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 great rates. But your credit score can affect your life in other ways as well.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), many homeowners, cell phone companies, and insurance companies will review credit scores when reviewing applications from new tenants or customers. And your utility company can use your credit score to determine if a security deposit will be required.
If you have poor or damaged credit, or just have 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 secure card, the first Latitude Platinum MasterCard® secure credit card might be a solid option to consider. Find out what this secure card has to offer in our full review.
What is the program for the first Latitude card?
The First Latitude Platinum Mastercard Secure Credit Card is a new secure card program designed to help consumers build credit. The First Latitude Card is actually operated by First Progress, which offers three other secure cards under the First Progress brand.
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. Although Synovus Bank is headquartered in Columbus, Georgia, First Progress and First Latitude are both based in Johnson City, Tennessee.
The first secure Latitude Platinum MasterCard® credit card
The First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card has a few important features and benefits that could make it attractive to anyone looking to build up credit. But there are also a few minor drawbacks you should be aware of. Here’s what you need to know.
No credit score or minimum 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 pay a security deposit that acts as a security 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 don’t have to have any credit history whatsoever. However, it should be noted that First Latitude will always check your credit when you submit your application and the absence of a specific minimum credit score does not necessarily guarantee approval.
If you are concerned that negative information on your credit report is preventing you from qualifying for the First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card, you may want to look for a secure card that will not check your credit at all like the OpenSky. ® Secured Visa® Credit Card (see here).
No annual fee
Since secured cards are typically intended for consumers with poor or damaged credit, they often come with high fees. But the first secure Platinum Latitude MasterCard® credit card doesn’t charge an annual fee.
In addition, if you later close your account with no outstanding balance, First Latitude will refund your security deposit in full. So in the long run, the first Latitude card could be a really free option to rebuild your credit.
Reports to the three major credit bureaus
If you need to make a security deposit to use a credit card, you’ll want to know that you’ll get credit for your payment history on time. Fortunately, the First Latitude MasterCard® Secured Credit Card will report your credit history to the three major credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
Related: Here’s how to check your three credit scores
It should be noted that this can be a double edged sword. Using a card that reports to the credit bureaus can help you improve your credit score if you make your payments on time. But late or missed payments will also be reported and may send your score in the opposite direction.
Works wherever Mastercard cards are accepted
The First Latitude Card works 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 “secure” will not be displayed anywhere on the card. Once you have made your initial security deposit, the first secured Latitude Platinum MasterCard® credit card will act and look like an unsecured credit card in every way.
No rewards program
With most secured credit cards, the ability to improve your credit is the main draw, while the rewards options are often slim or nonexistent. And the first Latitude Platinum Mastercard secure credit card follows this model. It doesn’t have any rewards program to speak of.
Remember, secure cards like the First Latitude Card are meant to be credit gateways, not your final destination. After 6-12 months of on-time payments with the first secure Latitude Platinum Mastercard credit card, your credit score may have improved enough that you can start applying for some of the best rewards credit cards.
No clear graduation path
Some secure cards will automatically consider switching cardholders to partially secure or fully insecure versions of the card after a certain number of on-time payments.
For example, Discover begins to review Discover Secured Credit Card accounts to see if they are eligible for a security deposit refund 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 does not mention any similar clear graduation path. You can contact their customer service at any time to request an increase in your credit limit. However, it seems the only way to get your initial security deposit back is to close your account.
Prices and fees
As mentioned above, the First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® secured credit card does not charge an annual fee. However, there are a few other fees associated with the card:
- Late payment fees: Up to $ 40
- Return payment costs: Up to $ 29
- Cash advance fees: $ 10.00 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
- Foreign transaction fees: 3% of the transaction amount
It is important to understand that the First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® Secured Credit Card works just like a regular credit card in that you will have the ability to make minimum payments. However, the carried over balances will bear interest. The First Latitude card’s interest rate 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 fee of $ 29.95 to take advantage of their “Apply Now, Fund Later” option. With this option, you will have up to 90 days after receiving your card approval to make your security deposit payment.
How to register
You can apply for the First Latitude Card easily by using the online application on their site. Currently, due to staffing limitations caused by COVID-19, First Latitude is unable to accept phone applications for the First Latitude Platinum MasterCard® secure credit card.
First Latitude says they strive to process most requests within three weeks. If you’re approved, they say you should expect to receive your card within seven to ten business days. You can also pay a fee of $ 19.95 for expedited processing which 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 have made the maximum security deposit of $ 2,000, you can rest assured that your money will be fully insured by the FDIC.
Related: Here’s how to maximize your FDIC insurance coverage
On their online app, First Latitude will ask for your phone number so they can communicate with you via text message about upcoming bills or other important notifications. However, they currently do not have a mobile app available for cardholders. You will need to log into your online account portal to monitor your account activity or make payments.
Related: First Progress vs. Open Sky: Secure credit cards