Credit Builder Secured Visa Credit Card review |

Rebuild your credit: Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card – November 2018

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Earn interest on your deposit while you build credit with this no-frills secured card.

For those who’ve recently served as members of the Armed Forces to civilians simply weighing their personal banking options, the Armed Forces Bank caters to customers from all walks of life.

Learn more about its Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card that can help you build your credit with regular reporting to the three main credit bureaus and the opportunity to graduate to an unsecured option.

Product NameCredit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card
Card TypeVisa
Annual Fee$25
APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases22.99% variable
Balance Transfer APR22.99% variable
Cash Advance Rate22.99% variable
Foreign Transaction Fee1% of the transaction value
Interest Free PeriodUp to 25 days
Late Payment FeeUp to $25
Returned Payment FeeUp to $25
Additional Cardholder Fee$0
Minimum Age18 years of age

The basics

The Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is a flexible, affordable way to build or rebuild your credit with the convenience of swiping for everyday purchases. It comes with adjustable credit limits, custom payment dates and automatic reporting to all three major credit bureaus — you could be on your way to positive credit in no time.

When applying, you set your credit limit of $300 to $3,000 based on your deposit into an Armed Forces Bank Credit Builder Savings account. Adjustable in $50 increments, your deposit accrues interest as you work toward a positive credit history.

Add in a low annual fee, and this card’s a solid option for veterans and civilians alike. And with on-time payments, you might be eligible to graduate to an unsecured card with the bank.

What’s great about this card?

As secured cards go, the Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is about as bare bones as it gets. You won’t find rewards, signup bonuses or flashy features — but the fee schedule reflects that.

The card is perfect for building or rebuilding your credit without fees or penalty APRs distracting you from your goal. A reasonable $25 annual fee is accompanied by low fees and no balance transfer charges.

The 22.99% variable APR is steep for secured cards, but the rate drops to 9% if you have a existing checking account with the bank.

Flexibility is another strong selling point for this card: Adjustable credit limits allow you to set yours from $300 to $3,000, depending on what works for your situation. And you’ll earn interest on your initial deposit as you take advantage of easy everyday spending.

The card also allows you to customize your payment date between the 1st or 16th of the month to dovetail with your paychecks.

How to make this card worth it

Like any other secured card, this card is designed to help you build credit. The best way to leverage this card to solid financial health is to pay off your balance in full — or at least maintain a low balance to avoid paying unnecessary interest.

Because the card doesn’t offer benefits or rewards, you can get the most out of it by simply maintaining a positive payment history. The bank periodically reviews your credit activity, and notifies you when you’re eligible to graduate to an unsecured card.

You’ll pay no fees on balance transfers, but be wary of the high APR that applies to each transfer. Cash advance, foreign transaction and currency conversion fees are lower than most cards, making it a decent card for international travel.

And you can save a $3 quarterly fee just by enrolling in the bank’s electronic statements.

What to watch out for

This card offers low fees and a reasonable annual cost, but look out for a few potential drawbacks that include:

  • No rewards program.
    They’re primarily designed to help you build credit, but a few secured cards offer rewards as an incentive. This one doesn’t.
  • High APR.
    Compared with other secured credit cards, this one’s APR is pretty high. However, you can cut the APR in half if you already hold an account with the bank.
  • $25 annual fee.
    The fee is reasonable compared to other options, but not as good as no fee.
  • Annoying fees.
    Unless you enroll in the bank’s e-statements, you’ll pay a $3 quarterly fee. You’ll also pay $5 for each $50 increase in your credit limit.

How to apply for the Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card

Get started with applying through Armed Forces Bank’s straightforward site.

1. Visit Armed Forces Bank online and find the Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card in the Credit Cards tab. Then click Apply Now.

2. Complete the application with your personal contact, housing and financial information. Add any authorized users, and then supply your deposit information, including your bank account details. Click Continue.

3. Proceed through the application, confirming the information you’ve entered. Carefully read the terms and conditions of the card, and then submit your application.

You’ll receive confirmation of your approval status after submitting your application.

How likely is my approval?

This card doesn’t require a minimum credit score, so approval is likely.

How long will it take to be approved?

Approvals typically take four to five business days, then it could be another two weeks before you receive your card. However, you can pay an $35 for expedited processing and delivery.

I got the card. Now what?

Now that you’re approved, it’s time to take advantage of your card.

Here’s how to get the most out of your new Secured Visa with First National Bank:

  • Activate your card.
    Once it arrives, activate your card through your online account or by setting one up to fund your card deposit.
  • Make timely payments.
    Pay online or by mail, and avoid interest on your purchases by paying your balance in full.
  • Set up autopay.
    Avoid unnecessary fees and interest by setting up automatic withdrawals for your monthly payments.
  • Set up e-statements.
    Avoid a $3 quarterly fee by opting for electronic statements immediately.
  • Customer service.
    Support is available by phone or secure email through your online account.
  • Graduate to an unsecured card.
    With responsible payments, you might be eligible for an upgrade to the bank’s unsecured cards.

What do customers say?

Curiously, First National Bank isn’t rated on Trustpilot. But the bank is accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 2014 with an A+ rating.

Despite the great rating, you’ll find a handful of reviews and complaints with BBB. Most reviews report issues with undisclosed fees and frustrations in reversing them. Others mention trouble communicating with customer service agents and overly complicated interactions.

Reviews on other sites talk about extra charges, even in instances where accounts were supposed to have closed months ago. Despite frustrations, many users report positive experiences with customer service and praise the bank for helpful and friendly service.

Bottom line

The Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card is a solid option for those looking to build a positive credit history on a limited budget. Despite its $25 annual fee, the card offers low fees and a surprisingly low APR, if you open an associated bank account. Flexible credit limits, custom payment dates and no transaction fees make it an everyday card that can help build your credit. And if you play your cards right, you just might graduate to an unsecured card.

Frequently asked questions about Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card

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