Although the First Progress cards aren't terrible, especially considering cards marketed toward those with damaged credit histories typically come with exorbitant fees, most individuals will have better options. Other secured cards are just as good for building credit without annual fees. We go over those other options below, as well as go over why you shouldn't apply for any of the First Progress cards.
- Cards We Recommend Instead of the First Progress Secured Credit Cards
Review: Our Thoughts on the First Progress Secured Credit Cards
The annual fees associated with these cards are the main reason we don't fully endorse the them. First of all, if you have average to good credit, you are eligible for significantly better offers. These cards are mainly geared towards people with FICO scores below 600. You may think because you have a bad credit history you are limited to credit card options like the First Progress cards. However, just because you may have poor credit doesn't mean you have to settle for a card that charges you an annual fee and gets you nothing in return—apart from building credit. Several other secured cards will do the same thing as the First Progress cards and won't charge annual fees. Some even offer rewards.
For all First Progress cards, the minimum security deposit is $200, the maximum is $2,000 and your credit line will be equal to your deposit amount. Residents of Arkansas, Iowa, New York and Wisconsin aren't eligible to apply.
The best thing about the First Progress cards is their low annual percentage rates (APRs). The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card has one of the lowest APRs we've seen among secured credit cards—which typically have APRs around 25%—although you'll have to pay a $49 annual fee to get it. This can help you save quite a bit in interest charges if you ever find yourself unable to pay off your balance in a given month. But if having a low APR is a priority to you, there are better cards available. For example, the Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card has a low APR, No Annual Fee and a rewards program.
While potential cardholders should consider a card's APR, we recommend not carrying a balance whenever possible. Carrying a balance will not only cause you to incur interest charges; it can also be damaging to your credit, even if you are making your minimum payments on time. This is because having a high credit utilization ratio—which is your card balance compared to your credit limit—has a negative impact on your credit score.
Bottom Line: Although the First Progress cards can be useful—especially when considering the low APR of the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card—there are other cards available that can do the same things at a lower cost.
Cards We Recommend Instead of the First Progress Secured Credit Cards
In terms of building credit, you can do better than the First Progress cards. They can help you improve your credit, but there are better options that don't charge annual fees. Instead of these products, consider the cards we recommend below.
The Discover it® Secured
As one of the few secured cards that features a rewards program, the Discover it® Secured is one of the top cards for those with bad credit. It has good benefits off the back, so you're saving more with the Discover it® Secured than with the First Progress cards.
After eight months, Discover will automatically review your account to see if you are eligible to upgrade to an unsecured account. This is something First Progress cannot offer, as it doesn't issue unsecured credit cards. This makes the Discover it® Secured a much better long-term option than the First Progress cards.
- Earn 2% cash back at Gas stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
- Discover will automatically review your account to see if you are eligible for an unsecured card after eight months.
- Discover it® Secured Review
The Capital One® Secured Mastercard®
The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® is another good option for those with poor credit, as it comes with no annual fee and features a low minimum security deposit.
- Pay $0 annual fee.
- The card currently offers a refundable minimum security deposit of $49, $99 or $200. You'll need to have access to an authorized bank account to pay the security deposit.
- Access a higher credit line after making your first five monthly payments on time.
- Capital One® Secured Mastercard® Review
The Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card
In the world of secured credit cards, the Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card is virtually unmatched in terms of what it offers its users. This card not only features a rewards program—which is quite rare for secured cards—but also one of the lowest APRs we've come across. While its APR isn't quite as low as the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card's, the Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card makes up for it by charging No Annual Fee.
To apply for the Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card, you'll need to be a member of the State Department Federal Credit Union. There are a number of ways you can qualify to become a member, but the best path for most individuals will be to join the American Consumer Council. Applications are open to pretty much all American consumers, and lifetime membership costs only $15—which is well worth it if you can access the Savings Secured Visa Platinum Card.
- Pay No Annual Fee.
- Earn one Flexpoint per dollar spent, and redeem 2,500 Flexpoints for a $25 gift card with select merchants.
- Pay a low APR of 11.99%.