Credit Cards

First Niagara Credit Card Review

first-niagara-bankThe First Niagara secured credit card offers you many of the benefits and advantages of an unsecured credit card, which allows you to rebuild or start your credit with ease. While this card doesn’t have all of the benefits of other First Niagara cards, you might be surprised by how much it offers considering that most secured cards are very basic and rarely offer any benefits.

Credit Limit
Similar to debit cards, secured cards are funded either directly or through an account. In the case of First Niagara, you must open a deposit account and then money is removed from there whenever you make a purchase.

First Niagara doesn’t specify a maximum credit limit, but it does enforce a minimum of $500. Failing to meet this minimum can lead to penalties and fees.

General Fees
There’s no fee for opening the card, nor are there monthly maintenance fees. You will have to pay an annual fee of $50 to keep the card active. This is higher than most secured cards, which tend to have an annual fee of $20 or $30.

Cash advances also have special fees. You will either have to pay $10 or three percent of the advance, whichever is higher. There is no maximum for this fee, so it will scale according to your advance. The good news is that you won’t have to pay any special fees for international purchases.

If you don’t have any money in your account or if you overcharge the card, then you will be charged a returned payment fee. This is a $20 charge and it will occur each and every time that you overcharge the card.

Interest Rate
The general interest rate is 14.24 percent. This is somewhat lower than the common interest rate for secured cards, which tends to hover closer to 15 percent, but it’s still fairly standard. The rate for cash advances is 21.99 percent. Once again, this is fairly standard for secured cards. These are variable rates that may fluctuate.

Unlike most other credit cards, the First Niagara card doesn’t impose a higher interest rate for defaulting on your payment. This makes it easier to pay off your card, but it’s still a good idea to pay the balance on time to improve your credit score.

Credit Reporting
Most people who get a secured card want to build their credit score. The problem is that some cards don’t report your activity to credit bureaus, which means that your score isn’t affected whatsoever.

First Niagara reports to the three major credit bureaus. This ensures that your score will increase if you treat the card with respect and pay your balance on time.

You’ll find that this card offers nearly as many benefits as an unsecured card. Some of the standard benefits include zero liability, which ensures that you will be reimbursed for charges you didn’t authorize, and 24-hour service with card-related questions.

This card also comes with extended warranty, which doubles the manufacturer’s warranty on the card, and price protection. If you find a lower price for an item you bought within the last 60 days, then you will be reimbursed for the difference. You’ll love this feature because it allows you to do some comparison shopping even after you purchased the original item.

Introductory APR
Some cards offer an introductory free trial period where none of your purchases have interest charges. While the other First Niagara cards have an introductory period, the secured card does not offer this feature. The APR will start as soon as you get the card.

While the annual fee is fairly high and it lacks some of the benefits of unsecured cards, the First Niagara secured card is very close to a regular credit card. From unique benefits to an average interest rate, this card will come in handy whenever you need to charge purchases or build your credit.

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