The First Access Visa Card offers those with poor credit a chance to build or rebuild their creditworthiness without paying a security deposit. But it charges unreasonable fees to do so, and you should avoid the card if you can. Try putting the money you would have used on the First Access Visa Card’s fees towards a deposit on a secured card instead.

ALSO READ: CardCruncher’s Complete Guide to Improving Your Credit Score

First Access Visa Card Review

Here are the highlights of the First Access Visa Card:

  • Annual Fee:
    • $75 for the first year
    • $48 for each year afterwards
  • Monthly Fee:
    • None in the first year
    • $6.25 ($75 per year) starting in the 13th month
  • APR: 29.99%
  • Sign-Up Bonus: None
  • Benefits:
    • Get a lending decision in as little as 60 seconds
    • Qualify with poor or no credit
    • Start building your credit with reports to all three credit bureaus
  • Minimum Payment: $38
  • Other Fees:
    • $89 program fee upon approval
    • Up to $38 for late payments
    • Up to $38 for returned payments
    • $29 per year for additional cards
    • The greater of $5 or 5% for cash advances after the first year

Why to Apply for the First Access Visa Card

The First Access Visa Card charges some hefty fees, but you might be tempted to apply for it for a few reasons.

You have poor or no credit and want to start building your credit score. The First Access Visa Card is targeted at consumers who need to repair their credit. It offers a nearly immediate application decision and accepts individuals even if they don’t have much of a credit history. You start out with a $300 credit limit, and the card issuer reports to all three of the major credit bureaus. If you make regular, on-time payments on your First Access Visa Card, odds are your credit score will improve over time.

You can’t afford to put down a deposit on a secured credit card. Secured credit cards are another type of card designed for people with poor credit. To qualify for a secured card, you have to put down a security deposit equal to your credit limit. This means the lender takes on no risk, but you still get access to credit. Not everyone can afford to pay a few hundred dollars upfront, though. So, while the First Access Visa Card’s fees aren’t ideal, they might be more manageable than a large deposit.

First Access Visa Card: Drawbacks and Downsides

The First Access Visa Card is a poor choice for most consumers due to its large downsides.

You’ll pay a lot just to own the card. If you are approved for the First Access Visa Card, you will have to pay an $89 one-time program fee. You’ll also have the annual fee of $75 immediately taken out of your credit line. That means you’ll have to pay $164 just to get the card. Once you’ve had the card for a year, the annual fee drops to just $48, but you’ll start incurring a $6.25 monthly fee. That makes the effective annual fee for the second year onward $123. If you keep the card for just two years, you’ll pay $287 in fees. That’s as much as you’d pay for a premium travel card — and you’re not earning rewards.

Carrying a balance will cost you. The First Access Visa Card has a 29.99% APR that could cost you hundreds of dollars if you wind up carrying a balance. If you build up a $200 balance and only make the $38 minimum payment each month, it will take you six months to pay off the debt and you’ll wind up paying an extra $20 in interest. That’s before factoring in the monthly fee you may be charged.

You won’t earn rewards. Many credit cards offer as much as 5% cash back on purchases in certain categories. Even some secured cards offer as much as 2% back on purchases. The First Access Visa Card’s complete lack of rewards just compounds the pain of paying its hefty fees. You won’t be able to earn any rewards that you can put towards covering the fee.

First Access Visa Card Alternatives

People with poor credit might have trouble qualifying for most cards, but there are still a number of worthy options out there.

If you want rewards and can handle a security deposit, consider the Discover it Secured Credit Card. It doesn’t charge any monthly or annual fees, letting you put the money you would have spent on the First Access Visa Card’s fees towards your security deposit. Because the card only requires a $200 deposit to get the minimum $200 credit line, putting the money you would have put towards the First Access Visa Card’s fees will get you very close to the amount you need. If you provide a larger deposit, you can get a larger credit limit. The Discover It Secured Card also has a lower APR than the First Access Visa at 24.49%.

Once you have the card, you’ll earn 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations, and 1% back everywhere else. As a bonus, you’ll earn double rewards for the first year you have the card. Once you’ve had the card for eight months, Discover will regularly review your account to see if it is eligible for an upgrade to an unsecured card.

If you want an unsecured card with lower fees, the Indigo Platinum MasterCard might be a good choice. There are four flavors of the card, each with a different annual fee. You’ll wind up paying either $0, $59, $75, or $99, depending on which card you qualify for. The worse your credit is, the higher the fee you will pay. The good news is that there is no program fee or monthly fee, so you don’t have to worry about paying hundreds of dollars just to get the credit card. You’ll also pay less in interest thanks to the card’s 23.9% interest rate. Unfortunately, this card does not offer rewards.

Bottom Line: Should You Apply for the First Access Visa Card?

The First Access Visa Credit Card should be avoided unless you truly have no other options available to you. Its fees are unreasonable and there are many other ways to start rebuilding your credit without paying hundreds of dollars in fees. You’ll be better off taking the money you would put towards the First Access Visa Card’s fees and use it to make a deposit on a secured card.

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