Recently, someone asked me about a credit card offer they received from Merrick Bank. I wasn’t familiar with Merrick Bank, so I agreed to look into it. The Merrick Bank credit card is pretty interesting for the right type of person. The Merrick Bank secure credit card lets people with no credit, or terrible credit rebuild their credit or build a high credit score for the first time. They also seem to offer people who recently emerged from bankruptcy low-limit unsecure credit cards as well. So if you are looking for something that works as a credit card for 500 score, this might be your huckleberry.
Merrick Bank Credit Card Reviews
The first thing about Merrick Bank is where is it located. If you’ve never heard of Merrick Bank, don’t worry, you probably aren’t alone. Most people don’t realize that “bank” can mean a lot of different things. In this case, bank means an issuer of loans and credit cards, not a bank that takes regular deposits and has branches. It is FDIC insured and is one of the top issuers of Visa cards but you won’t see a Merrick branch while walking down the street.
According to the people I spoke with, Merrick offers several different credit card and personal loan products. Merrick Bank recreation loans fill a niche for those looking to finance a boat, RV, trailer, or jet ski. In addition, the company offers different forms of financial education and free credit scores to those with Merrick accounts. The more commonly available products are the Merrick Bank Secured credit card, and the other is a more traditional unsecured Merrick Card Classic Visa or MasterCard.
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Secured Visa by Merrick Bank
The Merrick Bank Secured Visa can be applied for by anyone by filling out an application that is available online. Current terms include a 22.70 percent interest rate, calculated at PRIME + 14.20 percentage points, and a $36 annual fee that turns into a $3 per month annual fee after the first year. In other words, when you apply for the card, you’ll pay a $36 fee all at once, then no fee for the next 12 months. Then, in month 13, you’ll start paying $3 per month as the “annual fee.” Cash advances are a major fee. It’s 4 percent for each cash advance with a minimum of $10 (then you pay interest on that cash at a higher rate — Prime + 19.20 — until you pay it back!), so get your cash elsewhere.
Merrick Bank Secured Credit Card
You can apply for a credit line between $200 and $3,000. As is typical for a secured credit card, the amount of your deposit determines your credit line. Merrick pitches this as choose your own credit line. Still, this is a great tool for someone with terrible credit, but with some liquid savings available. If you deposit $500 with them, you’ll get a $500 credit line. If you deposit $3,000, you get a $3,000 credit line. After that, you should probably look into keeping your cash in high-yield savings account or something instead of getting more credit unless you have a specific reason for it.
One of the major benefits of the Merrick Bank credit card secured version is that the company reports your activity to all three of the three major credit bureaus. Some banks or credit unions with secured credit cards only report to one credit bureau, or may not report them at all. With the Merrick Secured Mastercard you can be sure that using it and paying on time, every time will help repair your credit, or rebuild your credit after a bankruptcy or other difficult financial times.
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Obviously, however, if you have decent credit, this is not the card for you, but if you have poor credit, no credit, or don’t have the right kind of income to qualify for another card, this one can be a way to build up your credit.
Merrick Bank Visa Classic or MasterCard
To apply for a standard, unsecured credit card from Merrick Bank, you have to have received an offer from the company. Most people seem to receive an offer by mail. There is an offer number on that mailing, and you must enter it in order to apply for the card. This is typically a “sub-prime” card, meaning that it is offered to people with higher credit risk, such as people who have a bankruptcy on their credit report, or those with low credit scores.
Unsecured Merrick Bank Credit Card
The interest rates and annual fees on the normal Merrick Bank credit cards range from 17.45% to 29.70%, again based on Prime Rate plus a certain markup. Annual fees range from zero to $72 per year. Some cards have a setup fee of up to $75, and I would strongly advise against that. Be sure to carefully review your terms. A $72 annual fee is crazy. Don’t do it. Also, note that they will charge your setup fee and annual fee to your card right away. In other words, that $500 credit limit will start with a balance of $147 on it already.
If you can’t pay that $147 off immediately, do not sign up for the card. It isn’t worth paying the high interest rate charge.
The interesting thing about many Merrick Bank credit card offers received in the mail is that they offer an automatic increase in the credit line after a certain period of time. So, for example, the card starts as an $800 credit limit card, then after making seven payments on time, the limit automatically increases to $1,300. Again, this is a great way to help rebuild credit after a bankruptcy, or other financial difficulties.
While making on-time payments is the most important part of your credit score, factors like credit utilization, and total available credit are important too. A higher UNUSED limit will improve your credit score for free. In other words, if you really can use and pay off this card every month, it can help raise your credit score. However, if you end up carrying a balance on this card, it probably isn’t going to help your credit score very much, and if you make late payments, it will harm your score a lot.
Free Credit Score from Merrick Bank
Many of the Merrick Bank credit cards come with a free credit score offer. Unlike many credit card company free credit scores, this is a real FICO score, and according to the company, the actual, true credit score the company uses when evaluating your account. Other non-FICO scores are often referred to as FAKO, as in fake credit scores. In other words, this Merrick Bank credit score report is a similar FICO score to what other credit card companies might use to decide if you qualify for their lower interest rate, or better rewards credit card offers.
Once you get approved for any of the Merrick credit cards reviewed here, you get access to your free credit score called MY goScore by the company. The free credit score is easily available by logging into your account online. Once approved you will need to create an account for your Merrick Bank login. The score is updated monthly. You don’t update it manually, or choose to update it. Rather, the company updates it on its schedule and informs you when there is a new score to look at, either by email or with your electronic statement.
Merrick Bank Credit Card Recommendation
Merrick Bank cards are designed for people with low or bad credit scores, often resulting from a bankruptcy or foreclosure. As such, the terms and conditions are not great, and there are virtually no extra features like you would find on credit cards available to people with better credit scores. For example, there are no credit card rewards points or cash back offered. In addition, the annual fees can be pretty high.
If you have the ability to get a better credit card, do it. This is not a good credit card for people with other options. However, if your credit is messed up and you are looking to rebuild or improve your credit score, this card is a good option, especially if you get an offer with no annual fee. If not, I wouldn’t recommend this card.
Merrick Credit Cards = good for people rebuilding from bad credit. Stay away for everyone else.
Merrick Credit Cards Rating
Miscellaneous Merrick Bank Information
- Merrick Bank Phone Number: 1-800-204-5936
- Who Owns Merrick Bank: Nobody. It is its own company.
- Merrick Bank Settlements: The company is known to settle past due debts.