First Progress Secured Cards Review

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

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Comparing First Progress Credit Cards – Prestige vs Select vs Elite Secured Mastercard

The First Progress offers 3 versions of their Platinum secured cards Prestige, Select, and Elite. When they look at these cards for the first time, a lot of people can’t tell them apart. Even worse, a lot of people think that they are absolutely the same. However, you can’t afford to make this kind of mistake. Getting stuck with a card that doesn’t suit your needs can set you back a lot. You might end up wasting more money than you should, ruin your credit score, or miss the opportunity to get another card that you could use.

  • Platinum Elite – is best for those who are going to clear their balance regularly and need fast results. (Highest APR, Lowest Fee).
  • Platinum Prestige – is best for those who often have difficulties clearing their balance regularly but still need a secured card. (Highest Fee, Lowest APR)
  • Platinum Select – is the best option for those who are most of the time clearing their balance but sometimes fail to do so.

You need to understand that these cards are meant for people with a poor FICO score (under 600), and they are designed according to these people’s needs. These cards don’t have financial profile requirements, and anyone can qualify for them. In case you have a bad credit score, or you don’t have any credit history and want to start off on the right foot, one of these cards might be just the thing you need.

First Progress Secured Cards Review - Prestige vs Select vs Elite

First Progress Secured Cards Comparison Table

Platinum ElitePlatinum SelectPlatinum Prestige
Rewards1% cash back1% cash back
Ongoing APR (Variable)24.49%18.49%14.49%
Cash Advance APR29.49%24.49%23.49%
Annual Fee$29$39$49
Grace Period25 days25 days25 days
Credit limit$200 – $2,000$200 – $2,000$200 – $2,000
Credit Reporting3 Bureaus3 Bureaus3 Bureaus
Credit RecommendedPoor/Limited/No CreditPoor/Limited/No CreditPoor/Limited/No Credit
More DetailsElite MastercardSelect MastercardPrestige Mastercard
ApplicationApply OnlineApply OnlineApply Online

What is First Progress Platinum Mastercard?

This credit card provider is based in the US and offers its products to American residents. The company targets people who want to start building or repair their financial profiles. At the moment, they offer only these three cards that work on security deposits. If you aren’t familiar with secured credit cards, this simply means that the credit limit of these cards is equal to how much the user deposits on them. Simply put, users can’t spend more money than they have, as the deposit limits them. The main goal of getting one of the three First Progress secured credit cards is, of course, to improve the FICO score. Each time the user makes all their monthly payments, the performance is reported to the three main credit bureaus – TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.

These credit bureaus track your credit history, and lenders check their credit score based on their reports. Since these are secured credit cards, everyone who applies can get one. Simply put, no matter what your FICO score is at the moment, it’s not considered when applying. These cards are made to help users accumulate brand new information on their credit reports. With repeated use, these cards can help improve credit score and bury negative financial information.

RELATED: Cards Reporting Credit Explained

You need to have a bank account

Without a verified bank account in your name, you won’t be able to get any of the First Progress secured credit cards. The company needs to have some assurance that you will be able to put your deposits down. At the same time, they need to track your spending and make sure that nothing suspicious is happening with your card. Before applying for one of the three cards, make sure to have all the relevant checking account information or debit card details prepared.

First Progress has made the application process very simple. Anyone can apply on the First Progress site, no matter if they’re using a desktop computer or a mobile device. The credit card provider accepts both Visa or Mastercard. After the application has been submitted, First Progress will have the authority to process the security deposit. This will happen instantly, and the funds that have been selected as the credit line will be on hold. In case the application doesn’t get approved, the account will receive all the money back in about 5 days. Debit card information isn’t stored on file in any way.

How Do First Progress Platinum Cards work?

First Progress cards are quite similar to any other secured cards. If you ever had one, the process of obtaining a First Progress card will be quite similar. The first thing you will have to do is put a deposit down. That amount will then transfer to your credit line. Simply put, your deposit is your credit card limit. If you pay $1,000 upfront, you will be limited to $1,000 of spending. It’s important to mention that your credit limit won’t be the same as your deposit. The reason for this is the annual fee that you will have to pay for the service. (See No Annual Fee Cards)

If your fee is $29 and you put down a $400 deposit, you will be left with $371 on the card. However, this is only for the initial deposit. Each consecutive time you will have the full amount that you deposited. Of course, this will last for a full year until you have to pay your next annual fee. All of the three cards work the same way, and there are no differences between their mechanisms. If you’ve used a secured credit card in the past, then you know the drill, and there won’t be anything surprising about First Progress cards.

Make a deposit that allows you to keep your balance low compared to your whole credit line. If not, pay the minimum deposit and clear your balance regularly.

3 Types of First Progress Platinum Cards

We mentioned earlier that First Progress has three cards. In this part, we’ll talk more about them, their differences, and how to tell them apart. The three cards are:

  1. Elite Mastercard Secured Card
  2. Select Mastercard Secured Card
  3. Prestige Mastercard Secured Card

No matter how your credit profile looks, you can apply for one of these cards. Additionally, if you are approved for one, you will be approved for any of the three. It’s because all three cards are fundamentally the same. There aren’t any structural differences between them. They are used the same way and are almost identical. The only differences between them are their (a) annual fees, (b) APR rates, and (c) interests. First Progress has made these three types of cards to help people adjust their annual fees according to their needs or capabilities.

Simply put, they are made so that everyone can start working on improving their credit score, no matter how much money they have at the moment. If you are wondering why you shouldn’t just go with the card that has the lowest annual fee, the answer is quite simple. The lower the fees are, the higher the interest rates will be. On the other hand, cards that have the highest interest rates will have low annual fees. Now, let’s see how this looks with the three types of First Progress security credit cards.

Security Deposits and Credit Limits

The security deposit has a minimum limit of $200 and a maximum that goes up to $2,000. It’s the same for all three types of cards. Simply put, when making the first deposit, you need to have at least $200 to start using the card.

Compare the 3 First Progress cards thoroughly and see which one fits best with your spending habits and current wages.

How Can I Increase Credit Limits?

Even though the official credit limit is set at $2000 for all these cards, it can be increased. Every user can request an increase in their credit limit by contacting the First Progress customer service. The company decides on its own whether certain users should get an increase. New users can’t expect to get an increase because they haven’t gained the trust of the company. Simply put, they want to see what kind of financial habits their users have and whether they will have enough discipline to pay for all their limits. In case the increase is approved, the individual will get detailed instructions to have to deposit additional money to their account so that his or her credit limit will be increased. In some cases, users will be charged a fee on their increase. That’s why you should make sure to ask about it and see how much the fees will be.

After a couple of months of display financial responsibility and making payments on time, you will be able to ask for a bigger credit limit. If not, chances are your request will be denied.

Which of the Three Mastercard is Right for Me?

First of all, make sure that you understand what First Progress and its services are all about before you start to consider which of their cards you should get. Similar to other secured card services, the main reason for you to get a First Progress card should be building or improving your credit history. If not, it simply makes no sense to get one of their cards. After all, secured credit cards are essentially prepaid debit cards, and all the First Progress Platinum cards fall into this category. Furthermore, if you get one of these cards without this goal, you will be using a credit card and wasting your money on paying annual fees. On the other hand, when you are looking to improve your credit score, all this makes sense. However, it’s important to make sure that you clear your balance every month so that all the reports are positive.

You can rest assured that First Progress is going to report all your payments each month to all three largest credit bureaus. Over time, the bureaus will increase the score on your report if you accumulate a lot of positive payments. In theory, the best option is Platinum Elite Card if, of course, you want to improve your credit score, and this is the only motivation for using the card. At the same time, it’s the best option only if you plan on clearing your monthly balance regularly. The Platinum Elite has the highest APR rate of all the cards.

However, when the balance is cleared regularly, APR has no effect whatsoever. You won’t get charged with any interest, and you will only have to pay the annual fee. Additionally, the Platinum Elite has the lowest annual fee. Still, if you aren’t confident that you will be able to clear the balance regularly, consider the other two options. You should consider your current payments and how much money you can set aside for card use. Be realistic and always consider the worst-case scenarios.

Don’t get any of these three cards unless you’ve first done the math and calculated your income and expenses. Make sure that you will be able to use the card responsibly.

Why You Need to Clear Your Balance to Improve Credit Score

All the calculations that are used to set someone’s credit score consider the credit utilization ratio. It represents your balance through a percentage, based on the credit you currently have available. What’s characteristic about secured credit cards is that they all come with low credit limits. This is because the limits are determined by the deposit amount. Simply put, low limits make it easy to reach a high credit utilization ratio. For example, if you get a First Progress Platinum card and pay a minimum $200 deposit, you will be left with the same credit limit.

Carrying a lot of balance in these situations isn’t possible. The reason for this is because a good balance is set somewhere at 10% or less of the total available credit. In this situation, the balance is $20 or less, which means that going over the wanted amount is quite easy. On the other hand, having a 30% balance or less isn’t a bad thing, but with these kinds of numbers, it will take longer to improve your credit score. Ideally, it’s best to have no balance at all, but if you have to, keep it at least below 30% of your limit.

Paying all the bills on time is still the best thing you can do. Even when minimum payments are involved, make sure to take care of them on time. It’s the best way to improve credit. Even if you are carrying a balance that’s double the recommended amount, if you pay it on time, it won’t have an effect on your score.

However, make sure that you always keep track of your balance and payments. One of the upsides of having a low credit limit is that it’s impossible to carry such a high balance to make the interest huge. Even if you get the Platinum Elite, with the highest interest rate, this won’t be a problem. If your balance was $100, with this card, the total interest would be $1.65 for that month, which is not high. Even if users carry smaller balances for several months, the interest won’t make a huge difference. That’s why you should consider getting a card with a smaller annual fee.

RELATED: Secured Cards Explained

Other Fees that Come with First Progress Cards

Apart from the annual fees that come with the respected First Progress cards, there aren’t any other additional fees for the application process. Still, there are fees that come with using the card. You need to consider them and learn how to keep them as low as possible while using the card.

  • ATM cash withdrawal fee. First of all, when using a card for ATM cash withdrawal, you will have a 3% transaction fee on the amount, or you will have a $10 fixed fee. All transactions higher than $334 will have a 3% fee, while all the lower ones will have $10. Even though these fees aren’t that great, it’s important to be careful with them. If you can, it’s best to avoid ATMs altogether when using First Progress cards, especially if you want to withdraw cash. Of course, there are unexpected situations in life where withdrawing cash is the easiest way to go. However, you should always keep in mind what these cards are made for – improving your credit score. These cards aren’t meant for large expenses and buying things you haven’t planned for. By doing this, you will only increase your expenses, and paying for the fees is enough on its own. Never forget that these are security cards made for building a credit score, nothing else.
  • Interest and associated fees. When it comes to APR rates, we mentioned that they wouldn’t affect you as long as you cleared your balance regularly. In case you aren’t able to make the payment for your monthly balance, you will have to pay for the APR in the next 25 days. Additionally, if you miss payments, you will get charged $39 by First Progress.
  • Returned payment fee. In case a payment is returned by the bank, the charge will be $28. Simply put, if you make all your payments on time and carry a clean balance every month, you won’t have any additional expenses. However, if you start missing payments and carry a balance, the interest and fees will pile on, and these aren’t good for improving credit score.
If you want to avoid all the additional interest and fees, make sure to clear your balance on time, avoid international purchases, and don’t withdraw cash from the ATM.

Who Can Get First Progress Platinum cards?

Similar to other secured credit cards, First Progress Platinum cards are also easy to get. Still, this doesn’t mean everyone can get them. Certain requirements need to be met for you to qualify for one. As we mentioned before, all three Platinum cards have the same requirements. Here are the main requirements:

  • The applicant needs to have at least 18 years.
  • Based in the US (not including Wisconsin, New York, Iowa, and Arkansas).
  • Be a Permanent or Temporary (Green card holder) US resident
  • Have a social security number.
  • The applicant needs to have a checking account.

These are the main requirements set by First Progress. When applying for a card, the company will check whether the information you’ve given them is valid. If they can check it easily, you will be approved instantly. If not, they will ask for some additional help and clarification. (See Instant Decision Cards) With all this in mind, First Progress cards don’t have any big requirements similar to other security cards. Most importantly, credit checks aren’t required, and literally, anyone can get one of their cards, regardless of how bad their credit score might be.

Just because everyone can get these cards doesn’t mean they should. If you aren’t ready to use the card responsibly, don’t get it.

Applying for First Progress Platinum Cards

If First Progress secured credit cards seem like the thing you need (rebuilding credit), then go and apply for one on their official site. You will have to fill out a simple form to submit your application. There are several application channels to choose from, but we recommend that you go to the comparison table and use apply links.

  • Personal information. Still, no matter which channel you choose when you apply, you will have to give some basic personal information to continue. Initially, the information required from you will revolve around your identity. You’ll need to provide your full name, current address, birth date, social security number, and so on.
  • Financial information: Once you’ve finished this part, you will have to provide some financial information as well, including your current wages each month with tax and your employment status.
  • Your choice of a card: After adding all the relevant information for your application, you will be asked to choose which of the three cards you’re applying for. No matter which one you choose, the process remains the same. After picking your card, click on the apply button to submit your application.

You will then have to wait until the people at First Progress have reviewed your application. The time needed for them to give you an answer can take from 1 up to 3 weeks, depending on how many applications they have. Even though the First Progress Platinum cards acceptance rate is quite high, we found it strange that the evaluation process lasts for such a long time. A lot of security cards need 2 to 3 days to get approved or rejected, but First Progress takes quite long, which shows that the company, in fact, checks other factors for each application.

Once your application has been approved, you will have to make a security deposit for your card. The simplest way to do this is by transferring funds from the checking account, from which you will be making your repayments. In the end, you will be asked if you want to get your own electronic debit agreement. We suggest that you do this, as this option makes it a lot easier to completely clear your balance each month. You can even set it up to do this automatically.

Alternatives and Competition

OfferAnnual FeeCredit LinesKey FeaturesReviewApplication
Sable One Secured Mastercard$0up to $10,000– 2% cash back
– Cell Phone Insurance
Sable Secured ReviewClaim this offer
Applied Bank Gold Secured Visa$48up to $5,000– Gold card benefitsApplied Bank Visa ReviewClaim this offer
Chime Secured Visa$0up to $10,000No FX fees
Credit Builder App
– Savings account
Chime vs NetspendClaim this offer
PCB Secured Visa$39up to $5,000– 3 Bureaus reportingWhat is PCB Secured Visa?Claim this offer
First Latitude Secured MastercardSee termsup to $2,000– No credit history is required
– 3 Bureaus reporting
– No min credit score is needed
First Lattitude ReviewClaim this offer
OpenSky Secured Visa$35from $200– 85% approval rate
– Flexible payment dates
OpenSky ReviewClaim this offer
Self Secured Visa$0From $100Credit Builder App
– Savings account
What is Self Credit Builder?Claim this offer

How to Use First Progress Cards to their Full Potential

Your historical payment performance is the first, and one of the most important metrics that all the credit bureaus check. Simply put, clearing monthly balances on a regular basis for an on-going period of time will bring significant improvements. It shows that you know how to handle credit and increases your credit score. With this in mind, we suggest using First Progress Platinum cards whenever you can. Still, this doesn’t mean going crazy and buying all kinds of random stuff with your card. When we say use it whenever possible, we mean to use the card to make purchases you would regularly make with cash.

That includes all the things you would regularly buy, even without the card – things like morning coffee, breakfast, gas, groceries, milk, and so on. A lot of people become too confident when they get credit cards and end up getting into trouble. You can’t allow this to happen, especially with these types of cards that are designed to show that you are reliable with credit.

With this kind of approach, you will be able to build your credit effectively. Additionally, be disciplined and put aside cash after each purchase you make. While it might sound exhausting, you’ll get used to it after a while. By doing this, you will always be able to clear your balance on time. We mentioned earlier that making all your payments regularly is the fastest way to build up your credit score. If you aren’t able to take care of your monthly payments, you will get higher rates and defeat the purpose of using these cards.

RELATED: 13 Reasons to Carry a Secured Card

How to Contact First Progress?

Correspondence Address

First Progress Card
P.O. Box 9053
Johnson City, TN 37615-9053

Bottom Line

If you’ve made a lot of bad financial decisions, maybe you should consider your previous mistakes and build up your score. If you can’t take loans or get cards without extreme interest rates, chances are it’s better for you to postpone them until you’ve improved your credit score. This is where First Progress Premium cards come into play. They don’t offer much in terms of rewards, cash back, and so on. However, they give effective payment processing and reporting to credit agencies. The sole intention of getting one of these cards should be to build your score.


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