Full Review of First Premier Mastercard
No security deposit is required
Extensive and expensive fees
Exceptionally high APR
- No Security Deposit is Required: Since traditional (unsecured) credit cards are largely unavailable to people with poor credit or no credit history, such consumers typically have to sign up for a secured card, which requires a security deposit that also serves as the card’s credit limit. The First Premier Mastercard is an unsecured card for which you can be approved even if your credit is poor, albeit with an initial credit line that could be as low as $300.
- Extensive and Expensive Fees: This card’s multiplicity of fees really add up, even compared with other such cards. The charges vary accordingly to your credit limit, and include:
- Annual fee: Can range as high as $125.
- Program fee: A one-time fee; can range as high as $95.
- Monthly service fee: While waived for the first year, these can subsequently total as much as $124.80 a year after that.
- Credit-limit increase fee: After 13 months, you could qualify for a credit limit increase. However, if approved, you’ll pay a fee of 25% of the increase. For example, if your credit limit increased by $200, you’d have to pay a $50 fee to actually receive the higher limit.
- Authorized-user fee: Additional cards for a spouse or child cost $29 each.
- Exceptionally High APR: You expect a high APR on a balance carried over on a card that serves those with no or damaged credit. But the rate charged by the First Premier Mastercard—an eye-popping and arguably usurious 36% APR—may be unprecedented for any card. Indeed, this APR is so high as to exceed the allowable limits under New York State regulations and those governing military lending, meaning that New Yorkers and those serving in the military are prohibited from getting the First Premier Mastercard.
This Card is Best For
The First Premier Mastercard is designed for applicants with poor credit (which Experian, one of the three credit bureaus, defines as having a credit score of between 300 and 579) who want to build or restore their credit history (the card’s transactions are shared with those agencies). It’s also for such people who prefer not to (or cannot) come up with the security deposit required for a secured card, the leading alternative for those with no or damaged credit who want to improve their creditworthiness.
However, while the First Premier Mastercard involves no security deposit, you must have up to $95 on hand for its program fee soon after you are approved for the card, and other charges follow. This, then, is not a card for those who hope to get credit and yet can’t come up with money to begin that process.
This card from First Premier Bank has very few benefits indeed, as is the case with most cards designed to build credit.
The sole benefit, practically, is its access to Premier Credit Manager, a service that allows you to review your credit score and credit report from Experian. However, where some other cards provide this functionality for free, First Premier charges $3.99 a month for the service.
The caliber of First Premier’s customer service isn’t clear, since the issuer is too small to be included In J.D. Power’s Credit Card Satisfaction Study, nor in studies of any other financial services the bank provides.
We do, however, know that the bank has more limited hours for customer service than most other credit-card issuers. Customer service representatives are only available at 1-800-987-5521 during the following times:
- Monday through Friday: 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. CT
- Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. CT
- Sunday: Closed
Having such limited service hours can, of course, be frustrating, since it may force you to wait hours and even a full day to get help with a lost or stolen card or other issues.
With this card, you can sign up for account alerts to receive notifications about unusual transactions and spending limits. A quarterly FICO score is provided for free on your monthly billing statement.
Fees to Watch Out For
The set-up and maintenance fees are assessed before you begin to use your card, and are deducted from your available credit. See below for available fees and credit limits.
|Credit Limit||Program Fee (One-Time Fee)||Annual Fee||Monthly Service Fee||Initial Available Credit|
|$300||$95||$75 first year; after that, $45 per year||$0 first year; after that $75 per year||$225|
|$400||$95||$100 first year; after that, $45||$0 first year; after that $75||$300|
|$500||$95||$125 first year; after that $49||$0 first year; after that $124.80||$375|
|$600||$75||$79 first year; after that, $49||$70.20 first year; after that $99||$515|
|$700||$55||$79 first year; after that, $49||$96 first year; after that $124.80||$613|
The First Premier Mastercard potentially allows access to a credit card even if you have poor credit. However, that alone isn’t enough to justify applying for this deeply problematic financial product. The card comes with a staggering array of fees, which can easily add up to several hundred dollars a year, at least after your initial 12 months of ownership. You receive practically no benefits in return. Also, should you carry a balance, you’ll pay an interest rate so high that it disqualifies the card from even being marketed to some populations. Look to alternatives to this card aimed at the credit-deficient, all of which are better than it. If you can qualify for the Petal Visa, for example, the card has no annual fee, monthly service fees, authorized-user fees, foreign transaction fees, or late payment fees. The Petal Visa also allows you to earn cash back on your everyday purchases.
Because it requires a security deposit (of at least $200), the OpenSky Secured Visa may be easier to qualify for than the Petal Visa, and its APR on purchases is nearly half that of the First Premier Mastercard. The card does, however, also have an annual fee, of $35, which is deducted from your credit limit.
Another worthy secured card, the Discover it Secured, has no annual fee and offers rewards. You’ll earn 2% cash back on up to $1,000 in combined purchases at gas stations and restaurants each quarter and an unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases. Discover will even match all cash back earned during your first year as a cardmember, effectively doubling your rewards.