The Verdict: The Total VISA® Credit Card is the opposite of the complete package, charging an arm and a leg for a small unsecured credit line. Newly approved applicants have to pay an $89* program fee just to open a Total VISA® Credit Card account, and then there is a $75 membership fee the first year, which jumps to a total of $123 in subsequent years between annual and monthly fees. Furthermore, if you carry a balance from month to month — supposedly what this type of card is intended for — interest will accrue at a ridiculously high 34.99%* APR, one of the highest rates on the market.
What you get in return for this significant investment is $225 of spending power and a chance to improve your credit if you behave well. But all credit cards provide the latter, most at a much cheaper price point. And there are less expensive ways to get an emergency loan, too. You would therefore be wise to focus on the Total VISA®’s top competition when reading the rest of our in-depth review below.
- Offers Credit-(Re)building Capabilities: No matter how bad your credit might be, you should be able to get approved for the Total VISA® Card, provided that you can afford its $89 up-front cost. This buys you a way to add new information to your credit reports on a monthly basis, which will help rebuild your credit if it reflects on-time payments.
- $164 In Initial Fees: The fees begin rolling in before things even really get started, with an $89 program fee that must be paid prior to account opening. It’s rare for a credit card to have such a fee, so either the Total VISA® is gouging folks or pretty much every other issuer is offering a steep discount. That’s only the beginning, too, unfortunately. If you decide to pay up and open an account, you’ll get hit with a $75 annual fee the first month your account is open. Altogether, that amounts to $164 in fixed fees before your first account anniversary. And things don’t get much better after that.
- $225 In Unsecured Initial Spending Power: The bit of borrowing potential provided by unsecured credit cards for people with bad credit supposedly is among their biggest draws. Emergency expenses can’t always be handled with cash on hand, after all. Yet Total VISA® will give you a grand total of just $225 in funds that you can’t cover yourself to start out with. That’s what you’re left with after subtracting the $75 first-year annual fee from your $300 initial credit line. And while that paltry sum might help you pay a small bill or two, it certainly won’t go very far.
- $123 In Fees Each Subsequent Year: The Total VISA® Card’s annual fee drops down to $48 beginning in the second year, which may lead you to believe it will be less expensive to use. However, that annual fee is supplemented by a $6.25 “monthly servicing” fee, which pushes the yearly tab to $123. In contrast, many other offers, secured or unsecured, do not charge monthly fees.
- Very High Regular APR: If you have bad credit, it’s wise to get in the habit of paying your bill in full simply because funds are probably tight and you don’t want to waste your money on interest. That’s true no matter what type of credit card you’re using but especially one with an APR as high as the Total VISA® Card’s, 34.99%*, which is among the highest on the market in general. At nearly 35%, it’s almost double the 17.19% average for secured credit cards, according to WalletHub’s latest Credit Card Landscape Report.
- Can’t Be Used At Gas Stations Or Abroad: In order to reduce risk, the issuer of the Total VISA®, prohibits use of the card at automated fuel pumps (which places a hold on your credit line and often are a first stop for card thieves) as well as purchases processed internationally. If you or an authorized user on your account uses the card for any such transactions, you’ll have to compensate the issuer for any expenses they incur as a result, though it’s unclear from the card’s Terms & Conditions exactly what those expenses include. This Visa, as a result, is not everywhere you want to be.
Other Things To Consider
- Checking Account Required: The Total VISA® Card’s terms don’t provide much information about this particular requirement, but it appears that you do need a checking account in order to qualify. You’re going to need a deposit account to make credit-card payments anyway, but this somewhat arbitrarily prevents prepaid cards, savings accounts, money orders and other non-checking means of payment from filling that role.
- $29 Annual Additional-Card Fee: If you want to add an authorized user to your account — not recommended unless the other person is someone you can trust to use the card responsibly — you’ll have to pay an additional $29 per year for the privilege. This doesn’t make much sense, however, as the account offers no rewards for spending, and an authorized user won’t earn you a higher credit limit. Bear in mind that other issuers charge a much lower fee or none at all for adding authorized users.
- Up To $40 Late- & Returned-Payment Fees: These fees aren’t terribly high relative to the rest of the credit card market — the average is $33.65 — but they’re nevertheless important to avoid in the interest of not inflating already high costs. So make sure to pay your bill on time — by establishing automatic payments, for example — and keep enough cash in your checking account to easily cover the cost in case of a blunder.
- Other Assorted Fees: You’ll also have to pay a $3 copying fee for every page of each duplicate account statement or other document you request, $35 for express card delivery and more.
Compared To The Competition
To help put the Total VISA® Credit Card into context, we compared it to some of the strongest competition, both secured and unsecured. We did so in terms of seven key categories that collectively speak to each card’s overall value. You can find the results in the following table
Total VISA® Credit Card
Credit One Bank® Visa® Credit Card
Milestone® Mastercard® - Less Than Perfect Credit Considered
Secured Mastercard® from Capital One
|Annual Fee||$75 1st yr, $48 after*||$0 - $99||$35 - $99*||$0|
|Rewards Rate||N/A||0 - 1% Cash Back||N/A||N/A|
|Purchase Intro APR||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Transfer Intro APR||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|Regular APR||34.99%*||17.99% - 23.99% (V)||24.9%||26.99% (V)|
|Editors' Rating||1.0 / 5||3.0 / 5||3.0 / 5||5.0 / 5|
|Details, Rates & Fees||Learn More|
Rates & Fees
|Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|