About Total Visa Credit Card
If you’ve got bad credit or you’re trying to rebuild your credit, then you’ve probably heard of the Total Visa credit card.
The Total Visa is an unsecured credit card (you don’t have to pay a deposit) with various rates and fees that are expected for a card of this kind.
The card is issued by Mid America Bank & Trust Company and can be applied for through the card’s website. Their site says you can be approved for the card in “as little as 60 seconds”.
It’s tempting to apply for a card that offers such a quick approval time, but you have to remember that:
- Not everyone will be approved that quickly, and…
- This card isn’t the right fit for every consumer
If you’re struggling with bad credit whether through your own bad decisions or because of an unanticipated medical emergency, we know you’re in a tough spot.
But, before you run to the Total Visa website to get their unsecured credit card, take a moment to read through our review. Here is an overview of what we’ll talk about:
- Rates and fees
- Total Visa’s reviews
- How the Total Visa compares to other cards
By the end of this review, we believe you’ll have all the information you need to make a smart, informed decisions about whether this card is right for you.
A Quick Word About Bad Credit Scores and Rebuilding Credit
We’ve done a lot of research into bad credit scores and how you can make them better. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of hacks you can do or corners you can cut.
Building good credit scores takes time and an understanding of why your credit scores drop.
Once you perfect on-time payments and low balances on your Total Visa, you should see your scores rise and, eventually, you’ll be able to get credit cards with tons of benefits and good rates.
The Total Visa’s Rates and Fees
Normally, our credit card reviews cover a card’s benefits first and then we move into its rates and fees. We’ve decided to switch things up in this review because the Total Visa doesn’t offer any significant up-front or long-term benefits.
We’ll tell exactly what those benefits are, if any, in the next section of the review.
For now, though, we’re going to dive into the rates and fees because those are what tend to be the most important features for those who have bad credit and need a credit card.
The Total Visa splits their fees up into three difference groups: processing, annual and monthly servicing.
In order to open a Total Visa account, you’ll have to pay an $89 processing fee. This brings up an interesting scenario for you.
The Total Visa is an unsecured card because you don’t have to make a deposit in order to open the card. Those deposits range anywhere from $200 to $500 for most cards.
The downside is that a lot of people don’t have extra cash to open a secured card, so they’re drawn to the Total Visa and other unsecured cards.
However, the upside to those deposits is that, as long as you make payments on time, you’ll get that deposit back.
When you pay your $89 processing fee to open the Total Visa, you won’t get it back; that’s out-of-pocket money you’ll never see again.
Knowing this, it’s important to think about the value of paying extra for a security deposit that can get you a card that gives you more benefits than what you’ll get with the Total Visa (more on that later).
Annual Fee and Monthly Fee
The Total Visa’s annual fee works on a shifting scale. The first year you own your card, you’ll pay $75.
Every year after that, you’ll be charged $48 on your cardmember anniversary. These charges are automatically added to your credit card balance.
So, when you first get your Total Visa, your credit limit will be $225 because they’ve already added the $75 annual fee to your balance.
How does this annual fee compare to other cards for people who are rebuilding their credit? Here’s a quick breakdown:
- Discover it Secured: None
- USAA Secured Card American Express: $35
- Credit One Platinum: $0-$75 1st year/ $0-$99 after
- First Progress Platinum Prestige: $49
Compared to the cards we listed here, the Total Visa’s first-year annual fee is high compared to the competition, but the card’s permanent $48 annual fee is relatively competitive with the four cards above.
It’s hard to say exactly what kind of annual fee you’ll get with the Credit One Platinum, but we’re sure that the fee is based on your credit scores and your payment history. The higher your score – think mid to upper 600s – the better your chances of getting a lower annual fee.
If your credit scores are in the mid- to low-500s, you can expect to pay the highest annual fee on all the cards listed here.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
The Total Visa’s APR of 29.99% is the highest among the bad-credit cards we’ve looked at.
The Build Card has an APR of 29.9%, but, as we pointed out in our Build Card review, that APR applies immediately to any purchases you make.
The Total Visa’s APR, on the other hand, only kicks in if you don’t pay off your card’s entire balance on your due date.
Should you not pay the balance in full, you’ll be charged the APR on your remaining balance as well as any purchases you made in the 21 days between the time your billing cycle ended and your due date.
So, while the Build Card has a lower APR, we’d actually say the Total Visa’s APR is the better deal because you can avoid it by paying off your balances in full every month.
Compared to the USAA Secured American Express (10.65%-20.65%) or the First Progress Platinum Prestige (9.99%), though, the Total Visa’s 29.99% is really high.
And compared to other credit cards not tailored to people with bad credit, the APR is high, too.
Exactly why the card – and many cards for people rebuilding their credit – has a high APR relates to how much the credit card company trusts you.
Bad credit scores indicate a higher risk of you not paying your card on time or not paying it at all.
Because of that, credit card companies want to hedge their bets by charging you higher interest rates in the hopes that what they earn from those interest payments can balance out any headaches their customers cause.
Late and Returned Payment Fees
Total Visa will charge you either $27 or $38 for late payments or returned payments.
Your first late/returned payment will cost you $27. If you have another late payment within six months, the fee will go up to $38.
The good thing about this fee structure is that, if you have one trip-up, you’ll be charged the smaller amount and you can reset the clock if you go six months without a late or returned payment.
The Total Visa Card’s Benefits
As we mentioned earlier, the Total Visa doesn’t offer many significant benefits for its customers.
The following are the only two benefits you’ll get with this card:
- Reports to all three credit bureaus
- Credit limit can go up after six months.
While the first benefit here is standard across all credit cards, the second one is a little more nuanced to cards for people rebuilding their credit.
“Upon your request, credit limit increases may be granted after your Account has been open for at least six (6) billing cycles, has not been past due for the prior six (6) billing cycles and is not over limit,” the card’s fine print says. “Every six (6) billing cycles, upon your request, we will review your Account for a credit limit increase using the same requirements.”
The fine print goes on to say that Mid America Bank & Trust reserves the right to decline your request in their “sole discretion.”
Reviews of the Total Visa Credit Card
As we do with all of our credit card reviews, we’ve gathered up insights and opinions of your fellow consumers as well as other websites.
The Total Visa has 44 reviews on Credit Karma. Almost half of those reviews are one star, while about 1 in 5 are five stars.
Many of the complaints focused on poor customer services and errors concerning late payments and credit reporting.
One review we found was particularly insightful about the credit limit increases we mentioned earlier.
The anonymous reviewer said she had the card for a year and received a congratulations notice that her credit limit would be increased $50.
“Please don’t waste your time,” she wrote.
The Total Visa gets a 1-star rating from WalletHub credit card editor John Kiernan, who said, “you can do better than the Total Visa Credit Card.”
The site’s user reviews average 3.4 stars, with 55% of those reviews being either 5 stars or 4 stars.
CardRates.com contributor Toby Sembower gave the Total Visa a 3.5-star rating, saying, “if you have a bad credit history and don't mind paying a processing fee for a new card, Total Visa might be for you.”
Sembower said the card is #4 out of 18 bad-credit credit cards and #3 out of unsecured cards for people with bad credit.
Our Final Thoughts
Like nearly every other credit card that you can find, the Total Visa has its strengths and its weaknesses.
We’re going to give you a summary-style list of each, as well as a quick section about who this card is good for.
Pros of the Total Visa
We think the two main pros of this card are the $500 credit limit, which is higher than several other competing cards, and the chance you have of getting your credit limit increased after six months.
Cons of the Total Visa
The main drawback to this card is its high fees. The first year you’ll pay $164 in fees and every year after that you’ll pay $123 a year in fees just to use the card.
Who the Total Visa is Good For
We believe this card is a good fit for someone who wants an unsecured credit card designed for consumers with bad credit. Aside from that, we don’t see any real advantages to owning this card.
The Final Word: High Fees Make This a Pricey Card
There’s no hiding the fact that the Total Visa is an expensive card, which doesn’t quite make sense since it’s a card that’s most likely marketed to people who don’t have a lot of extra cash in the first place.
We recommend you look into the Discover it Secured. Not only do you get cash back with every purchase you make, but you won’t pay any up-front fees or annual fees.
You’re on the hook for a $200 deposit, but you’ll get that deposit back when you close your card or when Discover promotes you to an unsecured card.
In the meantime, take a few minutes to read through a couple of guides we wrote on credit scores. These articles will help you understand how companies calculate credit scores and how those scores can affect the types of financial products you get:
- How to Repair Your Bad Credit and Raise Your Score: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Good Credit Scores and How to Get There: A Guide for Moving From Average to All-Star
- Making Sense of Your Credit Scores: Your Comprehensive Guide
Credit score catastrophe
After filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy in September 2016, in early 2018, I began the process to rebuild my credit by applying for a secured Visa credit card with Wells Fargo and a couple of unsecured subprime credit cards; one of which was the Total Visa credit card. I used these cards very judiciously and always paid more than the minimum payments required and more often than not, paid the entire balances owed each month. I never exceeded the limits on these cards and in March 2018, Capital One bank financed a used 2017 Jeep for me.
By mid-2018, I opened an unsecured LendUp credit card with a $1000 limit. By the third quarter of 2019, my credit score had risen to 680, and shortly thereafter, SunTrust Bank approved a 3-year $40,000 auto loan for me. In February 2019, I was notified by my credit monitoring sevice that a negative credit item had been submitted and as a result, had caused my credit score to plummet 40 points. As it turned out, it was Total Visa that had reported that my outstanding balance of $319 had exceeded my $300 limit because of their applying an annual fee of $48.00 to my outstanding balance. In all honesty, I had completely forgotten that the Total Visa credit card had an annual fee because I had previously canceled a Reflex MC which was the only other credit card I had that charged an annual fee.
Needless to say, I immediately paid off the entire balance and requested that the Total Visa account be closed. Unfortunately, it is not such a simple matter to raise my credit score 40 points since I already have $0 balances on all of my remaining revolving credit accounts. More than likely I will open 1 to 2 rewards credit card accounts to increase the dollar amount of unused (available) credit. I have also learned that paying off installment loans, e.g.auto loans, etc., does not readily have a significant positive impact on your credit score. e.g., when I paid off a $135,000 student loan, singularly, it had no effect on my credit score other than to lower my total indebtedness.
The lesson learned: opening subprime credit card accounts with high interest rates and annual fees may be necessary and beneficial in rebuilding your credit score and profile, but remember to cancel all such accounts at the earliest juncture that it is possible and feasible to do so, or at least early enough that you are safeguarded from the arbitrary harm such accounts can cause your creditworthiness.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend
3 out 4 people found this review helpful
Not received card after they mailed a second time?
On September 9th I got approved and paid the $89 fee. They mailed it on 9/10/17, I called and they mailed again, and on 10/18/17 I still have NOT received the card!?
They said in a matter of days, but everytime I call it seems like they repeat from a paper and play games! Now the bill is here for me to pay and I have not gotten the card to activate it!
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend