First Digital Next Gen MasterCard: Take a Good, Long Look at the Details

Marcy Bialeschki
May 16, 2020

Sometimes things happen, and we find ourselves in a bit of a predicament with our credit. If you have less than perfect credit, there are some credit cards that look past the past and offer help. First Digital Next Gen MasterCard is one of those cards, but their hospitality will come with a hefty price.

What Can First Digital Offer?

When most other card companies turn you down, First Digital could be your saving grace. First Digital does not require a credit check, and most applicants receive confirmation instantly after applying on the website. First Digital is also an unsecured card, so you will not have to pay a security deposit. First Digital can be a valuable tool when working to boost your credit score because it reports regularly to all three significant credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. Finally, the First Digital Next Gen card is a MasterCard, so it is accepted nearly everywhere worldwide.

What’s the Catch?

Fees, fees, and more fees! Hang on to your hat! Here comes the long list of costs associated with the First Digital MasterCard:

$75 annual fee the 1st year and $48 years after

$95 one-time program fee to activate the card

$75 annual service fee ($6.25 monthly) beginning the second year

Up to $40 late payment fee

Up to $40 returned payment fee

$29 additional card fee

$10 or 3% cash advance transaction fee

25% fee for credit increases

Whew! We all may need a moment to recover. But now let's look at the details regarding those fees. Sure, not everyone will have to pay a cash advance fee, extra card fee, or even late and returned payment fees. Let's assume those charges never get applied. Even so, potential card owners have to pay the $95 program fee upfront to open the account. Then the $75 annual fee is deducted from their $300 initial limit, leaving them with a $225 line of credit. The annual fee drops to $48 the second year, but that's when you get hit with a $6.25 service fee every month, equaling $75 per year. Finally, when you are lucky enough to increase your credit limit, you have to pay 25% of that increase. Keeping up with all of these fees has my head spinning.

Wait, did that just say card owners pay a fee to improve their line of credit? Yes, First Digital MasterCard is one of the only credit cards to charge a fee when your credit limit improves. And at 25% of the increase, cardholders find themselves more than a little miffed to be "punished" for doing what they are supposed to do -- improve their credit. Here's an example: If your credit limit increases by $100, First Digital will pay themselves $25 by only adding $75 to your credit limit. The bad news is not over. The First Digital MasterCard has one of the highest -- if not the highest -- purchase and cash advance APRs at 35.99%. Additionally, potential customers are required to have a checking account, which could add more fees. In light of all of these fees and the astronomical APR attached to the First Digital MasterCard, looking around for an alternative will be worth your time.

Alternatives to First Digital MasterCard

Before conceding to the harsh fees of the First Digital MasterCard, you might want to consider one of the following credit cards:

Credit One Platinum Visa:

Unsecured card

$0 - $99 annual fee

No upfront fee

No monthly fee

Free credit score that won’t harm your credit

Cash back rewards

Convenient mobile app

19.49% - 25.49% APR

Notice the lack of fees with Credit One Platinum Visa compared to the First Digital MasterCard. Other attractive features include cash back rewards -- a bonus not usually offered with a credit building card. With the Credit One Platinum Visa, even the high end of the APR scale has a much lower interest rate than the First Digital MasterCard.

Green Dot Primor Visa:

Secured card: can set credit limit with security deposit from $200 - $5000

$39 annual fee

No credit check / no affect on credit score for applying

Visa name, accepted everywhere

Reports to all three large credit bureaus regularly to help get your credit score up faster

19.99% APR

Again, the fees associated with the Green Dot Visa are nearly non-existent compared to the First Digital MasterCard, and the APR is drastically lower. Having a $39 annual fee seems like a small price to pay for a 19.99% APR.

Open Sky Secured Visa:

Secured card with a minimum deposit of $200

No credit check

$35 annual fee

18.95% APR

Reports to all three significant credit bureaus

Visa name, accepted everywhere

The Open Sky Secured Visa has the lowest APR of the options at 18.95%. Granted, none of these credit building cards are designed for you to carry a balance, so the APR might not be a determining factor in choosing which one to get. However, if you have to roll some of the balance to the next month, the higher APR rates will send you on a downward spiral pretty quickly.

These are just a few of many other credit building cards people should consider before committing to the First Digital Next Gen MasterCard. However, there are a few rules you need to follow if First Digital ends up being the card for you.

The most important thing to remember if using the First Digital MasterCard is not to carry a balance. People should use the card as a credit building avenue and only charge what can be paid off in full and on time. However, even with an impeccable payment history, the excessive fees make this card quite undesirable. First Digital's APR is the highest of all other cards, and it has a depressing list of fees. The only reason to accept their terms is if there is no other choice.

Finally, the First Digital MasterCard can fill the bill if you have to have a credit card and cannot find a better option. Just make sure you weigh the negatives against the positives and proceed with caution.

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