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The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card
REVIEW

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By : Mr Credit Card
  • Annual Fee = $29
  • Regular APR = 24.74%
  • Earn 1% Cash Back on all purchases
  • Credit Limit = $200 - $2,000 secured by security deposit
  • Credit Limit may be increased without security deposit for up to $5,000
  • Will be invited to apply for the First Digital Mastercard (an unsecured card) if you pay your monthly bills on-time 6 times consecutively
  • No Credit Checks
  • Discharged Bankruptcy OK
  • Free Vantage Score from Experian


Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
  • Will be invited to apply for an unsecured credit card if you pay on-time for first 6 months
  • No credit checks - guaranteed approval
  • Accept those with discharged bankruptcy in credit report
  • Credit limit may be increased up to $5,000 without the need for additional security deposit
  • Free Vantage Score
  • No Autopay Available at this moment
  • Need to use your own bank's bill pay for electronic payment
  • Cannot pay through mobile app at the moment


At A Glance - 3 Key Standout Features

The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card has 4 key features that make it standout from the very crowded field of secured credit cards. Firstly, they do not check your credit and will definitely approve your application regardless of your credit score. You will also be approved even if you have a discharged bankrupty in your credit report (you will not be approved if your bankruptcy is still pending).

Secondly, if you pay your first six monthly bills on time, First Progress has got into a partnership with First Digital and you will receive an invitation to apply for the First Digital Mastercard, which is an unsecured credit card.

Here is another great feature that is not well known at all. In fact, hardly anybody talks about it because it is hidden in the fine prints. While First Progress is a secured credit card and you can deposit up to $2,000 as a security deposit and hence get up to $2,000 in credit limit, First Progress may actually increase your credit limit without requiring any additional security deposit from you (making this a potential partially secured credit card). You may get a credit limit increase without additional security deposit for up to $5,000. Together, these 4 features makes the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard one of the best secured credit card to get.

In this review, I am going to go through these features in greater detail and compare the First Progress Elite with it's peers. I will also highlight some fineprints that you should know and also give you advice on how to use the card and pay your bills so that you will never have a late payment or have any surprises.


Card Details

Annual Fee $29
Regular APR 25.24%
Foreign Transaction Fee 3%
Security Deposit/Credit Limits $200-$2,000
Credit Limit Increase Without Additional Deposit Up to $5,000
Opportunity for Graduating to Unsecured Will be offered First Digital Mastercard after paying first 6 bills on time


4 Key Features

There are four standout features for the First Progress Elite. The first is:

No Credit Checks - BK OK - All First Progress secured credit cards (including this Elite version) does not perform any credit checks or hard inquiry. That means that you will definitely be approved as long as you fund your security deposit. You will be approved even if you have been recently discharged from bankruptcy. First Progress does require you to use your bank account to fund it so I guess having a checking account is the minimum required for you to get approved.

Will be offered an unsecured credit card after 6 months of timely payments - First Progress has partnered with First Digital Mastercard and you will be offered this card if you pay your first 6 bills on time. This offers you a chance and a relatively short timely to move up from a secured credit card to an unsecured credit card.

The First Digital Mastercard charges an annual fee of $75 for the first year and $48 thereafter. There is a monthly fee from the second year onwards of $6.50 a month. There is also a one-time processing fee of $95. The starting credit limit is $300.

Credit Limit Increase without additional security - First Progress allow you to initially deposit between $200 and $2,000 as your security deposit. The amount of security deposit becomes your credit limit. If you would like to increase your security deposit and hence credit limit, you need to get approval from First Progress. If they approve, then you have to send them a check and mail it to an address that you will give you in their approval letter or email.

Hidden in the terms and conditions is a clause that says that First Progress may increase your credit limit without the need for additional security deposit. In fact, you can get a credit limit increase such that your total credit limit is up to $5,000. Should you be fortunate to get such a credit limit increase, it will turn your First Progress into a partially secured credit card.

Other Important Features

Get Your Card Before You Fund It - Some of you might feel uncomfortable about funding your security deposit before you physically get the card. First Progress will mail your card to you first (for a fee of $29.95) and you can fund your security deposit after you have received it.

Free Vantage Score from Experian - all cardholders get a free monthly Vantage score and credit monitoring service from Experian.

Reports to all three credit bureaus - First Progress Platinum Elite reports to Experian, TransUnion and Equifax (the 3 major bureaus).


Some FinePrints and Best Practices in Using Your Opensky Credit Card

There are a few things that you should know about the Opensky Secured Visa credit card that is not often mentioned. I want to lay out everything here in this review so that there will be no surprises when you get the card and also to tell you how to best use it.

Initial Annual Fee is billed to the 1st Statement

The $35 annual fee will appear on your first statement. Hence your credit limit (which depends on your security deposit amount is reduced by this amount). For example, if your initial security deposit is $500, your credit limit will be $500 but for the first month, it will be $465 ($500 - $35). Most subprime credit cards will bill you the annual fee during the first month so what Opensky is doing is not out of the blue. But some cardholders get upset over this. You should not be because it is quite a standard industry practice.

Understanding Payment Methods

First Progress allow you to pay your monthly bills in three ways. Firstly, you can pay via check or money order (the good old fashion way). You can use your bank or financial institution's bill pay or you can pay over the phone. Paying over the phone incurs a $10 fee so you really want to avoid that if possible. First Progress can and does payment holds for up to 10 days. The length of payment holds depend on the payment amount, how long your account has been opened and whether you have had a check bounced before.

Paying your First Progress bill via check or money order is probably the easiest and best way. Checks are processed the day it is received as long as it is received before 5pm EST. Just make sure you give enough time for the check to arrive on time before your due date. Though checks are processed on the same day, your credit availability (or payment holds) might still take a few days.

The second method of paying is via your banks Bill Pay system. This is the only method that First Progress allows for electronic payments via ACH. By using your bank's Bill Pay, you are essentially telling your bank to pay First Progress instead of getting First Progress to draw from your bank. If you use this method, you should pay at least 5 days before your due date because it may take this amount of time for the payment to credit to your First Progress account. In fact, to be safe, I would pay 6 days in advance before your due date.

You can also pay your bills over the phone but I personally would not do it as you will incur a $10 fee.

Note that at this moment, you cannot set up autopay with First Progress. While First Progress has a mobile app, you cannot pay through your mobile app.


First Progress Compared To Other No Credit Check Cards

Card Annual Fee Regular APR Min Deposit
First Progress Elite $29 25.24% $200 - $2,000
First Progress Prestige $49 15.24% $200 - $2,000
First Progress Select $39 19.24% $200 - $2,000
Applied Bank $48 9.99% $200 - $5,000
Opensky $35 22.39% $200 - $3,000
Go2Bank $0 See Website $100
Chime $0 N.A. - Pay in full No min or max
Self $25 23.24% $100


The key characteristic of First Progress secured credit cards is that there is no credit checks when you apply. So we are going to compare the First Progress Elite with similar secured credit cards that do not check your credit report.

Compared to Traditional No Credit Check Secured Credit Cards

There are a few traditional secured credit cards that do not perform any hard inquiries when you apply. The first is the Opensky Secured Visa. Compared to the First Progress Elite, the Opensky has a higher annual fee (at $35 vs $29), but a slightly lower regular APR.

Another interesting aspect to compare is that Opensky will also pre-approve you of their own unsecured credit card (called the Opensky Gold Card) if you pay have been paying your bills on time for a minimum of six months and preferably paying in full. The Opensky Gold Card has better terms than the First Digital Mastercard that First Progress Partners. It has an annual fee of $59 (vs $75 for the first year and thereafter $49 for First Digital). Unlike First Digital, they do not charge any monthly fee or one-time processing fee. Their starting credit limit is also higher at $500 vs $300 for First Digital.

Like First Progress, Opensky will consider increasing your credit limit without the need for additional deposit after six months with the card, thus turning it from a fully secured card to a partially secured credit card.

However, Opensky allow their cardholders to set up autopay and also them to pay their bills via their mobile app. At this moment, the First Progress mobile app do not have these capabilities.

Compared with other First Progress Secured Credit Cards

First Progress has a couple of other secured credit cards, namely the Prestige Version and the First Progress Select version. As you can see from the table above, the Elite version has the lowest annual fee but the highest APR amongst the other First Progress Cards.

However, both the Select and Prestige versions allow cardholders to earn 1% cash back when they pay their bills. The Elite version does not have any cash back rewards program. So though it has the lowest annual fee among the three, it's lack of cash back rewards make it less attractive.

First Progress Compared to New Fintech Secured Cards

First Progress is also competing with new secured credit cards launched by Fintech startups that have no credit checks and also no annual fees. With these new offerings, you are required to open a mobile banking account and set up direct deposit with them or open a credit builder account.

For example, the Self Secured Visa has no credit checks and no annual fee. You can get it once you have "saved" enough money in your credit builder account. So essentially, you first have to set up a credit builder account. The Self Secured Visa is ideal for those of you would do not have enough cash yet for a security deposit if you apply for a secured credit card now. Having one allows you to save up for it first while building your credit at the same time. However, Self does not offer you the chance to either graduate to an unsecured credit card because they do not have any unsecured credit card and also because they have not partnered with an unsecured credit card issuer like First Progress.

There are other secured credit cards like Chime Secured Visa, GO2bank Secured and Sable One Secured Credit Card that require you to set up a mobile banking account with them. Chime and GO2bank also require that you set up a recurring direct deposit with them. Having said that, once you have met this hurdle, there is no credit check if you want their secured credit card and they have no annual fee as well. However, these secured credit cards do not offer you a path of upgrade to an unsecured credit card like First Progress does.


Pros: What We Like

  • Offer Unsecured Credit Card after 6 months of timely payments - Not all secured credit cards offer a pathway to graduation to an unsecured credit card. While First Progress does not have their own unsecured credit card, they have partnered with First Digital Mastercard and you will receive an offer to apply if you have paid your first 6 bills on time (and we recommend that you pay in full).

  • Credit Limit Can Increase withou additional security deposit - If you read the terms and conditions carefully, it clearly states that First Progress can approve you for a credit limit increase without the need for additional security deposit for a limit of up to $5,000.

  • Low Annual - The $29 annual fee is on the low side for secured credit cards.

  • No Credit Checks - First Progress does not perform any credit checks or hard inquiries. Therefore you will definitely be approved and get your card as long as you fund your security deposit and if the security deposit amount exceeds the difference between your income and your expenses.

  • Bankruptcy OK - First Progress will approve you even if you have a discharged bankruptcy on your credit report.

  • Free Vantage Score from Experian - You will get a free Vantage score from Experian which is updated monthly.

  • Can get your card before you fund it - Unlike most secured credit cards, First Progress gives you the choice of receiving your card before you fund it. This will appeal to those of you who are wary about transferring your security deposit before you receive your card. You do have to pay a $29.95 fee for this service and option.


Cons: What Do Do Not Like

  • No Autopay - It sounds primitive but First Progress does not have autopay setup at this moment.

  • Have to use Your Bank's Bill Pay - If you want to pay your bills online, you would have to use your Bank's Bill Pay system. It is not an issue for most of you but some of your banks charge a fee for Bill Pay.

  • Cannot use Mobile App to pay your bills - Though First Progress has a mobile app, you cannot pay your bills from the app at this moment.


Our Take: One of the best secured credit cards for rebuilders

There are many reasons to like the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card

Firstly, there is no credit checks and you will definitely be approved. You simply have to make sure you fund your security deposit and you are off to the races. Secondly, while First Progress does not have an unsecured credit card for you to graduate to, they have partnered with First Digital and will invite you to apply for the First Digital Mastercard if you pay your first six bills on time. While there are no guarantees that you will be approved, your chances are better because of their partnership.

As I mentioned earlier, hidden under their terms and conditions is statement that First Progress may actually increase your credit limit without the need for additional security deposit. And should they do that, the credit limit can go up to $5,000. In contrast, you can only set your max limit up to $2,000 with a $2,000 security deposit. To be honest, I have not read or heard of anyone who has gotten a credit limit increase by First Progress without adding any new security deposit so you should not count on this or simply get the card because of this.

Aside from these features, First Progress also offers you a free Vantage 3.0 Score from Experian. They now also have a mobile app where you can track your account. As the app is still quite new, do not expect it to be a full blown app with features that are found in mainstream credit card issuers. At this moment, you cannot even use your app to pay your bills.

However, despite these very good features, you should also consider First Progress other cards, namely the First Progress Select Mastercard and the First Progress Prestige Mastercard. The reason is that both of these cards offer a 1% cash back program that this Elite version does not. Depending on how much you spend on the card a year, it may be enough to cover the annual fee.

Reasons you may want to give this card a skip

There also might be a couple of reasons why this card may not be for you.

Firstly, at this moment, this card does not have autopay feature. For those of you who insist on having autopay on your credit cards, this might just be that deal breaker. If having autopay is very important to you, then a great alternative would be the Opensky credit card, which allows you to set up autopay. Like the First Progress card, Opensky also has no credit checks, and have their own unsecured credit card which they will invite you to apply if you have been paying your bills on time.

Those whose bank account charges for Bill Pay might also have to reconsider getting this card. If you do not mind paying by your own bank's Bill Pay, but your bank charges you a fee for using this feature, then you may also want to consider getting a card like the Opensky Secured Visa Credit Card.

Overall Rating

Based on our review and evaluation, we give the Opensky Secured Visa Credit Card a 4.0 star out of 5 for their no credit check/no hard inquiry and definite approval, their partnership with First Digital and invite to apply for their unsecured credit card after 6 months of paying on time, the potential to get a credit limit increase without the need for additional security deposit and the Free Vantage score provided. It's lack of autopay and having to use your own bank's Bill Pay and also lack of cash back program compared to other First Progress secured credit cards prevents us from giving card a higher rating.


Best Practice - How to Use the First Progress Elite

If you thinking of getting this card, then I want to offer my suggestion on how best to set up and use this card. I think it is really important because you would want to rebuild your credit card with First Progress and also because you will get an invitation to apply for the First Digital Mastercard after 6 months of paying on-time, you want to make sure you set up some alerts so you will never have a late payment.

Firstly, let's start with making sure you pay on time.

Send your checks early - First Progress will process your checks the day they receive it if it is received before 5pm EST. However, you have to make sure there is enough time for the Post Office to deliver.

Use Bill Pay At Least 6 Days Before Due Date - If you decide to use your bank's Bill Pay to pay your bills, First Progress might take 5 days to process, so make sure you pay at least 5 days (I would suggest 6 or 7 days) before you due date to make sure you do not incur any late payment fee and penalties.

Make sure you pay your first bill even if you have not received your card - Without supply chain issues engulfing every industry, credit card issuers have taken longer than usual times to ship their cards. Whether you get you card or not, make sure you pay your first bill on time because even though you may not have charged anything to the card, you first annual fee will be billed in your very first statement.

Pay in full every month - You should pay in full every month always regardless of whether you are a rebuilder or not. In fact, as a rebuilder, paying in full is even more important.

Watch your credit utilization ratio - The recommended credit utilization ratio is 30%. So for example, if your credit limit is $1,000, the most you should charge to your card is $300 a month. You should do the math for your own situation and use your card accordingly.


How to Apply?

The First Progress Elite application process is really easy. You simply fill in your name and email address, address, one phone number, financial information like your estimates income and expenses, the amount of security deposit you want to put up, your social security number, date of birth and a password for your First Progress account. You can use Federal or state benefits, unemployment benefits and social security benefits as income. Then you simply have to tick off all of the check boxes and agree to the terms and conditions.

first progress prestige application first progress prestige application first progress prestige application first progress prestige application first progress prestige application first progress prestige application first progress prestige application first progress prestige application

There are 3 ways to fund First Progress secured credit cards. You can fund it with a bank debit card or prepaid credit card or with a ACH transfer from your checking account. If you apply from your mobile phone (as you are doing now), funding your account via checking account is not available.

first progress prestige fund deposit

If you decide to fund with your debit or prepaid credit card, then all you need is to provide your debit card number and three digit security code.

first progress prestige fund deposit

First Progress also offers you the option to get your card in the mail first and then fund later. If you choose this option, you are given up to 90 days to fund your account. But you have to pay a $29.95 fee. If you are really paranoid about wanting to have the card in your hand before you part with your security deposit, then choose this option.

first progress prestige fund deposit first progress prestige fund deposit


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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How long does it take to receive a response after I apply?

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How long does it take to receive a response after I apply?

First Progress policy is to respond no later than 3 weeks. However, many applicants have gotten almost immediate response.

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Does First Progress report to credit bureaus?

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Does First Progress report to credit bureaus?

Yes, they report to the three major credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

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What is expedited processing?

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What is expedited processing?

Expedited Processing Service will process your application up to 7 days faster as is only available if you use a debit or prepaid card to fund your security deposit. Expedited processing has a $19.95 fee.

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Does First Progress deposit earn interest?

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Does First Progress deposit earn interest?

No, it does not. For the record, most secured credit cards do not pay interest on your security deposit either.

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Does First Progress really not perform any hard inquiry?

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Does First Progress really not perform any hard inquiry?

First Progress does not check your credit report nor perform any hard inquiry.

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How do I apply for First Progress Rewards

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How do I apply for First Progress Rewards


You are automatically enrolled.

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How do I redeem my rewards

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How do I redeem my rewards


You can redeem your rewards online via the customer center on cc.firstprogress.com, your mobile app or by calling customer service. Points are redeemed as statement credit cards and must be redeemed in 500 points increment. 500 points is equal to $5.


Contact Information

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