The Secured Visa from Merrick Bank 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 over time, as high as $10,000. 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 some on the market. 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
Free 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.
- Free access to FICO score: Merrick Bank offers all cardholders free access to their credit scores, 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.
- Higher APR: While this card’s APR is lower than many found on secured cards without annual fees, it’s higher than the rates offered by several cards with comparable fees.
- 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, it can make owning a credit card more fun, not to mention lucrative.
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 this case, once you make an initial deposit of $200 to $3,000, you’ll be allowed to charge the equivalent to your card.
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.
That’s why 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 free FICO score every month can help keep you motivated to stay on track as you rebuild your credit.
Over time, you may be able to increase the credit limit on this card to as high as $10,000, potentially helping to improve your credit score. Scoring systems look favorably on people who use no more than 30% of their available credit (the less, the better). So as long as you don’t come close to maxing your card out, a limit this high may be just the cushion you need.
Merrick Bank offers customer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week, though there are no chat services through its website. It also has a mobile banking app that you can use to check your credit score or pay your credit card bills.
The Secured Visa from Merrick Bank offers standard security features.
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.)