HOPEFULLY NOT THIS CARD!
As traveler's across the world, a lot of us rely on cash. Sometimes, ATMS are hard to find, and other times we are in parts where the technology has not caught up to using credit card swipes. Sometimes though for whatever reason we just have to rely on good old plastic. If you’re a smart credit worthy traveler then your wallet is probably full of great cards with no interest rates or foreign transaction fees. But what if you’re someone who has less than perfect credit history, and you have a credit card that is not up to par. Can using that credit card be a hindrance or a help? Today I review a credit card your best to stay away from, no matter what your credit rating is!
(This review was made possible by a reader who submitted to allowing me to use his story)
It all started when I received this “your approved” envelope in the mail, like any other it promised a great credit limit to start out. At first glance I thought it was from Capital One Bank, a highly reputable credit provider. The company even made their logo almost exactly like Capital One’s to try to fool an unsuspecting customer.
I let it sit on my desk for a few days and finally I logged in to the fancy splash page telling me I was “approved”. The page couldn’t have yelled it out any louder if they tried, and the site was filled with garish graphics of women shopping and men holding stacks of cash in their hands like they were gambling in Las Vegas.
After entering my “personal approval code” I was taken to a brief application, and within two minutes I received a decision from the automated system. I was approved! My credit line was a whopping $400.00. This is where the fun really starts.
Immediately I am taken to a screen to choose a custom card design if I so choose to “make it my own” and I pick a nice setting with palm trees on the card. This is when they tell you that a $6.95 fee applies to personalize your card. If you’re worried about the fee, this is only the beginning. Next I am taken to a screen where I get to read all the disclosures in the smallest font they could possibly type them in. Here I learn that if I do not use my card during a cycle I am billed a fee of $1.00 each month. So if I have no activity on the card it will still cost me $1.00 minimum interests to have possession of the card.
Also I am told that the card has an annual fee of $99.00 ($79.00 for the first year) and that money will be taken out of my available balance in a few days after I activate my card. So let’s review here.
I just opened the account and have not even received my card and I have been charged $6.95 for a design fee, and $79.00 for a yearly fee, leaving me with a total credit line available of $314.05.
A couple weeks later my new shiny card arrives in the mail and the next day I make a purchase on it. It’s a pretty big transaction leaving me with only a little “line” left to use. I am happy with the transaction and I also use it at a local store a couple times as well.
Less than 5 days after I use the card the first time I get my first bill (that was fast) and I am told I can pay online, finally a break in the madness.
I have other credit cards which I pay online using my bank account every month, and the processing time takes about 3 hours usually. I wait until about 3 days before the payment is due and I sign up for their “online” banking account. When I first login I am taken to an ad telling me “two cards are better than one” tempting me to add an authorized user on my account (there is a $49.95 fee if you wish to do this btw, and of course the $6.95 custom card fee) but I do not need this so I skip past it.
I am now taken to a place where I can add my bank account information. To pay my bill I have two options, the first one allows me to pay using my bank account online and will process to my account within 4 days. If I use this option I will be late on my payment, why does it take 4 days to process to my account. The answer is in option # 2 on the page. I can use their “express pay” option which allows me to use an ATM card to pay my bill and it processes in one day, there is a $19.95 fee to use this service however. So if you want to pay online with your account you have to make sure to submit your payment sometime within 5 days before the due date in order to avoid being charged a late fee. If you are charged a fee their late fee is $50.00.
So finally after getting it all setup and my bill paid I decide to call their “helpful” customer service. The first thing I am confronted with is their website lists all sorts of “automated” options but there is no place to speak to a live agent. I finally find the number for the collections department and decided to try that. I am faced with a 5 option menu all of them leading to an automated menu again. I push “0” in the hopes I can bypass the menu but no such luck. After randomly pushing a bunch of buttons I suddenly am transferred to a representative named “Axle” who sounds a lot more like “Axle Muhammad” to me! He explains the answers to my questions carefully and I ask him if I can setup auto payment so that I do not miss paying my bill and he tells me they do not offer auto payment at which point I hang up.
SO IN REVIEW THIS CARD OFFERS
$6.95 fee for custom cards
$79.00 first year annual fee
$99.00 Yearly card use fee
$50.00 late fee
$50.00 secondary card fee
$19.95 payment processing fee
3% (or $1.00) fee on foreign transactions
No option for automatic payments
So in summary we can see not all cards are created equal, and what may look like a good deal is not always that good of a deal. Be careful what’s in your wallet the next time you travel!
HOW ABOUT YOU, WHAT CREDIT CARDS DO YOU USE WHEN YOU TRAVEL, FEEL FREE TO LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!