Review: Farmers & Merchants Bank Visa

F&M-credit-cardCalifornia’s Farmers & Merchants Bank, known also as F&M, offers the F&M Visa Card, a fairly standard credit card in today’s market. It offers a reasonable interest rate and an optional rewards program. As we set out to review the card, we almost missed a bit of fine print that is important for you to know. We’ll get to that in a moment…

When you apply for the F&M Visa, you may be approved at an interest rate as low as 7.99% for customers with excellent credit to a still-good 15.99% for those whose credit is not quite as good. There is no annual fee for customers who qualify for Platinum- or Gold-level cards, but those approved only at the Classic level will pay a $12 annual fee. If that’s you, ask yourself whether your credit history is good enough to be approved for a credit card elsewhere that has no annual fee. In today’s market, only those customers with very shaky credit need to be paying an annual fee to get a credit card (though $12 isn’t a terrible fee in comparison to other cards for those with only-OK credit histories).

The F&M Visa offers a reward program with a 1% cash back formula, which is below market — there are many other credit cards on the market that offer better rewards. Plus, get this: the F&M Visa also charges you for this run-of-the-mill reward: $15 per year, though the fee is waived for the first year you have the card. You really don’t need to pay $15 to get a 1% rebate in today’s market — you would need to make $1500 worth of purchases just to break even on that fee, while there are so many other cards with the same or better rebate offer out there that have no annual fee. (See better cash back credit cards.)

So, in our estimation, the only reason a discerning credit card customer would choose the Farmers & Merchants Bank Visa is if a low interest rate is your top priority and your credit history is good enough to qualify for the 7.99% APR, which is an excellent rate when compared to most other credit cards on the market. On the flip side, if you are looking for a credit card with rewards, pass this one by.

If you want to apply for the F&M credit card, you can download the application and mail it in or just sign up at a bank branch.