First Access Credit Card Review
While the First Access card reports to all three major credit bureaus, which can help improve your credit score, it also comes with a long list of fees. In most cases, you're probably better off going with another type of card designed for those with less than perfect credit.
What Is the First Access Card?
Issued by the Bank of Missouri, the First Access credit card is a Visa card that's widely accepted by retailers and merchants around the world. It's an unsecured card, which means you aren't required to pay a security deposit up front.
However, what you save in the security deposit gets eaten up by some of the highest fees in the credit industry. In addition to a one-time $95 fee just to open your account, you'll pay a $75 annual fee for the first year and then $48 per year in subsequent years.
As if those fees weren't enough, you'll also pay a $6.25 monthly maintenance fee after the first 12 months. The First Access card also has a 34.99% annual percentage rate (APR), which is among the highest of any credit card on the market.
There are a number of credit cards available that don't come with high fees. If you're willing to shop around, there's a good chance you will find a more affordable card that can help you build your credit.
In some cases, you may need to start with a secured credit card, which requires a security deposit. However, this is usually preferable to going with an unsecured card with a lengthy list of fees.
First Access Visa Overview
At a glance, the first thing that sticks out about the First Access Visa are its exorbitant fees. While the $75 annual fee drops to $48 after you've owned the card for a year, the addition of a $6.25 monthly maintenance ($75 annually) fee actually makes the cost of the card go up in the second year of ownership.
You'll also pay 34.99% APR, which is well above the U.S. News average range of 15.49% to 22.67%. On the other hand, the First Access card reports to all three credit bureaus, so you'll get credit for paying your monthly bill on time.
If you've been turned down for other credit cards, you might feel like the First Access Visa is your only option. However, there are other credit cards out there with better rates and terms.
Is First Access a Good Credit Card?
There's no getting around the First Access Visa card's high fees, which make this an expensive card to own. However, the card isn't without its merits.
Because it reports to all three major credit bureaus, the First Access card can be beneficial if you're looking to rebuild your credit profile.
Keep in mind, however, that this only works well if you avoid carrying a balance from month to month. If you want to use a card like the First Access Visa to rehab your credit, you should stick to making small purchases and then paying them off in full every month.
This way, you avoid interest while you repair your credit score. If you can keep this up for several months, you'll see your credit score improve enough to help you qualify for a card with better rates and lower fees.
Before submitting an application for a First Access Visa, it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the card's terms and conditions.
Pros vs. Cons of the First Access Visa
The First Access Visa has a few benefits as well as a lengthier list of drawbacks. Here's an overview of this card's pros and cons.
Unsecured credit card - The First Access Visa is an unsecured credit card, which means you don't need to come up with a security deposit when you open your account.
Widely accepted - The First Access card is a Visa, which is widely accepted around the world.
Possibility of credit limit increases - According to the card's terms and conditions, you can request a credit limit increase after one year of owning the card. However, you'll be charged 20% of the limit increase. For example, if you receive an additional $100 in credit, First Access will deduct $20, leaving your credit increase at $80.
Easy approval - The First Access credit card is geared toward people with bad credit. According to the First Access website, you could get a decision in as little as 60 seconds.
High fees - The First Access card comes with a laundry list of high fees, including an annual fee, one-time account setup fee, and a monthly maintenance fee after the first year.
High APR - At 34.99%, the First Access Visa card has a high interest rate compared to other cards.
Checking account required - To apply for the First Access card, you must have a checking account.
Low credit limit - The initial credit limit for the First Access credit card is $300. While you might be able to get a credit limit increase after the first year, First Access charges a 20% fee for every increase.
What Are the First Access Visa Credit Card Fees?
The First Access Visa has a number of high fees. While this isn't uncommon among subprime credit cards, it's possible to find other subprime cards with more reasonable fees.
Here's a list of fees for the First Access Visa card:
One-time program fee - $95
Annual fee - $75 for the first year, then $48 for subsequent years
Monthly fee - $0 for the first year, then $6.25 per month for subsequent years
Late and returned payment fee - $40
Cash advance fee - $0 for the first year, then $10 or 3% of the amount advanced, whichever is greater
Can the First Access Visa Help Build Credit?
The First Access Visa card can help you build credit, but only if you use the card responsibly. Credit cards can be a great tool for repairing or establishing credit.
However, they can also lead you down a debt spiral if you carry a growing balance from month to month, racking up interest along the way.
If you intend to use the First Access Visa to build credit, you should make modest purchases on the card every month and then pay your bill in full each billing cycle. This way, you avoid interest, making the credit card more of a free short-term loan.
First Access Visa Reviews from Around the Web
The First Access Visa gets its share of good and bad reviews. Some reviewers say the card is good for rebuilding credit, while others express frustration with the high fees and low credit limit.
For example, one reviewer stated they had the First Access card for five years without receiving a credit limit increase. After building their credit score to 800, they said they're canceling the card due to the high fees.
On the other hand, this reviewer said they're grateful to First Access for giving them a credit card even with an awful credit score. Unlike other reviewers, this individual received a credit limit increase after six months.
Another unsatisfied reviewer was unhappy with the First Access card's high fees, including the pricey account startup fee. They also complained about receiving a $50 credit limit increase despite making on-time payments for a year.
This reviewer stated they use their First Access card to charge a tank of gas and then immediately pay it off. For this reviewer, the First Access card seems to function purely as a credit-rebuilding tool.
Credit Card Alternatives to the First Access Visa
A bad credit score can make it difficult to find a credit card with reasonable fees and terms. The good news is there are several credit cards designed to help those with poor credit scores get a fresh start without being overwhelmed by expensive fees and high interest rates.
1. Capital One Secured Mastercard
The Capital One Secured Mastercard requires a security deposit, but you can choose to put down $49, $99, or $200. There is also no annual fee, making this card an affordable credit-building tool.
The Capital One Secured Mastercard comes with a 26.99% APR, which is a bit high but much lower than the 34.99% you'll pay for the First Access card. You can also get a credit limit increase at no charge after you make five months of on-time payments.
2. Citi Secured Mastercard
The Citi Secured Mastercard is another secured credit card, with a minimum security deposit of $200. However, it has no annual fee, no program setup fee, and no monthly maintenance fee.
The APR is 22.49%, which is in line with average interest rates for this type of credit card.
3. OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
The OpenSky Secured Visa credit card comes with 18.89% interest, which is among the lowest you'll find for a credit card marketed toward those with bad credit.
While it requires a $200 security deposit as well as a $35 annual fee, there is no hard credit inquiry when you apply, and OpenSky reports to all three credit bureaus.
High fees and a high interest rate make the First Access Visa card expensive to own. Before you apply, it's worth checking out some alternatives, including secured credit cards designed to help you repair your credit without the cost of an annual or monthly fee.
About the Author
Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in CNBC, Investopedia, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.