With its high fees and interest rates, the Revel Mastercard won’t inspire much merrymaking.
It’s an unsecured credit card for bad credit (aka poor credit, meaning FICO scores of 629 or lower), so on the plus side, you won’t have to put down a security deposit. And it’s possible to qualify for a relatively generous credit limit, compared with cards in its category. But applying for this card — which is currently possible only by invitation — would be costly over time.
A secured credit card can save you more money in the long run, despite the required upfront deposit. With a good payment history, you at least have a chance of getting that deposit back after closing the card or upgrading to an unsecured card with the same issuer. (The fees you’ll owe with the Revel credit card are not refundable.) Or, if you can’t afford to tie up money in a security deposit, certain alternative credit card options can offer more flexible deposits and a chance to build credit.
1. The card is packed with costly fees
With the Revel credit card — issued by The Bank of Missouri and serviced by Continental Finance — you’ll be assigned fees that fall between the following ranges, depending on the card’s terms:
An annual fee: $75 – $125. (After that $99 – $125 annually.) The card’s credit limit determines the cost of the annual fee. This is expensive, even for a card for poor credit.
A monthly maintenance fee: $0 – $10 per month (up to $120 annually). This fee isn’t billed for the first 12 months the account is opened, but if you’re paying any kind of “maintenance fee,” it’s a red flag. Most credit cards don’t charge them.
An additional card fee: $30 for every authorized user you add to your account. While some premium travel credit cards may also charge a fee for this, it’s rare among most cards.
A “premium card fee”: You’ll owe a one-time fee of $9.95 if you opt for a “premium” version of the Revel credit card that comes in a different color. In any case, for a card like this, it’s not a fee worth paying. The platinum version doesn’t require this fee.
Even if you pass on the premium version of the card and don’t add any authorized users, you could still be looking at a possible annual cost of $245 — and that’s without factoring in any potential interest charges. That’s ludicrous, even among credit cards for poor credit. Better options exist.
The Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card, for instance, doesn’t charge fees or interest because you can’t carry a balance on the card. (Out-of-network ATM withdrawal fees do apply, except at MoneyPass ATMs in a 7-Eleven location or any Allpoint or Visa Plus Alliance ATM.) The card has a flexible security deposit, too. A Chime checking account is required to fund the deposit in the amount of your choice, which is an added step. But compared with paying $245 a year with the Revel Mastercard, it could be an extra step worth taking.
2. The credit limit could double
With the Revel credit card, you’ll start out with a credit limit range between $300 to $1,000, depending on eligibility. After making the first six monthly minimum payments on time, you can potentially qualify for a credit limit double the size.
An increased credit limit can have a positive impact on your credit because it can lower your credit utilization ratio — the amount of available credit you’re using — which factors heavily into credit scores. But again, there are less expensive credit cards on the market that offer something similar.
For instance, the $0-annual-fee Capital One Platinum Secured Credit Card also offers the possibility of a higher credit limit in as little as six months without having to add to your deposit. Depending on eligibility, you could qualify for a credit limit of $200 for a deposit as low as $49 or $99. Otherwise, the deposit is $200.
3. Carrying a balance is expensive
Credit cards for those with bad credit tend to have high interest rates. The Revel Credit Card is no exception, with an annual percentage rate approaching a dizzying 30% (as of January 2024). For comparison, as of Q3 2023, the average APR for credit card accounts that incurred interest was 22.77%, based on Federal Reserve data.
To avoid interest charges, aim to pay off credit card balances in full every month if possible. If you don’t want to have to worry about interest charges at all, consider a card like the previously mentioned Chime Secured Credit Builder Visa® Credit Card, or the Varo Believe Secured Credit Card. Neither card charges interest because neither allows you to carry a balance.
4. Payments are reported to the three major credit bureaus
The Revel credit card reports payments to the three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. These companies record the information used to calculate your credit scores.
Having payments recorded by all three bureaus is ideal when you’re working on building credit, but it’s not a feature that’s unique to the Revel credit card. Even among many products for poor credit, comprehensive credit bureau reporting is table stakes.
5. The Credit Protection program is optional
The Revel credit card features an optional Continental Credit Protection program that covers the minimum payment owed if you lose your job, become disabled or end up in the hospital. It can also cover the outstanding account balance if you lose your life. Terms apply.
To qualify, you must pay a monthly fee of 99 cents for every $100 of the outstanding balance. For instance, with a balance of $500, you’ll pay around $5 until the balance decreases. An option like this can put you at ease, but it’s not worth paying an additional fee for it on top of all the other costs attached to the Revel credit card. After all, your estate is responsible for covering any unpaid debts after death. And if no money or property is available to cover it, the debt is generally left unpaid.
If you’re hospitalized, the program will only cover the minimum payment for one month. Even if you charged over $1,000 to the card, the coverage for a minimum payment wouldn’t amount to much. For disability or unemployment, the program covers the minimum payment for up to 12 months. But if you qualify for unemployment or disability insurance, this kind of protection may not be necessary.
If you do choose credit protection, note that coverage is not automatic. You’ll have to submit a claim by phone, mail or email to activate these benefits.