People are often quick to label various credit cards, especially subprime cards designed for those with bad credit, a “scam” and “ripoff”. Those reviews may or may not be accurate depending on whether the person writing the review has personal experience with the product and the nature of their grievance. So, what’s the honest truth about these types of cards?
An example of an offer that receives a lot of negative reviews is Net First Platinum. Is it a legitimate credit card offer? You will see a lot of complaints online by consumers, as well as a couple glowing reviews by websites which advertise it, so who’s to be believed? Is it a real credit card?
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 offering you a Visa/MasterCard/AmEx/Discover.
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 drastically overpriced merchandise. That probably wasn’t what you were thinking it was, right?
But do you think this $500 line of credit they tout at the top of the application is free? Not quite…
- $19.95 per month fee (that’s $239.40 per year): They charge you this for a so-called “benefits” plan as soon as you activate the card. The benefits in my opinion are just a bunch of hot air and aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.
- You might be overpaying for merchandise big time: I can’t tell you exactly how much their items costs since you need an active account to login to the store. But based on the reviews I’ve read, the prices sound excessive and on top of that there are ridiculous shipping fees and processing fees which are tacked on. Long story short, it’s almost a certainty that you could buy the same merchandise a lot cheaper elsewhere (like Walmart, Big Lots or online through Amazon.com). So sure, you’re getting $500 worth of spending power, but what’s the real retail value of the stuff you’re getting in return? Probably significantly less than that.
Is this a sucker deal?
In a nutshell, yes, since you’re paying $239.40 per year for the ability to buy up to $500 in overpriced merchandise that also comes with excessive shipping and processing fees. Worth it? Um, no!
If you are trying to rebuild your credit, try out this form from Capital One instead to see if you might pre-qualify for a REAL credit card that comes from an actual respected bank:
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. But it doesn’t seem like that actually want you to read this, because the text is difficult to read: it’s placed over a striped grey background and they only show a few lines of text at once. In order to read it you will have to do a lot of scrolling and eye squinting. But sure enough, they tell you the truth in this disclosure that they’re not a bank (the blue highlight was added by me):
That explains why I wasn’t able to find Net First Platinum bank when I searched online through Google. It’s a name that sounds like a bank, but it is one! Neither is it a credit card issuer or any other type of lender. It’s just a random company that has it’s own line of credit with a bank somewhere and they’re jacking up the cost of funds to unsuspecting consumers that don’t realize they have other options.
Since they’re not technically a credit card, apparently that excludes them from having to show the Schumer box, which is the clear black and white table of fees and interest rates you will see on real credit card applications.
Yes, they do tell us the fees, but they do so in a very confusing way. In addition to the hard to read font and excessive scrolling, after reading it more than once I don’t understand exactly what circumstances each of the fees is charged.
For example, they list the “Outlet Store Delivery Signature Verification” fee of $2.50… but when is that charged and why would my signature have to have verification?!
Another confusing fee is the $6.00 monthly maintenance fee. Next to that, they say this fee is waived for all active Net First Platinum card services members. Okay, but then what exactly is an “inactive” member who would be charged this fee? With their explanation, I don’t understand. By the way if you are totally annoyed by the tiny scroll box like I am, I found an alternate link where you can read the full disclosures without scroll. Unfortunately it still has a busy background so it can still be difficult to read: https://netfirstplatinum.com/terms.php?s=NF
Actions speak louder than words
Since their words are buried in obscure hard-to-understand fine print, let’s just take a look at their actions. I’m talking about the way they actively choose to market this credit card.
If they want to be honest and forthright, then why do they call it the Net First Platinum card in the first place? Wouldn’t a more consumer-friendly description be to simply call it an online store line of credit? Obviously when they call it a name like “Platinum” many people such as myself are led to believe it must be a real credit card, since that is a word you often hear associated with such.
And why is this so small:
Since this is the only thing the card can be used for – buying at their website – they really should be putting that in a huge font so people clearly understand that. In my opinion it is misleading to put it in a tiny font like that which is easy to overlook.
If they actually have a customer service department I would be surprised but I haven’t determined this by trying to call yet.
Does it really report to credit bureaus?
Playing devil’s advocate for a moment and coming to their defense yet again – it really does report to a credit bureau. But they don’t really tell you much about how that works. They say they report “to at least one major credit bureau” but don’t openly disclose which credit bureau that might be. I suspect it’s not one of the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian or TransUnion.
Now obviously if you are trying to build or rebuild credit, it is useful to have accounts with a positive payment history reported to the bureaus. But there’s no point in paying so much to do so, especially when it’s not even a real credit card you’re getting in return.
With secured cards, you can put up a fully refundable security deposit of as low as $200 even if you have an awful credit score and history. In return, you will get a real Visa or MasterCard with a reasonable annual as low as $29. Wouldn’t you rather pay that and get a real credit card instead of this joke? Check out these secured MasterCards that I recommend for rebuilding credit.
2014 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 will. What they’re doing is completely legal, so it’s technically not accurate for the various online complaints and reviews to call them that.
That being said, just because it’s a safe and legit company, it does NOT mean their offer is a good deal. In fact, it’s really a horid deal for the average consumer. Wait, I hate even using the word “deal” to describe it because you’re not getting any type of deal whatsoever. 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 in my opinion.
This review was written or last updated August 1, 2014