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Saturday, June 22, 2024

First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

Zina Kumok

By: Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok
Zina Kumok

Zina Kumok is a personal finance writer, certified financial health counselor, and certified student loan counselor. She works as a money coach helping people one on one at ConsciousCoins.com. Her advice has been featured in Lifehacker, FoxBusiness, Time Magazine, Investopedia, Forbes, and several other major financial brands. She paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years. She's a three-time Plutus Awards finalist for Best Personal Finance Contributor and a three-time speaker at FinCon, the premier financial media conference.

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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: Danielle Spurlin

Danielle Spurlin
Danielle Spurlin

With more than 10 years of accounting experience, Danielle Marshall has a deep understanding of many financial disciplines, including personal and commercial lending, retirement annuities, financial forecasting, and general bookkeeping. She has a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida's Fisher School of Accounting and currently manages all accounts receivable and payable for the parent company of CardRates.com. She works directly with credit card issuers and advertising partners to ensure our content meets compliance expectations and regulatory standards.

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First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

Rated 3.0 /5.0 ★★★

When you have bad credit, one of the best ways to fix your credit score is to get a credit card. But qualifying for the right credit card may be challenging. Card issuers often want cardholders who have good credit and who can comfortably pay their bills every month.

So what do you do if you have bad credit — or even no credit? That’s where secured credit cards can really shine. Secured credit cards are built for those who need to fix their credit, but not all versions have the same benefits.

In this article, I’ll review the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card and cover its benefits and drawbacks. I’ll also look at three other secured credit cards to show how they stack up.

A Look at How the Card Works

The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card works a little differently than other credit cards. It’s a secured credit card, which means that the cardholder is required to put down a security deposit as collateral. The security deposit can be sent from your bank account to your new credit card.

Card issuers require security deposits because cardholders typically don’t have enough positive credit history to qualify for a traditional unsecured card. The security deposit will be equal to the card’s credit limit, which is the maximum amount that you can spend on the card.

Most credit cards are unsecured, which means that the card issuer determines the credit limit. Issuers use information like your credit score, income, and other factors to decide what your credit limit should be. But secured credit cards have credit limits that are usually solely determined by what the cardholder can put down.

If you are approved for the card, you will be required to deposit funds to determine your credit limit. Once you deposit the money, the issuer sends the card, and you can activate and use it. You can then start spending just as you would any other credit card.

Because the credit limit is so low on secured credit cards, you may reach it quickly. So you should be sure to track the balance on the card to avoid any problems.

This card can be used anywhere Mastercard® is accepted, which is at most online and in-person retailers.

How to Qualify & Apply For the Card

This card has fairly basic qualification requirements. You only need to have poor, limited, or no credit to be eligible for the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.

You can apply for the card online. The application form will ask for basic information, including your legal name, address, and contact information.

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First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★

3.0

OVERALL RATING

  • Choose your own credit line - $200 to $2000 – based on your security deposit
  • Build your credit score.¹ Reports to all 3 credit bureaus
  • No minimum credit score required for approval!
  • ¹ Cardholders who keep their balance low and pay their credit card bill on time every month typically do see an increase in their credit score.
Intro (Purchases)
Intro (Transfers)
Regular APR
Annual Fee
Credit Needed
N/A
N/A
25.24% (V)
$29
Poor/Limited/No Credit

You will also provide your Social Security number. While this card does not have a minimum credit score, the issuer may still run a credit check. It will also want your financial information, including your net monthly income and estimated monthly expenses. You may also need to have a checking account to qualify for this card.

Examining the Benefits & Drawbacks

Like most secured credit cards, this card has several pros and cons. Here’s what to know about the card:

Benefits

    • Reports card activity to all three credit bureaus: When a card provider reports to all three credit bureaus, it means there’s a greater chance your credit score will improve with responsible card ownership.

    • Has a high credit limit: Many secured credit cards have low maximum credit limits, but this card allows for higher credit limits.

    • Available to those with no credit or poor credit: Even consumers who have never opened a loan or had a credit card may be eligible for this card.

Drawbacks

    • Annual fee: Cardholders will have to pay a $29 annual fee to use this card.

    • No special rate for purchases or balance transfers: This secured card does not have any special interest rate discounts for new purchases or balance transfers.

    • Not eligible for a higher credit limit: Some cards may provide you with a credit limit that is greater than your security deposit, but that doesn’t apply to this card.

Identify what you want and need out of a secured card and compare that to this card’s pros and cons. That will help you decide if it is the best choice.

Other Cards Worth Considering

Here are some other credit cards to consider if you feel the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card may not be the best option for you.

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 is a popular option for consumers hoping to improve their credit scores. The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card also reports activity to all three credit bureaus.

OpenSky claims to approve 88% of applications, so you can feel fairly confident that you’ll qualify for this card. However, there’s never a guarantee.

This card includes some cash back opportunities, but they are more complicated than what you find with traditional cash back credit cards. When you open the card, you can log on and see what cash back options are available. Then, you can shop at those retailers and receive cash back rewards. You may need to manually activate some cash back rewards from some merchants.

This card does come with an annual fee that is somewhat comparable to the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.

The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card includes a fairly high credit limit which can be helpful for borrowers who want to use this card for most of their daily transactions. However, the minimum security deposit is also higher than what other cards may require.

OpenSky also claims that you can open this card without a credit check, which can be useful if you have bad credit or no credit. Also, OpenSky does not require customers to have a checking account, which removes another barrier to entry.

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 is a popular secured card option — and for good reason. Most secured credit cards charge an annual fee, so that’s a major perk for this card. This card may also have a higher maximum credit limit than the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.

Also, after seven months of card ownership, Discover® may evaluate your account to see if you’re eligible for a card upgrade. If you are upgraded to an unsecured card, then Discover® will refund your security deposit.

One of the biggest benefits is that you can earn cash back. Most secured cards do not offer cash back, so this is one of the most unique aspects of this card.

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

What makes the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card stand out is that it does not always require that cardholders deposit the full amount for their credit limit. Instead, cardholders may be able to put down as little as $49 and still receive a $200 credit limit. This is a huge benefit that can save cardholders money that they can use for savings, bills, or debt payoff.

This card has a maximum credit limit of $1,000, which is lower than the credit limit for the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. The card also does not charge an annual fee, foreign transaction fees, authorized user fees, or replacement card fees.

After six months of card ownership, Capital One may evaluate your account to decide if you qualify for an upgrade to an unsecured card. If you are eligible for an upgrade, then the security deposit will be returned to you.

Capital One reports card activity to all three credit bureaus, so you’ll be able to build a solid credit history by using this card responsibly.

Cardholder Reviews Around the Web

Some consumers rate this card highly in online reviews, but other reviews aren’t so favorable.

Editor’s note: Some reviews have been edited for grammar and clarity.

FICO forum user mongstradamus rated this card highly, saying:

“I have the First Progress secured card [and] it’s not that bad, only thing is you have to deposit at least 300 if that matters to you … The other thing [I] would be careful about with first progress is when you push online to pay your bill sometimes it’s a bit slow, so [I] usually do it few days early, and it doesn’t always show up on their online account.”

But another cardholder, who also had a Capital One secured card, users who had a less than positive experience with First Progress.

CreditChallenged2022 writes:

“I had a secured card with [Capital One] and [First Progress] a few years ago. I went into default and ended up losing both cards, both deposits, and even though the balances were less than the deposits, it still shows as a charge-off on my reports. So no more secured cards for me.”

Online reviews for this particular card are scant, so you may need to rely on research and comparison to decide if this card can help your financial situation.

FAQs: What is the Card’s Credit Limit?

A card’s credit limit is the total amount that you can spend. The higher the credit limit, the more you can charge on the card.

The credit limit for the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card ranges from $200 and $2,000. This is a higher maximum limit than what many other secured cards offer.

The consumer is responsible for choosing the credit limit by deciding how much to put down as a deposit. Some secured credit cards allow customers to receive a higher credit limit than their deposit, which can save you money upfront.

Can I Get Approved for this Card with Bad Credit?

Bad credit is generally defined as a credit score of 580 or less. If you have bad credit, you should have an easier time getting approved for a secured credit card than an unsecured card. That’s still the case with this card.

According to the First Progress website, you only need to have poor, limited, or no credit to qualify for this card. Limited credit often refers to those who have a very recent credit history.

You may also qualify for this card if you have no credit, which is different from having bad credit. There’s no guaranteed approval if you have bad credit. You can also look for secured cards that cater to consumers who have bad credit.

Does Closing a Secured Card Hurt My Credit Score?

Most people don’t keep secured credit cards forever. A secured credit card is like a layover to good credit. It’s a tool to use for a certain period of time, and then you can close it and open an unsecured credit card instead.

However, any time you close a credit card, it can hurt your credit score. This can happen for several reasons. First, your total credit availability can decrease when you close an account. This may result in a higher credit utilization ratio, which makes up 30% of your credit score.

credit card utilization example table
Example of credit utilization calculated across three card accounts.

Your credit utilization ratio is your total credit balance divided by your total credit limit. Any time you open a credit card, your credit utilization ratio will decrease because you use a percentage of your credit limit.

Let’s say you have a secured card with a $500 credit limit and an unsecured card with a $1,000 credit limit. If you close the secured card, your total credit limit is now only $1,000. This can cause your credit utilization percentage to spike, especially if you have a large balance on the unsecured card.

Also, your credit account age may decrease when you close a card, especially if it’s one of your older cards. Credit age can make up 15% of your credit score. In this case, it may make sense to keep the secured credit card and not use it.

How Can the Card Help Me Build Credit?

Whether you have bad credit or no credit history, you can use a secured credit card to improve your credit score. Having good credit can help you qualify for lower interest rates and potentially save thousands — or even tens of thousands —  of dollars.

First, making your payments on time will build your payment history, which is the most important factor in your credit score. Payment history can make up 35% of your credit score and reflects that you pay your bills on time. If you have a record of making late payments, you can rectify that by paying your secured credit card bills on time.

Setting up automatic payments can help you avoid late payments. However, you should ensure that you have enough money in your bank account to cover your credit card bill. If you don’t, the payment may be denied, and you could be on the hook for extra fees.

First Progress reports your card activity to all three credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. These three bureaus operate independently, so information sent to one bureau is not shared with another. If a card issuer does not share activity with all three bureaus, you may not receive full credit for your consistent payment history.

Factors included in FICO and VantageScore credit scores
FICO and VantageScore are credit scoring models that heavily weight payment history.

Some secured credit card providers may only report activity to one or two credit bureaus. This means if you apply for a loan and the lender uses a credit score from a bureau that doesn’t have your secured card report, you may not qualify for the loan. That’s why the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a good option for those trying to build credit.

Another way to build credit with a secured card is to keep a low credit utilization ratio, especially since that is the second biggest factor behind your payment history.

To maintain a good credit score, you should have a credit utilization ratio under 30% or less. But if you want to build an excellent credit score, your credit utilization ratio should be 10% or less.

When you open a secured credit card, you need to monitor your credit utilization percentage carefully. That’s because most secured credit cards have a low credit limit, so it’s easy to rack up a high credit utilization ratio.

For example, let’s say you have a secured credit card with a $200 credit limit. If you have a $100 balance, then your credit utilization ratio is 50%. Your credit score may suffer if your credit utilization percentage is that high.

One way to manage credit utilization is to add a small recurring bill, such as a streaming service, on the secured card and pay off the card every month in full. That will help even more if you don’t only use the card for that small recurring bill.

Does This Card Upgrade to an Unsecured Version?

Many secured cards will upgrade you to an unsecured card, which means that your security deposit will be returned. Instead of having a secured card with a low credit limit, you may receive an unsecured card with a higher credit limit.

Unsecured cards often have lower interest rates and more perks, such as cash back rewards or lower annual fees.

Some card providers look at your account periodically to determine if you’re ready for an unsecured card. You can also call the issuer and ask them to review your account. It can often take at least six months of responsible card use before you can be considered for a card upgrade.

Unfortunately, First Progress does not seem to be one of these card issuers. The issuer states that the only way to get your security deposit back is to close the card. If you’re interested in upgrading to an unsecured card, you may want to pick a card provider that offers unsecured credit cards in addition to secured credit cards.

This Card May Be For You If…

    • If you need a credit card but have bad credit

    • If you want a secured card with a high credit limit

    • If you want to build your credit

If you don’t qualify for one of the alternative secured credit cards on this list, then this card is a decent option. However, you should be aware of some of the card’s drawbacks and that other secured cards could offer more rewards and fewer fees than the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.

About the Author

Zina Kumok
Zina Kumok Finance Expert

Zina Kumok is a personal finance writer, certified financial health counselor, and certified student loan counselor. She works as a money coach helping people one on one at ConsciousCoins.com. Her advice has been featured in Lifehacker, FoxBusiness, Time Magazine, Investopedia, Forbes, and several other major financial brands. She paid off $28,000 worth of student loans in three years. She's a three-time Plutus Awards finalist for Best Personal Finance Contributor and a three-time speaker at FinCon, the premier financial media conference.

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