It’s been a while since I last reviewed Merrick Bank’s Secured Visa Card, so it’s time for an update. This card has a decent interest rate and that’s always nice to find in the secured credit card category.
Merrick Bank reports your payment history to all three major credit bureaus, so if you make your payments on time, you can rebuild your credit history. Of course, the flip side is also true. If you don’t pay your bills on time, your credit score will drop even lower.
And just to be clear, to improve your score, you need to pay all of your bills on time, not just your credit card bill. Even a late cell phone bill could get reported to the bureaus.
An awesome blog reader says this card reports as “secured” to the credit bureaus. That’s not always a bad thing. Hey, but if you’re worried about it, check out this post: Does the FICO Score Treat Secured Credit Cards Differently?
Oh, by the way, there’s a link on the home page to a nice Financial Education section on their website. You know how much I love seeing banks care about educating consumers. So that’s a nice touch.
Okay, there aren’t any rewards, so let’s jump right into the numbers.
Rates and fees
Please be sure you read the Credit Card Agreement and the Summary of Terms for Merrick Bank’s Secured Visa Card carefully. You do get a 25-day grace period, which is generous and I like it. Pay your entire bill during the grace period every month and you won’t have to pay any interest on your purchases.
APR: You get a variable rate of 17.70 percent. An itty bitty increase, but we’ll let it slide since it’s still a good rate.
Balance transfers: Not applicable.
APR for cash advances: You get a variable rate of 22 percent. The transaction fee is 4 percent. There’s no grace period on a cash advance so interest expense starts accruing right away. Repeat after me: I will never, ever get a cash advance.
Annual fee: It’s $36 and it’s deducted from your credit limit. So if you pay $200 for the deposit, your starting credit limit will only be $164. After the first year, you’re billed $3 per month.
Additional card fee: It’s $12 per year. After the first year, you’re billed $1 per month.
Foreign transaction fees: It’s 2 percent, which is a little better than average.
Credit limit: Your credit limit will equal your deposit.
Security deposit: The amount you can deposit ranges from $200 to $3,000. Your security deposit does not earn interest, but that’s (unfortunately) not unusual. You can’t be approved or declined until the security deposit has been paid in full. You have 80 days to fund the deposit account before your application is considered withdrawn. Note: In the comments section below, one of my awesome blog readers said that limit increases are done only in $50 increments.
Late payment or returned payment fee: Up to $38.
The bottom line
Merrick Bank’s Secured Visa Card gets a thumbs-up rating from me. I have it ranked as a top-of-the-middle-tier card on my list of The Best (and Worst) Secured Credit Cards.
Based on reviewing the website and on what readers have told me, it appears you can’t apply for a Merrick Bank unsecured credit card offer online. Instead, you have to wait for an offer to arrive in the mail. You’ll get an “Acceptance Certificate Number” and when you have that, you can then apply online.
Other than that, consumers have also reported getting their accounts closed for going over their credit limits and being charged a (previously undisclosed) $10 fee to make a payment via the phone. This tells me that there are more details in the mailed disclosure statements than what’s provided online. Read everything that comes with the card very carefully.
The last time I reviewed this card, they made a big deal about providing a FICO score with your statement. I don’t see this highlighted on the website, so if you have this card, I’d love to know if that benefit still exists.
And as always, I’d love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with Merrick Bank.
Note: Credit card agreements change frequently. So my review is based on the information that was in effect today. Be sure you read all the disclosure statements carefully.