It’s been a while since I originally reviewed Merrick Bank’s Secured Visa Card, so let’s do an update and see what’s going on with it. This card has a pretty good 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.
Oh, by the way, there’s been a nice addition to this card. If you enroll at their Cardholder Center, you’ll get to see the FICO score that Merrick Bank uses to manage your account. I like it! You can also manage your account online via the Cardholder Center.
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 carefully. You do get a 25-day grace period, which is very good. Pay your entire bill during the grace period every month and you won’t have to pay any interest on your purchases.
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.
APR: You get a variable rate of 17.45 percent. As I already said, this is a pretty good rate for this category.
Balance transfers: Not applicable.
APR for cash advances: You get a variable 22.45 percent rate. The transaction fee is 4 percent. There’s no grace period on a cash advance so interest expense starts accruing right away.
Foreign transaction fees: It’s 2 percent, which is a little better than average.
Credit limit: You choose your credit limit and it ranges from $200 to $3,000. Note that your security deposit does not earn interest. 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 You have 80 days to fund the deposit account before your application is considered withdrawn. The online application offers several payment methods you can choose from. Note: In the comments section below, one of my awesome readers said that limit increases are done only in $50 increments.
Late payment or returned payment fee: Up to $35.
The bottom line Merrick Bank’s Secured Visa Card gets a thumbs-up rating from me. I have it ranked as a middle-tier card compared to the other cards on my list of The Best (and Worst) Secured Credit Cards. But I am moving it up a notch because they’re offering a FICO score and I’ve heard decent things about customer service.
Based 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.
May I ask a favor of those who have used this card? Would you let me know if it reports as “secured” or “unsecured” to the bureaus? I’d appreciate the information. And as always, I’d love to hear about your experiences 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.