First Access Card Review: An Expensive Card with Limited Purchasing PowerCredit Cards for Bad Credit
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- First Access Card
- Basics: Designed for bad or limited credit applicants, the First Access Visa is expensive, offers low credit limits and may not be the best way to build or rebuild credit.
- Pros: Even with bad credit, you can be approved for the First Access Card in as little as 60 seconds with an online application. The First Access is accepted anywhere Visa is, and is unsecured.
- Cons: The First Access APR is high, even compared to other similar cards for people with bad credit. The First Access has several other fees associated with use, and initial credit limits are low.
- WELCOME OFFER
- ANNUAL FEE
$75 for the first year, and $48 after that
- REWARDS RATE
If you have bad credit or limited credit, getting a credit card and then making monthly payments is one of the best ways to improve your score. It can be challenging, however, to gain approval for a card. The First Access Card is geared toward applicants with no credit or bad credit, who want to build their history.
The First Access Card is issued by The Bank of Missouri. As a Visa card, you can use it anywhere Visa is accepted in the United States, including retailers and ATMs. The First Access card can’t be used to make purchases with merchants outside of the United States, for gambling or at automated fuel pumps.
After applying online, you may be approved within 60 seconds and issued a card by mail.
The First Access card is unsecured, meaning you aren’t required to pay a deposit. There is a one-time $95 program you have to pay for activation. The initial credit limit is only $300. The annual fee is billed right away and is $75 for the first year, further eroding your purchasing power with this card.
There are better ways to build or rebuild credit in many cases. For example, if you have a specific expense, an emergency loan may be cheaper that the First Access. If you want a card for credit-building, a secured card may be cheaper.
First Access Card Benefits
While limited in overall offerings, with no associated rewards or perks, there are a few
benefits of the First Access card.
The primary benefit of the First Access card is the ease of approval. Most consumers will
be approved for the card, even with poor credit. You can apply online and receive a decision in around a minute.
Anywhere Visa is accepted, the First Access card is accepted. If you want to make purchases online, for example, and you don’t have the credit history for another card, First Access may be an option. You can also use the First Access at ATMs for cash advances, although as with other credit cards, they are expensive after the first year.
It’s tough to build or rebuild your credit because you may not be approved for many financial products.
The First Access card is a good way to build your credit. Since the credit limit is low, it may help you better manage your spending. Then, your on-time payments are reported by the First Access issuing company to all three major credit bureaus each month.
If you only use cash or a debit card, you’re not building your credit history as you are when using a credit card.
The First Access card is unsecured, meaning you don’t pay an upfront security deposit upon approval. With secured cards, the deposit you pay reflects your credit limit. You may not have the cash for a secured card right now so an unsecured card for poor credit may be a better alternative.
There is a one-time $95 program fee required for activation, even though First Access isn’t a secured card.
First Access Card Fees
There are numerous fees attached to the First Access card. It’s important to be aware of all of these before accepting a card offer.
The annual fee for the First Access card is $75 the first year. After that, the annual fee is $48. The initial $75 annual fee is assessed at the time you open your account, meaning your initial credit limit is reduced to $225 right away. Even if you don’t use your account after the first year, the ongoing $48 annual fee is assessed.
There is a one-time $95 program fee, which you have to pay when you activate your account.
Monthly Servicing Fee
After the first year of opening your account, a monthly servicing fee is assessed. The fee is $6.25 a month, for a total of $75 a year. Until the account is closed, you pay this fee.
Cash Advance Fee
In addition to the interest on cash advances, you’re also charged a transaction fee. The cash advance transaction fee may be $10 or 4% of the cash advance, whichever is the greater of the two.
Late Payment Fee
With any credit card, but particularly cards like First Access, it’s important that you commit to making on-time payments. Otherwise, these cards get incredibly expensive and may cause further damage to your credit. There is a late payment fee of $29 if you didn’t have any other late payments during the previous six billing cycles. Your late payment fee then goes up to $40 if you have a history of late payments.
There’s a $29 additional card fee annually for each additional card. The fee is assessed when you request an additional card. Then, it’s assed on the anniversary date that you opened your account. It doesn’t matter if the card is used or not, the fee is still assessed.
Credit Limit Increase Fee
If you are approved for a credit limit increase, you’ll have to pay 20% of the amount of that increase. For example, if you’re approved for a $100 credit limit increase on your First Access card, you’ll have to pay a $20 credit limit increase fee.
For limited or fair credit the First Access card offers the opportunity to build credit history.
Who the First Access Card Is Good For
There are a few situations where you might consider applying for the First Access card.
If you have bad credit or you’re just starting out, you need to be able to show a history of on-time payments and financial responsibility. Building your credit in incremental steps will help you make bigger purchases, such as getting a home mortgage. The First Access card is one of only a few bad credit cards that you may be approved for.
You Don’t Need to Make a Big Purchase
The First Access card has an initial credit limit of only $300. After the annual fee is assessed right after account activation, your spending power goes down to $225, and is below $200 if you get a second card.
If you’re applying for credit because you have a big emergency expense, the First Access card isn’t right for you. If you just want a card that’s easy to manage and you only want to make small purchases and pay them off quickly, this card may work for you.
You Don’t Have the Cash for a Secured Card
The premise of a secured credit card is similar to a debit card. You pay a deposit to the card issuer and that serves as your credit limit. You can build your credit, but you don’t have to worry about racking up more debt because you can’t spend beyond the deposit amount.
The First Access card is unsecured, so it’s more expensive than most secured cards but you don’t need upfront cash to use it.
It’s important to mention, that even though First Access isn’t technically a secured card, you do have to pay a $95 program fee before you can use your account.
Who the First Access Card Isn’t Good For
It may be better to find a different card if you fall into any of the following categories.
You Could Be Approved for Another Card
The First Access card is incredibly expensive and offers no perks or rewards. If you could be approved for another card, even one that’s considered middle-of-the-road in terms of perks and benefits, you should consider that instead of First Access.
You Have a Big Emergency Expense
If something comes up that you don’t have the cash to cover, such as a home or car repair, the First Access card probably isn’t the best way to get financing. You might consider a short-term emergency or personal loan instead. In addition to being expensive, the First Access card has a low credit limit of only $300 initially, which drops to $225 after the annual fee is assessed.
You can only qualify for a credit limit increase after 12 months and even then, a 20% fee is assessed on the limit increase, further eroding your purchasing power.
If you often travel out of the country or you buy from international merchants, you can’t use the First Access card for those purchases.
Not Able to Commit to On-Time Payments
Any credit card needs to be paid on-time, but if you use the First Access card and you don’t pay on time, it not only affects your credit but it can be extremely expensive. The APR on the card is already among the highest of any card at 34.99%. If you then factor in late payments, you could put yourself in a difficult financial situation if you missed or were late on just one payment.
ApprovalBad or limited credit
First Access Card Pros and Cons
There are a few pros and some cons to be aware of before you apply for a First Access card or accept an offer.
First Access Card Pros
- Bad Credit Approval: If your credit isn’t perfect or you don’t have any credit, you are likely to be approved for a First Access card.
- Visa Acceptance: First Access is a Visa card, accepted anywhere Visa is accepted.
- Credit Reporting: Your history of payments with First Access is reported monthly to all three major credit bureaus.
- Instant Approval: Some applicants may be approved online in as little as 60 seconds.
- Unsecured: If you don’t have the cash to pay a deposit for a secured card, First Access is unsecured and doesn’t require a deposit.
First Access Cons
- High APR: The APR on the First Access card is 34.99%. There are cards even for bad credit with a lower APR.
- Low credit limits: The starting credit limit for the First Access is only $300, which then goes down to $225 after the assessment of the annual fee. You can’t be approved for a credit limit increase for at least a year after opening a new account.
- Expensive: There are quite a few fees associated with First Access including an annual fee, monthly servicing fee, and a 20% credit limit increase fee. There’s also a one-time $95 program fee.
- No perks: There aren’t any perks or rewards with the First Access card.
First Access Card Frequently Asked Questions
The following are answers to some of the most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the First Access card.
- How do you apply for a First Access card?
You can apply for the First Access card online and receive a response within 60 seconds. If you receive an offer for a First Access card, you can also activate it online, but you need to pay the $95 program fee first.
- What is the cash advance fee?
If you need a cash advance, there is no additional fee for the first year. Then, after that you pay a fee of either 3% or $10 of the cash advance, whichever is greater.
- How can you avoid paying interest?
If you have the First Access card and you don’t want to pay the high interest charges on purchases, you will need to pay your new balance on your previous monthly statement by your statement due date. You have at least 21 days from the closing date of your billing cycle.
- When do you pay the annual fee?
If you activate a First Access account, your annual fee is assessed at opening. The annual fee for the first year is $75 and after that the annual fee is $48. The annual fee is non-refundable, but won’t be billed to you after your card is closed. If you reopen your account, you have to pay a prorated annual fee.
- Can you get a credit limit increase?
You can get a credit limit increase on your First Access card, but only after it’s been open for a year. You will have to pay a 20% credit limit increase fee if you accept the increase.
Alternatives to the First Access Card
|First Access Card||First Digital Card||Reflex Mastercard||Indigo Unsecured Mastercard|
Ashley is a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill where she studied journalism. She has worked as a journalist, content creator, and copywriter for nearly a decade, with a focus on personal finance, real estate, and healthcare. She now lives in Knoxville with her husband and young kids. During her free time, she enjoys traveling and enjoying the outdoors in East Tennessee.