The 2013 Matrix Credit Card: Here’s The Honest Truth

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Matrix Discover cardHave bad credit? Well don’t make a bad choice with the Discover Matrix card.

This is one of the most expensive credit cards on the market. But before I get to the fees, let me first explain something about the issuer…

This card is NOT issued by Discover. It’s issued by a company called Continental Finance. They haven’t been around very long (since 2005) and this is all they do; issue fee-laden credit cards aimed at people who have a poor credit history.

The only reason it’s called a Discover card is because Continental Finance uses them as their processing network (transactions are processed over Discover’s network). Aside from that, Discover has nothing to do with this company.

It’s important to point this out, because Discover’s customer service has an excellent reputation. But since they don’t issue or manage this card, you will only be dealing with Continental Finance.

Fees… how many are too many?

The funny thing is their advertising touts “no application fees” in a big bold font. Sure, that’s a true statement, but is it really forthright for them to say that? Because when you click on the Terms and Conditions, in the fine print you will see all the other fees they charge…

fee schedule

So right off the bat you are a charged a whopping $75 annual fee. Then when the 2nd year rolls around, you will also start being charged $144 annually for a “monthly maintenance fee.” That means for the 2nd year and beyond, you’re paying $219 annually ($75 + $144).

The motive for structuring the fees like this is obvious. Because the Federal Reserve started a rule whereas the first year fees can’t exceed 25% of the credit limit. $75 is exactly 25% of the $300 minimum. But then when year two comes, the fees skyrocket.

If you think that’s bad, it gets worse…

  • 29.99% interest rate. That’s not just high, it’s really high.
  • Fee for increasing your credit limit. The minimum limit on the Matrix credit card is a pitiful $300. Technically speaking it may be possible you get a higher limit than that to start out with, but most of the reviews I’ve seen say otherwise. Whatever the case, if you want to increase your credit limit, you have to pay a $30 fee for each $100 of additional credit.
  • $30 additional card fee. Want to order another card for someone else on your account? That will be another thirty bucks.
  • $4.95 per month paper statement fee. Now this one is real rotten of them to slip in there, because I don’t see it prominently listed on the application. I had to dig into the fine print to find out that Continental Finance charges a $4.95 monthly fee on their Matrix Discover card for paper statements. The only way to avoid this is to enroll in electronic statements instead.
  • Penalty fees. Both the late payment and returned payment fees are up to $35 a pop.
  • Foreign transaction fees. These are 3% and in their defense, this isn’t unusual.
  • Cash advance fees. 5% of the amount or $5, whichever is greater. Please note that interest begins accruing immediately on cash advances (there is no grace period).
  • Payment holds policy. When it comes to credit cards for bad credit, one of the biggest complaints I hear is that sometimes, the bank will hold your payment for a few days before processing them. This might result in additional interest charges or even a late fee, depending on how long they hold it. The policy that Continental Finance has on payment holds doesn’t sound to be a fair one, in my personal opinion:

Continental Finance payment holds policy

If you already have this card…

…you should cancel ASAP. If you recently applied for it, you might be able to get your annual fee refunded. Here’s what it says in the Terms and Conditions:

fee refund disclosure

If you were thinking about getting this card…

…there is just no rational reason to get it. Between the $75 annual fee, the $144 in monthly maintenance fees beginning on the 2nd year, and the nearly $60 per year in statement fees… this is a ridiculous amount to pay, when all you are promised is a minimum credit limit of just $300. Simply put, Continental Finance’s Matrix credit card is a big ripoff!

As a good alternative, I would recommend you check out this card from Capital One. Yes I advertise it, but I also could do the same with the Matrix Discover but choose not to, because I feel that would be unethical. Take a look at this alternative and I think you will agree with me.

10 comments... read them below or add your own

  1. Sarah March 13, 2014 at 9:29PM

    I have had this card (secured) for almost a year. I have had no issues with the card until I called to find out what I needed to do to cancel the card and get my security deposit back. After speaking to customer service, they inform me that there is “no record” of my card being secured. I thought perhaps this was a mistake so I called back to speak to someone different and got the same answer. So I requested a list of all my transactions since I opened the card, hoping this would show proof that I paid $300 initially to open the card. To my surprise, I was told I need to fax a request to corporate. Unfortunately for me, I had used my tax money to purchase this card… My tax money had been loaded onto a card (like a gift card) from the tax place. A card that you don’t receive bank statements for. So basically, I’m screwed out of that money.

  2. Michele Reisewitz January 18, 2014 at 5:12PM

    My husband got the Matrix cc to help rebuild his credit the card was paid when it was supposed to be but the company changed banks in Nov. and went from Discovery to Master Card and what the paper we got said was in Dec. that a new card would be sent out that was when the problem started. I went online to pay the bill and couldn’t access the account. I couldn’t get in so I tried to call and when you call in they ask for the account number on the card I was told that was not a good number. After several attempts I finally reached a live person and after explaining what had happened I was told that there had been a problem that they had gotten several calls from people for the same reason. People had not received their new cards that the new cards would be sent out and we would get his in 7 to 10 days. Well we got the new card finally I went back to Matrix web site registered the new card and to my surprise there was a late charge on the account I call the company and reexplained what had happen. I was explained that the $25 late fee would be waved but I would have to still pay the 35 dollar that was due and the 25 dollar which would be waved and then be put on the balance. which means that the account would be $325 in stead of $300. After going around with several people my husband and I said we would be paying the card off and were not happy with their practices and how they deal with people. I ask them about the deposit that had been put on the card when it was opened they said it would ether be applied on the bill or a check would be sent to us. These people dealings are that of rip offs. We will warn as many people as we can about this company DON’T DEAL WITH THEM NO MATTER WHAT.

    • Valerie February 7, 2014 at 3:16PM

      I just had the same issue with this company I never received anything in the mail no card nor letter I was going onto the Matrix website every month when I pay my bills it stated a zero balance up to todays date. A message was at the top of page stating they were changing over to a new company so I called the number to find out I also had a late fee of 25 dollars and had another owed amount that was due giving me a total of 60 some dollars …they canceled the so called card they said they sent out as lost but informed me I still owed them this money I hadnt used this card in over a year..i canceled this account and contacted consumer financial protection bureau about this issue. I DO NOT recommend anyone using this card they will only end up hurting you more than helping you.

  3. Sarah H. December 11, 2013 at 10:16AM

    I had the Matrix credit card until I was able to get a credit card with a larger company. My credit score is still not ideal, however there are wayyyy too many fees associated with this product for me to have logically have kept this card. You can not use it for pay at the pump gas, and honestly have only been able to use it for my online purchases- that alone was a huge factor in canceling this card. I have only had the card about 6 months and have paid a ton of fees for having it. When I called to cancel the card and close it out the representative did not have a response for why i was canceling due to the fees. I will be checking up on this account later today to ensure it is truly infact closed on their system because my online banking account with them still shows there is a credit limit available.

  4. Bob November 30, 2013 at 7:19PM

    I have the Continental Finance Matrix credit card and even though it has a high annual fee, high interest, and what not, it has helped me build my credit. I got the capital one secured credit card first, then the matrix card. My credit score went from 570 to about 660 in about 8 months.

    I use and pay the balances in full on both cards every month. You have to pay to get back to a good credit standing, but once I achieve that 700+ FICO I will close it at the one year anniversary.

    In the end, that’s all its good for, building credit, not for day to day expenses or balance carrying.

    If you do decide to get it just make sure you read and understand the fine print.

  5. Seminole Fan In Detroit October 17, 2013 at 7:57PM

    I would like to repond to the article as I am a cardholder of the Matrix card and when I rebuilding my credit I really wanted the advice of a person who had it and I could not find that. I absolutely agree with everything the author says. It is a terrible card and full of fees. I think it has a purpose though and I am very happy that I got this card.

    I started 4 years ago with a secured card after cleaning my credit up the best I could. Then 3.5 years later this was the first unsecured card that I was approved for. I jumped at the chance to have it to help establish more credit. I pay the balance in full each month. They immediately credit my account so there is no balance on my credit report, but they do hold the available balance for 7 days. However, I find this to be a benefit to rebuilding credit. One of the things of rebuidling your credit successfully is to learn responsible credit behavior. Because of these holds I learned to not rely on my credit cards and to save cash to get me by in times of need. It has taught me to be responsible and to use my credit cards as they should be used.

    That has led to me getting a wonderful unsecured card from a large company and has a fantasic cash back program, 0% interest for 1 year and a low annual fee. After using this card responsbily I know I will get additional cards that are also beneficial. At that time I will close this Matrix card because my TL will be affected less by closing an account.

    I understand the fees may make them seem like a bad company. I am an unbiased person and a customer of Continental Finance and I disagree. I thank them for beliving in me and giving me a chance. The terms were a result of my past behavior. Because of them I was not afraid of credit and they have helped me become responsbile. I think the card serves the purpose it was intended to serve. It is not meant to be a pleasure or shopping credit card.

  6. Chuck Chuck October 10, 2013 at 3:18PM

    I agree with everything everyone had to say about this CC but the fact of the matter is if you have bad credit because of bad decision making or whatever the case may be we are gonna have to pay to get back to where you wanna be. If this card when used correctly can help you achieve that then in the long run you’ve achieved your goal. So long story short this card sucks but we need to do what we need to do and pay for it unfortunately.

  7. Rusty B May 28, 2013 at 6:48AM

    I canceled this card, transferred the debt to Capital One, but Matrix still calls saying i owe them money and that Capital One did not pay the entire balance. I had electronic statements but Matrix only sent them a few times and never after I canceled the card SO I was unaware that they still said I owed money until they called. This Matrix bunch is a legal scam of scams … Run Away as fast as possible.

  8. Derrick Richards May 25, 2013 at 10:59AM

    Well, I have to add to the poster’s evaluation. The Matrix is undoubtedly the worst credit card ever. I mean I hadn’t even activated the card and they sent me a bill for the first month. Then they kept calling me over and over saying I owed $95, which is simply unexplainable as that would be like 60% on the amount I used. Then I had the BBB and 2 lawyers contact them about all the credit card laws laid down that they were allegedly breaking and they still won’t enter the proper information into their system. The people that call must be in some kind of alternative system and they keep saying they are sorry and apologize for the inconvenience, but it keeps happening. Anyway, they are being served with a lawsuit next week, so I don’t believe their scam will be in business much longer, DR

  9. Yasmin E. Parsloe March 10, 2013 at 9:32AM

    If anything, this card teaches us all a lesson – research, research, research! It’s a shame that people attempting to improve their credit, are actually targeted with these hefty fees and small print.

    As with all things in finances, ignorance is not bliss. I am sure that it is usually people just entering the credit world that fall victim of this marketing temptation, and hope that more people research before signing up for serious fees and underlying truths.

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