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A costly way to increase credit: Review of the Merrick Bank Platinum Visa card

May 14, 2020
10 min read
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Merrick Bank Platinum Visa Credit Card Overview

While the standout feature of the Merrick Bank card is the ability to easily double your credit limit, there are better options for those with poor to fair credit. The card is worth a look if you are in need of rebuilding your credit, but with annual fees, set-up fees, and a high APR, it's a card that should largely be avoided. Card Rating*: ⭐⭐

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG's editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

This page includes information about the Discover it Secured that is not currently available on The Points Guy and may be out of date.

Credit cards that are intended to help individuals build or repair credit often have the most fees and highest APR rates. That's because the banks that issue these types of cards are taking on more risk in the event that you are unable to pay off your balance.

Utah-based Merrick Bank is no exception, with its Platinum Visa card (also known as the Double Your Line card). If used correctly, it's a card that can materially help in fixing damaged credit -- but it comes at a potentially serious cost.

Let's look a little more into the details of the Merrick Bank credit card to see if it might make sense for you.

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The information for the Merrick Bank Platinum Visa Credit Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Who is this card for?

While Merrick Bank serves three million cardholders, it isn't the most well-known institution out there. That's because it caters to a specific niche. According to Merrick, it specializes in "credit programs that assist people looking to build or rebuild their credit."

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That essentially means the Merrick Bank Platinum Visa card is meant for individuals who have bad to fair credit and are looking for concrete steps to improve it. Since this is an unsecured credit card, you don't need to put down a security deposit.

However, similar to the Indigo Platinum Mastercard, the card has a sliding scale of fees that are entirely based on your creditworthiness.

  • Annual Fee: From $0 to $72 the first year. Billed $0 to $6 per month thereafter.
  • Account Set-Up Fee: From $0 to $75 one-time fee
  • Additional Card Fee: From $0 to $12 per additional card issued, per year.

These fees can add up, as you're essentially paying to improve your credit. If you're eager enough to make significant progress on your financial standing, this card could be an option. However, we'll get to other -- and in most cases, better -- possibilities.

Related reading: How to check your credit score absolutely free

How the card works

The main draw for the Merrick Bank card is the ability to improve your credit score. Since the card reports to the major credit card bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian), this allows you to build a credit history that eventually can help you be approved for future financial products.

Unlike a secured card, the Merrick Bank card provides a revolving line of credit without the need to pay a security deposit.

Initial credit limit

A great upside to this card is that your initial limit of $550 to $1,250 (again, based on creditworthiness) will be automatically doubled after seven months of on-time payments. (Hence, the "Double Your Line" card name.)

That means if you are initially approved with a $550 credit line and you pay on time for seven months thereafter, you'll notice your credit limit jump to $1,100. This limit is regularly reviewed for increases after that time period, too.

An increased credit limit means you won't have to worry about maxing out on your card -- but more importantly, it can help your credit utilization ratio.

Your credit utilization ratio is the percentage of your credit limits that you are using and is one of the more important factors that determine your credit score. You can keep credit utilization low by spending less on the card, but your credit limit is set by the bank.

The factors that make up your FICO score. (Image source: FICO)
The factors that make up your FICO score. (Image source: FICO)

The fees

There's no question that the Merrick Bank Platinum card has many potential fees that seriously limit the usefulness of this card. If your credit history doesn’t qualify you for a card without an annual fee, the amount of your annual fee is deducted from your overall credit line. The same can be said for the account set-up fee.

As an example, let's say you are approved for a $550 credit limit and you have poor credit. In this case, you're also levied $75 just to get your account started (set-up fee), then you also are charged a $72 annual fee. In total, you owe $147 before you’ve even used your card. The $147 in fees is also deducted from your $550 credit limit, which means you'll only actually start out with $403.

How you'll want to use the card

You'll want to build up a positive payment history by making small purchases to create a lower credit utilization ratio. Your payment history also makes up a sizable portion of your credit score. With up to a 27.70% APR, try to make your payments in full if possible. Interest charges can blow up your credit card debt, so we always recommend paying off your card.

Perks and benefits

It shouldn't come as a surprise that with a no-annual-fee, bare-bones card, there aren't any notable perks. However, the Merrick Bank card does come with a few generic Visa Traditional benefits. These include:

You'll get an updated FICO Score for free as well as a mobile app and 24/7 customer support for account management.

Related reading: The top credit cards with 0% intro APR

Other cards to consider

While the Merrick card is an unsecured card, it's worth taking a look at some of the secured cards that are on the market if you have the ability to put down a deposit. With secured cards, the amount of your credit line is tied to the amount you provide as a security deposit.

Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card: Best for card perks

With no annual fee, the Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card is one of the few secured credit cards that may extend you a credit line that’s greater than your security deposit. The card also can be a good choice since it has many perks, including no foreign transaction fees, auto rental collision damage insurance, travel accident insurance and extended warranty protection.

Discover it Secured: Best for earning rewards

The Discover it Secured is one of the few secured credit cards that earns rewards. You can earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter you enroll and 1% cash back on everything else. Plus, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year. Also, Discover monitors your payments to help determine if you can upgrade to an unsecured card and get your security deposit returned.

This means you can earn rewards while you work to build your credit by using your card responsibly and paying your bill each month.

The information for the Discover it Secured has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card: Best for no credit check

While the OpenSky Secured Visa has a $35 annual fee, the card may be a solid option for some consumers because there’s no credit check when you apply. The minimum security deposit is $200 for a $200 credit limit. Like the Merrick card, this card lacks perks or rewards.

Related reading: Building credit for beginners: OpenSky Secured Visa Card review


Is there a welcome bonus on the Merrick Bank credit card?

Unfortunately, the Merrick Bank Double Your Line card has no welcome bonus or introductory APR available for new cardholders.

What are the fees on the Merrick Bank credit card?

There are fees associated with the Merrick Bank card, and many are assessed on your overall creditworthiness. This includes an APR between 17.45% and 27.70%, a $0 through $72 annual fee, $0 through $75 set-up fee and a $0 through $12 additional card fee.

Also, the Merrick Bank card charges a foreign transaction fee of 2%, and a late payment fee and a returned payment fee of up to $40.

How long does it take to get a Merrick Bank credit card in the mail?

There are varying reports of how long the Merrick Bank card takes to arrive in the mail. Generally, don't expect your card until two weeks after your application is approved.

Related reading: How to earn points and miles with fair to poor credit

Bottom line

The Merrick Bank card is far from the best credit card option even for those with poor credit. On one hand, the fairly simple way to increase your credit limit is beneficial. However, with many fees and a high APR, I'd recommend looking elsewhere. A secured card is likely your best option, since you can build credit and get your deposit back eventually.

As of this publication, Merrick Bank is only accepting new Double Your Line cardholders who received a mailed offer.

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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