According to their website they have nearly a million cardmembers, but should you be one of them? Spoiler alert: you should probably take a pass.
Merrick Bank credit cards fall under two categories:
- Merrick Bank Secured Visa - This is a secured credit card designed for those who can’t qualify for a non-secured general use credit card like a Visa or MasterCard. At the time of this review, the Merrick secured Visa has a $36 fee for the first year and $3 per month after that. The annual percentage rate on purchases is 17.45% variable. The credit line can be from $200 to $3,000 (equal to the amount of your security deposit).
- Unsecured Merrick Bank Visa / MasterCard: These are various entry-level unsecured cards. These cards are by invitation only from Merrick Bank – so you must receive one of these invitations in the mail before applying.
Reviews: the good & the bad
It seems that cardholders either love their Merrick Bank card or they absolutely despise it. After reading dozens and dozens of reviews online a pattern can be recognized.
- Relatively easy to get – Merrick Bank cards are in reach for those with bad credit. However, they’re not the only game in town.
- The Secured Visa from Merrick Bank has a fairly reasonable annual/monthly fees – Other secured cards on the market charge annual fees of $75 or more.
- Customer service - the comments on the customer service seem to be a mixed bag; there are a sizable number of complaints about 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 long-time customers - there have been multiple complaints about long term Merrick Bank customers suddenly being charged an annual fee for the first time with no warning or precedent.
CreditCardForum.com does not advertise Merrick Bank. In all fairness, many of the complaints may be unwarranted or at least comparable to other card issuers in the secured card category. Yes, some of the fees and APR are high but that is an industry-wide practice for cards designed for those with bad credit. Since credit limits tend to be low with these cards they don’t generate much interest income for the issuer so they have to charge fees in order to turn a profit. I’m not saying a Merrick Bank card is wonderful, but for what they offer you could do a lot worse (a bad credit credit card). Once you pay your dues with Merrick, you can move on to something better. Think of it as the Purgatory of credit cards.
If you would like to review some potentially better alternatives, go here to compare secured credit cards. Below are some of the best offers by credit type.
Updated: July 29, 2014