Primor Secured card review

Our rating

2 stars2/5

See explanation of our ratings system

See breakdown of this card’s rating

If you’re looking for a card to revive your damaged credit, the Primor Secured cards from Berkshire Bank offer a second chance.

In this review, we compare the two options available (the Primor Secured Visa Gold card and the Primor Secured Visa Classic card). Read on to decide which one is right for you — or if either one is.

Primor Secured Visa Classic

Here’s a run-down of the requirements, rates and fees for the Classic version of the card:

Annual fee: $39 (charged before you can begin using the card and will reduce your available credit).

Required deposit: Credit lines available from $200 to $5,000. The credit limit will be equal to this deposit, and you’ll be required to put the money in a Personal Savings Deposit Account before you can use the card. You can increase your credit limit up to $5,000 by making additional deposits (in $50 increments). However, the issuer will first need to verify that your income can support the increased credit line.

APR: 13.99 percent (18.99 percent for cash advances) with no penalty rate. Unlike some other cards designed for imperfect credit, you get a grace period. If you pay your balance by the due date, your purchases will not accrue interest.

Other fees: $29 late-payment fee, $29 returned-payment fee, $29 additional-card fee. These fees will be charged to your account as cash advances (and start accruing interest immediately). The annual fee, however, will be charged as a regular purchase.

Approval requirements: The card is uniquely forthcoming with its approval requirements, advertising guaranteed approval if your monthly income exceeds your monthly expenses by $100 or more.

Primor Secured Visa Gold

The Gold version of the card has the same terms as the Classic above, with the following exceptions:

Annual fee: $49
APR: 9.99 percent with no penalty rate

A good choice?

The Primor cards have some terms that are favorable for those looking for a credit leg-up. Their interest rates, for example, are lower than those on many cards designed for bad credit. That said, we recommend not carrying a balance on a secured card. Look at this strictly as a credit-building too. Use the card for something small every month (like a tank of gas) and pay it off early to avoid interest charges.

The maximum deposit you can make is also high, compared to other secured products – up to $5,000, whereas similar cards cap your deposit at around $2,500. This is useful because credit utilization is a big factor in credit scores. The less of your limit you use up, the better. Below 30 percent is ideal. Making a bigger deposit (if you can afford it) ensures that a larger purchase wouldn’t tip your utilization into the danger zone.

There are downsides to be aware of, though. The Primor cards don’t graduate very well. With a larger issuer, you have the option of asking for a product-change (or getting one automatically) after you’ve demonstrated a good payment record with your secured card. For example, with the Discover it Secured card, you can get your security deposit refunded and have your account switched to one of its cash-back rewards cards. This allows you to preserve the history of the account and avoid a hard-pull application when you get a better card, both of which help your credit score.

Customer service may be another potential downside – if you look up reviews on the Primor cards, the comments on customer service are not favorable.

Still, if you can’t get a secured card with a major issuer and you meet the income required for automatic approval with the Primor cards, they’re not a bad stepping stone. Use your card well, watch your score rise and get a better credit card when you’re ready.

Why we gave it 2 out of 5 stars

We rated this card based on our standards for secured credit cards.

Fair/clear fees: This card charges an annual fee and no other maintenance fees. This fee is clearly disclosed.
Ability to graduate: This card has no review process for graduating you to an unsecured product.
Ability to get higher credit line than deposit: Credit line is equal to deposit.
Rewards: This card offers no rewards on spending.
Unique perks: This card offers an interest rate that’s lower than that on most credit-building cards. The maximum deposit is also higher than that on most secured cards.