Cards designed for people with poor credit don’t have the best terms. But they’re not necessarily a scam either. In this review, we take a closer look at the Net First Platinum card to determine whether it’s a legitimate option for credit-builders.
Their dirty little secret…They tell you that you will get a “guaranteed $500 unsecured credit limit” with no credit check. But if you think that’s for a credit card with a $500 limit, think again. “Net First” is not a bank and they’re not even offering you a real general purpose Visa/MasterCard/AmEx/Discover card. The card is offered by Horizon Card Services and is not co-branded with a major network.
What they’re actually providing is a line of credit that you can spend only one place; thehorizonoutlet.com. This is a website they own which sells merchandise that’s overpriced, based on the prices listed on their site.
In addition to being forced to pay (for merchandise) to play, the card itself has fees, too.
- $24.95 per month fee: They charge you this for a so-called “benefits” plan as soon as you activate the card. The benefits are pretty nebulous and include “access to My Privacy Protection, My Universal RX, My Roadside Protect and My Legal Assistance benefits.”
- $5 card issuance fee. It’s not a common practice for card issuers to charge for the card itself.
- However much you overpay in merchandise: I can’t tell you exactly how much their items costs since you need an active account to login to the store. The prices listed on their homepage are a couple bucks higher than what you’d pay in a retail store and sometimes twice as much as you’d pay on Amazon. Plus, you may end up buying things you don’t really need, just to use the card and get a credit history reporting.
Here’s a summary of the card’s fees:
Net First Platinum card fees
|Monthly membership fee||$24.95|
|Late payment fee||$20|
|NFS check fee||$25|
What’s the APR?
The card doesn’t charge interest, but that doesn’t mean you can just run up charges without penalty. You must pay either 10 percent of the balance owed or $25, whichever is greater. If you fail to do so, you’ll be charged a $20 late-payment penalty. Again, remember, you can buy only from the card’s affiliated site. So, while you won’t get hit with interest charges, you’re severely limited in what you can buy anyway.
Is there really no credit check?
This card won’t check your credit, meaning no score-lowering hard pull on your credit report. That’s a good thing for those whose credit is so bad that they qualify for nothing else. But the reason the card can afford to extend you a $500 limit with no check is because they’re charging you $24.95 per month and forcing you to buy stuff in their online catalog (from which Horizon Card Services makes money).
The whole reason you’re paying almost $300 a year for this card is to build a credit history so you can get another card. So it’s troubling to see the vague “Reports to major credit bureau” advertisement on the home page. Which credit bureau exactly? That remains to be determined. If you dig deeper into the card’s terms, you’ll find that the card will report to “at least one major credit bureau.” But there’s this disclaimer: “The Horizon Card Services Account does not guarantee aid in building or re-building credit or to the posting of any positive references to any credit report.”
Is this a bad deal?
We say so, since you’re paying almost $300 per year for the ability to buy up to $500 in overpriced merchandise that also comes with excessive shipping and processing fees. Worth it? Not unless you literally cannot get anything else.
If you bad credit, you have other options that don’t require you to shop at a specific site, have lower annual fees and have a better reputation for credit building. Check out Credit One’s products, for example.
There are also plenty of secured cards on the market, which allow you to secure your credit line with an advance deposit.
Now in defense of Net First Platinum, they don’t explicitly claim to be an actual credit card. At the top of their website they have a so called “pre-acceptance disclosure” which outlines how their program operates. Sure enough, they tell you the truth in this disclosure that they’re not a bank (the blue highlight was added by me):
The fees are also disclosed, but in a very confusing way (the monthly fee is buried in a paragraph within the terms and conditions). Some fees are also not explained. For example, they list the “Outlet Store Delivery Signature Verification” fee of $2.50… but when is that charged and why would your signature have to have verification?
2017 Verdict: Scam or not?
Technically speaking, the Net First Platinum is not a “scam” since they do give you exactly what they tell you they (in 8 point type, though). What they’re doing is completely legal, so it’s not accurate for the various online complaints and reviews to label the product as such.
That being said, just because it’s a legitimate company, it does NOT mean their offer is a good deal. In fact, it’s really a terrible deal for the average consumer. Just steer clear of the Net First Platinum’s merchandise line of credit. Instead, almost any of the real credit cards for bad credit will be a better idea.
If you must get this card (and have no other options), use it for a small, single purchase on the affiliated website each month, pay it off in full and watch for your credit score to rise. Use a soft-pull credit tool to frequently to check when you’re ready for another card — any other card. Once you are, get it and cancel the Net First Platinum as soon as you’re approved. While keeping your oldest account open can lift your score, paying $24.95 for it outweighs that benefit.
This review was written or last updated August 2, 2017
Why we gave it 1 out of 5 stars
We based this card’s rating on our standards for Credit Cards for Bad Credit.
|Simple/transparent fee structure: In addition to charging almost $300 a year (month by month), this card has a card-issuing fee.|
|Grace period: This card gets this single star because there is no interest charged (but, remember, you can make purchases only via the card’s affiliated site). So you don’t have to worry about interest accruing from the moment of purchase.|
|Rewards: This card offers no rewards.|
|Credit-limit increases: There’s no way to get a limit higher than $500 on this card.|
|Progress-tracking benefits: The card offers no way to track your credit-building process (something that other credit-building cards offer). In fact, it’s not guaranteed to report to the three major credit bureaus.|