Who Is This Credit Card Best For?
Prioritizes sticking to their budget while buying what they want and need See more cards
Attacks existing balances while avoiding new debt See more cards
Takes improving their finances seriously and wants recognition for using credit responsibly See more cards
Cardholders who are laser-focused on improving their damaged credit and increasing their access to it are best suited to the Double Your Line Secured Card.
If you'd rather collect rewards, you should look elsewhere.
The Double Your Line Secured Credit Card is also well-suited to cardholders who want a larger credit limit, but can't afford to self-fund it on their own.
If the only unsecured cards you can qualify for charge high APRs and fees, you’re likely better off picking a secured card instead. Although you'll have to provide a security deposit upfront, the deposit is refundable (unlike fees). Plus, many secured cards don’t charge annual fees at all. The credit line typically is equal to your deposit, but you may be able to get one with a $200 limit by depositing as little as $49.
Potential to double your credit limit quickly
Free access to your FICO score
Ability to fund an even larger credit line
Annual (then monthly) fee
- Potential to double your credit limit quickly: Everyone loves to be rewarded for good behavior, and it can be a pain to have a low credit line. If you make at least the minimum payment each for the first seven months after opening your account, your credit line will double from $200 to $400.
- Free access to your FICO score: Most mainstream secured credit cards now offer some kind of free credit score service, but not all of those free scores are FICO scores. Although their dominance may be waning among some lenders, FICO scores are still among the most widely used credit scores. So, you may find it useful to track your credit using a score that a prospective lender may also consider.
- Ability to fund an even larger credit line: If you want more breathing room with your credit limit, the Double Your Line Secured card also lets you add up to $3,000 at any time. That won't affect the card's Double Your Line feature: You'll still only be eligible for a $200 bump after seven months. But the larger limit could help boost your credit score by lowering your credit utilization rate.
- Annual (then monthly) fee: It is so easy nowadays to find a secured credit card with no annual fee that it's tough to justify paying $36 a year for one with no rewards and few benefits. On the plus side, the Double Your Line Card only requires a $3 per month fee after the first year. So if you improve your score enough to upgrade to an unsecured card without an annual fee, then you won't be on the hook for the full $36.
- No rewards: The secured card market is getting more crowded and many top secured cards now offer significant rewards—some of which even compete with some of the best prime rewards credit cards.
How This Secured Card Works
Most secured credit cards require a security deposit that generally acts as your credit line. The Merrick Bank Double Your Line Secured credit card works the same way, but with a key difference: Your initial deposit—and your credit line— will be set at $200. But if you successfully pay at least the minimum due for the card's first seven months, your credit limit will double to $400—effectively giving you $200 in unsecured credit.
If a $200-$400 credit limit feels too tight, you can also add to your security deposit—up to $3,000—at any time. You'll still only get a $200 credit limit increase in the card's seventh month, but Merrick will review your account regularly after that, and you won't have to add any more to your deposit to receive more credit line increases.
A good way to increase your credit score is to try lowering your credit utilization ratio, which measures how much of your available credit you are using. One time-honored way to do this: take advantage of every opportunity you can get to expand your card's credit limit, while still keeping your balances as low as possible. The bigger your credit line, the more room you'll have to charge without harming your score.
How To Get the Most Out of This Card
Chances are you have a poor credit score if you’re looking at this card or are just starting to use credit. If so, make sure to pay your bills on time, month in and month out. It’s the best thing you can do to build or rehabilitate your credit. That’s because payment behavior is the single biggest factor in a FICO credit score calculation, making up 35% of your credit score.
Plus, if you pay on time, you're likely to get that higher credit limit—giving you more wiggle room and improving your credit utilization ratio. In addition to an automatic credit limit increase after seven months, Merrick will also periodically review your account to see if you've earned another boost.
If you have the cash, you may also want to consider self-funding a somewhat larger credit limit increase by adding to your security deposit in order to give yourself more spending room and lower your overall credit utilization rate. But be sure to pay your balance in full, if possible. Interest charges can balloon your credit card debt, increasing your chances of falling further behind.
While this card may wind up being expensive, you can do worse. Many unsecured cards for people with bad credit profiles not only charge high APRs but also come with onerous fees, such as monthly maintenance fees on top of the cards' annual fees.
Merrick Bank offers customer support by phone, as well as a goMobile banking app that you can use to check your balance, pay bills, freeze your card if you lose it, and get your free credit score. You can reach Merrick's customer service line by phone at (800) 204-5936. For TTY service, call (800) 253-4563.
The Double Your Line Secured Card offers standard security features. Specifically, you won't be liable for unauthorized charges, and you also can set up account alerts through the mobile app to be notified of any changes to your account.
Fees To Watch Out For
The Double Your Line Secured Card charges a $36 annual fee, which you must pay upfront the first year. After that, you'll be charged $3 per month for ongoing use of the card. In the first year, this fee is billed at once; after that, it's billed at $3 per month. The card also charges 2% for foreign transactions and up to $40 for late payment fees.