Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card review: A chance to build credit and earn rewards
You can enjoy cash back, low fees and no deposit requirement with only a fair credit score
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Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card Overview
The Mission Lane Cash Back Visa Credit Card is a credit-building card for people with fair credit. It’s an upgraded version of the Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card, a credit-building card geared more toward people with bad credit.
Other than the credit requirements, the biggest difference between the two cards is the Cash Back Visa card’s rewards program, which lets you earn 1 percent or 1.5 percent cash back, depending on your creditworthiness. The Cash Back Visa also carries no deposit requirement, offers prequalification and even gives you a chance at a higher credit line after six on-time monthly payments.
These perks, especially the cash back program, are harder to find on unsecured credit-building cards, and considering the Cash Back Visa charges a maximum annual fee of $19 (and potentially no fee at all), it could be a good choice if you’re looking for a low-cost way to earn rewards while working on your score.
That said, there are a lot of credit cards out there, even for people with fair credit. And while the Mission Lane card is a solid option, its potentially low starting credit limit and high APR mean it may not be the best option for all credit-builders.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Minimum credit limit is just $300, which may not give you much room to maintain low credit utilization and could have a negative impact on your ability to build credit
- Variable APR rate could be as high as 29.99%, which can make it harder to pay off your balances and avoid credit card debt
- Annual fee could be up to $19. Several other credit cards for fair credit charge a lower annual fee or none at all
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Unlimited 1 percent or 1.5 percent for all qualifying purchases
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: $0-$19
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 26.999 percent to 29.99 percent
Current welcome offer
Like most credit-building cards, the Mission Lane Cash Back card doesn’t carry a welcome offer. While sign-up bonuses are far from common on cards like this, there are a few exceptions.
For example, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card is available with fair credit and features a welcome offer in addition to its ongoing cash back program: The card comes with an unlimited Cashback Match program that automatically matches all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year.
Compared to the rate you’ll find on the best cash back cards, the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa card’s 1 percent to 1.5 percent flat cash back rate is just okay—typical of the rate you’ll find on the few credit cards for fair credit that offer rewards. That said, since many credit-building cards carry no rewards at all, the Cash Back Visa card’s program is a big plus.
It’s worth keeping in mind, however, that unless you can pay your balances in full each month, there’s little-to-no value in earning rewards. And if you struggle with paying your balance in full, a rewards program could simply be a lure that drags you into credit card debt.
How you earn
Depending on eligibility, Mission Lane cardmembers earn 1 percent or 1.5 percent cash back on all qualifying purchases. This includes all of the typical goods and services you pay for on a regular basis, like groceries, online shopping, gas and dining. Considering the card charges a lower annual fee than many unsecured credit-building cards, that’s a solid flat rewards rate.
Other cash back credit cards for people with bad or fair credit may offer similar rewards rates, but often charge a higher annual fee or require a security deposit. For example, the Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card earns 1.5 percent cash back on all eligible purchases, but unlike the Mission Lane card, it’s a secured card that requires a minimum deposit of $200.
Meanwhile, the unsecured Quicksilver card for people with fair credit, the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card, also earns a flat 1.5 percent cash back but charges an annual fee of $39—nearly double the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa card’s maximum fee.
If you’re looking for a way to build credit while earning rewards and avoiding a security deposit and high fees, the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa could be a good option.
Keep in mind that as with any other rewards credit card, you won’t earn cash back on purchases you make when your account is not in good standing. So you’ll have to make sure to pay your bills on time and follow the rules found in your credit card agreement.
How to redeem
Mission Lane automatically applies the cash back you earn each month to your account the following month. This will typically happen by the first week of the new month.
While automatic redemption may appeal to cardholders looking for maximum simplicity, it can also be a bit limiting. The Quicksilver Secured card, for example, lets you redeem rewards for more than just statement credits, including as a check or gift cards.
However, if you just want to earn rewards and not have to think about what to do with them., having rewards automatically credited to your account makes sense. You won’t have to remember to log in each month or search for the best value redemption options and can instead focus on building credit, knowing you’re saving a bit of money on every purchase.
How much are the rewards worth?
Cash back rewards credit cards are pretty straightforward, offering a percentage of cash back for every dollar you spend. This is especially easy compared to cards that offer complicated points and miles programs.
If you qualify for the 1 percent cash back program, you’ll earn $1.00 back on every $100 you spend using the Mission Lane Cash Back card. If you are eligible for the 1.5 percent cash back rate, you’ll earn $1.50 back on every $100 spent with the card.
Other cardholder perks
Along with its ongoing rewards, the Mission Lane card comes with a few good features that help make it an option worth considering for credit-builders. Here’s a look at the card’s top perks.
No security deposit required
One of the Mission Lane card’s best features is that it’s an unsecured credit card for people with fair credit. This is impressive because card issuers take on more risk when they extend credit to borrowers with a limited or fair credit history without requiring a security deposit. This means you won’t have to tie up large sums of money in an account until you upgrade or close your account, as you would with most secured cards. The downside is that issuers typically only provide small starting credit limits and impose higher fees on unsecured cards for people with fair credit.
Prequalify with no impact to your credit score
You can prequalify for the Mission Lane Card and see if you’ll be approved before you apply. Almost all card applications require a hard pull of your credit when you submit an application—which temporarily lowers your credit score—but soft pull prequalification helps save time and lessen the chances of applying and getting denied for a credit card
Once you provide some basic information like your name, address and social security number, Mission Lane performs a soft credit inquiry to see what has been reported to the credit bureaus. This doesn’t impact your credit. If you qualify for the card and your information can be verified, Mission Lane states you will be approved. Keep in mind that if you decide to go through with the application, then Mission Lane performs a hard credit pull.
Save time with an instant credit decision
The Mission Lane Cash Back Visa offers an instant approval decision if you qualify. This is ideal for anyone who wants to know right away whether they will be approved or denied. If you’re approved, you can get started practicing good credit habits as soon as the card arrives in the mail. If you’re denied, you at least know right away so you can quickly move on in your search for the right credit card.
To qualify for an instant credit decision, your information needs to be accurate and easily checked with a credit pull. If a card issuer is unable to verify your information immediately, you could be forced to wait weeks for a decision.
Chance at a higher credit limit and other credit-building tools
The Mission Lane Cash Back Visa not only comes with a minimum starting credit limit of $300 with no security deposit requirement, but also gives you a chance to increase your credit limit after six months if your account is in good standing (not overdue or over its limit).
That’s a relatively short time frame for an unsecured card available with fair credit and it could help you keep your credit utilization in check via more available credit. Since credit utilization makes up 30 percent of your FICO credit score, offering a chance at a higher credit limit is a big plus for a credit-building card like the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa.
Making on-time payments and only using a small amount of your available credit are the two most important ways you can build your credit score and develop sound financial habits. To help with these goals, Mission Lane provides a decent amount of features.
First, it provides free access to your credit score. Tracking your credit score on a regular basis gives you quick insight into your progress and how your actions impact your score. When your score increases, it’s rewarding to see. And when it drops, it’s a sign you need to make some changes to get back on track.
Mission Lane also provides a number of videos to help grow your credit knowledge. These videos are approximately two minutes in length and cover topics like credit building, credit reports, benefits of using a credit card responsibly and good budget habits.
Users will also find a number of helpful features on the Mission Lane App. This includes auto pay, which can help make sure you don’t forget to make your payments on time. The app also provides reminders of upcoming payments so you can budget accordingly. It also shows you just how much credit you’re using, which is a helpful reminder to keep your credit utilization low.
Rates and fees
The Mission Lane Cash Back card’s rates and fees are typical for this type of credit card and include:
- Annual fee: $0 to $19
- APR: 26.99 percent to 29.99 percent
- Late payment fee: Up to $35
- Foreign transaction fee: 3 percent.
The card’s annual fee is very reasonable when compared to other unsecured cards available with only fair credit. You may avoid an annual fee altogether, and if not, you’ll only face a $19 annual fee—far lower than the fee you’ll find on several competing unsecured credit-building cards. The QuicksilverOne, for example, charges a $39 annual fee and the traditional Mission Lane card charges an up to $59 annual fee.
That said, a handful of unsecured cards and plenty of secured cards guarantee no annual fee, including the:
- Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
- Capital One Quicksilver Secured Cash Rewards Credit Card
- Discover it Secured Credit Card
- Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card
- Jasper Cash Back Mastercard®*
Meanwhile, the Mission Lane has a high variable APR range of 26.99 percent to 29.99 percent. While high APRs are par for the course for people with fair credit, they’re especially risky on unsecured cards.
The Discover it Secured Credit Card is one of the best low-interest credit cards for people with bad credit. You know before you apply what your interest rate will be since it only has one standard variable rate for all applicants: 22.99 percent. This is fairly low for a credit card geared toward people with fair or bad credit.
The Discover it card also has a six-month intro APR of 10.99 percent on balance transfers posted to your account before June 10, 2022 (variable 22.99 percent APR after the introductory period). Both of these rates are great incentives for people with low credit scores and who carry a balance each month or need time to pay down credit card debt at a lower interest rate.
The Mission Lane card’s up to $35 late payment fee isn’t unusual, especially for a credit-building card, as other cards often charge up to $40. Such fees are hard to avoid on most cards, but the Discover it Secured card is one of the few cards that gives you a free pass the first time you make a late payment. After that, the late payment fee is up to $40.
Finally, Mission Lane’s three percent foreign transaction fee may not matter if you don’t travel abroad or make online purchases with overseas merchants. But if you are likely to do either, you can easily avoid this fee with other cards. All Capital One and Discover cards avoid this fee, even their secured credit cards. And the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card is an unsecured credit card that also skips this fee.
How the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card compares to other credit cards for fair credit
Before applying for the Mission Lane credit card, make sure to explore a number of options. You may find a different credit card is a better fit even if it doesn’t have all the features you’re looking for. Here’s a look at two other credit cards for people with fair credit—one that’s unsecured and one that will require a security deposit.
Mission Lane Cash Back Visa vs. Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card
Like the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa card, the Petal® 2 “Cash Back, No Fees” Visa® Credit Card is an unsecured rewards credit card aimed at people with fair credit. But when it comes to credit-building cards, the Petal 2 outshines the Mission Lane card.
The Petal 2 has a lower variable APR range (12.99 percent to 26.99 percent) and a rewards program that grows from 1 percent cash back earnings to 1.5 percent after 12 on-time payments.
To help people focus on building credit, the Petal 2 doesn’t charge many of the fees found with the Mission Lane card and other credit cards for fair credit. Cardmembers are guaranteed no annual fee, late fee, returned payment fee or foreign transaction fee. The fewer fees you have to deal with, the easier it is to focus on what truly matters: building credit.
When you apply, the Petal 2 also looks at more than just what’s in your credit report to assess your creditworthiness. To improve your chances of approval and a higher credit limit, Petal 2 reviews alternative data, like your income, savings and spending history.
Other perks include access to your credit score, a payment calculator, and a spending tracker to see where your money is being spent. And like the Mission Lane card, the Petal 2 card’s issuer promises to review your account within the first six months.
Mission Lane Cash Back Visa vs. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
If earning rewards isn’t important to you and you’re okay with security deposits, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is worth a look.
This is a secured card open to people with fair or bad credit. It doesn’t charge an annual fee or foreign transaction fee and has plenty of the perks you would expect with a credit-building card, including free access to your credit score, the ability to change your payment due date and tools to help you better manage your credit.
And unlike other secured cards, the Platinum Secured lets you get a $200 credit limit even if you deposit just $49, making it a unique hybrid of a secured and unsecured card. These features can help cardmembers hold on to more of their cash rather than tying it up in security deposits or losing it to fees.
To make it even easier to put down funds, Capital One gives you 35 days to make your initial deposit and lets you make partial payments of at least $20. If the initial credit limit seems too low, you can deposit more funds to increase your initial credit limit, up to $1,000. This gives you more power to determine your own limit, compared to the Mission Lane card which may only give you a starting credit limit of $300. Plus, you could get a higher credit limit in six months when Capital One reviews your account. And with good credit habits, you may be able to upgrade to an unsecured Capital One card.
Best cards to pair with this card
Credit cards for people with fair credit typically lack the perks and low APRs that come with cards available with a higher credit score. That’s why it’s a good idea to only have one card that’s right for you while you’re still working your way up from fair credit. That way, you can focus on developing good credit habits without having to deal with multiple credit card fees, statements and due dates. Once you’ve built up your credit skills and have reached the good-credit stage, it may be worthwhile to juggle multiple credit cards geared toward your needs and spending habits.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa worth it?
The Mission Lane Cash Back Visa card is a solid low-cost credit-building option if you’re looking for a card that earns rewards and requires no security deposit. But there are other options out there, even if you’re set on an unsecured card. For example, if you want to earn rewards and avoid security deposits, the Petal 2 Visa Credit Card will provide more value in the long run thanks to few fees and better credit-building features.
If you don’t mind tying up a bit of money temporarily in a security deposit, it’s also worth looking into secured credit cards since they can give you a bit more control over your credit limit and help you keep credit utilization in check.
* Information about the Jasper Cash Back Mastercard® has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.