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Thursday, July 18, 2024

First Progress Platinum Prestige 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 Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

Our Rating 3.4 /5.0 ★★★

First Progress credit cards are aptly named as they cater to consumers who want to make progress toward improving their credit scores. The issuer, Synovus Bank, offers three similar secured cards that differ only slightly. All three are easy to get approved for, even if you have no credit, limited credit, or poor credit.

In this credit card review, I examine the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card and compare it to its two siblings. I’ll also review three competing secured cards for subprime credit. Regardless of your previous financial challenges, one of these cards may provide the support you need to rebuild your credit.

What to Know About the Card

      • Synovus Bank designed the card for credit-challenged consumers who want to earn cash back on all eligible purchases.

      • This secured card has a $49 annual fee and an initial credit limit between $200 and $2,000, equal to your security deposit.

      • It reports your activity to all three major credit bureaus, which is the most efficient way to rebuild credit.

      • The card has a 15.24% (V) APR for purchases, which is much lower than that of other secured cards from bigger banks.

    How to Qualify & Apply For the Card

    The online application form collects basic data about you and your financial situation. You also must provide your date of birth, Social Security number, and information on monthly income and expenses.

    You must be a US resident, at least 18 years old, with enough income to afford the monthly minimum payments to qualify for the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. And you can get the card regardless of your credit history. If you meet these criteria, you can access the application on the bank’s website by clicking Apply Now below:

    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 Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

    at First Progress'ssecure website

    BEST OVERALL RATING

    ★★★

    3.4

    OVERALL RATING

    • 1% Cash Back Rewards on payments
    • 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
    15.24% (V)
    $49
    Poor/Limited/No Credit

    The issuer won’t approve your application if you already have one of its cards or if you’ve applied for one in the past 30 days. If approved, you must activate the card when it arrives and submit the annual fee, which temporarily reduces your credit limit until you make a payment.

    Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

    The issuer designed the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card for those aiming to bolster their credit history. It is a secured card that offers cash back on purchases. This card aids credit building by reporting your information to all three major credit bureaus.

    While the card offers several benefits, you should also consider its drawbacks to make an informed decision.

    Benefits

      • 1% cash back on purchases: It rewards you with 1% cash back when you pay for your eligible purchases.

      • Accessible security deposit: The card requires a refundable security deposit as low as $200, which determines the credit limit.

      • Low interest rates: It boasts one of the lowest APRs available among secured credit cards, making it more affordable to carry a balance.

      • Straightforward application process: Offers an uncomplicated application process.

    Drawbacks

      • Annual fee: Carries a $49 annual fee, which offsets some of the rewards you earn through purchases.

      • Secured credit requirement: Requires a refundable security deposit to establish the credit line, which can be a barrier for individuals with limited upfront funds.

      • No unsecured transition: Lacks an automatic path to transition to an unsecured card, which means users must apply for a new card to move beyond this secured credit product.

      • Limited rewards program: While offering 1% cash back on purchases, the rewards program might not be as competitive as those found on some unsecured cards that cater to individuals with poor credit.

      • Higher APR on cash advances: Despite its lower purchase APR compared to some secured cards, cash advances often result in a higher APR that can lead to significant interest costs over time.

      • Potential for high utilization: Since secured cards often have lower credit limits, you risk having a high credit utilization ratio, which can negatively impact credit scores if you don’t repay balances in full each month.

    The issuer offers two more credit cards with different annual fees and APRs. I’ll compare all three later in the article. You’ll also want to consider the card’s leading competitors, which I review next.

    Other Cards Worth a Look

    Comparing competing secured credit cards helps you find the best fit for your financial situation. Each of the following secured cards offers a unique mix of fees, interest rates, rewards programs, and credit-building features.

    These reviews can help you decide card which card will provide the most favorable terms. Additionally, some secured cards come with a pathway to an unsecured credit line after a period of responsible use, a feature that First Progress credit cards lack.

    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 differs from the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card by offering a higher credit limit without an additional deposit. It also provides a path to an unsecured card after six months.

    The card’s annual fee is lower, although its APR is higher. It provides free FICO scores. Both cards have the same minimum deposit requirement and report your activity to the major credit bureaus. Neither requires a minimum credit score to apply.

    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

    As with the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card pays cash back rewards, but at a higher rate. They both lack a credit history requirement and have the same minimum security deposit, but only the Discover it® Secured Credit Card offers a route to an unsecured card.

    The Discover it® Secured Credit Card doesn’t charge an annual or foreign transaction fee and supports balance transfers, but its APR is much higher. Uniquely among secured cards, the Discover it® Secured Credit Card gives new cardmembers a one-time Cashback Match on the cash back posted during the first year of card ownership.

    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

    Only the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card allows you to establish a $200 credit line with a cash deposit as low as $49. It charges no annual fee, but its 29.99% (Variable) APR is the highest among the reviewed credit cards.

    The card does not provide rewards but does allow you to earn a higher credit limit without an additional deposit or a full deposit refund in as few as six months. You can prequalify for the card without a hard credit pull, and it supports balance transfers.

    Cardholder Reviews on Reddit

    Reddit user AmandaGuadalupe likes the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card:

    “I received mine quickly, within ten days. During the first two months that I used it, it seemed like it took a while for the money to [reduce my open balance] to the card after I paid it. So if I paid my balance down, it would take a week for the money to [be credited]. After my second month with the card, I got my money [credited] the next day! I really do love it a lot. It’s very simple, but it’s already improved my score quite a bit!”

    However, aWayCup has a decidedly different opinion:

    “I can tolerate a glitchy website or even a long wait time. I can’t tolerate being charged a late fee two times in a row when my bank statement shows both payments being sent to them more than ten days prior to the due date. On top of that, I can’t use my card anywhere. Now I get to write a cancellation letter and hope my funds don’t get lost in the mail over the next 10 weeks. Stay away from First Progress Cards!”

    Many other cardowners complained about unwarranted late fees and other issues related to customer service.

    FAQs: What are the Deposit Requirements?

    As stated in its cardholder agreement, the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card requires an initial security deposit of at least $200 and no more than $2,000 to establish a credit limit of the same amount. Your deposit resides in an insured, non-interest-bearing account at Synovus Bank.

    Your initially available credit line will be equal to your initial credit limit less the $49 annual fee. For example, if your initial credit limit is $200, your initially available credit would be $151. Your available credit will be $200 once you pay the annual fee.

    Over time, you can request permission to increase your deposit (and credit limit) to as much as $5,000. If you’re under the age of 21 and applied with a cosigner, the cosigner must sign a written statement approving the increase and taking responsibility for repayment of the increase.

    The card issuer may increase your credit limit without requiring you to add to the deposit account. Any increases in your credit limit require credit approval. The issuer will refund your deposit, less the unpaid balance and fees (if any), if you close the account.

    How Does the Card’s Cash Back Work?

    You earn 1% cash back for eligible purchases on the card. The card denominates the cash back rewards in points and applies them as statement credits. Rewards points have no cash value, and you can’t redeem them for cash or any other goods, services, or merchandise.

    First Progress card features
    Cardholders enjoy benefits including the ability to earn rewards.

    You can redeem your rewards online or through the mobile app in 500-point increments. Each redemption of 500 points will result in a $5 statement credit to your account. The card places no limit on the number of reward points you may redeem within a billing cycle.

    The reward points you redeem as statement credits do not reduce the minimum amount you must pay each month. You must remit at least the total minimum payment due each month without applying statement credits to your account from reward points redemptions.

    Rewards points do not expire, but you’ll forfeit your unredeemed rewards points if your account closes for any reason. You may view your current rewards points balance by accessing your account online or on the First Progress mobile app.

    What Happens If I Can’t Pay the Bill?

    The card’s grace period, which defines when your payment is due, is at least 25 days after the close of each billing cycle. The card will not charge you any Interest on purchases if you pay your entire balance by the due date each month. You must remit at least the monthly minimum amount due, which is typically 5% of your balance.

    If you are unable to pay the minimum amount, Synovus Bank may take several actions, reflecting standard practices for secured credit card accounts. It’s important to understand these potential consequences:

      • Late fees: Initially, if you miss a payment, Synovus Bank will charge you a late fee. You can find the specific amount in the credit card disclosures.

      • Security deposit: Because it issued a secured card, Synovus Bank holds the security deposit that you provided when opening the account. The bank may use this deposit to cover your debt if you fail to make payments. You are still responsible for the remainder if your outstanding balance exceeds the deposit amount.

      • Credit report impact: Synovus Bank reports account activity to credit bureaus. A missed payment that is more than 30 days overdue can lead to a negative report, which will harm your credit score. This impact can last for up to seven years, possibly making it more difficult or expensive to obtain credit in the future.

      • Collection activities: The bank may initiate collection activities if your balance exceeds the deposit amount and the account remains delinquent. This response can include internal collection efforts or hiring a third-party collection agency to recover the debt. You should try to avoid this step because collection agencies usually report their activities to the credit bureaus, which can further damage your credit.

      • Account closure: Continued non-payment can cause the bank to close your credit card account. This action can also harm your credit score, particularly your credit utilization ratio (i.e., the amount of credit used compared to your credit limit), since it reduces the credit available.

      • Legal action: In extreme cases, the bank may pursue legal action to recover the outstanding debt, which could lead to garnishment of your wages or other legal judgments against you.

    To minimize the damage from being unable to pay your secured credit card bill, you need to be proactive and communicate openly with the bank. Here are key steps you can take:

      • Contact the issuer immediately: Contact Synovus Bank as soon as you realize you’re having trouble making a payment. Many banks are willing to collaborate with customers facing financial difficulties. They may offer solutions such as payment plans or temporary forbearance.

      • Seek financial counseling: Nonprofit credit counseling agencies can provide valuable advice on managing debt and may help you negotiate with creditors, including creating a debt management plan.

      • Consider debt consolidation: Consolidating multiple debts into a single loan with a lower interest rate can simplify payments and reduce costs. You may want to explore sources for subprime personal loans, perhaps with the assistance of a credit counselor. A personal loan has a fixed monthly payment and can spread your payments over five or more years.

      • Explore hardship programs: Many creditors, including Synovus Bank, offer hardship programs for customers facing temporary financial challenges. These programs may lower interest rates, waive fees, or allow smaller payments for a period.

      • Debt settlement: This process involves negotiating with creditors to allow you to pay a lump sum that is less than the full amount you owe to settle the debt. Debt settlement companies often advise you to stop paying your creditors while they negotiate on your behalf, which can harm your credit score. It’s crucial to understand the risks and costs you may face.

      • Legal advice: Consult with a legal professional if you’re considering bankruptcy or facing legal action. Bankruptcy may be an option to discharge certain debts, but it does long-term damage to your credit score and your ability to obtain credit. It also might not apply to secured debts.

      • Monitor your credit reports: Regularly check your credit reports to understand the impact of your financial actions and to ensure the reporting is accurate. You can dispute any inaccuracies that may negatively affect your credit score, either on your own or via a credit repair agency.

    Taking these steps won’t eliminate your debt overnight, but they can help you manage the situation more effectively. Your goal is to minimize the impact on your credit score and set out on a path to financial recovery.

    Who Issues the Card?

    The card issuer, Synovus, is a top-performing midcap bank with more than $61 billion in assets. Its headquarters are in Columbus, Georgia, and its roots extend back to 1888. Forbes has named it one of the Best Banks in America.

    The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has accredited Synovus Bank and assigned it an A+ rating. Approximately 62% of Trustpilot customer reviews assigned the bank a one- or two-star rating.

    Can the Card Help Me Rebuild My Credit?

    Rebuilding credit is an essential step towards financial stability and access to a better lifestyle. A positive credit history can open doors to lower interest rates, better loan terms, and increased borrowing power. The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card can help you rebuild credit through various features, including the following:

      • Reporting to major credit bureaus: The card regularly reports your credit activity to the three major credit bureaus, which is the most efficient way to build a positive payment history.

      • Credit limit based on deposit: It offers a credit limit equal to your security deposit, which can help you manage spending and reduce the risk of going into debt.

      • Relatively moderate annual fee: A $49 annual fee keeps costs down, making it easier to focus on paying balances and rebuilding credit. The other two First Progress secured cards have lower annual fees.

      • Flexible credit requirements: The issuer accepts applicants with bad or no credit history, providing an opportunity for anyone to establish creditworthiness.

      • Access to credit monitoring: This enables you to track your FICO score improvements and understand the consequences of your credit-related behavior.

    The card offers a practical pathway to rebuild your credit. By promoting responsible credit use and providing tools for monitoring credit growth, this card can help you achieve a brighter financial future.

    How Does the Card Compare to the Elite and Select Versions?

    The three First Progress secured cards are identical except for their APRs, annual fees, and rewards. These trade-offs highlight a strategic balance between immediate costs and long-term benefits. A lower APR reduces the cost of carrying a balance, making it appealing if you do not pay your balance in full each month.

    Conversely, the value of the lower APRs associated with the higher annual fees depends on how often you use the card and whether the 1% cash back from two of the cards will offset this cost. You’ll probably prefer lower annual fees over smaller APRs if you’re confident you can pay your entire balance each month.

    FEATURE First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
    APR for Purchases 15.24% (V) 19.24% (V) 25.24% (V)
    Annual Fee $49 $39 $29
    Rewards 1% Cash Back 1% Cash Back None

    The First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is an attractive middle ground if you think you will carry a balance infrequently. Selecting the right card involves evaluating your financial habits, the importance of saving on interest versus paying annual fees, and the value you assign to cash back rewards. And remember, the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card doesn’t pay any rewards.

    This Card May Be For You If…

      • You’re seeking to rebuild or establish your credit history: The card reports to all three major credit bureaus, helping you develop a better credit profile with responsible use.

      • You prefer a lower APR on purchases: With one of the lower APRs available for a secured card, the card is an excellent choice if you often carry a balance.

      • You’re looking for a straightforward rewards program: Despite the annual fee, the 1% cash back it offers on purchases provides an opportunity to earn rewards whenever you spend, which is not always available with secured credit cards.

    The First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card offers a mix of a moderate APR, credit-building potential, and rewards, making it a noteworthy option if you are on the path to financial recovery. Comparing it with other secured credit cards is crucial to ensure you pick a card that fits your financial rebuilding strategy and offers features that match your spending habits.

    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