I was looking through the mail the other day and noticed a stack of credit card applications. From television commercials to internet ads, we are bombarded with credit card advertisements. Credit card companies pitch products to people whose credit ranges from excellent to poor. Individuals with credit ratings that fall in the fair to poor range are often preyed upon by “fee harvesters”. Fee harvesters are companies that offer low-credit, high-cost cards. Signing up for a credit card with a high interest rate and exorbitant fees is like having an albatross around your neck. It is better not to have a credit card than to be stuck with a high-cost card. With cards like these, it makes sense that More Americans Are Saying No To Credit Cards.
Worst Unsecured Card
The First Premier Bank Gold Card is a credit card that has attracted a lot of media attention recently due to its astronomical 79.9% interest rate. I think it’s ridiculous that a credit card with an interest rate of almost 80% is legal in the United States. The initial credit limit for the Premier card is $250. As soon as you activate your card, First Premier Bank will gladly sock you for the following fees:
- $95.00 Program Setup Fee
- $48.00 Annual Fee
- $29.00 Servicing Fee
- $84.00 Annual Servicing Fee ($7.00 monthly charge)
After taking all of these fees into account, your available credit is just $71. If you add in the monthly servicing fee over a whole year your account would be overdrawn $6 before you have ever charged anything! This is the worst credit card I have ever seen. This card has charges for everything from credit limit increases to bill payments.
Worst Secured Card
New Millenium Bank tries to give First Premier Bank a run for its money with their secured credit card. Customers pay a 19.5% interest rate for the privilege of carrying a New Millenium Mastercard. Did I mention that the 19.5% interest rate is the minimum APR available? This is the highest interest rate that I have ever seen charged on a secured credit card.
- $99.95 Account Activation Fee
- $10.00 “Rush” Processing Fee
- $59.00 Annual fee
The New Millenium card has no grace period which makes it nearly impossible to pay this card off, because you start accruing interest from the minute you make a purchase. New Millenium also offers a prepaid card with an activation fee of $99.00 and a monthly participation fee of $5.95. That’s a total of over $170 in fees alone.
Worst Prepaid Card
According to The New York Times, “Prepaid debit cards are among the consumer banking industry’s fastest-growing products, but often their convenience comes with hidden fees.” The Prepaid Visa RushCard is an example of this type of card. The RushCard offers 2 basic plans. The Pay-As-You-Go plan has a hefty $19.95 activation fee and all signature and PIN transactions cost $1 per transaction. ATM withdrawals are $1.95 a piece. The other option is to become a monthly member, which has the following fees:
- $9.95 Monthly Account Maintenance Fee
- $3.00 Card Activation Fee
- $2.00 Enrollment Fee For Online BillPay
- $1.00 Bill Payments
- $1.00 Paper Statement Fee
So, what lesson can you take away from these examples? If you are going to carry a credit card, stay away from those three cards. Always remember the three basic rules when looking for a credit card:
- Look for a card with a major trusted financial institution. This makes it easier to contact your financial institution is you have any problems.
- Avoid cards with high interest rates and no grace periods. A high interest rate can cost you thousands of extra dollars.
- Watch out for hidden fees (activation fees, annual fees, processing fees). High fee cards make it way too easy to go over your credit limit.