Credit One Credit Cards

Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa for Rebuilding Credit

Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa for Rebuilding Credit card art
Recommended Credit:
300
689
Fair and Bad Credit

APR

26.24%

Why We Like It:

"Credit builder 1% cashback"

In a world driven by revolving credit, your worth as a consumer is judged by three little numbers. If you want to play in the big leagues, you need to build your credit. After all, your credit will impact whether or not you can qualify for a car loan, home loan or financing for emergency medical bills.

Even if you can qualify right now, a bad credit score will send your APR soaring out of left field on the big purchases you need the most. That kind of expense can cost you tons of money, and prevent you from reaching your goals of financial security. So what can you do?

That’s the million dollar question. In order to build your credit profile, you have to find one credit card you qualify for and use it strategically to raise your score. In all likelihood, if your credit is really bad, the options for the best card to use are probably pretty limited.

That’s where Credit One Bank comes in. With the Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa, you could be eligible for a card that allows you to build credit without a deposit and even offers small cashback incentives. Here’s what you need to know about building your credit with Credit One:

Credit One is clearly a bank that believes in second chances. This is evidenced by their lack of a minimum credit score requirement to apply. That means even if your credit score is in the tank, or maybe you never started building credit, you can apply and possibly get approved!

Even better, the credit approval comes in the form of a soft credit check that doesn’t impact your credit score and can be done online in under a minute. You’ll know instantly if you’re approved for this card and can start planning your pathway to better credit.

The minimum amount Credit One offers is slightly more flexible than some other cards for bad credit, especially secured cards which typically match your deposit. The Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa doesn’t require a deposit to offer you a small amount to start spending right away.

It’s also a good choice for credit users who want to practice building credit on a card with some rewards. While the cashback incentive on purchases is below average, that’s still a lot better than many cards for bad credit which don’t offer any cashback rewards at all.

In addition, Credit One offers credit score monitoring through their custom dashboards. As you make timely payments, you’ll see your credit score improve and you may be allowed credit line increases if you show you can handle it responsibly.

Essentially, what’s great about this card is that it offers a path to redemption. Whether or not that path is clear, however, remains to be seen—and we’ll cover that in detail below.

Since a desperate quest for gold isn’t likely to fix your financial woes, let's keep the focus on raising your credit score—which you can certainly do with Credit One. Still, there are a few things about this card that can seem confusing to consumers, so let's take a deeper look:

In addition to the above concerns, you can also expect to pay a higher than average APR. This occurs simply because your credit score isn’t great. It’s a standard practice across the industry to offer higher APR to consumers with fair credit or below, or no credit at all.

That said, most of the complaints that Credit One receives are about the fine print being so confusing, misunderstood or tricky to navigate. That alone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad deal. If you understand these potential pitfalls and the limitations bad credit presents for you when applying for a credit card, you can still use this card to rebuild your credit.

So, how do you go about building your credit with Credit One Bank Unsecured Visa? Well, the same way you would with any card. It’s simple, actually:

The first step to building credit is creating a budget and knowing what you can afford to pay off each month. Do everything you can to make sure you aren't spending more than you can afford in a few weeks when it comes time to pay the bill. Consider the amount you put on the card an advance to yourself. When it comes to advances, you need to pay them off within the allotted period. In this case, it’s each month. Once you have a budget and know what you can afford to put on the card and pay each month, you're on the right track.

If you know what you can afford, you can start to give yourself spending categories that make sense for your lifestyle. Perhaps you can afford to fully pay off a $75 balance each month and you want to use it for gas. Or you’re going to use your card to get lunch at work each day. Whatever the case, set boundaries around how you spend money on the card so you don’t end up in a bind thanks to impulsive shopping habits.

It may go without saying that once you’ve created a budget and analyzed your spending habits and the reach of your income, you should set a limit on how much you can spend on your Credit One Bank Visa. But we’re going to say it anyway: Setting up a reasonable spending limit creates yet another boundary to protect you from yourself.

While not a physical step in the process of rebuilding your credit, it’s important to say you should only apply if you’re seriously ready to raise your credit score. If you aren’t responsible enough for credit or are trying to get a card to fund a big, non-essential purchase like new furniture or a vacation, you should really consider if you need this card in the first place.

The Credit One Unsecured Visa may not be the best card, overall, but for consumers with credit that has been devastated by financial peril, it could be the best option right now. Our recommendation is, if you decide to apply for a Credit One card, be aware of the potential drawbacks we've described and be ready to use it to build your credit—and for that purpose only.

It may be the only credit card you carry in your wallet for a few years, so you'll need to be patient. Just keep in mind that building credit is a slow process. Once you’ve used it to create healthy credit card spending habits, you can eventually graduate to a better card with better rates and fee structure—and one that doesn’t have so many blind spots.

When it comes to rebuilding credit, the bottom line is simple: Your options are going to be limited. But with a consumer-friendly choice like Credit One offers, you have the opportunity to build your credit while reaping moderate rewards, provided you read and understand the fine print.

Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa

Credit One Bank Unsecured Platinum Visa card art
Recommended Credit:
300
689
Fair and Bad Credit

APR

26.24%

Why We Like It:

"Credit builder 1% cashback"

This card is an ideal fit for users who have bad credit or are looking to build their credit score for the first time. Credit One Bank also offers credit score monitoring and learning opportunities for those who are new to credit. There is an annual membership fee that starts being assessed in year one, with the amount dependent upon the initial credit line issued. This fee may change each subsequent year.

While easier to access than a traditional credit line, the total amount you will pay in annual fees isn’t the only confusing concern for consumers. Aside from not knowing your fee until the time of approval, you also don’t know what kind of card you’ll be eligible for when you make application, what your rates will be and more. The credit card terms and conditions, online, are generic and all of this makes some consumers uneasy.

That said, the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa is an unsecured card, which means there is likely no deposit required, making it a solid choice for people with “Poor” credit who don’t have a lot of cash on hand. If you need access to credit and don’t have a score that supports better options, this could be a fine choice when used responsibly as a credit building tool, rather than as a line of credit to be treated lavishly.

Credit One Credit Cards

As one of the fastest growing credit card issuers in the country, Credit One Bank already has 7 million loyal members.

But there's something different about this pool of cardholders: most of them have less than perfect credit.

Paying off a credit card demonstrates the kind of responsible borrowing behavior the three major credit bureaus look for when increasing your credit score.

Yet if your credit score dips too low, you may find it hard to gain approval for a credit card at all.

Credit card applicants with low credit scores are often given very high interest rates and very low credit limits if they do happen to score an approval.

They also don't normally qualify for credit cards that offer rewards either.

So maybe that's why 85% of Credit One Bank cardholders would recommend a Credit One credit card to their friends.

According to Credit One, they've paid out over $33 million in cash back rewards to their members.

While the thought of simultaneously repairing your credit score and earning cash back sounds like a total win, there's a lot more you'll need to consider before applying for a Credit One Bank card.

What Is Credit One Bank?

With words like "credit" and "bank" in their name, you may be confused as to what Credit One Bank actually offers if you've never heard of them.

Let's clear that up.

A Brief Rundown of Credit One Bank's History

Back in 1984, First National Bank of Marin (FNBM) opened as a full-service bank in San Rafael, California.

They offered your typical variety of banking services until the late 90s when they decided to focus their attention on credit cards.

After relocating their headquarters to Las Vegas, Nevada in 1998, FNBM received the green light from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, to operate as a CEBA bank in 2005.

CEBA banks are only allowed to "engage in credit card activities," as the FDIC puts it, and cannot perform other routine banking transactions like making commercial loans.

FNBM changed their name to Credit One Bank, N.A. in 2006, and adopted a logo to better represent their mission of helping cardholders improve their credit scores.

Though Credit One Bank doesn't have any branches you can visit, you can apply for three different credit cards they offer online.

Services and Products Offered by Credit One Bank

A majority of credit card issuers offer both secured credit cards and unsecured ones.

Here's the difference:

A secured credit card requires a cash deposit to "secure" your credit limit. If you deposit $500 to the bank backing your credit card, you generally have a $500 credit limit. This removes the risk of lending you money since you're providing the money upfront.

An unsecured credit card does not require a cash deposit. If you're approved, you'll be given a line of credit and you'll be able to make purchases with your card up to this limit.

Credit One Bank issues unsecured credit cards aimed for applicants with low and bad credit scores.

This makes their cards a good choice for those who cannot afford to make a secured credit card deposit before needing to use their line of credit.

Who are their cards best for?

When credit card issuers screen for qualified candidates, they check every applicant's:

  • Credit score
  • Income
  • Credit history
  • Income-to-debt ratio

If any one of these factors falls short of the criteria set by that credit card issuer, your application will get denied.

So one of the first factors every potential applicant should check when researching credit cards is actually the easiest to find: your credit score.

When you know your credit score, you'll have a better idea of your approval odds.

Credit scores generally break down as:

  • Excellent: 750+
  • Good: 680–749
  • Average: 600–679
  • Poor: under 600

As David Weliver writes for Money Under 30, "Most so-called ‘prime' and ‘superprime' credit cards are only available to applicants with credit scores of 750 or better."

On the other hand, Credit One Bank approves applicants with credit scores as low as the mid 500s, making them ideal for people who have previously been denied credit cards but want to build or rebuild their credit history.

Checking Your Application Status

You should receive an answer as to whether you're pre-approved for a Credit One credit card online within a few minutes.

However, sometimes Credit One will need additional time to approve your actual application for a credit card.

You can check the status of your application any time through their website.

You'll need to enter your last name and social security number to do so.

You can also contact the designated Application hotline at 1-800-752-5493 (between the hours of 5:00 AM–9:00 PM PST Monday–Friday; and 6:30 AM–5:00 PM during weekends).

Payment Options

Credit One Bank does not operate any locations or brick-and-mortar branches — that means you cannot simply walk into a Credit One establishment to pay your monthly bill.

What are the Acceptable Payment Methods?

Credit One Bank accepts payments in the form of:

  • Checks
  • Money orders from MoneyGram and Western Union
  • Debit/ATM cards when you pay online using the Express Payment option

You cannot use another credit card to pay your Credit One Bank credit card bill.

What Is the Minimum Payment?

Your minimum payment is the minimum amount you must pay at the end of your billing cycle in order for your account to remain in good standing. To find out how this number is calculated, check the terms of your specific card in your Cardholder Agreement.

You cannot make a payment less than $1.00 as that's the minimum amount of interest Credit One will charge.

If you fail to make your entire minimum payment by your bill's due date, you'll be charged a late fee.

What Are the Late Payment Repercussions?

You'll be hit with a late fee of $37 if your payment posts after your payment due date.

To give you an idea of what's considered late, if your payment is received by Credit One:

  • Before 2:00 PM (PST) Sunday through Friday, it will post the same day and show up online in the "Posted Activity" section of your account "Overview" page the following business day.
  • After 2:00 PM (PST), it will post the following business day.
  • After 5:00 PM (PST) Friday and before 2:00 PM (PST) Saturday, it will post Sunday.
  • After 5:00 PM (PST) Saturday, it will post the next business day.

Where Can I Make the Payments?

You can pay your Credit One credit card bill by mail or online from your account page.

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To pay your bill my mail, send your payment coupon, your monthly statement, and a check to:

Credit One Bank
Payment Services
P.O. Box 60500
City of Industry, CA 91716-0500

FYI: Payments received by mail are not processed during holidays such as: New Year's Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, or Christmas Day.

You also have the option of mailing a payment using MoneyGram's ExpressPayment service. Just provide your 16-digit Credit One Bank credit card account number and the Credit One 4-digit Receive Code (1430).

To mail a payment using Western Union, use your 16-digit credit card account number with the Credit One "code city" (CREDITONEBANK) and "code state" (NV).

To pay your bill online, login to your Credit One mobile account dashboard and navigate to the "Current Snapshot" page where you'll have an up-to-date summary of all your account information, including your payment due date and minimum payment.

Hit the "Pay Bill" button and you'll have two choices:

1. Pay using the Standard Payment option and your funds will be available in "about five business days" according to Credit One Bank.

This means if you pay $100, you'll need to wait around five days to see that $100 added as a credit to your account.

You're only allowed to use your bank account to make a Standard payment so you'll need to have your account and routing numbers handy.

There's no fee charged when you choose the Standard Payment option.

2. Pay using the Express Payment option and your funds will usually be available the next business day.

You can use either your bank account or your Debit/ATM card to make an Express Payment.

Be warned:You'll be charged a fee of $9.95 for choosing the Express Payment feature.

Strengths

Credit One Bank credit cards may not have all the glitz and glamour associated with other celebrity-endorsed credit cards, but that doesn't mean they're not the right option for someone who's been denied credit in the past and wants to rebuild their credit now.

If you're in this boat (as many Americans are), here are the top four benefits of a Credit One credit card:

Great for those with Poor or Limited Credit

Credit One credit cards are geared for applicants with less-than-awesome credit scores.

Their high approval rating is great for people who have been denied credit cards in the past due to their poor or limited credit history.

Unlike secured credit cards that require a deposit to use, the unsecured credit cards from Credit One don't require any money down to start borrowing and making purchases right away.

Plus, certain applicants will be eligible to earn 1% cash back rewards—an unusual credit card perk for applicants with low or bad credit scores.

Helps Rebuild Your Credit History

As an unsecured credit card, all of your spending and repayment activity attached to your Credit One Bank card gets reported to all three major credit bureaus.

Display creditworthy behavior—like only spending 30% of your credit limit and paying off your purchases several times each month to keep interest charges to a minimum—and your credit score will slowly climb into the higher ranges.

You'll then start to qualify for better offers from other credit card issuers with your shiny, new-and-improved credit score.

Offers Various Reward Programs Attached to their Cards

Most credit cards given to applicants with little or bad credit offer very little in the way of loyalty rewards. However, Credit One cardholders have the chance to earn 1% cash back for their eligible purchases.

NASCAR fans carrying the Official NASCAR Visa card will also earn double cash back online at the NASCAR.com Superstore.

Plus, all the Visa-backed Credit One cards come standard with access to Visa Offers and perks, like travel accident and auto rental collision insurance when you book your vacation with your Credit One Visa.

You Can Check Your Credit Score Progress for Free

All Credit One Bank credit cards give their cardholders access to free online credit monitoring so they can watch the progress of their credit score in real time.

Tracking your credit score every month helps you nail down exactly what's hurting or helping your credit score.

Despite those four benefits, there are three downsides you should also consider before submitting a formal application to Credit One.

Weaknesses

Credit One credit cards may be a gift for some and nightmare for others.

To get them to work for you, you'll need to overcome these three negative points:

Annual Fees Vary Based on Your Creditworthiness

It's not uncommon for credit cards offering rewards to charge an annual fee. After all, this fee helps cover the costs associated with giving away all that cash back and member-exclusive swag.

Typically this annual fee is a one-price-fits-all kind of thing.

However, Credit One bases their annual fee on your creditworthiness.

That means you could be on the line for an annual fee depending on what your credit looks like when you apply for a card.

Customer Reviews

Customers reviewing the Credit One cards frequently complain about high interest rates and expensive annual fees.

Other negative reviews seem to focus on the lack of credit limit increases and the not-so-friendly customer service representatives:

But cardholders who do their homework and understand the way Credit One operates are more than satisfied with their services.

You'll see so many mixed reviews for credit cards because everyone's financial history and credit needs are different.

Take these opinions as general market research before deciding what's right for you.