Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card review: A bare-bones credit-building option
If you’re looking to boost your credit, this card is worth a look; however, you’ll forgo all the bells and whistles typically found in similar cards.
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The Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card lacks nearly all the bells and whistles you’d expect to find on the best credit cards, but it could make sense as a stopgap solution for someone with a bad credit score or limited credit history who’s looking for a chance to boost their score without tying up hundreds of dollars in a security deposit. The card’s annual fee is reasonable and it’s notably free from the numerous hidden fees common among subprime cards.
However, the card’s unimpressive starting credit limit and annual fee—however low—mean a top-rated secured credit card will likely be a better way forward, offering more flexibility at a lower cost, even if you have bad credit. And if you have fair or average credit, you can definitely find a lower-cost, more lucrative unsecured alternative among the best credit cards for fair credit.
What are the advantages and disadvantages?
- Carries a sky-high APR, even for a credit-building card, making it a risky choice if you’re inexperienced with credit or struggle to pay off your balance each month
- Plenty of secured cards charge no annual fee, and since your security deposit is refundable, will be less costly than the Mission Lane card
- Minimum starting credit limit of $300 isn’t particularly impressive
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: N/A
- Welcome offer: N/A
- Annual fee: $0 – $59
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: 26.99 – 29.99 percent (variable)
Other Cardholder perks
As you might expect given the Mission Lane Visa card’s nonexistent rewards, the card is also lacking when it comes to extra benefits. Aside from the $0 deposit requirement and potential credit-building benefit, the card offers only a handful of shrug-worthy perks.
No security deposit required
When searching for a card for fair credit, you’ll likely come across secured credit cards as an option. These secured cards require a security deposit. A security deposit is usually a $100 to $200 upfront fee to get started using the card. A security deposit can be a barrier when obtaining a card to build your credit if you can’t afford to pay. The Mission Lane Visa, on the other hand, doesn’t require a security deposit of any kind—one of its best features. The Mission Lane does charge an up to $59 annual fee (which is a bit more expensive, considering you do get the security deposit back at some point with secured credit cards). Still, the relatively low-cost fee could make the Mission Lane Visa a solid short-term stop on the way to a higher-tiered, more rewarding credit card.
Chance at a credit limit increase
Though you may start out with a credit limit as low as $300 on the Mission Lane Visa (a common starting limit for unsecured credit-building cards), the issuer gives you a chance to increase your credit limit by demonstrating responsible card use. If you make your card payments on time for at least six months, you’ll be eligible for a higher limit at no additional cost.
While this is a common timeframe for getting a credit limit increase, many subprime issuers offer no explicit guidelines about when or whether you can get a higher limit. This is worth keeping in mind as a higher limit should make it easier to keep your credit utilization ratio—the amount of money you’ve borrowed relative to your total available credit—in check, which can help fast-track your credit-building efforts.
That said, a secured card will likely give you more control over your credit limit, since the amount you put down as a deposit typically doubles as your credit limit. If you have the money to spare and opt for a secured card that lets you put down a large deposit, you can get a matching credit limit and enjoy even more credit utilization breathing room.
Mobile app and financial tools
Along with 24/7 support and account access via the Mission Lane website and mobile app, you can take advantage of some of the issuer’s financial planning and education tools to track spending and monitor your credit score and credit utilization. And, as every credit-building card should, Mission Lane reports to all three major credit bureaus.
Basic Visa benefits
As a standard Visa card, the Mission Lane Visa automatically comes with a handful of benefits for cardholders, including zero liability for fraud, a 24/7 pay-per-use roadside dispatch and 24-hour support for lost or stolen cards. These are some of the bare minimum benefits you should expect with a credit card, however, so the Mission Lane Visa doesn’t earn any special praise with their inclusion.
Unsecured credit-building cards that offer rewards can be hard to come by without paying a hefty annual fee. Credit-building cards that come with rewards are often either secured—meaning they require a security deposit as collateral—or charge high annual fees (often $70 per year or more).
The Mission Lane Visa is no exception. While its annual fee is lower than that of many unsecured credit-building competitors, it features no ongoing rewards or welcome bonus.
If earning cash back rewards is a priority for you, another Mission Lane card, the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card, may be a good fit. The Mission Lane Cash Back Visa offers at least 1 to 1.5 percent back on all purchases while also skipping the annual fee. However, it’s important to note that the cash back rate you receive with the Mission Lane Cash Back card will only be determined once your card application is submitted and approved. Also, the recommended credit score for approval with the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa is a bit higher than the Mission Lane Visa, falling in the fair to good range on the FICO scale (580 to 740). Either way, the Mission Lane Visa card falls a bit short in the market due to its lack of rewards.
Rates and fees
The Mission Lane Visa card’s annual fee may put you off, but it’s relatively low for an unsecured card available to people with bad credit. Plenty of unsecured cards in this category charge closer to $100 in annual fees, with some tacking on additional account activation fees and even higher annual or monthly fees in your second year. While the Mission Lane card is far from your cheapest credit-building option, its cost is not outrageous.
If you have at least fair credit, however, the Mission Lane card’s annual fee will be hard to justify, as you should be able to find an unsecured card that charges a lower annual fee or no annual fee. Some, like the Capital One QuicksilverOne Cash Rewards Credit Card even offer cash back programs that give you a chance to not only cover the cost of the card, but actually earn money on top of that.
While the Mission Lane Visa card’s annual fee may be tolerable if you have bad credit and are set on an unsecured card, keep in mind the card could prove costly if you wind up needing to carry a balance. Cardholders face the variable APR of 26.99 – 29.99 percent, nearly double the average credit card interest rate. Though a high rate is to be expected at this credit level, you should consider opting for a card that offers a range of APRs or a lower standard APR if you worry about your ability to pay in full each month.
The card also carries a 3 percent fee on purchases made abroad, so it won’t be the best choice if you need a card to use overseas. If you’re looking for a card with no foreign transaction fees that’s available with a less-than-ideal credit score, consider the Petal® 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa® Credit Card, which charges no annual fee or foreign transaction fee, and is available for people with poor or limited credit.
Other Mission Lane Visa card fees to be aware of include a cash advance APR of 29.99 percent variable, a cash advance fee of 3 percent (minimum $10) and a late fee of up to $35.
How the Mission Lane Visa card compares to other credit-building cards
Though the Mission Lane Visa card’s annual fee may be worth it for people with bad credit who want to avoid putting down a deposit in order to build credit, it’s unlikely to be your best option. A few other unsecured credit-building cards are available with no annual fee and some secured cards require a minimum deposit that’s lower than the Mission Lane card’s annual fee.
Mission Lane Visa vs. Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card
The Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card is one of the rare unsecured cards available with poor credit or no credit history that also charges no annual fee. The card also offers a much higher range of potential credit limits than the Mission Lane Visa and most other credit-building cards: Depending on your credit history, you could get a limit of $300 to $5,000. Even the low end of this range beats out the limit offered by the Mission Lane card and could do wonders for your credit utilization ratio. Plus, in evaluating card applications, the Petal 1 card’s issuer can take into account not just your credit score, but also alternative credit data like income and bill payment history, making it a good option if you’ve had some credit missteps but otherwise are in good financial shape.
Mission Lane Visa vs. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card
The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, as its name implies, requires a security deposit to get started. It also offers a unique level of flexibility: You can put down a deposit as low as $49 and still get a $200 starting credit limit. Best of all, that $49 is refundable when you close your account or upgrade to an unsecured Capital One card. Since this minimum deposit is both refundable and lower than the Mission Lane card’s (non-refundable) annual fee, the choice should be obvious.
Best cards to pair with the Mission Lane Visa card
If your goal is simply to build credit, the Mission Lane card should stand on its own, especially when you consider its annual fee. After all, there’s not a ton of benefit in having the Mission Lane card in addition to a no annual fee credit-building card—you’d be better off sticking with just the no annual fee card.
But if you want to get more available credit by opening multiple card accounts, you’d do well to add a no annual fee credit-building card with rewards to the mix. A good match would be the Discover it® Secured Credit Card. It earns 2 percent back on gas station and restaurant purchases on up to $1,000 in combined spending per quarter, then 1 percent back on all other purchases. Discover will also match all the cash back earned at the end of the first year. And though the card carries a minimum deposit requirement of $200, Discover will review your account to see if you may qualify for an unsecured card after seven months of responsible use.
Bankrate’s Take: Is the Mission Lane Visa card worth it?
Given its relatively low annual fee, the Mission Lane Visa could make sense as a stopgap unsecured credit-building card, but it’s probably not your best option overall. While it charges fewer fees than many cards in this category, a secured card with rewards, no annual fee or a lower APR will likely save you more. And if you have at least fair credit, you can avoid both an annual fee and a security deposit. That said, the card will certainly get the job done if your goal is to build credit without putting down a deposit.