First Digital Card Review: A Fee-filled Unsecured Card for Bad CreditCredit
- First Digital Mastercard
- Basics: As with most other credit cards for limited or bad credit, the First Digital Mastercard from Synovus Bank is limited in what it offers. The First Digital Mastercard is an unsecured card, meaning it doesn’t require a deposit to use or to define your credit limit. It’s accepted anywhere Mastercard is accepted, but there are no rewards or perks associated with it.
- Pros: The main benefit of the First Digital Mastercard is that it offers people who might have poor credit or a limited credit history the opportunity to build their credit without paying a deposit. The First Digital Mastercard approval process is fast and simple, and most applicants will be approved.
- Cons: The First Digital Mastercard is expensive to use. In fact, even compared to other unsecured credit cards for poor or fair credit, First Digital still ranks as one of the most expensive.
- WELCOME OFFER
- ANNUAL FEE
$75 for the first year, and $48 after that
- REWARDS RATE
Reports to all three major credit bureaus
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The First Digital Mastercard is essentially only geared toward people who might not have any credit history or who have bad credit and wouldn’t be approved for another type of credit card. Beyond those people, this card would have little if any appeal.
The First Digital Card is simple in its structure. The approval process is easy, and most people will be approved for at least a $300 credit limit.
You can use the First Digital card as a way to make small purchases and pay them back quickly so that you avoid the high APR. Then, over time as you improve your credit score, perhaps you’ll be approved for a better card.
There are no rewards points or cash back with the First Digital card, but it is a Mastercard so you can use it anywhere Mastercard is accepted, as you would any other type of credit card.
There are many fees associated with the First Digital card, making it an expensive option. It’s even more expensive than some other similar cards that are geared toward poor credit consumers, such as the Indigo Card.
The First Digital card is not currently available to consumers in New York or Wisconsin.
First Digital Card Benefits
There are a few benefits of the First Digital card.
The main benefit of the First Digital card is that it’s easy to gain approval. Even if you might not be approved for other credit cards, the chances of being approved for First Digital are high because it’s a card that’s geared toward consumers who have no credit or bad credit.
The application process typically takes just a few minutes, and you may receive instant approval.
The First Digital card is a genuine credit card, and it’s accepted anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Even though it’s a card for people who are working to build their credit, it’s still accepted nationwide any place there’s a Mastercard logo.
Credit Bureau Reporting
One of the best ways to build a strong credit score, or perhaps bring your score up after potential financial missteps, is to develop a history of on-time payments. If you were, for example, to just use a debit card, you wouldn’t be able to work on your credit score because most debit cards don’t report to credit bureaus.
With the First Digital card, you get the advantage of reporting every month to the three major bureaus.
Typically, if you don’t have great credit — or you don’t have any credit history — and you want to get a credit card, you may need a secured option. A secured card works like any other credit card as far as making purchases and building your score, but you have to pay a cash deposit to open the card.
That deposit is then used as your credit limit. This may be a good option for some consumers, but not everyone has cash that they can put toward a secured card.
The First Digital is unsecured, so you don’t have to pay a security deposit to use it.
First Digital Card Fees
The biggest downsides of the First Digital card to be aware of are related to the fees. There are several different fees you have to pay with this card in addition to the already-high APR.
There is an annual fee charged to the First Digital card. You have to pay a $75 annual fee for the first year, and it’s charged when you activate your card.
This means that if you get a credit limit of $300 initially, which is common with the First Digital card, you would only have available credit of $225. After the first year, the annual fee goes down to $48.
There is a $95 one-time program fee that you’re billed for with the First Digital card. This is in addition to the annual fee, and also the $30 fee for an additional card.
Even beyond the above fees, there are several others. There is a monthly servicing fee charged after the first year that’s currently $6.25 a month, for a total of $75 a year.
There’s also a 25% fee charged when you’re approved for a credit limit increase. There is a late payment fee of $40, and a returned payment fee of $40.
If you get a cash advance, you are charged a transaction fee of either $10 or 3% of the amount of the cash advance, whichever is the greater of the two.
The First Digital Card is an expensive unsecured card for someone who might not be approved for other credit cards.
Who the First Digital Card Is Good For
A few people might find that the First Digital Mastercard is the right option for them and their financial situation and goals.
Poor or Limited Credit
The First Digital card is intended primarily as a card option for people who have poor credit or limited credit.
You will likely be approved for the card, whereas with many other options you might not be. Since the issuer reports to the three major credit bureaus, you do have the opportunity to build or boost your credit history.
The First Digital card has a low initial credit limit. Most people will be approved for a limit of around $300. If you don’t spend much on a card, or maybe you think you’d have a hard time being disciplined with your spending, this card could work well for you.
Consumers Who Need to Establish Positive Payment History
If you believe that even in spite of past financial errors that you can now start slowly and make on-time payments on a credit card, First Digital may be a good card for you. It is an expensive card, though, in terms of APR and fees.
Who the First Digital Card Isn’t Good For
The First Digital card is limited in its appeal for most consumers, and people who fall into the following categories should likely choose a different option.
Carrying a Balance
The First Digital card is incredibly expensive because of fees, but it also has one of the highest APRs, even among cards for bad credit. The APR is currently 35.99%.
For comparison, the Indigo card, which is a similar product, has an APR of 24.90%. If you regularly carry a balance or don’t know if you can commit to paying off your balance each month, the First Digital card might not be worth its cost, even if you’re using it to repair your credit.
Applicants Who Could Qualify for a Better Card
The First Digital card is expensive because it’s geared toward consumers who need to work on their credit.
If that’s not you, or you have even fair credit, you might explore other cards with lower fees and costs and a lower APR.
If you often travel internationally, you should probably find another card. The First Digital card can’t be used to make foreign charges in foreign currency.
Higher Credit Limits
As a starter card or a card primarily for credit repair, the credit limits with the First Digital are low. A starting credit limit will usually be $300, and that is even lower once the program fee is charged and the annual fee is charged.
You typically can’t get a credit limit increase for at least 12 months, and if you get an increase, you have to pay a 25% fee. Your spending power is very limited with the First Digital card.
Security DepositNone (unsecured)
Annual Fee$75 for the first year, $48 after that
First Digital Card Pros and Cons
As with any credit card, there are both pros and cons to be aware of before you apply for a First Digital Mastercard or accept an offer from the card issuer.
First Digital Card Pros
- Bad or limited credit: If you want a credit card for any reason, including to build your credit score and history and you can’t be approved for another card, you will likely be approved for the First Digital card.
- Unsecured: Even though First Digital is for people with less-than-perfect credit, it’s an unsecured card. This means you don’t need cash set aside for a deposit as you would with a secured card.
- Credit bureau reporting: To establish credit history if you’re just starting out, or to fix past credit mistakes, the First Digital card issuer reports your payments to the three main credit bureaus each month.
- Fast approval: The process to apply for a First Digital card is straightforward, takes just a few minutes, and may lead to approval within just 60 seconds.
First Digital Card Cons
- APR: The APR is a big downside of the First Digital card at 35.99%. It’s a high APR even compared to other cards for consumers with similar credit scores and histories.
- Fees: There are many fees linked to the First Digital card—more so than almost any other credit card, in fact. These fees include a $75 annual fee for the first year, which is then $48 after that. There is a monthly servicing fee after the first year which is a total of $75 annually, there is a $95 activation fee, and even a 25% fee when you are approved for a credit limit increase.
- No perks: There are really no perks or benefits associated with the First Digital card. It’s a simple card offering only the basics to people who might not be approved for other cards.
First Digital Card Frequently Asked Questions
The following are answers to some of the questions people often have about the First Digital Mastercard.
- What Credit Score Do You Need for Approval?
While the First Digital card issuer doesn’t outline a specific credit score you should have to be approved, most applicants will likely be approved. The card is specifically geared toward consumers without a lot of credit history, or perhaps with poor credit. To be approved, you do need to be at least 18 years old and a U.S. resident. You should also have a checking account.
The card issuer says they work to serve the broadest possible pool of applicants with a focus on people who want to improve their credit.
- How Much Does the First Digital Card Cost?
The First Digital card is expensive. It has a slew of fees associated with its use. For example, during the first year, you’ll pay a $75 annual fee, a $95 one-time activation fee, and if you want express delivery of your card, it’s $35.
There is also a $29 annual fee for each additional card. Transaction fees for a cash advance are either 3% of the amount of the advance, or $10. There is a late fee of $40 if you don’t make your payment on time.
After your first year of being a First Digital cardholder, there is a $48 annual fee in addition to a monthly servicing fee of $6.25 a month.
- When Is the Annual Fee Assessed?
The annual fee for the First Digital card is assessed before you start to use your new card, so it reduces your available credit. If you were to get a credit limit approval of $300, then your initial available credit would only be $225.
- Can You Apply for the First Digital Card Online?
You can apply for the First Digital card online, and you may be approved instantly. If you aren’t instantly approved, it may take up to three weeks to receive information as to whether you’re approved or denied.
Alternatives to the First Digital Card
|First Digital Card||Upgrade Card||Reflex Card||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.