This card is meant for people establishing credit for the first time or rebuilding credit after a financial mishap. You must apply in person at a branch, and open a savings account that will hold your security deposit, so you should live in the area where Commerce Bank branches are located (generally in the U.S. Midwest).
Because it's secured with a cash deposit in the amount of the credit line, the credit score requirements will not be as high as those of unsecured cards. However, Commerce Bank will evaluate your income and other factors in order to approve your application and determine your credit limit.
Commerce Bank periodically reviews secured card accounts, and over time, customers may qualify to move to an unsecured card. At that time, Commerce will send the customer an offer for a new, unsecured credit card if they qualify, and soon after return the deposit, plus interest, if any, after the secured card account is closed.
A few credit card perks
Relatively low APR and fees
Potential for a higher credit limit
High minimum deposit to activate
Annual and foreign transaction fees
- A few credit card perks: Because it’s a Visa card, you’ll have access to consumer benefits such as secondary rental car and cellphone insurance.
- Relatively low APR and fees: If you’re new to credit or having financial struggles, it’s good to know that you won’t get hammered if you carry a balance, or if you’re late with a payment. The purchase APR is lower than some other secured cards (although it’s still high, so try to pay your bill in full every month). The late payment fee is lower than most, and also there’s no penalty APR.
- Potential for a higher credit limit: You might qualify for a credit line of up to $5,000 on this card, which is more than many secured cards allow.
- High minimum deposit to activate: There are several secured credit cards that require a minimum deposit around $200 to start using the card. This card requires twice as much.
- Annual and foreign transaction fees: Many secured cards have these fees, but there are a few that do not. That’s worth considering as you shop around.
- No rewards: There are secured cards that allow you to earn rewards like cash back or points, but this is not one of them. You also won’t get a sign-up bonus or low introductory interest rate.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
This card lacks many of the benefits of unsecured credit cards—rewards programs or cash back—but used wisely, it can help you improve your credit score and put those other cards within reach. In fact, Commerce Bank will upgrade you to an unsecured card (and refund your deposit, plus interest), if you demonstrate wise use of credit.
The two factors most under your control are also the two biggest contributors to your credit score. These are payment history and amounts owed. Payment history is simply whether or not you make your minimum payments on time. Improving it is simple: Make your credit card minimum payments on time.
Amounts owed (also called “utilization ratio”) is how much of your available credit you have used. The less of your available credit you use, the higher your FICO score will be. Improving it is simple, too: Keep card balances as low as possible, month-to-month.
Do both, and in a short while, your credit score may begin to improve.
A higher credit limit can give you more leeway when it comes to credit utilization. That’s the amount of available credit you are using at any given time, and it’s important to your credit score. Lower utilization is better, and it’s easier to keep your utilization low when your limit is a few thousand dollars rather than a few hundred.
Commerce Bank Secured Visa Card’s Excellent Perks
It’s rare to find a secured credit card with a perk deemed “excellent” by the editors of The Balance, but this one has one.
- Cellphone coverage: If you pay your cellphone bill using your Commerce Bank Secured Visa card, you can be reimbursed up to $200 for theft or damage to your cell phone that is not covered by other insurance, including your other insurance’s deductible.
Commerce Bank Secured Visa Card’s Other Features
- Rental car collision insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Roadside assistance hotline
Commerce Bank provides telephone customer support during select business hours Monday through Friday and Saturdays. You can manage your account online or via Commerce Bank’s app.
The Commerce Bank Secured Visa has standard security features, including Visa’s “Zero Liability Policy,” meaning if fraud takes place on your card, you’re not responsible. Commerce does note, however, that you must notify the bank within 60 days of the fraudulent activity.
Commerce Bank Secured Visa’s Fees
The Commerce Bank Secured Visa has both an annual fee and foreign transaction fees, which is not unusual for secured cards. However, there are a handful of secured cards without them, particularly the annual fee. But other fees—including those for late and returned payments—do run lower, and there is no fee to transfer a balance or take a cash advance.