Why Was My Bank of America Secured Card Denied? - Before we start this review, I just want to point out that we get a lot of questions asking why they were denied a Bank of America Secured Card. Just to recap, a secured credit card is designed for people with no credit or even people who are looking to rebuild their credit either after a big drop in their scores or even after bankruptcy. However, this card is best suited for folks who do not have a credit history and is looking to build a banking relationship with Bank of America. New immigrants and young adults fit this fill. If you have been discharged from bankruptcy, you are very likely to get denied approval for this card even if it is "secured".
Key Features - The annual fee at $39.00 (which is actually $10 higher than the previous level) and is still very reasonable for secured credit cards. Furthermore, there is no one-time processing fee common in other secured credit cards. The APR is at 20.24% which though high, is quite the norm for secured cards. You will need to deposit between $300 and $4900 in a BOA account to act as a collateral for this card. The credit limit will be the amount that you deposit in the bank account.
You Can Use TIN Instead of SSN To Apply - Another interesting fact about this card is that you can use your TIN instead of your SSN to get this card. There has been accusations of that this allows illegal immigrants to get access to credit in the US. It was rather big news a couple of years ago. But this practice is totally legal and complies with all laws. For most folks, this would be irrelevant anyway.
How Does The BOA Secured Card Compare With Other Mainstream Secured Cards?
BOA Secured Card versus Citi Secured MasterCard - The best comparable to this card is actually the Citi Secured MasterCard. Citi has a slightly lower annual fee at $29. You would need to deposit between $200 to $5,000 in a 18 Month CD. The interest rate is 18.24% which is slightly lower than BOA's card. Like BOA's secured card, Citi allows you to use your TIN instead of social security to apply for their secured credit card.
BOA Secured Card versus Wells Fargo Secured Visa - Wells Fargo also has a secured credit card that comes with an annual fee of $25 and a roughly similar interest rate. You can deposit up to $10,000 as your collateral with Wells Fargo rather than $4,900 with BOA. One of the key difference is that with Wells Fargo, you need an SSN to apply and cannot use your TIN.
BOA Secured Card versus US Bank Secured Visa - US Bank is another mainstream bank that issued secured credit cards. The annual for that card is $35 and the APR is 20.99%. Like Bank of America, you can use either your SSN or TIN to apply for this card.
BOA versus Orchard Bank Secured - Finally, we have to compare this card with Orchard Bank simply because many folks who apply for secured credit cards have bad credit or have even been through bankruptcy. Orchard Bank has a $35 annual fee and a 7.90% APR, which makes it the lowest interest rate we have seen in a secured credit card. Unlike the others mentioned in this review, Orchard Bank is a sub prime issuer and is specifically geared towards those with bad credit and even those who have emerged from bankruptcy.
Other Benefits - This card also comes with benefits that are typically found in regular unsecured credit cards including :
1. Online Banking service (in certain states)
2. Total Security Protection, free package of security features, including zero liability from unauthorized card use if you notify BOA promptly
3. Travel and emergency assistance
4. Automatic auto rental insurance
5. Convenience checks at no extra charge
6. Additional cards at no extra charge
Is The Bank of America Secured Credit Card Good/ - As you can see from the above comparisons, the Bank of America secured credit card is a very competitive offering. You would have also noticed that even within the secured credit card segment, there are bank secured cards (issued by mainstream banks) and there are sub prime secured credit cards for those with bad credit or with a bankruptcy history. If you are a new immigrant to the US, or have a working Visa and are looking to establish a US credit history, then this card will absolutely serve it's purpose. If you have had your credit score dinged due to a variety of reasons or if you have emerged from BK, then there is a high likelihood that you could get denied for a Bank of America secured credit card even though it is "secured". In this case, a card like the Orchard Bank secured MasterCard is a much better alternative.