First Access Visa® Credit Card review: Costly credit for little payoff

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Snapshot

1.4

Bankrate rating
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Bottom line

The First Access Visa® Credit Card provides that little bump of credit history even when you have a bad or nonexistent credit. However, there is a price to pay for this boost in the form of fees and a very high APR.

First Access Card Image
Apply now

on First Access Card's secure site

First Access Visa® Credit Card

Rewards rate

N/A

Annual fee

See Terms

Intro offer

N/A

Regular APR

See Terms

Recommended Credit Score

Bad to Fair  (300 - 670)

First Access Visa Credit Card Overview

The First Access Visa Credit Card is made for people who have made credit mistakes in the past and are looking for an easy-access card that will allow the space to rebuild. You can feasibly be approved with bad credit and it’s one of few cards for bad credit that has a first-year welcome offer, but these perks come at a very high cost via an excess of fees.

The First Access Visa card is not a secured credit card, meaning applicants don’t have to put down deposits to access the equivalent in credit limits. However, the initial credit limit is still fairly low, the high annual fee will eat into your already small credit limit and any credit limit increase assessments will incur a fee. Since the card is unsecured, it’s an option for people who don’t have immediate cash on hand but also need a lifeline to improve their credit.

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Easy approval as it’s designed for people with poor or limited credit history.
  • Not a secured card meaning no collateral deposit required.

Cons

  • Comes with a high APR of 34.99%. (see terms)
  • Has an extremely low credit limit of $300.
  • The payment due date is only 21 days after the close of each billing cycle; many other cards give you 24 or 25 days before your payment is considered late.
  • There’s a late payment fee and a returned payment fee of up to $40.

A deeper look at the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • Rewards rate: N/A
  • Welcome offer: $0 monthly fees and cash advance fee for the first 12 months
  • Annual fee: $75 year one, $48 thereafter (See terms)
  • Purchase intro APR: N/A
  • Balance transfer intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: 34.99 percent (See terms)

Current welcome offer

In lieu of a standard introductory APR or rewards offer, the First Access Visa charges no monthly or cash advance fees for the first year of card ownership. Considering the high fees charged on the card, waiving the monthly service fee of $8.25 and the cash advance fee ($10 or 3 percent—whichever is greater) will come as a relief.

Other cardholder perks

While this isn’t a card loaded with travel perks or exciting rewards, it provides a means for cardholders to repair their credit history.

Supplementary cards allowed

If you need an additional card for a spouse or partner, you can get one. You’ll be charged another annual fee and share the credit limit, so you’ll need effective communication and budgeting to get the most out of the card.

Reports to all three major credit bureaus

It’s important that a credit-building card reports to at least one of the major credit bureaus to track your efforts and luckily this card reports to all three.

Wide card acceptance across the U.S.

Since the First Access Visa is a Visa credit card, virtually all merchants across the U.S. and online will accept this credit card. However, you cannot make any charges abroad with this card.

Rates and fees

Like many other credit-building cards, the downsides to the First Access Visa are buried in the credit card agreement’s fine print. The card charges rather exorbitant interest and maintenance fees, even for a card designed for people with poor credit. With all of the First Access Visa card’s fees combined, over time you could spend close to $300 a year (the same amount as your initial credit limit) just to hold the card.

APR

The first charge of note among a bevy of other hidden fees is the incredibly high ongoing APR. There is a 34.99 percent APR on purchases (see terms) and cash advances (see terms), and any interest charges have a minimum price of $1.

Sign-on fee

You’re charged a one-time program fee of $95 once your application is approved.

Annual fee

The first year’s fee is $75, charged upfront and deducted from your overall credit limit. This means your $300 credit limit will actually start out at just $225. After the first year, the fee drops to $48 annually. There is also a $29 annual fee on supplementary cards.

Monthly service fees

While there is no monthly service fee in the first year, this kicks in from month 13 at a cost of $8.25 per month (or another $99 per year).

Credit limit increase fee

After the first year, you become eligible for a limit increase assessment. The cost of this assessment is 20 percent, meaning that if your limit is increased by $50, the fee levied is $10.

Other fees

  • Late payment and returned payments fees are quite steep at up to $41 per incident.
  • There is a cash advance fee beginning in the second year, which costs $10 or 3 percent per transaction, whichever is more.
  • If you want one of First Access’s card designs, there’s a $9.95 Premium Plastic Card Design fee.
  • First Access will impose a $35 Express Delivery fee for express delivery of your credit card
  • Copying fee: First Access may charge a $3 copying fee for each requested duplicate of any monthly billing statement or other document, unless the request is made due to a billing error dispute.

How the First Access Visa Credit Card compares to other credit cards for bad credit

Credit cards for bad credit are an essential tool that can provide a path for people who’ve made credit mistakes in the past an opportunity to rebuild. Luckily, plenty of issuers offer credit cards geared toward helping people with bad or fair credit scores—and plenty of them have much more to offer for far fewer costs than what you’d get with the First Access Visa.

First Access Card Image

First Access Visa® Credit Card

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1.4
Apply now

on First Access Card's secure site

Annual fee

See Terms

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

Bad to Fair(300 - 670)
Capital One Image

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Annual fee

$0

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

N/A

Recommended credit

No Credit History
Credit One Bank Image

Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

Annual fee

$75 for the first year. After that, $99 annually ($8.25 per month)

Intro offer

N/A

Rewards rate

1%

Recommended credit

Bad to Fair(300 - 670)

First Access Visa vs. Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card

Both the First Access Visa and the Capital One Platinum Secured card are options geared explicitly toward people with poor credit scores. The Capital One Platinum Secured card is even a feasible option for someone who has no credit history. A key difference between the two cards is the shakedown of the fees.

As a secured credit card, the Capital One Platinum Secured does require an initial security deposit; However, this deposit could be as low as $49, which is much cheaper than a lot of required security deposits on the market. You’ll still get access to at least a $200 credit limit with a deposit that low, and you’ll also get the security deposit refunded once you close your account in good standing. It’s important to note that the Capital One Platinum Secured does not charge an annual fee, already putting it well ahead of the First Access Visa in terms of affordability, and Capital One will automatically review your account after six months to see if you qualify for a higher credit limit. Unlike the First Access Visa, Capital One will not charge you a fee for this credit limit reevaluation. In total, your ongoing costs with the Capital One Platinum Secured card could stop at as low as the $49 initial deposit (given that you don’t carry any balances). The First Access Visa could cost you almost $300 in maintenance fees alone after your first year with the card.

Both of these cards do not have a rewards program and both have fairly high ongoing APRs. The Capital One Platinum Secured does win out slightly, as its ongoing 26.99 percent APR, though high, is fairly standard for even the best secured credit cards. The First Access Visa’s 34.99 percent ongoing APR is almost predatory, especially when paired with the card’s excess hidden fees. To boil down which of these cards may work best for you, you’ll need to evaluate how much money you’re able to put down up front, and how much you want to keep paying in fees over time.

First Access Visa vs. *Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit

The Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit might serve as an interesting middle ground in these card comparisons. Its ongoing APR is high, but not nearly as high as the First Access Visa and it’s even a few percentage points under the Capital One Platinum Secured’s ongoing APR. Similar to the First Access Visa, the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit does charge an annual fee just to hold the card. The $8.25 monthly maintenance fee, just like the First Access Visa, will cost you about $99 a year.

A key difference between the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit and both the First Access Visa and the Capital One Platinum Secured is the rewards program. You’ll earn 1 percent cash back rewards on eligible gas, grocery purchases and mobile phone service, internet, cable and satellite TV services (terms apply) with the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit, which could make the card a bit more valuable depending on your spending habits and desire to earn rewards. Both the First Access Visa and the Capital One Platinum Secured do not have a rewards program.

Again, picking the best card for you will be based on what you value most, whether that be rewards, affordability or singular focus on credit building. If having a rewards program is most important to you, go for the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit, as it’s the only option featured here that has a rewards program. People who value overall affordability may find their match in the Capital One Platinum Secured card. Anyone who’s on their last leg in finding a card that can help them build credit may give the First Access a look, but there are many more affordable options to tap into first.

Best cards to pair with the First Access Visa Credit Card

The Discover it® Secured Credit Card is the ideal credit card companion to the First Access Visa. As one of the best secured credit cards on the market, it offers cardholders the opportunity to rebuild their credit without the burden of an annual fee.

It is also one of the few cards for those with poor credit that offers rewards on qualifying spending. While there is a refundable security deposit required of $200, the card can boost your credit if used right.

Bankrate’s Take—Is the First Access Visa Credit Card worth it?

Put simply, no.

If you’re in the market for a credit card when your credit is on the low side, the First Access Visa is a very expensive option. If it weren’t for the fact that it’s an attainable card for people with low credit, it wouldn’t be a worthy credit card option at all. The excessive fees and the incredibly high ongoing APR is simply not worthwhile when there are so many other card options available for people with bad credit that don’t cost hundreds of extra dollars a year just to maintain the card. Most consumers would be better off saving for a secured credit card deposit.

*The information about Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Rebuilding Credit has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.