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First Premier Mastercard Review

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The First Premier Mastercard offers an alternative to a secured card for those who have bad credit or no credit at all. Unlike a secured card, the First Premier Mastercard requires no security deposit. Yet the card allows you to get approved even with bad credit, qualify for a credit limit as high as $1,000, and to build or rebuild your credit history. However, you must pay fees that can easily run to several hundred dollars a year and an extraordinarily high interest rate, should you carry a balance on the card.

Full Review of First Premier Mastercard

  • No security deposit is required

  • Extensive and expensive fees

  • Exceptionally high APR

Pros Explained

  • 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. 

Cons Explained

  • 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.  

Standard Benefits

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. 

Cardholder Experience

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. 

Security Features

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

Our Verdict

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.

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Overall Star Rating Explained
To rate credit cards we objectively assess, score and weight nearly 100 individual card features which roll up into five major feature sets: fees, interest, rewards, benefits and security/customer service. Here’s how we weighted those feature sets for the overall star rating of a card:
We have applied our proprietary rating methodology to every generally-accepted credit card in the U.S. domestic market to allow consumers to make fully informed choices. It’s important to note that for our overall score that we make a number of assumptions about how you would be using your credit card:
  1. While we make no assumption as to whether balances are carried on a given card we do assign varying weights to all credit cards’ introductory APR (if present) in addition to the regular, long term purchase and balance transfer interest rates.
  2. We utilize BLS (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) income and average category spending data to calculate annual earnings rates for rewards cards that offer cash back, points or miles rewards at a set rate on all spending or in consideration of bonus rewards for certain spending categories, like gasoline, groceries, restaurants or travel.
  3. We determine the maximum points value of rewards cards by dividing the points, cash back or miles required to exchange for the retail price of the most valuable redemption option (for example, in the case of a card that offers a domestic roundtrip airline ticket as a redemption option vs. another redemption option of lesser value that requires the same amount of points or miles to acquire, we would base the rewards value on the airline ticket).
  • Cards that are selected best overall in their respective categories generally feature most if not all of the following attributes:
  • Low or Reasonable Fees Credit card fees come in many forms but the primary ones involve those for annual card membership and balance transfer. There are a myriad of reward and non-reward card options that charge no annual fee but for the many that do assess an annual fee the cost is often justified by their lucrative ongoing rewards and initial signup bonuses. Balance transfer fees are occasionally waived during introductory periods with certain cards, a factor which is heavily and positively weighted in our scoring model for cards offering this benefit. When charged, balance transfer fees range between 3% - 5%, which we grade accordingly. Other standard fees can generally be avoided, such as those for paying late or taking cash advances but we rate those relative to other cards in the market for reference, though with less weight assigned
  • Competitive Interest Many cards offer 0% introductory APR on purchases and balance transfers for varying lengths and then revert to a permanent or regular APR (based on a variable rate tied to the prime rate) that applies to any balances not paid in full. We rate both introductory APR percentage and length (in months) along with the midpoint of the variable regular APR interest rate range.
  • Valuable Rewards Credit card reward programs can be based on cash back, points or travel rewards (which can be generic or travel partner-specific, as with airline and hotel co-brand card programs). For cards that offer rewards we determine the value per dollar spent along with average redemption values and assign more favorable ratings to cards that offer superior consumer value. We also assign value to sign-up bonus offers and their initial spending requirements, when present.
  • Excellent Benefits Credit card benefits cover a range of offerings like concierge service, TSA Pre-check, auto rental coverage, travel accident insurance, lost luggage assistance and free credit scores. We rate cards on the number and level of over a dozen standard and upscale benefits and provide extra weighting emphasis for those travel-related perks that apply to premium travel cards when present.
  • Solid Security/Customer Service Security and customer service features like lost or stolen card replacement, being able to lock one’s card from an issuer app and 24 hour customer support are becoming more standard across the card market and we provide a significant amount of weighting to features in this area.
  • You can also read the full version of our methodology for a more in-depth look at how we assess cards and award them the best in various categories.