Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Prioritizes sticking to their budget while buying what they want and need See more cards
Attacks existing balances while avoiding new debt See more cards
Takes improving their finances seriously and wants recognition for using credit responsibly See more cards
If you have bad credit and need help getting back on track, a secured credit card is a great place to start. Secured credit cards require a security deposit that generally acts as your credit line. The Merrick Bank Double Your Line Visa credit card works the same way, except your initial deposit and credit line are set at $200. One standout feature, however, is that your credit limit will double to $400 after you make at least the minimum payment for each of the first seven months after opening an account.
If you only qualify for a card that carries high fees, you’re probably better off with a secured credit card. Although you’ll have to provide a security deposit upfront, the deposit is refundable (unlike fees) and there are many secured cards that don’t charge an annual fee. Typically the credit line is equal to your deposit, but you may be able to get one with a $200 limit by depositing as little as $49.
Potential to double your credit limit quickly
Free access to your FICO score
Can't increase credit line with bigger deposit
- Potential to double your credit limit quickly: Everyone loves to be rewarded for good behavior, and it can be a pain to have a low credit line. If you make at least the minimum payment each of the first seven months after opening your account, your credit line will double from $200 to $400.
- Free access to your FICO score: Free credit scores have become a ubiquitous benefit on mainstream cards, but aren’t nearly as common on cards for consumers with bad credit, oddly enough. Plus, some card issuers offer scores that are less widely used by lenders, such as the VantageScore. The FICO score is the most popular score with lenders and is particularly good to monitor as you rebuild your credit.
- Annual fee: It is very possible to find a secured credit card with no annual fee, so at $36 per year, the Double Your Line card be seen as costly—especially because it doesn't offer rewards.
- Can't increase credit line with a bigger deposit: For most secured credit cards, your initial credit limit will be equal to the amount you put down for your secured deposit. Some companies even let you add money after your initial deposit to increase your credit limit. Neither of these applies to the Double Your Line card; the $200 deposit and initial credit limit are fixed.
How to Get the Most out of This Card
Chances are you have a poor credit score if you’re looking at this card. If so, make sure to pay your bills on time, month in and month out. It’s the best thing you can do to rehabilitate your credit. That’s partly because payment behavior is the single biggest factor in a FICO credit score calculation, making up 35% of your credit score. Plus, if you pay on time, you’re likely to get that higher credit limit—giving you more wiggle room and improving your credit utilization ratio. (Scoring systems like to see that you’re using less than 30% of your available credit.)
You should also aim to pay your balance in full, if at all possible. Interest charges can balloon your credit card debt, increasing your chances of falling further behind.
While this card may wind up being quite expensive, you can do worse. Many other cards for people with bad credit profiles have yet another type of onerous fee you should aim to avoid: a monthly maintenance fee. This fee is commonly $6.25 or more, adding to your financial burden at an annual cost of at least $75.
Merrick Bank offers 24/7 customer support by phone, and a mobile banking app that you can use to check your balance, pay bills, and get your free credit score.
The Double Your Line Visa card offers standard security features.
Fees to Watch out For
The Double Your Line Visa Card doesn't have an account set-up fee, but it does have a $36 annual fee. The first year, this fee is billed at once; after that, it's billed at $3 per month. The card also charges 2% for foreign transactions and $40 for late payment fees.