According to their website they have 900,000 cardmembers, but should you really be one of them?
Merrick Bank credit cards fall under two categories:
- Merrick Bank secured - This is a secured credit card geared towards those who can’t get approved for one that’s unsecured.At the time of this review (Jan. 2011) their secured Visa has a $36 fee for the first year and $3 per month after that. The interest rate on purchases was 17.45% variable. The credit line can be from $300 to $3,000 (it’s equal to whatever your security deposit it).
- Unsecured Merrick Bank Visa / MasterCard: These are various entry level unsecured cards. Unfortunately I could not find the details for these cards on their website.To see an offer you have to click “Respond to a mail offer” and enter the “acceptance certificate number” contained in your mailing to see the details online. From the reviews I have read, it seems to be a common practice for Merrick Bank to send out the unsecured credit card application to those who are a likely fit for it.
Reviews: the good & the bad
It seems that cardholders either love their Merrick Bank card or they absolutely despise it. After spending hours reading dozens and dozens of reviews online, here’s a summary of what I found.
- Relatively easy to get – compared to cards from “normal” banks, a Merrick Bank credit card is much easier to get.
- Credit limit increases – one recurring thing I saw in the customer reviews is that it is reportedly not too difficult to get your credit limit increased. That being said, it sounds as it might not be quite as easy today (credit requirements tightened up during the Great Recession).
- Secured cards have reasonable annual/monthly fees – the fees on the Visa secured card are very reasonable. As far as the unsecured cards are concerned, they sound to be reasonable but without current fee details available I don’t want to say for sure.
- High interest rates – one of the biggest Merrick Bank credit card complaints I saw over and over is that they charge extremely high interest rates. So carrying a balance on one of their unsecured cards would be bad idea.
- Customer service - the comments on the customer service seem to be a mixed bag; there are a number of complaints about purported bad customer service but on the other hand there are those who don’t feel it’s an issue.
- Account closure for going over limit – on Consumer Affairs one posters alleges that Merrick Bank closed his account after he went over the limit twice and there was no notification of closure in advance.
- New annual fees for longtime customers - I saw multiple complaints about longstanding Merrick Bank cardholders suddenly getting hit with an annual fee, when they were never charged one before. Eric of Pine Bluffs, Wyoming claims this happened after having his card for 5 years without a fee.
Credit Card Forum does not advertise Merrick Bank (at least at the time I’m writing this) so I have no biased reason to defend them. However in all fairness, I think a lot of the complaints are unwarranted or at least comparable to other credit cards in this category. Yes, the fees and high APRs are bad, but that is an industry wide practice now across the entire banking industry. I’m not saying a Merrick Bank card is spectacular, but I do think they are okay for what they offer (a bad credit credit card).
If you would like to check out some alternatives, go here to compare secured credit cards. I would also recommend you try out this tool from Capital One: