Bad credit is a reality for millions of Americans. Bad credit is also known as “subprime” because it is below what lenders consider a safe level of risk for themselves when extending new credit lines. Because of this “subprime” distinction, even fair – or average – credit can mean higher interest rates, lower credit limits, and other less-than-desirable terms. While there are plenty of credit builder credit cards on the market, how can you know which is best? Let’s compare two of the best cards for repairing credit: The Mercury Mastercard and the Total Visa.
While both the Mercury and Total Visa are among the best cards for repairing credit, they are useful at different points in the credit building journey.
The Mercury Mastercard is ideal for those with an average credit score. A fair, or average, FICO Score is between 580 and 669. A bad credit score, on the other hand, is between 300 and 579. A FICO Score in this range requires a “fresh start” credit card like the Total Visa.
While these seem to be two cards aimed at distinctly separate groups, that’s not the case. Those with a credit score in the low 600s may struggle to get an unsecured card like the Mercury Card. Because of the impact of a hard inquiry on a credit score, those with lower scores may have better approval odds with a card like the Total Visa.
What Card Has the Best Interest Rates?
Part of repairing your credit is showing financial responsibility. This process includes keeping your credit utilization ratio down – ideally below 10%. Keeping your credit use this low means trying to pay your balance in full every month. Paying your whole statement balance regularly eliminates the worry about interest rates or APR.
That said, some people do carry a balance, and for those individuals, the Mercury Mastercard is the better choice. The card features a variable APR between 25% and 29%. The Total Card, on the other hand, has a higher fixed APR.
Of course, the Total Card also accepts no-credit or bad-credit applicants, so the higher rate is understandable. Plus, paying in-full essentially makes the interest rate irrelevant. Otherwise, however, Mercury offers a better rate.
Related Article: The Best Ways to Fix Your Credit
The Mercury Master card features no annual fee, which is an excellent perk. The Total Visa, on the other hand, has a number of fees, including an annual fee. There’s an annual fee of for the first year, plus a one-off setup fee. Fortunately, the annual fee drops in year two. Unfortunately, there is also a monthly maintenance fee, though Total waives this for the first year.
Since the Total Visa is a good option for bad credit, the charges are understandable. Lower credit might mean lenders are taking a bigger risk. For those with fair credit, the Mercury is the best bet. For those with poor credit, however, Total may offer a lifeline.
Limitations of the Mercury Card
While the Mercury Card has significant benefits, it also has drawbacks. The biggest of its limitations is the customer service aspect of card membership. Online forums, such as MyFICO, feature critiques of the cardmember experience. Complaints include poor customer service, lack of transparency, and other issues. While each customer’s experience is different – and there are happy customers – it is still something to consider before applying.
Limitations of the Total Visa
The Total Visa also has its imperfections, though these are mainly the fees the card charges. The other significant negative is the purchase APR. This rate, however, is entirely avoidable by paying each statement balance in full every month.
So, Which Is the Best Card for Repairing Credit?
What’s the best card for repairing credit? The Mercury Mastercard and Total Visa are somewhat similar but each offers something different. For those with a credit in the low to mid-600s, the Mercury is the better option. The card offers a lower APR, no annual fees, and higher credit limits.
Build Credit with No Annual Fee
- Regular Purchase APR 25.15% to 28.15% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Balance Transfer APR 25.15% to 28.15% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Cash Advance APR 25.15% to 28.15% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Annual Fee None
- Credit Needed Fair
- Processing Network Mastercard
- No annual fee
- Free access to FICO score
- Reports to the three main credit bureaus
- $0 Fraud Liability if your card is lost or stolen
- Regular Purchase APR: 25.15% to 28.15% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Balance Transfer APR: 25.15% to 28.15% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Balance Transfer Transaction Fee: Either $5 or 4% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater
- Cash Advance APR: 25.15% to 28.15% variable based on creditworthiness and the Prime Rate
- Cash Advance Transaction Fee: Either $10 or 5% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 3% of the transaction amount in U.S. dollars
- Late Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
- Return Payment Penalty Fee: Up to $40
For those with slightly better credit, the Total Visa is a quality option to consider. The Total Card offers better acceptance odds for people with bad credit or no credit. The card also reports to the three major credit bureaus regularly. This consistent reporting is key to steadily and quickly building credit.
- Fast and easy application process; response provided in seconds
- A genuine Visa® card accepted by merchants nationwide across the USA and online
- Manageable monthly payments
- $300 credit limit (Subject to available credit)
- Select your favorite card design from our gallery, for free!
- Regular Purchase APR: See Terms*
- Cash Advance APR: See Terms*
- Cash Advance Transaction Fee: See Terms*
- Annual Fee: See Terms*
- Late Payment Penalty Fee: See Terms*
- Return Payment Penalty Fee: See Terms*
Related Article: What Are the Best Unsecured Cards for Rebuilding Credit?