $200 credit limit means you’ll need to keep your balance below a mere $60.
This is especially important since the annual fee will eat into your credit limit when you first open your account and when it’s charged each year. That means if you start with the minimum $200 credit limit, you’ll actually have just $151 available on your card in your first billing cycle. Luckily, you can eventually request a higher credit limit for up to $5,000 by increasing your security deposit (which is, oddly, only achievable by mailing a check) after issuer approval.
Still, $2,000 isn’t the highest initial credit limit on the secured card market. Some of even the best secured credit cards offer well over the $2,000 to $2,500 credit limit you’ll typically find, such as the BankAmericard® Secured Credit Card, and it’s up to $4,900 deposit-backed limit.
Credit reporting to all three bureaus
First Progress reports to all three major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) each month, so you’ll be able to improve on your credit standing provided you use your card responsibly.
Since it’s a Mastercard, you can use your First Progress Platinum Prestige nearly anywhere that accepts credit cards nationwide and internationally. Just remember that there’s a 3 percent foreign transaction fee for purchases abroad.
You can easily apply for the First Progress Platinum Prestige online with only a soft pull on your credit, so there will be no negative impact on your credit score.
It’s up to you whether skipping the potential three weeks to arrive is worth the additional fee, but First Progress also provides an expedited processing option where your application can be fast-tracked by seven days for $19.95.
Rates and fees
While the First Progress Platinum Prestige’s annual fee is $49, which is expensive compared to other cards of its caliber, its rock-bottom 12.24 percent variable APR is about half the typical interest rate for someone with limited credit. By comparison, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card has no annual fee but it does have a 26.99 percent variable APR.
If you’re interested in the low APR because you’ll carry a balance from time to time, you should be aware of the card’s other fees. The First Progress Platinum Prestige charges up to $29 for your first late payment, then up to $40 if you’re late again in the following six billing cycles. This adds a layer of grace not typically seen among secured credit cards.
There are also a few optional fees to know just in case. If you can’t pay your bill online or you’re worried your payment will be posted too late, you can make an expedited telephone payment in exchange for a $10 fee. There is also a $1 fee if you ever need to request a copy of a billing statement over six months old.
How the First Progress Platinum Prestige compares to other secured credit cards
As far as cards for applicants with no credit history or bad credit go, the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard is notable for its incredibly low ongoing APR and fast approval process with no hard credit pull. Granted, the APR shouldn’t be much of a deal-breaker since you most likely aren’t carrying a balance while trying to improve your credit score anyway. The Platinum Prestige is a more practical and possibly less expensive way to build credit with a card compared to other options like store credit cards, but its steep $49 annual fee is also noteworthy when other secured credit cards offer more effective features for no yearly cost.
The First Progress Platinum Prestige card vs. The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is accepted at all of the same merchants, but depending on your creditworthiness, you may be able to get the same $200 minimum credit line with a smaller $49 or $99 security deposit. Plus, Capital One can automatically review your account for positive credit activity after six months and may increase your limit or upgrade you to an unsecured credit card. With the First Progress Platinum Prestige, that same credit limit increase means putting down more funds for a security deposit, so the Capital One Platinum Secured is much more lenient with increasing credit limits. This leniency makes it easier — and cheaper — to boost your credit score with Capital One.
Keep in mind the Capital One Platinum Secured comes with a 26.99 percent variable APR, almost three times the Platinum Prestige’s 12.24 percent variable. However, that higher APR also comes with no annual fee. If you carry a balance often, the First Progress Platinum Prestige may be a better fit, but overall the Capital One Platinum Secured checks more boxes in helping people build credit.
The First Progress Platinum Prestige card vs. Discover it® Secured Credit Card
The Discover it Secured Credit Card is one of the only secured cards to earn cash back on all purchases: 2 percent back at gas stations and restaurants (on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter, then 1 percent) and 1 percent on everything else. This cash back potential, plus its lack of an annual fee, sets it far above the First Progress Platinum Prestige, which earns no rewards and charges an annual fee. Again, if you are laser-focused on building credit and may be tempted to overspend just to earn cash back, the Platinum Prestige will help you build credit with no distractions. But if you can use the Discover it Secured responsibly, it’s a more rewarding stepping stone to unsecured credit cards. Discover will automatically review your account for an upgrade to an unsecured card after seven months.
The Discover it Secured card is slightly more forgiving with missed payments than the First Progress Platinum Prestige. In case you ever miss your payment deadline, Discover doesn’t charge a penalty APR and your first late payment fee will be waived (up to $41 after that). With the First Progress Platinum Prestige, the penalty is $29 but up to $40 if another payment is missed within six billing cycles.
Best cards to pair with this card
Since this card has an annual fee and no rewards, we recommend pairing it with one of the best credit cards for bad credit — the Discover it Secured. While Discover’s secured credit card is Platinum Prestige’s top competitor, cardholders can use Discover’s lack of an annual fee and modest cash back rate to offset the First Progress Platinum Prestige’s annual fee.
While pairing two credit cards — and thus taking two hard credit pulls — when you already have no credit or bad credit isn’t ideal, First Progress only requires a soft credit pull for applications, so pairing these two cards won’t tank your credit.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the First Progress Platinum Prestige worth it?
The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard Secured Credit Card could be a decent choice, particularly if paying off your card in full each month could be an issue. However, you’ll usually avoid carrying a balance if you’re focused on credit-building, so there are plenty of other secured cards with better perks than a low interest rate. The other two secured First Progress cards trade higher APRs for lower annual fees, but you can find secured cards from major issuers with lower upfront deposits, higher initial credit limits or even reward programs. Ultimately, the First Progress Platinum Prestige may offer marginally better terms than the other First Progress secured cards, but its annual fee doesn’t entirely offset any potential benefits compared to its siblings and other popular secured credit cards.