Most people know that poor or damaged credit or a limited credit history can make it more difficult to qualify for a mortgage or other loan at attractive rates. But your credit score can affect your life in other ways as well.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), many landlords, cell phone companies, and insurance companies will look at credit scores when considering new tenant or customer applications. And your utility company may use your credit score to determine whether a security deposit will be required.
If you have poor or damaged credit or simply a limited credit history, a secured credit card can be a great tool to help you improve your score. And if you’re in the market for a secured card, The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card could be a solid option worth considering. Learn what this secured card has to offer in our full review.
What is The First Latitude Card Program?
The First Latitude Platinum Mastercard Secured Credit Card is a new secured card program designed to help consumers build credit. The First Latitude Card is actually serviced by First Progress, which offers three more secured cards under the First Progress branding.
First Progress was founded in 2011 by its parent company Synovus Bank. Synovus Bank has been a major player in the banking industry for over a century since its founding in 1888. While Synovus Bank is headquartered in Columbus, Georgia, First Progress and First Latitude are both based in Johnson City, Tennessee.
The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card Features
The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card has a few strong features and benefits that could make it compelling to anyone looking to build credit. But there are also a few minor drawbacks you’ll want to be aware of. Here’s what you need to know.
No Minimum Credit Score or Credit History Requirement
Unlike most unsecured credit cards, your eligibility and credit limit for The First Latitude Card is not solely determined by your credit score. Instead, you’ll post a security deposit that will act as collateral against your credit limit. The minimum security deposit with The First Latitude Card is $200 and the maximum is $2,000.
Since the security deposit requirement limits First Latitude’s risk, they do not have a minimum credit score for approval. In fact, you’re not required to have any credit history whatsoever. However, it should be pointed out that First Latitude will still check your credit when you submit your application and the lack of a specific minimum credit score doesn’t necessarily guarantee approval.
If you’re worried that negative information on your credit report could hinder you from qualifying for First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card, you may want to look for a secured card that won’t check your credit at all like the OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card (review here).
No Annual Fee
Since secured cards are typically targeted at consumers with poor or damaged credit, they often come with expensive fees. But The First Platinum Latitude MasterCard® Secured Credit Card charges no annual fee whatsoever.
Also, if you later close your account while having no outstanding balance, First Latitude will fully refund your security deposit. So, in the long run, The First Latitude Card could be a truly no out-of-pocket option for rebuilding your credit.
Reports to the Three Major Credit Bureaus
If you’re going to have to put up a security deposit to use a credit card, you’ll want to know that you’re going to get credit for your on-time payment history. Thankfully, the First Latitude MasterCard® Secured Credit Card will report your credit history to all three major credit bureaus–Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
It should be noted that this can be a two-edged sword. Using a card that reports to the credit bureaus can help you improve your credit score if you’re making your payments on time. But late or missed payments will also be reported and can send your score in the opposite direction.
Works Anywhere Mastercards Are Accepted
The First Latitude Card works just like any other credit card and can be used with any merchant that accepts Mastercards. This could make it a great option to use for hotels or car rentals, which often require credit cards to book.
The word “secured” will not be displayed anywhere on the card. Once you’ve made your initial security deposit, The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card will act and look in every way like an unsecured credit card.
No Rewards Program
With most secured credit cards, the ability to improve your credit is the main draw while rewards options are often slim to none. And The First Latitude Platinum Mastercard Secured Credit Card follows this pattern. It has no rewards program to speak of whatsoever.
Remember, secured cards like The First Latitude Card are meant to be credit-building bridges, not your final destination. After 6 to 12 months of making on-time payments with The First Latitude Platinum Mastercard Secured Credit Card, your credit score may have improved enough that you can begin applying for some of the top rewards credit cards.
No Clear Graduation Path
Some secured cards will automatically consider graduating cardholders to partially secured or fully unsecured versions of the card after a certain number of on-time payments.
For example, Discover starts reviewing Discover Secured Credit Card accounts to see if they qualify for security deposit refunds after eight months. And Capital One Secured Mastercard cardholders are automatically considered for a higher credit limit after just six months.
Unfortunately, The First Latitude card website and cardholder agreement mention no similar clear graduation pathways. You can contact their customer service team at any time to request a credit limit increase. However, it appears that the only way to get back your initial security deposit is through closing your account.
Pricing and Fees
As mentioned above, First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card charges no annual fee. However, there are a few other fees associated with the card:
- Late payment fee: Up to $40
- Returned payment fee: Up to $29
- Cash advance fee: $10.00 or 3% of the amount of each Cash Advance, whichever is greater
- Foreign transaction fee: 3% of the transaction amount
It’s important to understand that The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card works just like a regular credit card in that you’ll have the option to make minimum payments. However, rolled-over balances will accrue interest. The interest rate on The First Latitude Card is a variable rate that is set by the Prime Rate plus a margin of 22.74%.
Finally, First Latitude cardholders can choose to pay a $29.95 fee to take advantage of their “Apply Now and Fund Later” option. With this option, you’ll have up to 90 days after receiving card approval to provide your security deposit payment.
How to Apply
You can apply for The First Latitude Card easily using the online application on their site. Currently, due to staffing limitations caused by COVID-19, First Latitude is not able to accept phone applications for The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card.
First Latitude says that they endeavor to process most applications within three weeks. If you’re approved, they say that you should expect to receive your card within seven to ten business days. You can also pay a $19.95 fee for Expedited Processing that First Latitude says could speed up the application process by seven days.
Your security deposit will be held in an FDIC-insured Synovus Bank account. The FDIC can insure up to $250,000 in bank deposits. So even if you made the maximum security deposit of $2,000, you can rest assured that your money will be fully insured by the FDIC.
On their online application, First Latitude will ask for your phone number so that they can communicate with you via text about upcoming bills or other important notifications. However, they don’t currently have a mobile app available for cardholders. You’ll need to log onto your online account portal to monitor your account activity or make payments.
Pros and Cons of The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card
Designed for consumers with limited or damaged credit — This is a secured credit card, which is designed for consumers with limited or damaged credit.
Charges no annual fee — There is no annual fee with this card.
Reports monthly to all three major credit bureaus — The First Latitude MasterCard® Secured Credit Card will report your credit history to all three major credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Accepted anywhere that accepts credit cards — Can be used with any merchant that accepts or requires credit cards.
Quick and easy online application — The process of applying for this card is easy and quick.
No way to earn rewards — This card has no rewards or perks since its primary purpose is to build credit.
No clear path to a better card — There is no clear graduation path to partially unsecured or fully unsecured versions of the card.
No mobile app — There is no mobile app available.
Not available in four states — The card is not yet available in New York, Iowa, Arizona, or Wisconsin.
Is The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard Secured Credit Card For You?
With no annual fee, The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card is an inexpensive secured card option. And if you use The First Latitude Card responsibly, your positive payment history will be reported to the credit bureaus which could help you qualify for an unsecured card in the future.
But before you choose the First Latitude Card, be sure to compare its features with the other top secured credit cards on the market. Depending on your credit situation, you may be able to qualify for a secured card that offers faster credit limit increases or security deposit refunds, or possibly even some rewards.