About First Access Card

By J.R. Duren
HighYa Staff Published on: Oct 4, 2018

The First Access Card is a credit card for people with bad credit scores who are looking for a starter card they can use to build their credit and familiarize themselves with how a credit card works.

This card is more fee-heavy and has more restrictions on which types of purchases you can make than similar cards for consumers with low credit scores.

Just because the card is a little costlier and more restrictive than other cards doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice for you. We’re going to provide you with an analysis of the card’s features, benefits, and rates and fees so you can get a sense of how good of a fit it might be for your particular situation.

Also, we’ll put the card in the context of its competitors, providing a comparison chart that shows you how the First Access Card compares across five different categories.

We’ll wrap up our review with a brief overview of the card’s pros and cons, as well as our thoughts on who might be a good fit for the card.

The Benefits of the First Access Card

We did a deep dive into the card’s fine print to find out how it can benefit you by using it. Normally, a credit card would have some sort of rewards structure that we’d review. But, in this case, the card has no rewards.

So, we have to move on to its benefits and, based on our research, we believe its top benefit is that, if you can make six consecutive on-time payments and your balance doesn’t exceed your credit limit, your may get a credit limit increase.

One final note: Your credit limit won’t automatically go up. You have to request the credit limit increase. The bank who issues the card, Bank of Missouri, will decide if you’ll get the increase.

The First Access Card’s Fine Print

As we mentioned in the introduction to our review, the First Access Card is a little more restrictive than other cards we’ve reviewed. A lot of that has to do with various details we uncovered while reading through the card’s terms and conditions.

First, you can’t use the card for the following purchases:

  • Automated fuel pumps
  • Online gambling transactions
  • Transactions in a foreign currency

What this means for you is that, anytime you go to a gas station, you’ll have to go inside to pay the cashier rather than using the card at the pump.

Second, you can’t use the card to deposit cash to an online gambling account, a fact that’s particularly pertinent for residents of Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, three states with substantial online gambling opportunities.

Finally, you can’t use this card in a foreign country, nor can you buy anything online from sites that charge you via a foreign currency.

Of these three restrictions, we think the first one would be the most annoying, as you’ll have to skip the convenience of paying at the pump.

Another thing we noticed in the fine print is that the card won’t allow you to make cash advances until you’ve had the card for three months and your account is paid. Also, the fine print says that your unpaid cash-advance balance can’t be higher than half of your credit limit.

Now, in general, we advise against cash advance transfers because the fees are high (more on that later), but these restrictions are important to know if you get in an emergency situation and you need to use your First Access Card to withdraw money.

The First Access Card’s Credit Limit, Rates and Fees

When you’ve got a credit card like the First Access Card, you aren’t going to get many – if any – rewards. This lack of cash bonuses means that the risk of using the card is high. Why? Because any rates or fees you pay are going to come directly out of your pocket and you can’t cancel them out with the rewards you earn.

Here’s a quick list of the First Access Card’s credit limit, rates and fees:

  • Credit limit: $300
  • APR for purchases and cash advances: 29.99%
  • Application fee: $89
  • Annual fee: $75 first year, $48 after
  • Monthly service fee: None first year, $6.25/mth after
  • Late/returned payment fee: Up to $38

First, the credit limit. According to the terms and conditions, your credit limit will be $300 if Bank of Missouri approves your application. However, your available credit will actually be $225 to start because your annual fee of $75 will be charged when you get the card.

As for the application fee, the fine print says you have to pay the fee up front when you submit the application. If you get the card, Bank of Missouri keeps the fee. If they reject your application, they refund the fee.

The First Access Card’s annual fee and monthly service fee are more than $100 per year after the first year, which is a rarity among credit cards for bad credit.

Finally, the card’s APR is 29.99%, which is pretty high considering that the average credit card APR is around 15% at the time of publishing, according to financial analysis site ValuePenguin.

To give you an idea of how much this might cost you over the course of one year, let’s assume that you’re going to carry a balance of $300 a month every day for a year. At 29.99%, you’d end up paying around $90 in interest. If you add in the $75 first-year annual fee and the $89 application fee, the card could cost you $254 in fees and interest.

Comparing the First Access Card to Other Credit Cards for Bad Credit

The following chart will help you see how the First Access compares to other cards designed for consumers with bad credit:

First Access OpenSky Discover it Secured Credit One Platinum
APR 29.99% 19.14% 24.74% 19.74% - 25.74%
Penalty APR None None None None
Annual fee $75 1st year, $48 after $35 $37 $0 - $99
Rewards None None 2% on gas, 1% everything else 1% on everything
Security deposit None $200 - $3,000 $200 - $500 None
Extra yearly fees $75 after 1st year None None None

We believe that the data in this chart shows that there are better credit cards out there if you have low or no credit scores and need a credit card.

The First Access card’s high APR and its combination of an annual fee, an $89 application fee and an annual fee that's $75 the first year and $48 thereafter make for a card that’s heavy on fees and light on rewards.

In our opinion, we think that the Discover it Secured and the Credit One Platinum are a good alternative because they have lower interest rates, no yearly maintenance fees and a rewards rate that has the potential to earn you enough rewards to equal or beat out what you pay for your annual fee.

In fact, if you can spend $1,000 a month on the Discover or Credit One card, then you can earn $120 a year in rewards.

» For Further Reading: Best Credit Cards for Bad Credit

Pros and Cons of the First Access Card

The First Access Card is, by its very name, intended to be a first credit card for someone who doesn’t have a credit history. It’s also an option for someone with credit scores below 600, which is, by most standards, poor credit.

Based on our research, we believe this card’s greatest strength is that you have a chance at raising your credit limit after six months if you can make six consecutive on-time payments. This is an advantage because the more unused credit limit you have, the higher your credit scores will go.

The downside to the card is that it is laden with fees, ranging from an annual fee to a yearly maintenance fee to the $89 application fee you pay when you sign up for the card. The first-year fees alone cost $164 and, every year thereafter, will cost you $123.

In our opinion, we think that money would be better used as a security deposit for cards like the Discover it Secured that require a deposit but also have cash rewards and a reasonable annual fee.

Ultimately, the goal is to use a card like the First Access to build your credit scores by keeping your balances low and paying your bill on time every month. If you can do that with this card and all your loans, you’ll raise your credit score and eventually qualify for some great credit cards like the ones we compare in our rankings of the best cash back rewards credit cards.

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