In A Nutshell
With no annual fee and a convenient mobile app, the Mercury Mastercard is a good option for people who want a basic, no-fuss credit card. Launched in 2018, it’s a relative newcomer to the credit card scene.
Marketed primarily toward individuals with credit scores ranging between 575 and 675, the Mercury Mastercard is a solid middle-of-the-road choice for building credit.
Here’s an overview, including the pros and cons to watch out for.
Mercury Mastercard Stats
The Mercury Mastercard offers a number of perks. Here’s what you need to know before you apply.
- Annual Percent Rate (APR) – Ranges from 25.90% to 27.90% and can fluctuate based on the Prime Rate.
- APR for Cash Advances – Varies between 27.90% and 29.90% and can fluctuate based on the Prime Rate.
- Annual Fee – none.
- Late Fees – Up to $38.
- Balance Transfer Fee – Either $5 or 4% of the amount of the balance transfer, whichever is more.
- Cash Advance Fee – Either $10 or 5% of the amount of the cash advance, whichever is more.
- Foreign Transaction Fee – If you use your card overseas, you’ll pay 3% of each purchase.
- Credit Limit – Most users report a $1,500 credit limit, but some reviewers say they were given up to $5,000 in credit. Some users also report receiving an automatic credit limit increase.
You can find the full terms and conditions for the Mercury Mastercard in the cardmember agreement.
What Credit Score Do You Need?
Mercury doesn’t publish precise eligibility criteria.
However, the card is marketed toward people with credit scores ranging between 575 and 675 so you’re unlikely to receive a prescreened offer if your score is below this range.
One of the main things that set the Mercury Mastercard apart from other credit cards is its “invitation only” application process.
To be eligible to apply, you must first receive a pre-approval letter from Mercury. The letter contains a reservation code that lets you move forward with the application.
Application & Approval
Applying for the Mercury Mastercard is a straightforward process, but you’ll need an invitation (which Mercury calls a “reservation code”) to get started. Assuming you have one, you can apply in four steps.
#1. Have Your Reservation Code Handy
You can’t start the Mercury card application without a reservation code, which you’ll receive as a prescreened offer in the mail. When you have this code, visit mercurycards.com and select “respond to mail offer.”
#2. Enter Your Reservation Code
Next, you’ll be taken to a screen that congratulates you on being pre-approved. You’ll need to enter your reservation code and the last four digits of your social security number.
#3. Fill Out the Application
Once the system has verified your reservation code, you’ll move forward to the credit card application. You’ll need to provide basic identifying information, along with some financial information, such as your income.
You submit your application online. Note that Mercury might require certain financial documentation, such as proof of income or a copy of your most recent pay stub.
If you need to submit additional documentation, you can usually do this by scanning your documents and uploading them to the lender’s system. However, you might need to make copies and mail them in.
#4. Wait for a Decision
Cardholders say it typically takes between four and five days to hear back from Mercury. If you’re approved, you should receive your card in the mail shortly after you get a notice that your application was accepted.
Pros and Cons: Is the Mercury Mastercard Right For You?
The Mercury Mastercard offers several benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. Here’s what you need to know.
- Convenient Mobile App. Reviewers seem to love the Mercury Mastercard mobile app, which is available for both Apple and Android devices. Cardholders can do a lot with the app. With a smartphone, you can check your balance, pay your bill, keep up to date on your FICO® score, and see your transactions as you make purchases.
- Free Access to Your FICO® Score. With the Mercury mobile app, you can check your FICO® score whenever you wish. Since about 90 percent of lenders use the FICO scoring model, this is a great tool if you’re looking to repair your credit score.
- No Annual Fee. The Mercury Mastercard has no annual fee. This is a useful perk for people who want to open the card to boost their credit utilization but don’t necessarily plan on using the card a great deal.
- Free Fraud Protection. Mercury Mastercard cardholders receive free fraud liability protection. This means you pay nothing if your card is lost or stolen and used to make unauthorized purchases.
- Most Merchants Accept Mastercard. Like Visa, Mastercard is accepted by a majority of merchants nationwide and around the world. With the Mercury card, cardholders will rarely encounter a situation in which they can’t use their card.
- High Interest Rate. Compared to some other credit cards, the Mercury card has a relatively high-interest rate. According to US News, the average APR for credit cards in 2020 ranges between 16.53% and 23.68%. By contrast, the APR for the Mercury card varies between 25.90% and 27.90% and can fluctuate with the Prime Rate.
- High Foreign Transaction Fee. If you do a lot of overseas traveling, the Mercury Mastercard might be a poor choice. This is because cardholders pay a 3% foreign transaction fee of the purchase amount for every overseas purchase charged to the card.
- High Balance Transfer Fee. The Mercury Mastercard probably isn’t the best option if you’re looking for a card for the express purpose of transferring a balance from another card. Unlike cards marketed as balance transfer cards, the Mercury card doesn’t offer perks like 0% APR and year-long interest-free grace periods. Instead, all balance transfers come with a fee of $5 or 4% of the amount transferred. Worse, the interest rate kicks in right away.
- Difficult to Find Information About Terms and Conditions. While Mercury makes its cardmember agreement available online, it’s not forthcoming about certain critical pieces of information. For example, it’s difficult to get info on eligibility criteria or what factors Mercury uses to identify the people it pre-screens for offers. It’s also quite hard to find concrete details about Mercury’s credit limits or rewards program. User reviews from around the internet offer some discussion on these points, but Mercury itself doesn’t make them publicly available. This can be frustrating for people who are trying to shop around for the best credit card deal. Each credit card application counts as a hard inquiry on your credit report, so you want to be certain the Mercury card is a good fit for you before you apply. This can be tough to do when you can’t get a complete picture of the terms and conditions.
Mercury Mastercard Fees
The Mercury Mastercard does not have an annual fee, which is a big perk.
However, there are some other fees you should be aware of.
- Annual Fee: $0
- Cash Advance Fee: $10 or 5$ (whichever is greater)
- Foreign Transaction Fee: 0%-3%
- Balance Transfer Fee: $5 or 4% (whichever is greater)
- Late Fee: Up to $41
As with most credit cards, if you miss a payment with your Mercury Mastercard, you’ll be charged interest.
Here’s a breakdown of the Mercury Mastercard interest rates.
|Regular APR||28.49%–30.49% (variable)|
|Cash Advance APR||28.49%–30.49% (variable)|
|Balance Transfer APR||28.49%–30.49% (variable)|
|Minimum Interest Charge||$0.50|
As for the grace period, the Mercury Mastercard gives you 23 days to pay your bills in full without accruing any interest charges.
Because Mercury Mastercard doesn’t provide information about rewards and cashback offers online, applicants are stuck relying on cardholder reviews to get an idea of what kind of rewards they can expect.
One reviewer on the myFICO forums noted that Mercury sent them a prescreened approval offering unlimited 2% cash back on purchases.
Another myFICO reviewer reported receiving 1% cash back on purchases and $10 for every 1,000 points earned.
As with credit limits, it seems that cash-back perks and other rewards are tailored to the individual cardholder.
The Mercury Mastercard doesn’t specify what credit limits are available for cardholders, nor is it know what the highest credit limit is for the Mercury Mastercard.
Mercury cardholders say you can get credit limit increases on the Mercury card, and some users report receiving automatic credit increases. However, it’s unclear if Mercury has a specific process or list of criteria for offering cardholders automatic credit limit increases.
Some users claim you can get an initial credit limit of $500-$2,500, but the Mercury Mastercard doesn’t advertise this anywhere.
It appears that both the initial credit limit—and any credit limit increases—vary widely from one user to another.
The Mercury Mastercard reports to all three credit bureaus, which can be great news if you never miss a payment. Making on-time payments is the biggest factor in calculating your credit score.
With the Mercury Mastercard, you can take cash out, also known as getting a cash advance.
Unfortunately, the Mercury Credit Card does not disclose its cash advance limit.
Typically, for most credit cards, the cash advance limit will be a percentage of your credit limit.
Once you’re approved for the card, Mercury Mastercard will let you know your cash advance limit, and your credit limit.
The Mercury Mastercard does offer balance transfers.
The balance transfer fee is either 4% of the total transfer amount, or $5 (whichever is higher).
The balance transfer APR is quite high: 28.49%–30.49% (variable).
Because of this, we don’t recommend this card for balance transfers.
The Mercury card has a highly-rated mobile app for both Apple and Android devices.
Cardholders can do the following using the app:
- Check account
- Get account information
- Review transaction details
- View FICO® score
- Pay bill
- Get paperless statements
Mercury Mastercard Reviews from Around the Web
Overall, reviewers around the web seem satisfied with the Mercury Mastercard. Positive reviews say the card is a hassle-free way to build credit.
For example, one user at Credit Karma said they received a $2,000 credit limit with no problem.
Another reviewer got an automatic credit limit increase from $1,800 to $4,500.
One five-star reviewer noted they improved their credit score by 130 points in a little over a year using the Mercury card.
However, not all cardholders are happy with the Mercury Mastercard. The good news is that many of the negative reviews involve bad customer experiences in the transfer from Barclays to Mercury.
For example, one reviewer on the myFICO forums was disappointed to see their credit limit decrease from a little over $4,000 to $3,000 in the switch from Barclays to Mercury.
On the other hand, a different myFICO forum reviewer said their credit limit automatically increased from $1,500 to $3,750 in the transition from Barclays to Mercury.
Is the Mercury Mastercard Right for You?
According to reviews from various credit forums, the Mercury Mastercard seems to be a good option if you need a second or third credit card to increase your credit limit.
With its higher than the average interest rate, however, the Mercury card is probably best suited for building credit and improving your credit utilization rather than regular use.
If you receive a pre-approval invitation, the Mercury card might be worth checking out.
Alternatives to the Mercury Mastercard
If you have bad credit, you may think that your options for credit cards are limited. While it’s true that you won’t qualify for just any card out there, you don’t have to settle for a card with high fees or a bad interest rate.
If you want a credit card that lets you rebuild your credit without charging you a bunch of fees, here are three options to consider.
1. Discover it Secured Credit Card
The Discover it Secured credit card is a secured card, but that’s not a reason to overlook it. With no annual fee, it can be a good deal for people with less than stellar credit.
To open the card, you must put down a $200 security deposit, which will also serve as your credit limit. The APR is on the high side at 24.49%, but you can avoid interest by paying off your full balance each month.
Another benefit of the Discover it Secured card is its cash-back rewards program. With the Discover it card, you’ll earn 2% cash back on eligible dining and fuel and 1% on all other purchases.
Even better, Discover will match all your rewards for the first year.
2. Capital One Secured Mastercard
The Capital One Secured Mastercard is another secured credit card with no annual fee. It also gives you flexibility when it comes to your security deposit by letting you choose to put down $49, $99, or $200.
After five months of responsible use, the Capital One Secured Mastercard will also give you an automatic credit limit increase with no additional security deposit required. The APR for the Capital One Secured Mastercard is 26.99%.
3. OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
The OpenSky Secured Visa credit card has a $35 annual fee, but reviewers say the card’s easy qualification process and no credit check make it a good choice for those looking to boost their credit score.
The OpenSky card also comes with an interest rate of 18.99%, which is much lower compared to other cards marketed toward those with bad credit. You can also choose a security deposit ranging between $200 and $3,000 depending on your creditworthiness.
With the possibility of a $3,000 credit limit, the OpenSky card is a rarity among secured credit cards, which typically come with a much lower limit.
According to the contact information page on the Mercury Mastercard website, cardholders can get in touch with customer service 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Contact options include phone, email, and regular mail.
The Mercury Mastercard gets generally positive feedback from cardholders, but most users note that the higher interest rate makes this card ideal for improving credit utilization rather than regular purchases.
If you receive a pre-approval letter, it’s probably worth looking into as a means of boosting your credit score.