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The Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® is a secured card for building better credit. Here are the most important features of the card to consider when deciding whether it’s the right choice for you.
- Security deposit: To open your card, you must put $300–$3,000 into an Academy Bank Credit Builder Savings Account—a special type of account for holding security deposits. You won’t be able to access the money until you close your credit card and deposit account.
- Earn interest: On the plus side, you’ll be earning interest on your security deposit in the meantime, which isn’t always the case when you hand over a credit card security deposit. Interest is earned at a rate of 0.05%.
- Annual fee: You’ll be charged a $39 annual fee. Many secured credit cards don’t charge annual fees, since they already cost money up front. You’ll need to decide whether the $39 per year is worth it for you.
- Lower other fees: While the $39 annual fee is unappealing, you can potentially save money on cash advance, balance transfer, foreign transaction, and penalty fees. What the card charges for these is lower across the board than most comparable cards.
- Credit reporting: Your borrowing activity will be reported to the three major credit bureaus, so you can use the card responsibly to build a better credit score.
- Path to graduation: If you stay up to date with your repayments, you may eventually be able to upgrade to an unsecured card, and the unsecured Academy Bank Visa® has no annual fees, as well as a very favorable APR.
Getting the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® as a temporary credit-building resource may be the right move for you, but only if you’re willing to pay the annual fee.
Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® Pros & Cons
Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card Important Details
Basic card details
- Annual fee: $39
- Purchase APR: 23.99% (variable)
- Rewards: N/A
- Security deposit: $300–$3,000
- Credit limit: $300–$3,000
- Annual fee: $39
- Cash advance fee: 2% (up to $100)
- Foreign transaction fee: None
- Over-limit fee: None
- Late payment fee: Up to $15
- Returned payment fee: Up to $25
- Replacement card fee: $5 per card (for replacements before the normal reissue date)
Although the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card charges an annual fee, many of its other fees are comparatively low. Remarkably, both foreign transactions and balance transfers are always fee-free, and the cash advance fee is less than the credit card standard of 3%–5%.
You’ll get a free paper transaction statement each month for your Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card, showing any activity on your card and how much you need to repay.
However, for the account where you have to put your deposit money (i.e., the Academy Bank Credit Builder Savings Account), printed statements aren’t free. If you opt for paper statements, you’ll be charged $5 each quarter. So make sure you sign up for estatements to avoid extra fees.
- Regular APR: 23.99% (variable)
- Cash advance APR: 23.99% (variable)
- Balance transfer APR: 23.99% (variable)
- Penalty APR: 24.99%
The Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card has the same APR for purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers. This interest rate is lower than the typical interest rate on credit cards for bad credit.
Your APR may be increased to the penalty APR rate if you don’t make the required minimum monthly payment within 60 days of your due date. However, this rate is also lower than the credit card standard, which is usually 29.99%.
Most credit cards have something called a grace period, which gives you a way to avoid paying interest on your purchases. A credit card grace period is usually around three or four weeks, and starts at the end of your credit card billing cycle. If you settle your balance within this timeframe, you’ll avoid paying interest on your purchases.
The Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® has a grace period of 25 days. The 25 days begins whenever a new billing cycle starts. So if you pay your bill before this period ends, you won’t see any interest charges on your credit card statement.
Note that you don’t usually get a grace period with cash advances or balance transfers. Instead, these debts begin to accrue interest immediately.
When you get a secured credit card, you have to pay a credit card security deposit. This ensures that the lender can get their money back if you don’t repay what you’ve borrowed.
To get an Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card, you must pay a security deposit of $300–$3,000. This money must go into a special account called a Credit Builder Savings Account. You’ll then be unable to access it until you close your credit card and deposit account. However, as your deposit sits in there, it will earn interest at a rate of 0.05%.
Your credit limit on the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card will be the same as your security deposit. This means your initial credit limit will be $300–$3,000, depending on how much deposit you pay when you open your account.
Credit Limit Increases
You can increase your credit limit on the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card as often as you like by adding more money to your deposit account. However, payments into your account must be in increments of $50 or more.
One drawback of the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card is that you won’t get any cashback rewards. If you’re hoping for a card with cash back, you’ll have to look elsewhere. A good place to start might be with one of the Petal credit cards, which offer rewards for bad credit or no credit.
All Visa® credit cards come with certain core benefits. For example, the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card includes:
- Zero liability
- Lost or stolen card reporting
- Emergency card replacement and emergency cash advances
- Access to a pay-per-use roadside assistance program
- Other basic Visa® benefits
A cash advance is when you use your credit card to withdraw money from an ATM. The cash advance fees on the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card are relatively cheap at 2% ($100 maximum). Many cards charge 3% or more of the transaction amount whenever you make a cash withdrawal.
However, an important point to remember about cash advances is that you’ll start gaining interest immediately after you take out your money. There’s no grace period like you get with purchases.
A credit card balance transfer is when you move debt from one credit card to another. It’s normally used to get a lower interest rate on debts that are taking a long time to repay.
The Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card notably doesn’t charge a balance transfer fee, which is usually 3%–5% of the transfer amount. This, coupled with its relatively low APR, could make it a good credit card to transfer debts to if you’re struggling to pay off a high-interest balance.
However, as with cash advances, credit cards start charging you interest on your balance transfers immediately. Again, there’s no grace period like you get with purchases.
The Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card doesn’t charge any foreign transaction fees. This means it’s a great card for taking abroad or for shopping online with non-US vendors.
Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® website doesn’t specify any credit score requirements for borrowers to be eligible for the card. However, cards designed for credit building are more likely to approve holders of fair (580–669) or even bad credit scores (300–579), so you’ll have a good chance of qualifying even if your credit score is far from perfect.
Credit Reporting & Credit Building
Your credit report consists of the information that your lenders pass to the credit bureaus about your accounts—whether you’ve made payments on time or late, for example. So if you’re trying to build credit, choose lenders that offer credit reporting.
Fortunately, Academy Bank reports to all three of the major credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion). This means using your card responsibly will help all of your most important credit scores. However, it’s important to keep up with your repayments so that your credit score isn’t hurt by late payments or other blemishes on your credit history.
Application & Approval
You can apply for the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card online. You’ll need to provide:
- A drivers license or government-issued ID
- A Social Security number (SSN)
- Your date of birth
- Your current home address
- Your email address
It generally takes 4–5 business days to get the approval decision. If your application goes through, you’ll then receive your card in approximately two weeks.
If you need help with your Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card, you can call Academy Bank customer service at: (877) 712-2265
Alternatively, you can write to them at:
General Mail PO Box
PO Box 26458
Kansas City, MO 64196
Should You Get the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® Credit Card?
The Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card is worth getting if you need a flexible secured card that won’t overcharge for fees. Although it has an annual fee, if you’re likely to use it for anything other than purchases, it could save you a lot, since there are low fees for cash advances, whilst balance transfers and foreign transactions are fee-free.
If you’d rather not pay a security deposit, check out unsecured credit cards for bad credit to find out about accessible cards with no deposit requirement.
To help you decide whether the Academy Bank Credit Builder Secured Visa® credit card is worth getting, let’s see how it compares with three alternative cards.