The Merrick Bank Secured Visa Card gives people with imperfect credit more spending power than many secured cards, with the ability to secure an initial credit limit as high as $3,000 and then fund a limit as high as $5,000 over time. This is an appealing feature for cardholders who want to charge bigger ticket purchases, such as plane tickets, without worrying about bumping up against their limit.
However, a $36 annual fee and no chance to earn rewards on purchases make this secured card less appealing than competing cards with rewards and no annual fee. If you’re a new borrower with a modest budget, you may want to choose a secured card with no annual fee to help you build your credit history.
High credit limit
Bank account not required to apply
Complimentary access to FICO score
High annual fee
- High credit limit: Right off the bat, you can have a credit limit as high as $3,000, as long as you supply an equal deposit. Not only can this be useful if you plan to use your card regularly, but a higher limit can help you build your credit score. (Lenders like to see a nice cushion between your available credit and how much you owe.) Many secured cards, by contrast, cap credit limits at $1,000 to $2,500.
- Bank account not required to apply: It’s always great when a credit card has fewer rules and restrictions, but it’s especially nice for a secured card. Unlike some secured cards, Merrick Bank doesn’t require applicants to have a savings or checking account before they apply.
- Complimentary access to FICO score: Merrick Bank offers all cardholders complimentary credit-score access, which isn’t standard among issuers of secured cards. Regularly checking your score may help motivate you to treat your credit with care.
- High annual fee: The $36 annual fee isn’t the highest we’ve seen on a secured card, but many charge less, or none at all.
- No rewards: Although it’s unusual for a secured card to offer rewards, it’s still disappointing not to be able to earn cash back, miles, or points. If you get one of the few secured cards with a modest rewards program, you can learn the basics of how rewards work to prepare you for future, non-secured cards.
The Merrick Bank Secured Visa is not available to residents of Wisconsin.
How to Get the Most Out of This Card
A secured card typically has a credit limit equal to the amount you’ve deposited as security. So, in the case of the Merrick Bank Secured Visa Card, you’ll be allowed to charge as much as your credit limit: between $200 and $3,000.
What happens after that is almost more important, though. Merrick Bank will automatically and regularly review your account to see if you’re eligible for a credit line increase that doesn’t require an additional deposit.
It's crucial that you form good payment habits and stick with them: Always pay your bill on time, and if at all possible, in full. Checking your FICO score every month can help keep you motivated to stay on track as you rebuild your credit.
Credit scoring systems look favorably on people who use no more than 30% of their available credit. So as your credit limit grows, it should become much easier for you to stick to your goal of using up less of your credit. Beware, though: Don’t get caught up in using more of your credit limit just because you have extra space on your card. Not only could it lower your credit score, but if you can’t pay the balance off on the due date, you’ll pay interest, too.
Merrick Bank offers customer support by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It also has a mobile banking app that you can use to check your credit score or pay your credit card bills.
The Merrick Bank Secured Visa Card offers standard security features, including account alerts and zero liability for fraudulent purchases.
Fees to Watch Out For
While there are secured card options with no annual fee, this one charges $36. The fee for new applicants is deducted from their deposit, and after the first year, charged at $3 a month. Otherwise, the fees for this card are relatively standard. It’s worth noting that you will have to pay a foreign transaction fee if you make purchases in other currencies. (Although at 2% of the purchase amount, it’s lower than some card issuers charge.)