Total Visa Credit Card Review: A Complete Overview
The TOTAL Visa is a credit card designed for people with low or no credit scores who want to rebuild their credit.
The card is issued by Bank of Missouri, who says the TOTAL Visa is the “perfect tool” for those in financial hardship.
“The TOTAL Visa is a perfect tool for people who have faced financial challenges and struggled to get credit in the past. Complete our short application now and get a response from us online in seconds,” the card’s website says.
However, just because you can get the card within minutes doesn’t mean it’s the right card for you. In our review of the TOTAL Visa, we’re going to explain to you how the card works, what its rates and fees are and how it compares to other cards for bad credit.
We’ll wrap up with a section on the card’s pros and cons. And, because there’s a good chance you’re considering this card because your credit scores are really low (or non-existent), we’re going to provide you some tips on how to use this card to build your credit.
Pros: Can get approved in minutes
Cons: Multiple expensive fees, high APR
Estimated Yearly Cash Rewards: None
|Sign-Up Bonus||Annual Fee||Regular APR|
|None||$75 first year, then $48||34.99%|
Most credit cards require one thing to get started: an application. In this application, you’ll be asked questions about your identity, where you live, how much you earn and, in most cases, you’ll be required to provide your social security number.
In the case of the TOTAL Visa, the Bank of Missouri will take all this information and decide whether or not they want to approve you. Their fine print doesn’t list any specific criteria they use to decide if they’ll give you the card.
However, based on our research, we think there’s a good chance they’ll accept you as long as you don’t have any bankruptcies in the past two years. The Bank of Missouri has the final say, though; every applicant has their own unique credit situation.
That being said, because this card is designed for those with bad credit, the requirements aren’t nearly as stringent as they would be for a popular rewards card like the Citi Double Cash.
Because it’s a card for those with bad credit, though, Bank of Missouri takes the liberty of charging you higher fees and interest rates. We’ll cover those rates and fees in the next section. For now, though, we want to point out two fees that are crucial to your sign-up process.
The first is an $89 “program fee” you’ll pay when you apply for the card. This fee is nothing more than an application fee. If Bank of Missouri accepts your application, it keeps the fee. If they reject it, then it will reimburse your fee.
The second fee is a $75 annual fee you’ll pay the first year. The fine print says your credit limit will start out at $300, and that Bank of Missouri will deduct your annual fee from your limit. So, in reality, you’ll start out with a $225 credit limit.
We believe these fees are a big drawback to using this card. We’ll explain that more fully in the conclusion.
For now, it’s important to know that there is an up-front cost of $164 just to open the card. We believe this fee is abnormally high.
If you choose to pay that fee or maybe you’ve already paid that fee, then you’ll need to be smart about how you pay your bill if you want to boost your credit score.
First, always pay your bill on time. This is the most important factor in your credit score. If your bill becomes 30 days late, once you pay it, your credit score will drop. That drop will be even low if you are 60 days or 90 days late on a payment.
Second, keep your balance low. In order for your credit scores to stay strong, you’ll need to keep your balance under $90.
To do that, we suggest paying off your balance every week to keep it as low as possible. You could pay it off every month but we don’t think it’s smart.
You see, credit card issuers send your account information to the credit bureaus once a month. The bureaus then incorporate that information into your credit score
If they report your information around your due date, then waiting until then to pay your balance could mean the bureaus get information saying you’ve almost maxed out your account.
If that’s the information you get, then your credit score will drop because your balance is more than 30% of your limit. And, the higher that ratio goes, the more your scores will drop.
Pro tip: You cannot use this card outside of the United States.
Earlier we mentioned that you’ll pay a program fee and an annual fee within just a few days of signing up for the card. The TOTAL Visa’s rates and fees go beyond that, though.
Here’s a quick list of them, followed by our explanation of what they are and how they can impact you:
- Interest rate for purchases and cash advances: 34.99%
- Cash advance fee: $5 or 5%, whichever is greater
- Foreign transaction fee: N/A
- Late/returned payment fee: $25 or $39
- Annual fee: $75 the first year, $123 after
We read through this card’s fine print to examine little-known drawbacks and red flags, all of which we’ll discuss in this section. We’ll get that after we explain the APR.
Credit card issuers use APR to charge you interest on any balances you have left after you make your monthly payment. So, if you have a balance of $200 after your payment, then the APR on that balance will cost you around $4.
While that number isn’t very high, it’s important to remember that the goal is to learn how to pay off your balance every month. When you upgrade to a better card with a higher credit limit, this practice will benefit you.
For example, if you have a card with an $8,000 credit limit and you have a leftover balance of $5,000, you’ll pay $40 in interest. Having the habit of paying off your balance each month means you can avoid that interest, whether it’s a card with a low limit or a high limit.
Next in the list is the cash advance fee. You can use your TOTAL Visa to withdraw cash from an ATM or cash register.
If you do, you’ll pay a 34.99% interest rate on that money and you’ll also have to pay either $5 or 5% of the transaction amount. Basically, any withdrawal of $100 or lower will get a $5 fee and anything over that will cost you 5%.
The fine print reveals more details about cash advances. First, you can’t make a cash advance unless your account has been open at least 90 days or you’ve completed three billing cycles. Also, your unpaid cash advances can max out at half of your credit limit and that’s it.
Your late payment fee will vary based on your previous late payment. If you don’t have a late payment in the past six months, your fee will be $25. If you do have a late payment in the past six months, the fee will be $39.
The same principle applies to returned payments, which are payments that don’t go through because you don't have enough money in your bank account to cover the payment.
The card’s annual fee is $75 the first year. After that, it drops to $48. However, the second year you have to start paying a “monthly service fee” that totals $75 per year.
The $48 annual fee combined with the $75 in monthly servicing fees makes this card’s annual cost $123, which is extremely high compared to similar cards (more on that in a moment).
The final thing we want to point out regarding rates and fees is one that we didn’t put in the list. It’s a fee that Bank of Missouri charges you if you choose to raise your credit limit.
Raising your credit limit is good if you can keep your balances down because it decreases how much of your limit you use. As a result, your credit score will go up.
However, Bank of Missouri will charge you a 20% fee equal to 20% of the dollar amount your limit goes up. So, if you accept a $300 credit limit increase, you’ll pay $60.
Our research of hundreds of credit cards reveals that this collection of fees is incredible, such that we’d recommend you avoid this card at all costs. The leading cards for bad credit from Discover, Capital One and Citi don’t charge you these fees. It would be wise to avoid them.
The chart we’ve created includes six other popular credit cards, each of which has its own combination of fees and benefits. We’ll give our analysis after the chart:
|TOTAL Visa||Indigo Platinum Mastercard||Deserve Classic Mastercard||Citi Secured Mastercard||Discover it Secured||Capital One Platinum Credit Card||Wells Fargo Secured Credit Card|
|Yearly rewards for $20K spending||None||None||None||None||$200||None||None|
|Minimum deposit required||$89||None||None||$200||$200||None||$300|
|Annual fee||$75 first year, $123 after||Up to $99, depending on credit||None||None||None||None||$25|
|Late fees||Up to $39||Up to $39||Up to $25||Up to $39||1st one free, up to $39 after||Up to $39||Up to $37|
We think this chart shows the deficiencies the TOTAL Visa has when compared to other cards. For example, it has no rewards like the Discover it Secured.
The card’s fee for raising your credit limit is unique, too. For example, the Platinum Card from Capital One will give you a higher credit limit if you can make your first five payments on-time. They do not charge you a fee to increase your limit, as is the standard for credit cards.
The fact that the TOTAL Visa charges you a fee to raise your limit is far outside the norm and one of several reasons highlighted here that make it inferior to every other card in the chart.
Based on our analysis of this card’s rates and fees, we think there are too many drawbacks to consider using it.
The card’s annual fee is the highest of the cards for bad credit that we analyzed. It charges an $89 sign-up fee when many cards, including the Discover it Secured, offer rewards for signing up instead of fees.
Also, we want to emphasize the fact that the card charges a fee for credit increases when most cards don’t charge you any fees for doing it.
Our overall opinion is that this card is expensive to own and is not the best choice for someone who is trying to get back on their feet, financially speaking.
Consider using the cards from Discover and Deserve, as their terms are far more agreeable than the TOTAL Visa. The Discover it Secured is the best card, in our mind, because you can earn rewards with it. Also, Discover has excellent customer service, which can be helpful when you have questions about the card.
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