First Access Visa Credit Card: Navigating the Fees and Perimeters

Marcy Bialeschki
April 19, 2020

If we all needed a credit card for the same reason, there would only need to be one type of card. However, the array of cards available reflects our varied needs. For those who have a poor credit score but have the financial means to build credit, the First Access Visa card could help. Notice I qualify my previous statement by saying, but have the financial means to build credit. I emphasize this claim because the fees attached to this card will only continue to ruin credit if the cardholder cannot play by the rules. Learning the details of the card and navigating its perimeters will be essential for any First Access Visa cardholder.

The First Access Visa card is targeting a specific customer. It does not offer any of the perks of a regular credit card. Customers will not see a sign-up bonus or a rewards plan attached. Again, this card has a concentrated purpose: help the cardholder build credit and recover from past financial missteps.

This card is an unsecured Visa, which means there is no security deposit. This kind of card often attaches an overabundance of fees to compensate for issuing credit to high-risk customers. As long as cardholders don’t fall into the trap of having to pay these fees, they will start to see their credit score and finances move in a positive direction. The First Access Visa has the same purchasing power as other Visa credit cards, with access to merchants and ATM's nationwide. The purchasing power, however, is restricted to the $300 credit limit.

So, how will cardholders build credit using this card? As I mentioned earlier, play by the rules. Card owners should purchases on the card monthly and pay them off on time. After about six months, cardholders should apply for an extended line of credit. Be aware that Visa will initially charge a fee of 20% of the increase, making a $100 raise in your credit limit worth $80 the first month. Not fair, you say? Maybe not, but this is one of those fees the lender issues to guard against loss when lending to at-risk customers.

Building credit is challenging and will not happen quickly. However, using your First Access Visa within its perimeters is a first step. Visa sends monthly reports to all three credit agencies. Even though you might not see a change in your credit score, it is making progress every month you pay your First Access Visa bill on time.

I have mentioned the excessive number of fees several times. It’s worth taking a look at a list of these fees to get a realistic impression of this card. The 34.99% fixed APR is number one on the list because it will be quite punishing for the cardholder who leaves a balance on the card. Reminder: Cardholders should pay the balance monthly to build credit.

List of Fees

APR fixed at 34.99% $95 Program Fee issued with application $75 annual service fee the first year / $48 every year after $0 service fees the first year / $75 ($6.25 monthly) every year after $40 late payment fee $40 returned payment fee 20% charge on an increased credit line $0 cash advance fee the first year / $10 or 3%, whichever is higher after the first year $35 express card delivery fee

YES…BUT…

The overall impression of this card can be best summarized by a YES…..BUT…..list of features because most of the positive aspects of the First Access Visa card have a downfall. The potential customer must weigh the positives against the negatives and determine if the card is right for them.

YES, there is an easy online application with a quick decision…
BUT...your account will not open until the $95 Program Fee is paid.

YES, there is no security deposit
BUT…the unsecured card status lends itself to extra fees.

YES, there is not a first-year service fee
BUT…you will be charged $75 annually ($6.25 monthly) after the first year.

YES, after a few months you can apply for a higher credit limit BUT… a credit increase fee of 20% will be applied to your card.

YES, cash advances are available
BUT… there is a 90-day waiting period (3 monthly cycles) before you are eligible.

YES, you receive a $300 line of credit
BUT… you actually have a $225 line of credit for the 1st month after the $75 annual fee is subtracted.

The Bottom Line

Customer reviews of this card are all over the map. I think this is true because people can easily get this card. Still, if they are not using it correctly to improve their credit, they will be disappointed and punished. So, here’s the bottom line on who should consider this card:

People who have a low credit score and who are dedicated to improving it: Poor credit affects many aspects of life. For whatever reason a person has this label, the First Access Visa will most likely give them a chance for redemption. Be cautious, however. People must identify the reasons they fell into the poor-credit trap, or they will not change their ways. Also, people cannot expect instant results, or they will be disappointed. This is why I say the ideal candidate for the First Access Visa must be dedicated to improving their financial situation. It will take time and effort.

People who are trying to get into the good habit of using a line a credit and then pay it off monthly: The $300 credit line is aimed to keep spending in check. This limit is designed to be paid on-time monthly, thus building the cardholder’s credit.

People who have a regular income and can afford all of the extra fees with this card: Visa sets up a guideline for building credit, but cardholders have to do the work. Visa is basically charging their customers for a credit-recovery plan. Potential card owners must know all of the fees and make sure they can pay them.

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