Pre-qualifying for a credit card typically requires a hard inquiry, which inevitably dings your credit score, at least a little. If you’re aiming to build or rebuild your credit score every little adjustment to that three-digit number matters dearly, which is why we perked up after hearing about the Milestone® Unsecured Mastercard®. The Milestone® Unsecured MasterCard® offers a pre-qualification process that does not mean a hit to your credit score.
Additional perks make it easy for cardholders to focus on rebuilding and building credit, too.Milestone® reports to the three major credit bureaus and you can utilize sites like WisePiggy to access your free credit score (using a soft inquiry which does not affect your credit score).
Milestone® Unsecured MasterCard®’s best features:
The Milestone® Unsecured Mastercard® is designed to help consumers rebuild their credit. To get the card, you must follow this process: Milestone® will determine whether you pre-qualify based on the information it receives from credit reporting agencies and other sources with details about your credit history. If you qualify, Milestone® will recommend an APR/annual fee combination based on your credit profile (more on that below). The Milestone® Unsecured Mastercard® is an unsecured credit card, so there’s no security deposit. Credit lines start at $300 for the card, but the company will determine your credit limit based on your credit profile once you’re approved. After approval, the card has many standard benefits that you’ll find with secured cards offered by major companies like Bank of America® and Capital One®.
One of the best card benefits is MasterCard®’s Identity Theft Resolutions Services. These services include identity theft alerts, which informs consumers if MasterCard® believes thieves are buying and selling your personal information online. The service also includes guidance from an identity theft specialist about how to keep your information secure. There’s zero liability protection if your card is lost or stolen, and MasterCard® Gold offers benefits like extended warranty coverage, price protection and emergency roadside assistance to keep you safe.
Unlike other unsecured cards, the Milestone® Unsecured MasterCard® doesn’t offer a credit limit increase. The credit limit you get when you’re first approved, is what you’ll be stuck with — at least until Milestone® changes its policy. There’s also no balance transfer option, which is probably negligible considering that the APR average is slightly high.
The biggest drawback with this card is the annual fee structure. Depending on your credit profile, you’ll be offered a different annual fee/APR combination. All of them have relatively high APR and annual fees start at $35. They then increase to $59 — and depending on how bad your credit is — go up to $75 the first year and $99 every year afterward.
If you’re looking to rebuild your credit, it might be better to get a secured card with no annual fee and a low minimum required deposit.
The USAA® Secured Visa Platinum® Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings) has a $35 annual fee, but unlike the Milestone® Unsecured MasterCard®, it isn’t variable based on your credit history. The USAA® Secured Visa Platinum® Card requires you to open a two-year certificate of deposit with a minimum of $250. Yet, unlike the Milestone® Unsecured MasterCard®, your credit limit can increase to as much as $5,000 based on your security deposit. Plus, you’ll get to earn some interest on your CD balance. Both cards feature benefits like extended warranty and identity-theft solutions. If you’re looking for more flexibility and a higher credit limit, pick the USAA® Secured Visa Platinum® Card.
The the Credit One® Unsecured Platinum Visa® has two attractive card benefits that surpass Milestone®: free credit scores and 1% cash back on gas and groceries. The APR on both cards is comparable, and the annual fee also is similar — $35 to $75 for the first year and $35 to $99 thereafter. If you want to add an authorized user to your card, there’s a $19 annual fee for the Credit One® Unsecured Platinum Visa®. The fee is $25 with Milestone®. Both cards also apply some of the setup and maintenance fees once you open your account, reducing your initial credit limit by that amount. The Milestone® Unsecured MasterCard® and the Credit One® Unsecured Platinum Visa® are fairly similar cards, but the the Credit One® Unsecured Platinum Visa® has a slight edge because of its cash back and free credit score benefits.
Milestone® reports to all three major credit bureaus, so the Milestone® Unsecured Mastercard® is a good tool to repair bad credit. If you don’t have the necessary deposit for a secured card but still need credit, it may be worth it to fill out the pre-qualification form.