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The Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® With Cash Back Rewards Card is an unsecured, entry-level credit card for cardholders seeking to rebuild their credit and put their financial lives back on track. Depending on your credit profile, its annual fee ranges from $0 to $99 ($0 to $75 for the first year your account is open). The credit limit ranges up to $1,500, with no initial or ongoing security deposits required.
This is not a generous credit card by any means. It has no sign-up bonus, no real cardholder benefits to speak of, a fairly low credit limit, and potentially pricey cash advances. Also, Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa is one of the few credit cards that reserves the right to waive the grace period – in other words, to begin charging interest on purchases as soon as they post to your account. Credit One Bank makes this determination on a case-by-case basis when processing applications.
All that said, for cardholders with average or even below-average credit, Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa is likely to be one of the few available options that requires no security deposit. That’s an important point of distinction for prospective cardholders on tight personal budgets.
This card carries a minimum credit limit of $300 and a maximum credit limit of $1,500. You can’t charge more than $1,500 without paying off some or all of your preexisting balance. It takes up to 12 days for balance payments to reduce your credit limit.
Earning Cash Back Rewards
This card has a 2-tiered cash back rewards program.
Cardholders with impaired credit qualify for a less generous scheme that earns 1% cash back on eligible net purchases of gas, groceries, mobile phone, Internet, cable, and satellite TV services. Cardholders with better credit qualify for a more generous, straightforward arrangement: unlimited 1% cash back on all eligible net purchases, with no spending categories or caps.
Redeeming Cash Back Rewards
Each month’s cash back automatically posts to your credit card account as a statement credit. There’s no minimum redemption threshold.
Somewhat unusually, some Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa accounts do not have grace periods. If you’re not given a grace period when you apply, your purchases start accruing interest immediately after posting to your account. Even if you plan to pay off your balance in full each month, waiting until your statement date to pay can significantly raise the cost of using this card. To minimize interest charges, those who can afford to do so are advised to pay down their balances as they go.
Customizable Card Face
You can choose from more than 20 unique card face designs for your card. Some designs may carry a one-time fee, so be sure to ask before you apply.
Free FICO Score Each Month
Every month, Credit One Bank provides you with an updated FICO score on your account statement. Your score is also visible in your online account dashboard. There’s no fee to see it.
Depending on your creditworthiness, Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa’s annual fee ranges between $0 and $75 during the first year your account is open. In all subsequent years, it ranges from $0 to $99. Depending on your creditworthiness, cash advances cost either the greater of $5 or 8% of the transferred amount, or the greater of $10 or 3% of the transferred amount. The foreign transaction fee is 3%. The authorized user fee ranges between $0 and $19. Late payments cost up to $37. Returned payments cost up to $35.
This card has very permissive credit standards, and it’s likely that applicants with average or even below-average credit will qualify. However, very serious issues in your recent credit history, including bankruptcies and foreclosures, are likely to disqualify your application.
- Cardholders With Better Credit Pay No Annual Fee. If you have decent credit, you may be able to avoid paying an annual fee to keep this card in your wallet. That’s certainly welcome, especially in light of the fact that this card has no rewards program to soften the annual fee’s blow.
- No Security Deposit Required. Unlike many cards designed for credit-challenged cardholders, Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa is not secured and therefore doesn’t require new cardholders to make upfront security deposits. Some popular secured credit cards require at least $200 or $300 upfront before activating cardholders’ accounts, followed by additional deposits whenever cardholders wish to raise their credit limits. For many cash-strapped consumers intent on improving their credit, that’s a tall order.
- Decent Rewards for Its Category. Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa’s maximum 1% cash back rate isn’t spectacular by premium cash back card standards, but it’s not bad at all for cash back cards built for consumers with below average credit. If you’re looking to rebuild credit and earn a return on spending, you’d do worse than this card.
- No Penalty APR. Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa doesn’t charge penalty interest. That’s a potential lifesaver for cardholders who occasionally miss payments due to liquidity issues. Some secured and entry-level credit-building cards charge penalty interest at rates as high as 30% on an indefinite basis. That can significantly add to the cost of carried balances.
- Free Credit Score Each Month. You get a free FICO score with your monthly statement and in your online account dashboard. This allows you to track changes in your credit at a glance and make connections between your credit score and your spending, credit utilization, balance payments, and other activities.
- Permissive Qualification Standards. By non-secured card standards, Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa is very easy to obtain. If you have average or even below-average credit, it’s worth your while to apply for this card. While approval is never guaranteed, it’s far more likely that you’ll be approved for this card at a low credit limit than for a more generous cash back card at any terms. This can be a great first step on the road to better credit.
- Responsible Use Builds Credit Over Time. Credit One Bank reports your payment patterns and credit utilization habits to all three major credit reporting bureaus each month. If you use this card responsibly and make timely payments, this is likely to improve your credit over time, hopefully paving the way for a more generous credit card in the near future.
- May Charge an Annual Fee. If your credit falls in the lower end of the acceptable range for this card, you’re likely to be charged an annual fee as high as $75 in the first year and $99 each year thereafter. For those on tight budgets, this is unwelcome news, and should serve to underscore the point that this card is best used as a temporary bridge to better credit, not a long-term spending solution.
- No Sign-up Bonus. This card doesn’t have a sign-up bonus. That’s a big problem for applicants looking to juice their earnings right out of the gate. If you’re looking for an entry-level cash back card with a decent early spend bonus, check out the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card or the Chase Freedom Credit Card.
- Low Maximum Credit Limit. This card’s maximum credit limit is $1,500. If you intend to use Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa as your family’s everyday spending card, that may be too low, unless your cash flow is sufficient to pay off purchases as you make them. Some competing secured cards have spending limits as high as $5,000 or $10,000. Those levels are much more comfortable for moderate to heavy spenders.
- Some Accounts Have No Grace Period. One of this card’s more troubling drawbacks is the potential lack of a grace period on interest accrual. Grace periods are common credit card features, so even the possibility of omission is noteworthy. It’s possible to minimize the impact by paying for purchases as you go, but that’s inconvenient for frequent spenders.
- No Balance Transfers. You can’t make balance transfers with this card. If you’re facing high-interest balances on an existing credit card account, look to a tried-and-true balance transfer card such as Chase Slate or Citi Simplicity (though be aware that both require good credit).
- Potentially High Cash Advance Fees. Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa’s cash advances can cost as much as 8% of the advanced amount. Most other cards cap cash advance fees at 5% of the advanced amount, so that’s a big (and potentially costly) difference.
The Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® With Cash Back Rewards Card is not an aspirational credit card. In fact, as credit cards go, it’s pretty unremarkable. However, for consumers who’ve struggled with credit issues in the relatively recent past and find that most of their credit card options require a hefty upfront security deposit, it’s a valuable alternative. If you struggle to qualify for more generous cards, give Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa a try. With responsible credit utilization and timely balance payments, you could find move up in the credit card world a lot sooner than you imagine.