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Yes, poor credit will make it very difficult to get approved for a new credit card. But that doesn’t mean someone saddled with a 650 (or below) can’t get any plastic at all. In fact, you’ve got a couple of paths to pursue. The first involves applying for a secured card. Secured credit cards, as you may have heard, require that you put down a security deposit before the account can be opened. But if you don’t want to pay a security deposit, there are some standard, unsecured cards that are offered to people with poor credit. One big catch: These cards tend to tout higher rates and fees, given the risk your score suggests an issuer is taking when they approve your application.
Case in point: The First Premier Bank Mastercard is an unsecured card that offers approval to a wider range of credit profiles than most credit cards … but comes with a $75 to $125 annual fee and a variable purchase annual percentage rate (APR) of 36%. And there are other charges cardholders have to worry about. Here’s what else you need to know if you’re considering the card (see full card agreement for all the fine print).
Expert Intel: Before applying for new plastic, you may want to see if there’s anything you can do to quickly boost your credit score. And, if you’re not sure just how bad your credit is, you can view your free credit report summary, along with two free credit scores on Credit.com.
What’s the First Premier Bank Mastercard?
First Premier Bank Mastercard applicants pay a one-time processing fee of $95 to open their account and receive a credit line of $300 to $500. The card’s annual fee varies between $75 and $125, depending on the credit limit authorized. Basically, the lower your annual fee, the lower your credit limit.
For example, if you receive an initial credit limit of $300, there will be an annual fee of $75 for the first year and your available credit limit will be just $225 at first. After your first year, the annual fee for the card will be $45 to $49 depending on your credit limit. On top of that, there is a monthly service fee of $6.25 to $10.40 that is waived the first year.
You can be considered for a credit limit increase once your account has been open for 13 months. However, there is a credit limit increase fee of 25% of the amount of the increase.
The APR for purchases and cash advances is 36%, but this card does have a grace period of at least 27 days, so cardholders do have time to pay their monthly statement balances in full to avoid interest charges.
Other fees include a cash advance fee of $6 or 5% of the amount of the cash advance, whichever is greater. There is also a 3% foreign transaction fee and a late fee of up to $38. This card is not available to residents of New York or Wisconsin.
What Are the Pros of the First Premier Bank Mastercard?
The primary advantage of this card is that applicants with poor credit can still get approved. The approval process can be nearly instantaneous, although some applicants might have to wait 7-10 days for a decision. As a Mastercard, this card is accepted at millions of merchants in the U.S. and around the world.
What Are the Cons of the First Premier Bank Mastercard?
This card has very high fees, even for a card that is designed for those with poor or damaged credit. For example, if you received a credit limit of $400, you would immediately pay a $95 processing fee and a $100 annual fee for a total of $195. Then, you will have a credit limit that is only about twice what you’ve already paid in fees.
Furthermore, this card has a high interest rate of 36%, which exceeds even the penalty interest rates of most credit cards. Finally, this card also has a monthly service fee that begins after the first year, which very few credit cards impose.
Who Is This Card Right For?
This card should only be considered by those who have poor credit and are unwilling to open a secured credit card account. Even then, there are a few other unsecured credit cards out there for people with bad credit that are much less costly. (You can find a list of credit cards for bad credit here.) And, at the same time, the non-refundable costs of processing fees, annual fees and monthly surcharges will exceed the cost of the refundable security deposits of most secured cards. Plus, the better secured credit cards offer automatic reviews within six months to a year designed to help responsible cardholders upgrade to an unsecured line of credit. (Wondering what cards fit the bill? Check out our picks for the best secured credit cards.)
Nevertheless, those who choose to open this card will want to pay their balances in full and on time in order to quickly build credit and avoid costly interest charges. As with secured cards, many people who have an unsecured account like this will find that they can be approved for a more competitive unsecured card after a year of on-time payments. And if you close this account within a year, you can be spared the monthly servicing fees that this card imposes in the account holder’s second year.
Expert intel: Want a better credit card? Build good credit in the long-term by paying all of your bills on-time, keeping your debt levels low and adding a mix of credit accounts as you (and your wallet!) can handle it.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
This article was updated. It originally ran on August 11, 2016.