If you have poor or no credit, it can be near impossible to get accepted for an unsecured credit card. The First Digital Mastercard® makes it possible with only $170 in fees (opening and annual) to be paid the first year. Each year after, the annual fee is $48.
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Building credit can feel like a chicken or the egg problem. If you have bad credit, it can be difficult to qualify for a credit card or a loan, but if you can’t get a credit card or loan, it’s almost impossible to build a strong credit history.
The First Digital Mastercard® is an unsecured credit card designed for people with poor credit, limited credit, or no credit, offering an easier approval process than most cards and the opportunity to start building good credit. However, it comes at a higher cost than many of its competitors, and probably won’t be the best first option for most consumers.
About the First Digital Mastercard®
The First Digital Mastercard® is a credit card designed for people with bad credit or no credit. It’s a full-fledged, unsecured Mastercard that comes with many of the perks of other Mastercards.
The First Digital Mastercard® has several features to consider.
Does Not Require Great Credit
One of the hardest parts of getting approved for a loan or credit card is having a strong credit score. Many lenders aren’t willing to lend to people who don’t have a long credit history or who have missed a few payments in the past.
The First Digital Mastercard® is specifically designed to help people build credit, so it does not require good credit from its applicants. If you’ve had trouble qualifying for other credit cards and loans in the past, you may still be able to qualify for this card, which will help build up your credit score.
Secured credit cards are popular amongst people with poor credit or no credit because they’re much easier to qualify for than typical cards. They won’t go through the major credit bureaus to qualify you. To get a secured credit card, you simply have to give the card issuer a cash deposit to hold while you use the card. Typically, you have to provide $300 – $500 and your credit limit will be equal to the amount you deposit.
The First Digital Mastercard® is an unsecured card so you don’t have to give the lender any collateral when you qualify for the card.
You can apply for the card directly through the First Digital website by filling out a short form. Most applicants can receive a decision in less than a minute all without having to go through a credit bureau or have a credit report issued.
Pricing and Fees
The First Digital Mastercard® falls short of the competition when it comes to pricing and fees. It’s expensive to open and use the card.
You don’t have to pay a fee when you apply for the card, but if you do qualify, First Digital requires a $95, one-time Program Fee before mailing the card to you.
On top of the $95 fee, the card charges a $75 annual fee in the first year and a $48 fee per year each year after that.
That means you’ll pay $170 in cash in the first year just to open and use the card.
Once you get the card, you can use it to make purchases or withdraw cash as needed. Making a purchase isn’t expensive if you don’t pay interest. However, you’ll pay a huge amount of interest if you carry a balance from month to month.
The card charges a fee of 35.99% APR for purchases and cash advances.
If you do take a cash advance, you’ll also pay a fee of $10 or 3% (whichever is greater) of the amount that you withdraw, plus the interest that accrues on the cash advance.
Applying for the First Digital Mastercard® is easy. You can apply through the company’s website using a short, one-page form.
To apply, you have to provide
- Your name
- Whether you rent or own your home
- Your monthly housing costs
- Contact information
- Your social security number
- Your date of birth
Once you apply, most people receive a lending decision within a minute. If you’re approved, you can immediately pay the $95 to receive the card.
The First Digital Mastercard® comes with all of the security features of a standard Mastercard.
You won’t be held liable if someone uses your card without your permission so long as you notice the fraudulent transactions and inform your card issuer within a reasonable amount of time. Mastercard also has automatic fraud protection systems in place to help prevent people from using your card in the first place.
The First Digital website also uses up-to-date web security standards and software to help keep your account information secure when you sign in to manage your account.
First Digital does not have a mobile app but it does have a responsive website that adapts to the size of your device’s screen.
You can visit the First Digital Mastercard® website from your computer or phone to sign in to your online account, view your statements, or make payments.
First Digital has an online customer center available 24/7, meaning you can get help with your account any time, any day.
If you want to speak to a human for assistance, you’ll have to call the number on the company’s website and navigate a phone tree to get to someone who can assist you.
First Digital Mastercard® Pros and Cons
Quick application process — If you’re having trouble qualifying for a card and getting frustrated with waiting to find out whether your application is approved or not, the First Digital Mastercard® can help you avoid that frustration. You can fill out an application online and most people get their decision within minutes.
Perfect credit not required — The First Digital Mastercard® targets people with poor or no credit, aiming to help them build a history of timely payments and improve their credit score. If you’ve struggled to qualify for other credit cards, you might still be able to qualify for this one.
High fees — The First Digital Mastercard® is expensive. You have to pay a $95 fee to open the account and a $75 annual fee on top of that. If you ever carry a balance, you’ll also be hit with massive interest charges.
If you’re considering the First Digital credit card, you may also want to consider the options below.
Discover it Secured
The Discover it Secured card is one of the best-secured credit cards on the market. It is much easier to qualify for than other credit cards because you have to provide a security deposit when opening the account. This makes it well-suited for those with poor or no credit.
The minimum security deposit is just $200, which is only $30 more than the fees you’d pay for the First Digital Mastercard® in the first year you have it. Plus, the security deposit is refundable, so you can get that money back. What’s more, there is no signup or annual fee to use the card.
The Discover it Secured card also offers cashback rewards, paying 2% cash back on restaurant and gas station purchases, and 1% on everything else. Plus, Discover matches the cash back you earn for the first year you have the card, doubling your earnings.
If you use the card responsibly, Discover will automatically refund your security deposit and convert you to an unsecured card once you’ve built your credit score.
Capital One Secured Mastercard
The Capital One Secured Mastercard is another good choice of a secured card for people with poor or no credit.
Like the Discover it Secured card, there are no signup fees or annual fees to pay with the card, and the security deposit you provide is refundable, meaning you can get the money back if you use the card well.
The benefit of the card is depending on the quality of your credit, you only have to provide $49, $99, or $200 for your security deposit. That means you could potentially need less cash upfront than you need to get the First Digital Mastercard®.
After six months of on-time payments, Capital One automatically increases your credit limit.
If you don’t want a secured credit card, the Indigo Card is an unsecured card designed for people with no credit or bad credit.
The advantage it has over the First Digital Mastercard® is it is cheaper to apply for and use. There is no application fee and no fee to open the account. Depending on the quality of your credit, you may receive an offer that includes one of the following annual fees:
- $75 for the first year and $99 each year thereafter
- $59 per year
Even if you don’t qualify for the Indigo Card, the company can often refer you to another lender that may be willing to offer a credit card to you
Chime Credit Builder Visa Mastercard
The Chime Credit Builder Visa Mastercard is a credit card that is intended to help users build credit over time. It essentially functions like a debit card. The card works in conjunction with a Chime checking or savings account, which must be opened to get the credit card.
To use the card, you need to transfer money from your Chime bank account to a special account called a Chime Builder Secured Account. You can then use the Credit Builder Visa Mastercard to charge any amount up to the amount in your Secured Account. You can “reload” your card whenever you please, effectively acting as a spending limit for your card.
Once the payment period is up, Chime automatically pays your bill using the funds in your account. Since it’s a credit card, Chime will report this timely payment to major credit bureaus, and you’ll see your credit score rise over time. Additionally, because there is technically no “credit limit”, you won’t have to worry about your credit utilization ratio damaging your credit score.
This card is a good choice for those who want to focus on building their credit score above all else. It functions like a debit card, so it lacks much of the freedom found in most major credit cards and also lacks many of the perks and rewards.
Read our full review of the Chime Credit Builder card here.
How does the card help build credit?
The First Digital Mastercard reports your card activity to each of the three major credit bureaus. Every time you make a payment on or before the due date, First Digital will send that information to the credit bureaus, which can help boost your score.
What credit score is required?
First Digital doesn’t specify a credit score minimum to qualify for the card. The company does state that perfect credit isn’t a requirement, but it likely won’t approve everyone that applies. Generally, the better your credit score, the better your odds of approval.
What bank issues the First Digital Mastercard?
The First Digital Mastercard is issued by Synovus Bank. Synovus Bank was founded in 1888 and is based in Columbus, Georgia. It operates almost 250 branches across the Southeastern United States.
Does American Express offer a secured credit card?
No, currently American Express does not offer a secured credit card.
Does First Digital Credit Card do a hard pull?
Yes, the First Digital Mastercard will do a hard pull of your credit report upon application. As it is an unsecured credit card designed for those without perfect credit, they do need to verify your credit score before approving you for the card. First Digital Credit Card does not offer pre-approval.
Who Is It For?
The First Digital Mastercard® is explicitly designed for people with poor or no credit. The card is expensive to open and use, but if you’re out of options elsewhere and need to start building your credit, this card may be able to help you–as long as you use it responsibly and pay it off every month. Carrying a balance on this card is not something you want to do.
Remember, there are also many secured credit cards that require deposits similar to the upfront costs charged by the First Digital Mastercard®.
Given that secured card deposits are refundable, unlike the First Digital Mastercard® fees, you may want to look into one of those options first–especially since most secured cards also have lower interest rates and may offer perks like cashback rewards.
A Word of Warning – And Advice
This article examined many credit cards that are ideal for those struggling with poor or no credit. However, in many of these instances, a credit card is not the solution to their woes. And while many of these credit cards offer assistance in rebuilding or restoring a damaged credit score, we recommend that this approach is complemented by a renewed commitment to budgeting and responsible money management.
In other words, think of these cards as a tool for helping you rebuild your credit score, but not as the result.
If not used responsibly, a credit card can end up damaging your credit score even further. While secured credit cards do ensure that you don’t miss payments, they do not offer the complete freedom of an unsecured card.
Building your credit is all about building and maintaining responsible money management and debt fulfillment habits.
In terms of a credit card, you must be sure that you pay your bills on time, every time. One missed payment can stay on your record for years.
Our top recommendation is to set a schedule for bill or loan payments and to stick to it. Set aside a time every month to meet all your monthly obligations, to the point where it becomes a habit. As an added bonus, you’ll save time by doing it all at once.
The Bottom Line
The First Digital Mastercard® can help people with poor or no credit build or rebuild their credit history. Though cheaper options do exist, this one might be one of the easiest to qualify for. If you’re considering this card, you’ll want to check out the alternatives first.
But, if saving up the required deposit for a secured card isn’t possible and you must apply for an unsecured card, this one will get the job done.