Review Of The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card

Review Of The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card

October 16, 2019         Written By Bill Hardekopf

Nearly everyone would benefit from an increase in their credit score. This is especially true if you have struggled with your finances in the past. One way to improve your credit profile is to obtain a secured credit card that reports your monthly activity to the country’s major credit bureaus. If you use the card wisely, this may start to slowly improve your credit score. One card that may help you build your credit profile is the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.

What Bank Issues The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card?

Synovus Bank issues the First Progress Platinum Elite Secured Card. Located in Columbus, Georgia, Synovus has close to 300 branches throughout the southeastern United States. The bank was formed in 1888, and used to be known as the Columbus Bank and Trust Company.

The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card

It can be difficult to be approved for a credit card if you have a low credit score. That’s when you may want to turn your attention to a secured card. The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card is a secured card that does not require a minimum credit score or even a credit history in order to be approved, so approval should be fairly easy. Before you become a cardholder, you will need to put down a security deposit. This deposit will also serve as your card’s credit limit. The deposit must be a minimum of $200 and a maximum of $2,000. The security deposit is totally refundable if you should ever close your account, as long as you pay off the entire balance on your account. Prudent use of the card can have a beneficial effect on your credit score since Synovus will report your monthly activity to all three of the major credit bureaus. With this in mind, it is extremely important for the cardholder to pay the balance on time each month. There will be very few problems with using the card almost anywhere in the United States since the card is backed by the Mastercard network.

There are some drawbacks to the card. If you do not pay off your balance in full one month, you will be assessed a fairly significant interest rate of 19.99% (V). The First Progress Platinum Elite Secured Card does carry a fairly reasonable $29 annual fee which is charged immediately upon approval. But First Progress does not operate in four states, so consumers will not be able to obtain the card if they live in Arkansas, New York, Iowa or Wisconsin.

Is The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard Secured Credit Card Right For Me?

If you have a checkered financial history which has resulted in a poor credit score, you may want to consider the First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. The card is fairly easy to obtain, since consumers are not required to have a credit history or good credit score. The issuing bank reports your monthly activity to the major credit bureaus, so the card can help you build your credit profile if used properly. While the card has a fairly low annual fee of $29 for a secured card, the APR of 19.99% (V) is almost twice as high as the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card. So consumers may want to consider that card if they plan on carrying a balance at any time from one month to the next. Neither of these First Progress cards are offered in four states–New York, Iowa, Wisconsin and Arkansas–so if you live there, you should definitely not apply for these cards.

 

Improving Your Credit Score

If you do have a low credit score, you need to immerse yourself into building that score. This can have a positive effect on future loans and a number of other things in your life. Here are some things to do:

Step 1: Make a Personal Budget

It is critical to know how much money you are bringing in as well as how much money you are spending on a monthly basis. Keep a record of all your expenditures for several months. Jot down every dollar spent and put those expenses into certain categories. This will give you an idea of where your money is going. Study this to see where you may be able to cut back in your spending. Also, figure out how much money you are earning each month on a take-home basis. Once you have come up with your monthly revenue and expenses, you can see how much money you can put toward paying your outstanding debts.

Step 2: Take Stock of Your Current Credit Situation

There are two financial tools that you need to obtain: your credit report and your credit score.

All Americans have the opportunity to get a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting bureaus each year: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. You can obtain these directly from the agencies or can go to annualcreditreport.com. Once you receive these reports, take a close look to see if there are any suspicious accounts that have been opened in your name, or any errors on the report. Incorrect data could be harming your credit score and also be a sign that your identity has been compromised. If you do spot any incorrect information, write a letter to the credit agency, requesting the removal of that information.

These reports may also give you some insight as to what may be leading to a low credit score. There are five different factors that make up any credit score: Payment History (35%), Credit Utilization (30%), Length of Credit History (15%), New Credit (10%), and Credit Mix (10%). A close look into each of these factors may give you an idea on how to improve your situation.

Payment History
The most important element of your credit score is your payment history. If you make a late payment on any credit card bill, it could have a detrimental effect on your credit score. It is critical to make on time payments on every bill you receive. If this presents a challenge to you, take advantage of some of the tools that are available from your issuer. Most credit card companies have the ability to send you an email or a text when your bill is about to become due. You may want to pay your credit card bill automatically from your checking account. If you are mailing your payment, make sure you allow enough time for delays that may occur with the postal system. If you make payments on time for a year, you may see your credit score start to increase.

Credit Utilization
The second biggest factor in your credit score is your credit utilization. This is a mathematical calculation of the amount of debt you have divided by your available credit. Credit experts say you should use no more than 30% of your available credit. So if you have $12,000 available on your credit cards, you should not carry a balance over $3,600. If you are in a situation where you have a significant amount of debt, you need to pay down that debt as quickly as possible. Here is where the budget will come in handy. You will be able to see how much money you can put toward paying down your debt each month. If you cut down your expenses by $100 one month, then put that $100 toward paying off your credit card balance. Not only will it help your credit utilization, but you also won’t be penalized the high interest rate on that $100 going forward. If you have debt on several credit card accounts, determine which one has the highest interest rate and pay off that one as quickly as possible. Make the minimum payment on all cards every month, but put as much money as you can on paying off the balance on the card with the highest interest rate. Once that is paid off, move on to the card with the second highest interest rate. Continue this until you have paid off the balance on every card.

Length of Credit History
There may be a temptation to close some of your credit card accounts when you are trying to increase your credit score. But it is better to keep those accounts open, especially the older accounts. One of the factors of your credit score is your length of credit history, so keeping accounts open is beneficial to your score. Credit bureaus take into account the age of your credit accounts and create an “average age.” Closing an older account will decrease the average age of your accounts and might lead to a decline in your credit score. Closing an account has another negative impact: it lowers your available credit on that account which has a negative effect on your credit utilization score.

New Credit
When trying to increase your credit score, stay away from applying for multiple credit cards. Chances are you will not be approved for that card with a low score; and if you were approved, it would likely be at a steep interest rate. Secondly, every time you apply for new credit, the issuer does a “hard pull” on your credit report. Too many hard pulls in a short period of time may negatively affect your credit score.

Credit Mix
Issuers like to see a good variety of accounts on your credit report. This is the fifth factor of your credit score called the credit mix.

The First Progress Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card could be a good way to begin improving your credit and may provide some opportunities to you for better credit card offers in the future. But if you think you may carry a balance from one month to the next, you may want to consider another First Progress card, the First Progress Platinum Prestige Mastercard® Secured Credit Card.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of October 16, 2019. For up-to-date information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website. Many of the offers on this article are from our affiliate partners, and LowCards.com may be compensated if you take action with any of our affiliate partners.

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About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of LowCards.com and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.