The Verdict: Merrick Bank, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the institution, is an online lender headquartered in Utah that specializes in credit cards and boat/RV financing. That’s interesting enough, but the Merrick Bank Secured Visa Card doesn’t offer much to hold your attention. Don’t get us wrong; it’s not a bad card. It’s just a no-frills, moderately priced option with competitors that are both cheaper and more exciting.
More specifically, Merrick Bank’s Secured Card requires a $200 minimum deposit, which you can increase up to $3,000 over time, and charges a total of $36 in fees each year. That’s pretty much all you need to know. The Merrick Bank Card also features a relatively low regular APR and a 2% foreign-transaction fee, but both can be easily avoided — by always paying your bill in full and refraining from making international purchases.
Few important details remain, but we’ll highlight them below, in addition to giving you a sense of how Merrick Bank’s Secured Card compares to its primary competition, both secured offers and others.
- $200 Minimum Deposit: Many secured cards require minimum deposits of $300 to $400, which means the Merrick Bank Secured Visa Card is less taxing on your finances and thus more accessible. Plus, you can add to your deposit over time, up to a total of $3,000, for added charging power and faster credit improvement.
- $36 Annual Fee: The Merrick Bank Secured Visa Card’s fixed yearly cost is about average for a secured card, but it’s still $36 too expensive as long as no-annual-fee secured cards are available. That’s especially true when you consider that the fee will be assessed right after account opening, giving you only $164 to spend starting out, assuming a $200 deposit. After the first year, the annual fee will be charged to you in monthly installments of $3 each.
- $12 Additional-Card Fee: Most credit-card companies won’t charge you to add an authorized user and thus receive an additional card with account access. That makes sense, after all, considering that issuers make money from transaction fees. But the Merrick Bank Card breaks the mold badly in this regard, charging you $12 for each additional active card. In other words, this isn’t the best account to share.
Other Things To Consider
- 2% Foreign-Transaction Fee: This card does not make a good international travel companion or means of paying for purchases from foreign-based merchants. That’s because it charges a 2% foreign-transaction fee, which is more than the market average but not a fee anyone should feel resigned to pay.
- Relatively Low Regular APR: The Merrick Bank Card’s 17.45% (V) regular APR is comparable to the secured-card average of 17.19%, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report, but that doesn’t make carrying a balance a good idea. After all, you fronted the money for your credit line, so carrying a balance from month to month will be tantamount to loaning yourself money at a nearly 18% interest rate. Would you really charge yourself that much?
The same principle applies to cash advances, too, though they’re far more expensive. The card’s cash-advance APR is 22.45%, which is above average, and a fee of $10 or 4% of the amount withdrawn (whichever is higher) also applies.
- Visa Benefits: The fact that the Merrick Card is on the Visa network means you can use it to make purchases pretty much anywhere plastic is accepted. You’ll also enjoy network benefits such as rental-car insurance.
- Balance Transfers Prohibited: Balance transfers generally shouldn’t be of much interest to secured-card users for one simple reason: A transferred balance can’t exceed your credit limit, which is prepaid with a secured card. And if you had the money to cover the balance to begin with, you’d just pay off the debt directly. But it’s still worth mentioning that this type of transaction cannot be performed with the Merrick Bank Secured Card because that’s not the case for all secured cards.
- Off-Limits To Some Bad-Credit Applicants: Secured cards generally are the easiest credit cards to get, as their refundable security deposit erases the risk typically associated with lending to people with bad credit. Secured cards don’t offer guaranteed approval, though. There’s always some sort of qualification that must be met, whether it’s simply a valid Social Security number or a certain type of credit history. Merrick Bank’s line in the sand is that you can’t have an undischarged bankruptcy pending or unpaid tax debts.
If that rules you out, you can get the credit-improvement process started with a card such as OpenSky Secured, which does not require a credit check.
Compared To The Competition
Before deciding that a given credit card is right for you, you should always make sure to check out the competition. We therefore compared the Merrick Bank Secured Visa Card to some of the most popular alternatives for people with limited or bad credit. We did so using six primary metrics, which collectively speak to the value of an offer for members of the target audience. You can find the results of this exercise below
Merrick Bank Secured Visa Card
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card
|Annual Fee||$36 1st yr, None after||$0||$35|
|Purchase Intro APR||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Transfer Intro APR||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Regular APR||17.45% (V)||26.99% (V)||17.39% (V)|
|Editors' Rating||2.8 / 5||5.0 / 5||4.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|