|Credit Building Rating:||1.8 / 5|
|Cost of Membership||1.0|
|Ease of Building Credit||4.0|
In a Nutshell:
Riddled with fees, including an extremely high variable APR, the Reflex Mastercard is best seen as a last resort and stopgap for credit-builders.
Average Cost of Membership Per Year
Security Deposit Required
Initial Credit Limit
Access to Higher Credit Line?
You can request a credit limit increase after 6 months of on-time payments
$75-$99 per year, plus $0-$120 per year (assessed as $0-$10 monthly) in maintenance fees after your first year
Other Rates and Fees
Features: Free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Experian when you sign up for e-statements, $0 fraud liability for unauthorized charges, chance at instant approval, preapproval available
If you have a limited credit history or are looking to repair your bad credit, signing up for a new credit card can be a great first step. You get a chance to practice good financial habits and build your track record as a responsible cardholder, which will help you qualify for better terms in the future.
The catch is that cards designed for credit-builders tend to be burdened with harsh terms, including high interest rates, big penalties and exorbitant fees. Unfortunately, the Reflex Mastercard is no exception. The card carries a ton of fees, an extremely high APR and next-to-nothing in the way of perks.
Though the Reflex Mastercard reports to the national credit bureaus and could help you improve your credit with responsible use, its high cost makes it hard to justify for most credit-builders.
See related: How long does it take to rebuild credit?
Fees at every turn
Even compared to cards designed for people with bad credit, the Reflex Mastercard carries an inordinate number of fees, making it a costly credit-building option, especially after your first 12 months as a cardholder.
To start, you’ll pay an annual fee of between $75 and $99 just to maintain your account. While such fees will be almost impossible to avoid if you’re looking for an unsecured credit-building card, a few alternatives offer a wider range of potential annual fees, based on your creditworthiness.
The Milestone® Gold Mastercard®, for example, charges an annual fee of between $35 and $99. Though you may well end up paying $99 annually with this card, you at least have a chance at a lower fee.
If you’re willing to put down a refundable deposit, secured credit cards could save you even more, as many charge much lower annual fees. The OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card, for example, charges all cardholders just $35 per year, while the Discover it® Secured Credit Card and Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card charge no annual fee at all.
After your first 12 months as a cardholder, the Reflex Mastercard also charges a monthly maintenance fee ranging from $0 to up to $120 annually, billed at $0-$10 per month. This is on top of your regular annual fee, meaning you could be paying as much as $219 annually after your first year, just to have a Reflex Mastercard account. Such monthly fees are uncommon even among credit-building cards.
And the fees don’t stop there. You’ll also have to pay a foreign transaction fee of 3% when you use the card abroad and a $30 fee for each authorized user you add to your account.
As you can see, the Reflex Mastercard is an expensive credit-building option and is not a card you’ll want to hang onto for any longer than is necessary.
Extremely high APR
Along with its high fees, the Reflex Mastercard charges a very high variable APR ranging from 24.99% to 29.99%. The card’s low-end APR is nearly 60% higher than the current average credit card APR and is high even compared to that of cards designed for bad credit. Meanwhile, the Reflex Mastercard’s high-end APR rivals that of many store credit cards, which are known for their eye-popping interest rates.
If you have any doubt about your ability to pay your card balance in full each month, you should avoid the Reflex Mastercard. Whether you have bad credit or average credit, you should be able to find an unsecured credit-building card with a lower APR. Some secured credit cards and most credit-builder loans also offer relatively low, fixed interest rates.
Chance at a relatively high credit limit
The Reflex Mastercard offers new cardholders an initial credit limit between $300 and $1,000. While this range is quite low compared to the limits available on credit cards for people with excellent credit, the high-end limit is relatively high for an unsecured credit-building card.
Of course, there’s no guarantee you’ll be offered a $1,000 limit. Additionally, your annual fee is immediately assessed and deducted from your available credit. This means if you’re assigned a $300 limit and a $99 annual fee, you’ll start off your card membership owing $99, with $201 available to spend – just two-thirds of the credit limit you may have expected.
On the plus side, you can automatically increase your Reflex Mastercard credit limit if you make your first six monthly payments on time. This is a major benefit considering many cards in this category either offer no clear timeline or guidance on getting a credit limit increase or simply give you the option of requesting a credit limit increase after six months, with no guarantee you’ll be approved.
Since maintaining low credit utilization is key to building credit, be sure to keep your spending in check if you’re assigned a lower limit, and consider paying off your balance more than once per month to keep your utilization ratio low.
If you opt for a secured credit card instead, you can have a bit more control over your credit limit, as your limit will usually match your security deposit. Of course, that requires you to put down money up front.
See related: Best high limit secured credit cards
Prequalification and approval odds
New credit card applications almost always result in a hard pull of your credit report, which will temporarily lower your credit score. This means credit-builders should carefully consider which cards they apply for and only try for those that offer decent approval odds.
The Reflex Mastercard is designed for people with a damaged or limited credit history (and a credit score of 580 or better). Thankfully, you can check if you prequalify for the Reflex Mastercard before you apply. While not a guarantee of approval, being prequalified will give you some peace of mind about your odds of approval.
The card also offers a chance at instant approval for online applications, so you may not need to wait days or weeks to hear back on the status of your application. Once you’re approved, your Reflex Mastercard and welcome materials should be mailed within three business days.
|Tip:You’ll also need a checking account to be approved for the Reflex Mastercard. If you’re looking for a card that doesn’t require a bank account, consider the OpenSky Secured Visa, which requires no credit check and allows you to pay your security deposit via money order.|
No rewards program and few perks
While cash back and other rewards programs are uncommon among credit-building cards, they’re not unheard-of either. A number of Credit One Bank credit cards, for example, offer at least 1% cash back on some everyday purchases.
Unfortunately, the Reflex Mastercard offers nothing in the way of rewards. This is especially disappointing given the card’s high fees, as even 1% back on select purchases would help offset the Reflex Mastercard’s high cost of ownership.
That said, the card does include a couple of useful perks. Most notably, you’ll get free access to your Vantage 3.0 score from Experian when you sign up for e-statements. You’ll also enjoy $0 fraud liability for unauthorized charges.
These perks are certainly welcome, but they’re far from impressive. After all, free access to your credit score and fraud liability coverage are the bare minimum needed if you want to protect and keep tabs on your credit.
|Tip:An alternative for people with fair credit or better, the Credit One Bank American Express® Card, offers cardholders a free online credit score, car rental and damage insurance and purchase, extended warranty and return protection.|
How does the Reflex Mastercard compare to other credit-building cards?
The Reflex Mastercard should offer good approval odds even if you have poor or average credit, but it is an extremely expensive way to build your credit – especially if you need to hang onto the card for more than a year. Consider these alternatives, all of which are unsecured credit-building cards that offer cash back rewards programs that will help offset any fees.
1.5% cash back on all purchases
1% cash back on eligible purchases including gas, groceries and phone services. Terms apply.
1% cash back on eligible purchases right away. Up to 1.5% cash back on every purchase after making 12 on-time monthly payments.
Starting at $300
$75 for the first year. After that, $99 annually ($8.25 per month)
|Other things to know||Other things to know||Other things to know|
Designed for cardholders looking to bolster their credit scores, the Capital One QuicksilverOne card offers unlimited 1.5% cash back on every purchase. While this is not the most impressive cash back rate, it should help to offset the card’s $39 fee. You’ll also have a chance at a credit limit increase if you make six consecutive on-time payments.
Unlike the Reflex Mastercard, the Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Rebuilding Credit does not charge a monthly maintenance fee. And while it’s still not the cheapest option, the card offers good approval odds even with poor credit. It also comes with a cash back rewards program that can help reduce your total cost of ownership. Plus, it’s an unsecured card, so you won’t have to tie up hundreds in a deposit just to get started
See related: Credit One vs. Capital One
A unique credit-building offering that’s geared more toward people with no credit than those with poor credit, the Petal 2 Visa Credit Card allows you to earn true cash back with no deposit and no fees of any kind. You’ll earn 1% back on eligible purchases to start, with this rate increasing to 1.25% after you make six on-time monthly payments and to 1.5% after 12 on-time monthly payments. Additionally, since the issuer considers alternative credit data in its approval decisions, it’s a great option for someone with limited credit but a good income and bill payment history.
Why get the Reflex Mastercard?
- You want a chance to build credit without tying up money in a deposit.
- You want a chance at a higher limit than you’ll find on most unsecured credit-building cards.
- You don’t anticipate needing to carry a balance from month to month.
- You only plan to use the card for small purchases.
- You plan to switch to a different card as soon as your credit score improves.
How to use the Reflex Mastercard
- Keep an eye on your credit score, and switch to a card with fewer fees and better terms when it improves.
- If you’re assigned a low limit, keep your balances low and pay them off quickly to improve your credit utilization.
- Make your first six monthly payments on time to automatically get a credit limit increase. This can help your credit utilization and give you more room to breathe.
- Limit the number of authorized users you add to the card, as each new user incurs a $30 fee.
- Pay off your card balance in full each month to avoid high interest charges.
Is the Reflex Mastercard worth it?
Due to its extremely high cost of ownership and enormous APR, the Reflex Mastercard is hard to recommend even for those with severely damaged credit. In most cases, a secured card will be a better credit-building option. However, if you’re set on an unsecured card, the Reflex Mastercard may be worth it for the first year, if only as stepping stone to better credit and better cards.
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