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Saturday, May 18, 2024

First Progress Platinum 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: 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 Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

Rated 2.7 /5.0 ★★★

A secured credit card provides a great introduction, or re-introduction, to the world of credit-building and financial security. But selecting the right secured option can be challenging.

Synovus Bank issues three versions of its First Progress secured credit cards. They differ only in their annual fees and APRs. The First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card occupies the middle slot, and its annual fee and interest rate lie between those of its two counterparts.

In this article, I’ll review this card and three similar competitors. All of them provide access to credit for consumers with bad, limited, or no credit. One of these cards may offer a practical solution if you need to establish or rebuild your credit profile.

Main Points and Observations

    • This secured credit card has a $39 annual fee and a 19.24% (V) APR.

    • The minimum refundable deposit to get the card is $200.

    • You could qualify for the card even with poor or no credit history.

    • You receive reward points worth 1% cash back when you pay for eligible purchases.

The First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card offers cash back rewards, but its benefits are otherwise minimal. If you acquire this card, your goal likely involves establishing or improving your credit history. Anticipate only fundamental features with this card. Once you build a fair or better credit score, you’ll qualify for superior credit cards with more benefits.

How to Qualify & Apply For the Card

Applying online for the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a cinch. Below is a summary of the card’s details and information on how to access the application form at the bank’s website.

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First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card Review

at First Progress'ssecure website

BEST OVERALL RATING

★★★

2.7

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
19.24% (V)
$39
Poor/Limited/No Credit

Complete the application by entering your personal and financial details, including your name, contact information, Social Security number, date of birth, and monthly income and expenses.

You need to be a US resident, age 18 or over, and may be ineligible if you recently responded to a First Progress secured card offer or were approved for another Synovus card within the last 30 days. Post-approval, you must send a minimum security deposit of $200 to finalize the process.

Your card will arrive within seven to 10 days. After that, you can activate it online using your card number, the last four digits of your Social Security number, and registered phone number.

Benefits & Drawbacks to Consider

Evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of a secured credit card is essential to understanding your financial obligations, such as the necessary security deposit and yearly fee. This assessment helps you determine whether the card’s potential for credit improvement and additional benefits justify its expenses.

Benefits

    • Credit enhancement: Timely payments and responsible use can help build or rebuild your credit, as the card reports to all three major credit bureaus.

    • Availability: This card is relatively easy to obtain, even with a poor credit score or limited credit history, thanks to the security deposit that reduces the issuer’s risk.

    • Comparable features: A secured card provides similar benefits to unsecured cards for those with inferior credit. These include widespread acceptance, fraud protection, and the ability to make various transactions.

    • Rewards: You receive 1% cash back when you pay for the purchases you make with the card.

    • Progression opportunity: Responsible use can qualify you for unsecured cards with better terms, such as higher credit limits and no security deposits. However, this card doesn’t provide a direct upgrade route.

Drawbacks

    • Annual fee: The card carries a $39 annual fee, which may be more than you want to pay.

    • Interest rate: It has a 19.24% (V) APR on purchases. However, you can avoid it by paying your entire balance each billing cycle.

    • Foreign transaction fee: This fee adds to the cost of using the card abroad.

    • Cash advance costs: The card’s charges for cash advances are significant and include both transaction fees and a higher APR.

    • Limited perks: Compared to other cards, it offers fewer rewards and benefits and lacks a clear upgrade path to an unsecured card.

These drawbacks underscore the need to assess competing credit cards thoroughly. By comparing assorted options, you can identify the most suitable credit card for your requirements.

Other Cards Worth a Look

These three secured cards help you establish or rebuild credit. They demand low minimum deposits and feature low or no annual fees, and all are accessible even with imperfect 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 stands out from the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card by offering flexibility in funding your security deposit and allowing you to select your monthly payment date.

This card has an average approval rate of 88% without requiring a credit check. It charges a $35 annual fee, yet its higher APR reduces its competitive edge.

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 sets itself apart from the First Progress card with a rewards program that offers bonus cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. You get unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases.

In addition, Cashback Match doubles the cash back new cardmembers post in the first year by matching it after the year ends. Another notable feature is Discover’s® automatic review of your account after seven months to evaluate if you qualify for an unsecured card and a deposit refund.

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 provides a $200 credit line for a deposit starting at $49, due immediately. Unlike the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card, this card does not pay rewards.

Although the card has no annual fee, its drawback is its high APR. It features a clear six-month path to an unsecured card as long as you make timely bill payments every month.

Cardholder Reviews From Reddit

Generally, customer reviewers give little love to the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. After reading a cross-section of cardowner remarks, you may feel less inclined toward getting the card.

For example, aWayCup issues a stark warning:

”I can tolerate a glitchy website or even a long wait time. However, 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. I also need help using my card. Now, I get to write a cancellation letter and hope my funds are noticed in the mail over the next 10 weeks. Stay away from First Progress Cards!”

On the other hand, AmandaGuadalupe is a supporter:

I received mine quickly, within ten days. During the first two months I used it, it took a while for the money to be returned to the card after I had paid it. If I paid my balance down, it would take a week for the funds to be returned. After my second month with the card, I got my money returned the next day! I really do love it a lot. It’s very simple, but it’s already improved my score quite a bit!

​One problem that consumers frequently mention concerns making online payments. It seems that First Progress only accepted checks at one point. But that’s no longer the case, and you can make payments online or through the card’s mobile app.

FAQs: What Is the Card’s Minimum and Maximum Deposit?

The minimum initial deposit is $200, but can be as high as $2,000. Your first statement will show a $39 deduction for the annual fee from your credit.

For example, with a minimum $200 deposit, you start with $161 of available credit, which resets to $200 after paying the annual fee. This process recurs annually when the card charges the fee.

How Do the Card’s Rewards Work?

You earn 1% cash back as a statement credit from rewards points on qualified purchases. You can redeem points solely for statement credits against your account balance. The points hold no cash value, and you cannot exchange them for cash, goods, services, or merchandise.

You can redeem your rewards in 500-point increments online, through the mobile app, or by phone. Points cannot cover your monthly minimum payment. While reward points do not expire, closing the account results in the loss of any unredeemed points.

Is the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card a Good Credit Card?

Three factors set the context for judging whether the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a good card: The card’s efficiency, its relationship to its two counterparts, and the legitimacy of its issuer, Synovus Bank.

The Card’s Effectiveness

The card has a small annual fee and a relatively low APR. In return, you get easy approval, 1% cash back, and reporting to all three credit bureaus. As to whether that makes for a good card, I’d say the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is good enough. It is a very basic card, but can be effective for establishing or rebuilding your credit.

As a genuine Mastercard®, the card enjoys global merchant acceptance. You can use it anywhere that accepts Mastercard®, similar to cards from large, reputable financial institutions but with an emphasis on credit improvement.

The First Progress Card Trio

The next factor for judging the card’s merit is how it compares to its two siblings. The trio of First Progress cards from Synovus Bank differ only in their APRs and annual fees. The following chart illustrates these differences:

CARD APR ANNUAL FEE
First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card 19.24% (V) $39
First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card 15.24% (V) $49
First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card 25.24% (V) $29

Your choice among the three First Progress secured credit cards will depend on your financial situation. Here’s a detailed look at why you might pick each one:

    • First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card: This card has a moderate annual fee and APR. It’s good if you want a balance between what you pay every year and the interest rate.

In short, pick the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card for balanced costs, First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card to save on interest, and First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card to save on annual fees.

The Card Issuer’s Credibility

Synovus Bank is the card’s issuer. It is a top-performing midcap bank with more than $61 billion in assets. Forbes has named It one of the Best Banks in America.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has accredited Synovus Bank, the issuer of the card, awarding it an A+ rating. Despite its 136-year history and FDIC insurance, customer reviews on BBB are generally unfavorable. Trustpilot rates Synovus as Poor, with around 60% of customers giving it a one-star rating.

I see no evidence to doubt the issuer’s legitimacy. With its long-standing operation, lack of federal legal issues, and reporting to the three major credit bureaus, Synovus Bank maintains credibility.

Does First Progress Ever Increase Your Credit Limit?

You have two ways to get a higher credit limit on a First Progress secured card. The first is for you to increase the size of your security deposit.

The maximum initial amount is $2,000, and the maximum credit limit is $5,000. Synovus must preapprove any addition to your security deposit.

The second path to a higher credit limit is for the issuer to increase it without requiring you to add to your deposit. Synovus may take this optional step if you establish a flawless payment record and keep your unpaid balances low.

How Much Will a Secured Credit Card Raise My Score?

Getting a secured credit card can populate your credit reports with new, positive data. However, you must pay your bills on time and maintain a relatively low credit utilization ratio (i.e., below 30%) to see a significant score increase.

credit utilization ratio example
Maintaining a low credit utilization ratio can improve your credit score.

The boost to your credit score depends on several factors, including the card’s reporting practices, how often you use the card, and its credit limit.

Some may see an increase of 10 to 30 points within a few months, while others may experience a more meaningful change, especially if they have little to no credit history. To maximize the secured card’s positive effect on your credit score, you must manage it responsibly by keeping balances low and making payments on time.

Over time, you may achieve good or excellent credit. However, this can take several years to accomplish if you currently have a low credit score.

Can I Be Denied a Secured Credit Card?

An issuer can indeed reject your application for a secured credit card. Although these cards are typically quite accessible, particularly for those with no credit history or those rebuilding credit, issuers can still turn down applications for several reasons.

Factors leading to denial can include bankruptcy history, an extremely poor credit score, failing to meet the issuer’s criteria, including age, residency, possession of a Social Security number, or having past defaults with the issuer. Each issuer sets unique approval standards, so you should understand these and explore different credit card options.

This Card May Be For You If…

    • You are building or rebuilding credit: You want to create a credit history or rebuild your credit score using an easy-to-get secured card.

    • You prefer a low-security deposit: The initial upfront deposit starts at $200.

    • Earning rewards on payments: You want to collect cash back rewards when you pay for your purchases.

You might enjoy the First Progress Platinum Select Mastercard® Secured Credit Card because it gives you cash back, but it’s a pretty simple offering otherwise. Research the three other cards we covered in this article, and also check out some other top cards to find the best one for you. Pay attention to what each card offers, how much it costs, its rules, and if you can get a better card later.

Getting a better card, or graduating to an unsecured card, is an important aspect. It helps you show you’re good with money, can pay on time, and use less credit than you have access to. This is a net positive for your credit score and can get you better deals on loans and cards in the future. Plus, you get your deposit back, so you have more money to spend on other things.

When selecting a secured card, choose one that allows you to upgrade to a better card later. First Progress cards don’t offer this, so keep that in mind. Picking the right card can help improve your credit score and financial situation.

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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