Best for entry-level fair credit
Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card
Recommended Credit Score
If you’re looking to boost your credit, this card is worth a look even with an annual fee.
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Though it carries a relatively low cost for an unsecured credit-building card, the Mission Lane Visa is a pricier option than most secured cards.
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The Mission Lane Visa® Credit Card doesn’t come with many perks and benefits, but it could make sense as a credit-building card. If you have a bad credit score or limited credit history and need a chance to boost your score, you can use the Mission Lane Visa to build credit without tying up hundreds of dollars in a security deposit. The card doesn’t charge any of the hidden fees common among subprime cards, and its annual fee — if you’re assigned one — is reasonable for an unsecured card.
However, the card’s unimpressive starting credit limit and potential annual fee mean a secured credit card may be a better way forward. Not only could a secured card be less expensive, but it could also help you build credit more effectively since you can put down a large deposit and get a matching credit limit, making it easier to keep your credit utilization low. 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.
Potential for a low or no annual fee makes this an accessible credit-building option if you’d rather not deposit hundreds of dollars into a secured card account
Card use and activity is reported to all three credit bureaus, so you’ll build credit with responsible card use
You can get a credit limit increase with responsible card use, making it easier to keep credit utilization in check
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, can be less costly than the Mission Lane card
Minimum starting credit limit of $300 isn’t particularly impressive
This card does not include a welcome offer, which isn’t uncommon among cards for bad credit. There’s also no intro APR offer, another feature often missing on these types of cards.
While welcome offers are rare on cards available with bad or fair credit, there are a few competing cards that offer a sign-up bonus, intro APR or both. For example, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card comes with a welcome offer and an intro APR on purchases, making it a great alternative to the Mission Lane card if you need to carry a balance short term
That said, if building credit is your main focus, a welcome offer likely shouldn’t be the deciding factor when you’re choosing a card.
Qualifying for the top rewards and cash back cards typically requires a good to excellent credit score, and credit-building cards that offer rewards are hard to come by. It’s no surprise, then, that the Mission Lane Visa lacks a cash back program. Mission Lane’s other credit card, the Mission Lane Cash Back Visa® Credit Card, does have a rewards program, but you’ll need to have at least fair credit.
As you might expect given the Mission Lane Visa card’s lack of welcome offer and 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 decent perks.
The Mission Lane Visa doesn’t require a security deposit of any kind — one of its best features.
When searching for a card for fair credit, you’ll likely come across secured credit cards as an option. Most of these cards require a minimum security deposit around $100 to $200 to get started. If you’re looking for a card to build your credit but would rather not tie up money in a deposit, then a card like the Mission Lane Visa can lower the barrier to entry.
The Mission Lane does charge an up to $59 annual fee, which may seem expensive considering you eventually get your security deposit back with a secured credit card. But this fee is relatively low compared to the fees charged by many unsecured credit-building cards, so the Mission Lane Visa could be useful short term as you work toward a more rewarding credit card.
Though you may start 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 seven months, you could be eligible for a higher limit at no additional cost.
While this is a common timeframe for getting a credit limit increase, many 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 compared 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 because the amount you put down as a deposit typically determines 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 breathing room. Just keep in mind you won’t have access to your deposit as long as you hold onto your secured card.
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. These can help you track your spending, monitor your credit score and remain aware of your credit utilization. And, as every credit-building card should, Mission Lane reports to all three major credit bureaus.
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.
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 available with poor credit 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.
But if you have at least fair credit,the Mission Lane card’s annual fee will be hard to justify. You should be able to find an unsecured card available with fair credit 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 offset the cost of the card with your cash back earnings.
The Mission Lane Visa could also prove costly if you carry a balance. You’ll face a variable APR of 26.99 percent to 29.99 percent — much higher than the average credit card interest rate. Though you should expect high rates at this credit level, you should consider choosing a card that offers a wider range of APRs or a lower standard APR if you worry about paying in full each month.
The card also carries a 3 percent fee on foreign transactions, so it won’t be the best choice if you need a card to use overseas. 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.
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 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.
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
The Petal 1 “No Annual Fee” Visa Credit Card (issued by WebBank) is one of the rare unsecured cards available with poor credit or no credit history that 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.
The low end of this range matches the limit offered by the Mission Lane card and could do wonders for your credit utilization ratio if you qualify for an even higher one. 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. This makes it a great choice if you’ve had some credit missteps but otherwise are in good financial shape.
As its name implies, The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card, requires a security deposit to get started, but 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 refunded when you close your account or upgrade to an unsecured Capital One card. Since this minimum deposit is both refundable and potentially lower than the Mission Lane card’s (non-refundable) annual fee, the card is definitely worth considering instead.
If your goal is simply to build credit, the Mission Lane card should stand on its own. It charges a relatively low annual fee and provides a decent line of credit.
That said, your best pairing option will be a card that gives you a credit limit at no additional cost.
If you want to increase your available credit by opening multiple card accounts in addition to working toward a higher credit limit with Mission Lane, 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 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. Although 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.
Given its relatively low annual fee, the Mission Lane Visa could make sense as a short-term 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.
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