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Monday, June 17, 2024

First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

Eric Bank

By: Eric Bank

Eric Bank
Eric Bank

Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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Editor: Jon McDonald

Jon McDonald
Jon McDonald

Jon leverages 15-plus years of journalism expertise to inform financial consumers about emerging trends and companies making an impact in the industry. He is most knowledgeable in the areas of budgeting, credit card rewards, and responsible credit use. Jon has a passion for writing and editing, and his articles have appeared in publications produced by The New York Times.

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Reviewer: Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker
Ashley Fricker

Ashley Fricker has more than a decade of experience as a finance contributor and editor, and has specialized in the credit card industry since 2015. Her credit card commentary is featured on national media outlets that include CNBC, MarketWatch, Investopedia, and Reader's Digest, among many others. She has worked closely with the world’s largest banks and financial institutions, up-and-coming fintech companies, and press and news outlets to curate comprehensive content and media. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in multimedia journalism from Florida Atlantic University.

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First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

Rated 3.7 /5.0 ★★★★

Have you ever noticed that some credit cards for consumers with the worst credit have the fanciest names? The team at Synovus Bank uses Elite, Select, and Prestige for its First Latitude secured credit card trio. And as it turns out, these cards are pretty good, with relatively low annual fees and APRs — but fancy they’re not.

In this article, I’ll review the First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. Among the First Latitude cards, it’s the one that strikes a good balance between its interest rate and yearly fee. I’ll also assess three leading competitors to see how they measure up. Best of all, you can probably qualify for one of these cards even if you have poor, limited, or no credit.

What to Know About the Card

      • It is a secured credit card with an annual fee of $39.00 and APR of 19.24% (V).

      • You must make a refundable deposit of at least $200 to get the card.

      • The card is available to consumers with any credit history (or no history at all).

      • You earn 1% cash back in the form of reward points when you pay for eligible purchases.

    Aside from its cash back rewards, the card is pure vanilla. Consumers who obtain this card typically want to build or rebuild credit, so don’t expect anything other than the most basic benefits. Better credit cards are available when you succeed in raising your credit score.

    How to Qualify & Apply For the Card

    It’s easy to apply for the First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card online. You can read more about the card below, and if you like what you see, simply access the application on the bank’s website.

    Disclosure: When you apply through links on our site, we often earn referral fees from partners. For more information, see our ad disclosure and review policy.

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    First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

    at the issuer'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★

    3.7

    OVERALL RATING

    • Earn 1% Cash Back Rewards on payments made to your First Latitude Secured credit card account.
    • Past credit issues shouldn’t prevent you from getting a credit card with great benefits & rewards!
    • Choose your own fully-refundable credit line - $200 to $2000 – based on your security deposit.
    • Build or rebuild your credit!¹
    • Accepted wherever Mastercard® is accepted
    • Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
    • No minimum credit score required for approval!
    • ¹Cardholders who keep their balance low and pay their credit card bill on time every month typically do see an increase in their credit score.
    • *See Important Disclosures for complete offer details
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    19.24% (V)
    $39.00
    Poor/Limited/No Credit

    Fill out the application form with your personal and financial information, including your name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, and Social Security number. Also, include your net monthly income and estimated monthly expenses before submitting the application.

    You must be a US resident over the age of 18 and have a valid Social Security number to be eligible. You may be ineligible if you responded to a previous offer for a First Latitude secured credit card within the last 30 days or if the issuer approved you for an earlier credit card offer. Once approved, send in your security deposit of at least $200 to complete the process.

    Your card should arrive in seven to 10 days. You can then activate it online by entering your card number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and the phone number on the account.

    Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

    Weighing the pros and cons of a secured credit card is crucial because it ensures you understand your financial commitment, including the required security deposit and annual fee. It helps you see whether the card’s credit-building opportunities and other benefits outweigh its costs.

    Benefits

      • Credit building: By making timely payments, you can contribute positively to your credit history, as the card reports your account to all three major credit bureaus.

      • Accessibility: The card is fairly easy to get, even if you have a low credit score or limited credit history. It requires a security deposit, which reduces the issuer’s risk and makes approval easier.

      • Similar benefits to unsecured cards: Despite being a secured card, it offers convenience and protections similar to those of unsecured cards for bad credit. These include widespread acceptance, fraud protection, and the ability to make various transactions online or in person.

      • Cash back rewards: You earn 1% cash back when you pay for purchases.

      • Stepping stone to unsecured cards: Responsible use over time may help you qualify for unsecured cards with higher credit limits and no security deposits, but there is no explicit upgrade pathway.

    Drawbacks

      • Annual fee: There is a yearly fee of $39.00, which is an additional cost to consider if you are trying to build credit with minimal expenses​​.

      • Interest rate: The card carries an APR of 19.24% (V) for purchases, which can create significant interest charges if you carry balances month to month​​.

      • Foreign transaction fee: You should be aware of the card’s foreign transaction fees that increase the cost of international purchases​​.

      • Cash advance costs: The costs associated with cash advances are notable, including a fee per transaction and a higher APR.

      • Limited perks: Several competing cards offer better rewards and benefits, including a pathway to an unsecured card.

    These drawbacks highlight the importance of carefully evaluating your financial situation. Comparing multiple options will allow you to find the best credit card for your needs.

    Other Cards Worth a Look

    The following three secured cards all help you establish or rebuild credit, require low minimum deposits, and have low or no annual fees. Two are easy to get despite imperfect credit, but the Discover® option may require fair credit.

    OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card Review

    at Capital Bank N.A.'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★
    4.0

    OVERALL RATING

    • New feature! Earn up to 10% cash back* on everyday purchases
    • No credit check to apply. Zero credit risk to apply!
    • Looking to build or rebuild your credit? 2 out of 3 OpenSky cardholders increase their credit score by an average of 41 points in just 3 months
    • Get free monthly access to your FICO score in our mobile application
    • Build your credit history across 3 major credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion
    • Add to your mobile wallet and make purchases using Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and Google Pay
    • Fund your card with a low $200 refundable security deposit to get a $200 credit line
    • Apply in less than 5 minutes with our mobile first application
    • Choose the due date that fits your schedule with flexible payment dates
    • Fund your security deposit over 60 days with the option to make partial payments
    • Over 1.4 Million Cardholders Have Used OpenSky Secured Credit Card To Improve Their Credit
    • *See Rewards Terms and Conditions for more information
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    25.64% (variable)
    $35
    Poor

    The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card differentiates itself from the First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card by providing a flexible period to fund your security deposit. Additionally, OpenSky lets you choose your monthly payment date.

    The card does not check your credit and boasts an 88% average approval rate. Its annual fee is only $35, but its higher APR detracts from its competitiveness.

    Discover it® Secured Credit Card Review

    at Discover Card'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★
    4.0

    OVERALL RATING

    • No credit score required to apply.
    • No Annual Fee, earn cash back, and build your credit history.
    • Your secured credit card requires a refundable security deposit, and your credit line will equal your deposit amount, starting at $200. Bank information must be provided when submitting your deposit.
    • Automatic reviews starting at 7 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit and return your deposit.
    • Earn 2% cash back at Gas Stations and Restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.
    • Discover could help you reduce exposure of your personal information online by helping you remove it from select people-search sites that could sell your data. It’s free, activate with the mobile app.
    • Get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of Dark Web sites. Activate for free.
    • Terms and conditions apply.
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    10.99% Intro APR for 6 months
    28.24% Variable APR
    $0
    New/Rebuilding

    The Discover it® Secured Credit Card differs from the First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card mainly due to its reward system that lets you earn bonus cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. It also offers unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

    Additionally, Discover® matches all the cash back new cardmembers earn during the first year, effectively doubling the rewards after the year ends​​​​​​. Another significant difference is that the card automatically reviews your activity after seven months to see if you qualify for an unsecured card and a refund of your deposit​.

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★★
    4.0

    OVERALL RATING

    • No annual or hidden fees. See if you're approved in seconds
    • Building your credit? Using the Capital One Platinum Secured card responsibly could help
    • Put down a refundable security deposit starting at $49 to get a $200 initial credit line
    • You could earn back your security deposit as a statement credit when you use your card responsibly, like making payments on time
    • Be automatically considered for a higher credit line in as little as 6 months with no additional deposit needed
    • Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability so that you won't be responsible for unauthorized charges
    • Monitor your credit score with CreditWise from Capital One. It's free for everyone
    • Get access to your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with online banking to access your account from your desktop or smartphone, with Capital One's mobile app
    Intro (Purchases)
    Intro (Transfers)
    Regular APR
    Annual Fee
    Credit Needed
    N/A
    N/A
    29.99% (Variable)
    $0
    Limited, Bad

    The Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card may give you an initial $200 credit line with a deposit as low as $49. It does not offer rewards, and the deadline to pay the security deposit is shorter than the First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card’s.

    The card has no annual fee, but its APR is quite high. It doesn’t offer rewards on purchases, but it does have an explicit graduation timetable of only six months if you pay your bills on time.

    FAQs: How Much is the Deposit?

    The initial minimum deposit is $200. If you deposit more than $200, the amount and corresponding credit limit must be at least $300 and may not exceed $2,000.

    You must receive permission from Synovus before you add funds to your security deposit. The credit card issuer may increase your spending limit over time to a maximum of $5,000 with or without requiring an additional deposit.

    When you get your first statement, you’ll notice that the issuer subtracted the $39.00 annual fee from your available credit. For example, if you deposited $200, your initial available credit will be $161. It will become $200 once you pay the annual fee. This cycle repeats every time the yearly fee becomes due.

    How Do the Card’s Rewards Work?

    You’ll receive 1% cash back in the form of a statement credit using the rewards points you earned on payments for eligible purchases. You can redeem your reward points only for statement credits toward your account balance. Rewards points have no cash value, and you can’t redeem them for cash or any other goods, services, or merchandise.

    You can redeem your points in increments of 500 online, via the mobile app, or over the phone.

    First Latitude rewards
    Cardholders can redeem rewards within First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card‘s mobile app.

    You can’t use your redemptions to fulfill your monthly minimum payment requirement. Rewards points do not expire, but if the account closes for any reason, you’ll forfeit any unredeemed rewards points.

    Is the Card Legit?

    The Better Business Bureau has accredited the card’s issuer, Synovus Bank, and given it an A+ rating. The bank has roots dating back 136 years and is FDIC-insured. BBB customer reviews tend to give the bank a low score.

    Trustpilot gave Synovus a Poor rating, and customers give it a one-star rating around 60% of the time.

    I’ve found no reason to question the legitimacy of the First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. The issuing bank has been in business for a long time. It doesn’t appear to be the subject of any federal legal action, and it reports customer activity to all three major credit bureaus. The card is also a genuine Mastercard®, which means millions of merchants accept it worldwide.

    Is a Secured Credit Card Good For a First Card?

    Secured credit cards provide an excellent way to establish or rebuild credit. You can get one without any credit history, as the security deposit acts as collateral to guarantee your payments and define your credit limit.

    Normally, your deposit sits in an escrow account without accruing any interest. However, the credit card issuer will siphon money from it and reduce your available credit if you miss a payment. The issuer will probably close the account if you repeatedly fail to pay on time.

    Virtually all secured cards report your payments to the three major credit bureaus — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.

    credit bureau logos

    The bank reports your account to the credit bureaus to help you build credit with timely payments.

    Triple reporting is the most efficient way to build your credit profile, but you must always pay on time if you want a good credit score.

    Many issuers will upgrade your secured card to an unsecured version, often in as few as six months of responsible use, by refunding your security deposit. Unfortunately, the First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card does not offer this feature. But the card issuer may increase your credit limit without an additional deposit if you consistently demonstrate creditworthy behavior.

    Is This Card a Major Credit Card?

    The First Latitude Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card caters to individuals looking to build or rebuild their credit history. Major credit cards typically receive wide acceptance across various merchants and many well-known, large financial institutions issue these credit cards. This card falls under that umbrella due to its backing by the Mastercard® network.

    This means you can use the card wherever merchants accept Mastercard®, providing broad usability similar to other major credit cards but with a focus on credit building.

    Can I Be Denied a Secured Credit Card?

    Yes, an issuer can decline your application for a secured credit card. While these cards are generally easy to obtain, especially for individuals with no credit history or those looking to rebuild credit, issuers may still deny applications based on certain factors.

    These factors may include a history of bankruptcy, an extremely bad credit score, or not meeting the issuer’s specific requirements (i.e., age, residence, having a Social Security number, or previous problems with the issuer). Each issuer has its own approval criteria, so it’s essential to review these and potentially consider multiple credit cards.

    This Card May Be For You If…

      • You are building or rebuilding credit: You want to establish a credit history or improve your credit score using an easily obtained secured card.

      • You prefer a low security deposit: The card requires a small upfront deposit of $200 to start.

      • Earning rewards on payments: You value getting cash back rewards for making timely payments.

    The card’s cash back rewards are its most attractive feature, but it is otherwise very basic. I advise you to consider the three reviewed alternative cards and other highly rated options before deciding which is the best credit card for your lifestyle.

    About the Author

    Eric Bank
    Eric Bank Finance Expert

    Eric Bank is an M.B.A. who has covered financial and business topics since 1985, appearing regularly on Credible, eHow, WiseBread, The Nest, Zacks, Chron, BadCredit.org and dozens of other outlets. Eric specializes in taking complex subject matters and explaining them in simple terms for consumer audiences, particularly in the world of personal finance. Eric holds a Master's in Business Administration from New York University and a Master's in Finance from DePaul University.

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    Eric Bank