Our credit card articles, reviews and ratings maintain strict editorial integrity; however we may be compensated when you click on or are approved for offers (terms apply) from our partners. How we make money.
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. If you qualify, Milestone® will recommend an APR/annual fee combination based on your credit profile (more on that below). The Milestone® 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 some 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 OpenSky® Secured Visa® Credit Card reports monthly to the three major credit bureaus, as well as provides online credit education and an e-newsletter to help cardholders proactively work on improving credit. It also offers a worry-free application that doesn't require a credit check, so you don't have to worry about your application affecting your credit score.
There's a set annual fee of $35, and the refundable deposit you provide becomes your credit line limit on your Visa card. Plus, you get to choose it yourself, from as low as $200.
OpenSky® also offers a Visa Zero Liability policy which protects cardholders against fraud.
Credit One Bank® Unsecured Visa® with Cash Back Rewards has two attractive card benefits that surpass Milestone®: free credit scores and 1% cash back on gas and groceries. The APRs on the cards are comparable, and the possible annual fee also is similar – $0 to $95 for the first year and $0 to $99 thereafter for the Credit One® card. 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.
(This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
The Capital One® Secured Mastercard® regularly reports to all three major credit bureaus, has $0 fraud liability if your card is ever lost or stolen, offers some premium benefits like extended warranty, auto rental insurance, travel accident insurance, 24/7 travel and roadside assistance, and price protection, carries no-annual-fee, and you could qualify for an account with a deposit as low as $49 to establish your initial $200 credit line (you'll pay a refundable security deposit of $49, $99 or $200 based on your credit history).
Plus, with this card you can get access to a higher line of credit after making your first five monthly payments on time with no additional deposit needed.
The Milestone® Unsecured Mastercard® is good option for those looking for an immediate answer about approval (without worrying about a denied application hurting your credit score). Since this card reports to all three major credit bureaus, it is a good tool to help you repair bad credit, while also providing you with great benefits such as price protection, rental car insurance, roadside and travel assistance, and identity theft resolution services.