Mercury Mastercard Review
With no annual fee and a convenient mobile app, the Mercury Mastercard is a good option for people who want a basic, no-fuss credit card. Launched in 2018, it's a relative newcomer to the credit card scene.
Marketed primarily toward individuals with credit scores ranging between 575 and 675, the Mercury Mastercard is a solid middle-of-the-road choice for building credit.
Here's an overview, including pros and cons to watch out for.
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Mercury Mastercard Stats
The Mercury Mastercard offers a number of perks. Here's what you need to know before you apply.
- Annual Percent Rate (APR) - Ranges from 25.90% to 27.90% and can fluctuate based on the Prime Rate.
- APR for Cash Advances - Varies between 27.90% and 29.90% and can fluctuate based on the Prime Rate.
- Annual Fee - none.
- Late Fees - Up to $38.
- Balance Transfer Fee - Either $5 or 4% of the amount of the balance transfer, whichever is more.
- Cash Advance Fee - Either $10 or 5% of the amount of the cash advance, whichever is more.
- Foreign Transaction Fee - If you use your card overseas, you'll pay 3% of each purchase.
- Credit Limit - Most users report a $1,500 credit limit, but some reviewers say they were given up to $5,000 in credit. Some users also report receiving an automatic credit limit increase.
You can find the full terms and conditions for the Mercury Mastercard in the cardmember agreement.
Did Barclays Buyout Mercury?
Technically, no. In 2017, British bank Barclays sold about $1.6 billion of its so-called "risky" credit card balances to an entity called Credit Shop, which restructured these balances as Mercury Mastercard accounts.
This meant that a large chunk of Barclaycard cardholders got a notice their card was being converted to the Mercury Mastercard. The Mercury Mastercard is not affiliated with Barclays in any way.
The Pros and Cons of Mercury Mastercard
The Mercury Mastercard offers several benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. Here's what you need to know.
5 Pros of the Mercury Mastercard
Here are five good things that make the Mercury Mastercard a good choice for people with decent credit scores.
1. Convenient Mobile App
Reviewers seem to love the Mercury Mastercard mobile app, which is available for both Apple and Android devices.
Cardholders can do a lot with the app. With a smartphone, you can check your balance, pay your bill, keep up to date on your FICO® score, and see your transactions as you make purchases.
2. Free Access to Your FICO® Score
With the Mercury mobile app, you can check your FICO® score whenever you wish. Since about 90 percent of lenders use the FICO scoring model, this is a great tool if you're looking to repair your credit score.
3. No Annual Fee
The Mercury Mastercard has no annual fee. This is a useful perk for people who want to open the card to boost their credit utilization but don't necessarily plan on using the card a great deal.
4. Free Fraud Protection
Mercury Mastercard cardholders receive free fraud liability protection. This means you pay nothing if your card is lost or stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.
5. Most Merchants Accept Mastercard
Like Visa, Mastercard is accepted by a majority of merchants nationwide and around the world. With the Mercury card, cardholders will rarely encounter a situation in which they can't use their card.
4 Cons of the Mercury Mastercard
Despite its perks, the Mercury Mastercard does have a few downsides. Here are four to consider.
1. High Interest Rate
Compared to some other credit cards, the Mercury card has a relatively high interest rate. According to US News, the average APR for credit cards in 2020 ranges between 16.53% and 23.68%.
By contrast, the APR for the Mercury card varies between 25.90% and 27.90% and can fluctuate with the Prime Rate.
2. High Foreign Transaction Fee
If you do a lot of overseas traveling, the Mercury Mastercard might be a poor choice. This is because cardholders pay a 3% foreign transaction fee of the purchase amount for every overseas purchase charged to the card.
3. High Balance Transfer Fee
The Mercury Mastercard probably isn't the best option if you're looking for a card for the express purpose of transferring a balance from another card.
Unlike cards marketed as balance transfer cards, the Mercury card doesn't offer perks like 0% APR and year-long interest-free grace periods.
Instead, all balance transfers come with a fee of $5 or 4% of the amount transferred. Worse, the interest rate kicks in right away.
4. Difficult to Find Information About Terms and Conditions
While Mercury makes its cardmember agreement available online, it's not forthcoming about certain critical pieces of information.
For example, it's difficult to get info on eligibility criteria or what factors Mercury uses to identify the people it pre-screens for offers.
It's also quite hard to find concrete details about Mercury's credit limits or rewards program. User reviews from around the internet offer some discussion on these points, but Mercury itself doesn't make them publicly available.
This can be frustrating for people who are trying to shop around for the best credit card deal.
Each credit card application counts as a hard inquiry on your credit report, so you want to be certain the Mercury card is a good fit for you before you apply. This can be tough to do when you can't get a complete picture of the terms and conditions.
One of the main things that sets the Mercury Mastercard apart from other credit cards is its "invitation only" application process.
To be eligible to apply, you must first receive a pre-approval letter from Mercury. The letter contains a reservation code that lets you move forward with the application.
Mercury doesn't publish precise eligibility criteria. However, the card is marketed toward people with credit scores ranging between 575 and 675 so you're unlikely to receive a prescreened offer if your score is below this range.
4 Steps to Apply for a Mercury Mastercard
Applying for the Mercury Mastercard is a straightforward process, but you'll need an invitation (which Mercury calls a "reservation code") to get started. Assuming you have one, you can apply in four steps.
#1. Have Your Reservation Code Handy
You can't start the Mercury card application without a reservation code, which you'll receive as a prescreened offer in the mail. When you have this code, visit mercurycards.com and select "respond to mail offer."
#2. Enter Your Reservation Code
Next, you'll be taken to a screen that congratulates you on being pre-approved. You'll need to enter your reservation code and the last four digits of your social security number.
#3. Fill Out the Application
Once the system has verified your reservation code, you'll move forward to the credit card application. You'll need to provide basic identifying information, along with some financial information, such as your income.
You submit your application online. Note that Mercury might require certain financial documentation, such as proof of income or a copy of your most recent pay stub.
If you need to submit additional documentation, you can usually do this by scanning your documents and uploading them to the lender's system. However, you might need to make copies and mail them in.
#4. Wait for a Decision
Cardholders say it typically takes between four and five days to hear back from Mercury. If you're approved, you should receive your card in the mail shortly after you get notice that your application was accepted.
How Much Will You Earn in Rewards and Cash Back?
Because Mercury Mastercard doesn't provide information about rewards and cash back offers online, applicants are stuck relying on cardholder reviews to get an idea of what kind of rewards they can expect.
One reviewer on the myFICO forums noted that Mercury sent them a prescreened approval offering unlimited 2% cash back on purchases.
Another myFICO reviewer reported receiving 1% cash back on purchases and $10 for every 1,000 points earned.
As with credit limits, it seems that cash back perks and other rewards are tailored to the individual cardholder.
Can You Receive a Credit Limit Increase with the Mercury Mastercard?
Mercury cardholders say you can get credit limit increases on the Mercury card, and some users report receiving automatic credit increases.
However, it's unclear if Mercury has a specific process or list of criteria for offering cardholders automatic credit limit increases.
Furthermore, the amount of the increases appears to vary widely, with some users receiving a modest $150 bump and others going from a $3000 limit all the way up to $5,000.
Does Mercury Have a Mobile App?
Cardholders can do the following using the app:
- Check account
- Get account information
- Review transaction details
- View FICO® score
- Pay bill
- Get paperless statements
Mercury Mastercard Reviews from Around the Web
Overall, reviewers around the web seem satisfied with the Mercury Mastercard. Positive reviews say the card is a hassle-free way to build credit.
For example, one user at Credit Karma said they received a $2,000 credit limit with no problem.
Another reviewer got an automatic credit limit increase from $1,800 to $4,500.
One five-star reviewer noted they improved their credit score by 130 points in a little over a year using the Mercury card.
However, not all cardholders are happy with the Mercury Mastercard. The good news is that many of the negative reviews involve bad customer experiences in the transfer from Barclays to Mercury.
For example, one reviewer on the myFICO forums was disappointed to see their credit limit decrease from a little over $4,000 to $3,000 in the switch from Barclays to Mercury.
On the other hand, a different myFICO forum reviewer said their credit limit automatically increased from $1,500 to $3,750 in the transition from Barclays to Mercury.
Is the Mercury Mastercard Right for You?
According to reviews from various credit forums, the Mercury Mastercard seems to be a good option if you need a second or third credit card to increase your credit limit.
With its higher than average interest rate, however, the Mercury card is probably best suited for building credit and improving your credit utilization rather than regular use.
If you receive a pre-approval invitation, the Mercury card might be worth checking out.
Mercury Mastercard Alternatives
Understandably, the Mercury Mastercard's higher APR might stop some people from signing up.
If your credit score is in the mid-500s or higher and you would like to increase it, here are three alternatives to consider.
1. Capital One Platinum Credit Card
The Capital One Platinum Credit Card is marketed toward people with mid-range credit scores. The credit-builder card also offers no annual fee and a credit limit increase after you make five payments on time.
2. Merrick Bank Double Your Line™ Visa
Looking to double your available credit? The aptly named Merrick Bank Double Your Line™ Visa credit card might be a good fit.
The Double Your Line™ Visa offers automatic credit limit increases after seven months of on-time payments.
3. Capital One Quicksilver One Cash Rewards Credit Card
With unlimited 1.5% cash back on purchases, the Capital One Quicksilver One card gets positive reviews. There is a $39 annual fee, but cardholders are eligible to receive credit limit increases after five months of on-time payments.
Contact Information: How to Reach Mercury by Phone and Mail
According to the contact information page on the Mercury Mastercard website, cardholders can get in touch with customer service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Contact options include phone, email, and regular mail.
The Mercury Mastercard gets generally positive feedback from cardholders, but most users note that the higher interest rate makes this card ideal for improving credit utilization rather than regular purchases.
If you receive a pre-approval letter, it's probably worth looking into as a means of boosting your credit score.
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.