Warning: 1st Financial Bank Credit Cards Are Rotten

As if college wasn’t difficult enough, 1st Financial Bank USA tries to make it worse by offering one of the crappiest student cards ever.

This bank’s website describes themselves as being:

“a leading provider of financial services for college students and graduates — has helped thousands of students develop financial responsibility and manage college costs.”

I disagree with both of those claims. They’re hardly what I would consider to be a “leading provider” and their credit cards are far from being helpful in managing costs.

If you’ve recently graduated from high school or have started college, you may have received an application or “invitation” in the mail from 1st Financial Bank. Here’s my review of 3 reasons you shouldn’t bite the bait…

Warning #1: Rates and fees are higher than industry average

If you’re a college student, obviously you’re just starting to build credit and don’t expect to get the best APRs. I think we all expect that.

But what this bank does is give interest rates FAR higher than almost every other student card on the market.

1st Financial card's APR

You deserve better than almost 30% interest! Almost every student credit card I’ve looked at has a purchase APR in the neighborhood of 14% to 24% (with the average probably being around 19% to 20%).

To add insult to injury, they tack on an annual fee starting your second year with the card:

annual fee info

That’s bizarre, because most student cards don’t have an annual fee whatsoever.

Warning #2: Limited customer service hours

During the weekday you’re plenty busy with classes and homework, right? Inconveniently, that’s the only time you can call 1st Financial Bank’s customer service phone number:

customer service contact info

Mon thru Fri 8-5 pm Central time… really?!

Where I’m at in SoCal, that would mean I would have to call before 3 pm my time. Not very convenient, huh?

If you went with almost any other card issuer, there’s a good chance you would be able to get 24/7 customer service. Not all of them offer it, but most do from my experience.

Warning #3: You don’t get rewards

Unless the “invitation” they mailed to you differs from the ones I’ve seen, the 1st Financial credit card does NOT offer cash back or any other kind of rewards.

Let’s see… high interest rates, high fees, and no rewards program. Sounds like a winning combo, right?

Conclusion? Caveat Emptor!

I think just almost any college student card you find will be a better deal than what they’re offering. In fact, if you’re smart enough to get into college, any college, then you should be smart enough to avoid a terrible option like this credit card. There are so many great and inexpensive alternatives out there if you are enrolled in a college or university.

My favorite is the new Discover it for students. Yes it’s one of the companies I advertise on this blog but that’s not the reason I think it’s the best. Don’t believe me? Compare for yourself…

student card comparison

Go here for more info about Discover it for students

I actually use the regular (non-student) version of this card since I’m no longer in college and it rocks. The student version is the exact same as the regular version, the only difference is that APRs are different and it’s a lot easier to qualify for.

But whatever you do, just don’t get the 1st Financial Bank credit card. It is undoubtedly one of the worst – if not the absolute worst – offer for students. If you already have their card, please post your reviews in the comments below.

Written or last updated August 2016

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

For all the people who are questioning how someone couldn’t keep up with the interest and keep the balance down, when you live paycheck to paycheck and something happens (like a health emergency, car parts, propane, anything out of ordinary expenses that you DO PLAN FOR) you grasp for what you can to stay afloat, and then it gets harder and harder to catch up because you’re already behind, still having to pay current bills while paying for back log, and in the mean time you’re being charged 30% of what you spent and god forbid something else unexpected happened because then you’d be out of luck. They offer no benefits also. I’ve had this card for 10 years and they keep increasing the interest rate. I’ve never missed a payment and the first year i had it, the mail caused my payment to be a day late and they charged me the late fee and increased the rate. I’ve called numerous times to negotiate a lower interest rate (even lowering to 25% would be acceptable at this point), but they absolutely REFUSE telling me at this time they CANNOT lower it in order to keep their company running. That is B.S. This company is full of thieves and liars. I hate having this card and don’t use it anymore. As it is my longest running credit line, I can’t cancel it, but I don’t use it at all and made sure to cut up the newest one they sent to me as soon as it arrived. Worst credit card company I’ve ever done business with.

File a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, http://www.consumerfinance.gov/ They need to hear how banks are screwing consumers.

To everyone who doesn’t get the “hate” for this card, well, it’s (mostly) not hate. The fact is this is not a good card based on the VALUE that it offers. A card that offers lower interest rates AND a rewards program is a much better value. 1) Even if yo pay your balance off each month that lower rate – it’s there if something happens and you can’t pay the balance off – job loss, medical or vehicle repair expenses. It’s far better to have that lower rate in reserve than the, current’s, 30.15% rate this card offers. 2) Rewards. Hmm, if I buy things I’m going to buy anyway and pay off my balance do I want A) no additional benefit or B) A thank you in the form of points that I can redeem for gift cards, air miles, an account credit, etc. … maybe a Liberal Arts Major would choose “A”, everyone else will probably choose “B”.

Sorry but 1st financial bank is a bunch of crooks that take advantage of the innocent and don’t work with you, they have no real hardship program. Discover is good, and American Express is golden, both notable, reputable 1st class companies.

This is a horrible card!!! I was with them for 12 years, always paid my debt completely off. This past year I finally have held a balance, and was 1 day late with a payment. Not only is the interest rate 23 percent flat, with no points, but now because of 1 day late it jumped to 27.9 percent. This will last for 6 more months as long as my other payments are on time. This is a horrible company!!!!

Why the hate.. I’ve had the card for 7 years. I barely use it but when I do, I pay it off. If I make a huge purchase, I pay it off within a few months. I have a credit lit of $14, 000.00 but it’s basically an emergency card. It’s nice to know I have it if I need it. If you handle credit the way it should, it works for you. This card has allowed me to establish an A+ credit rating. So, once again, why the hate? Because u abuse your credit or didn’t make sufficient payments?? That’s all on you and not the card. I received it as a first year college student and it has worked out Awesome for me.

I just got this card a couple months ago and I love it, why all the hate? My plan has 0% APR ( as I see that you failed to mention at the top) for 18 MONTHS, which is awesome! Anyways, when first starting out, a student should learn to pay most of their monthly statement, learn responsibility.
My only question is why my card says that it is only good through a year from the month I get it? Which isn’t horrible because I can just get a different card (I would have just gotten a card for 0% interest the whole time I had it). But still, I’m curious.

Very biased article.

i’ve had this card since 2002. I started off with a 1000.00 limit and now my limit is 18k. Since 2002 I had raised my balance to 7k which I paid off, then another time raised it to 10k and then paid it off and the last time I raised it to 4k and I recently paid it off. The interest rate is RIDICULOUS!!! I was paying like 300 a month in just interest when it was at 10k. I was so depressed and felt like I was drowning in debit, so I pulled out some of my 401k to pay it off. However, I will not close the card because the limit is so high and I keep it for emergencies.

I don’t understand all of the “hate” comments. This card was offered to me when I turned 18 and was almost graduated from high school and accepted to USF. My mom who is a financial advisor told me to apply so I could build my credit. She told me to use it sparingly and to pay it off every month. That is what I have been doing and they have raised my limit from $500 (April 2013) to $4,750 (April 2015) and I have not paid any fees or interest. I use it to pay for gas and that’s it (I commute to school). I received an application 6 months after opening this card from Capital One Journey and they approved me for $1,000 and my limit is now $4,000. I use the Capital One sparingly as well and always pay it off. I have never been late on either card (auto bill pay) and I never carry a balance so I have never paid any fees, now I am 20 years old with established credit and a 750+ score from all three bureaus. This card helped me get credit and show responsibility. I have been looking for a car and I have been approved by GTE and Ally for a loan with a 2% interest rate and no money down. Credit is not hard to understand and/or use. Only use it sparingly, always pay it off every month and NEVER pay late. How hard is that to understand I mean we are college students, i.e. educated…

They’ll virtually approve anyone, making this great for broke college kids who will rely on the card, and then end up in debt up to their necks considering their ridiculously high APR. They have THE pushiest customer service staff I have ever dealt with. I’ve had an account for about 8 years, maybe have made 3 late payments (and by late I mean by about a day or two). They will harass you the DAY OF, and the days following your payment due date. I’m talking 3 or 4 calls a day…

Also inconvenient – the only way to get in contact with these people is by phone, during their 8-5 CT hours. No email, no online chat. For people who are adamant about getting ahold of you, you think they would give a few different options for those working to pay off these credit cards making them unable to call during the day.

I’ve ended up going with Discover and doing a balance transfer. Anything to get away from this horrific bank. Steer clear, people. Seriously.

No forreal anybody know how long it takes to get this card in the mail?

Heather Shinigami

I have to agree with Holly. When I first applied for credit cards. No one accepted me. 1stFBUSA did, though with the $150 limit (expected, barely 18 at the time) increased from that to $300-$900-$1200 etc…and now it’s over 2k in just over 2 years. Now, they do have the cask back. Though you have to upgrade (weird blue animal/picture card to the silver preferred card) and that’s how I think it begins. Sure they don’t offer many rewards but oh well. It sure stops me from spending so much to get that 50pt extra bonus from shopping at Khols. It’s a starter card people. Want more money then you’ve to prove yourself worthy based on your credit and paybacks. APR might be a bit high but don’t spend more than you can afford! Geesh. Besides, you should keep your very first card. I hear it looks good on your credit report (loyalty, us shows you paying back to something for years). Just get another side card like I have. Spend more money in that one to earn reward and just make minor ones on the 1stFBUSA one to increase you credit and spending limit (in case of emergencies [i.e. Emergency vet bill, car accident, out of a job…etc] ). All in all, it’s a card you apply for when you have little-to-no credit or your trying to build up credit. Your a risk and thus APR WILL be high. No one is going to invest good rates on someone who doesn’t prove themselves. Work you way up to that 🙂

I got this card right when I started college as a way to build my credit. However, being a young college student and working unpaid internships, I depended on the card a little too much (totally my fault, I understand that). I graduated college and managed to land an awesome paying job, and began making large payments on the card, when I realized after about the 3rd month, how much the APR and interest they were charging me. I mean ridiculously large amounts of interest. My credit is great, I’ve always made payments on time, I just couldn’t fathom how they could get away with it. I ended doing a balance transfer to another card and paid it off in 9 months, saving me almost $2k in interest. Read the fine print, they really are sneaky with the way they do operate, especially being a young adult and not familiar with these kinds of things. I’ve kept the card open, and will randomly buy gas or something and pay it off the same month (to help build my credit). I will never use it for any large purchases ever again.

I will add one thing though… They do keep interest rates down for military because it was low the whole time I was in (still higher then all the other cc companies/banks though) and I never had issues. Be warned that once you EAS they will bend you over and give you the green weinie without lube. So if you’re in the military and need a cc for whatever reason go ahead and get this but make sure its paid off before you EAS. other then that I wouldnt recommend anyone get a cc with 1st Financial.

1st Financial is garbage. I have never missed a payment in 9 years and just recently (two years or so) my interest rate literally went from 6% to 29.9%. What would of took me a year to pay off now will take me 4 years, most of which is interest costs. I recommend anyone that currently owns a cc with 1st Financial to do a fund transfer to another card like I am. Unfortantely for me, I’ll need 3 different cc’s to transfer all my funds. With other cc’s doing 0% APR for the first year and 18-20% interest after the first year doing so will still save me thousands of dollars.

Is the 1st Financial Bank associated with Capital One?

I’ll be honest, I kind of like these guys. I just graduated from college and refinanced the balance I had with them at a much lower interest rate of 11%, while earlier I was paying 30% like this site says. I spent a lot of money on the interest for this card. But now that I’m out of school and have a decent job, I had no problem refinancing and will pay off this debt in no time. 1st Financial Bank allowed me to enjoy my college years and traveling with friends knowing that I could borrow against my future of higher income. I know this sounds weird, but I am kinda thankful for this card. You’re only in college once, you know? Might as well enjoy it. You know what else? They charge nothing for international transactions! Compare that to Bank of America’s 3% conversion fee!

Anonymous, do you think you are fooling anyone by this comment. We all know you work for them.

Exactly what I was thinking Ruth! But people these days are so gullible these days. To anonymous you DO realize that the discover card is superior to the other cards listed? Especially superior to 1FBUSA….


I am sorry, but I have to disagree with you. 1st Financial Bank does offer rewards/cash back. All you have to do is be NICE and ASK. 😉

The worst thing is if there is some fraud case… u will have to hold the line for at-least 45mins before someone has little mercy on you and cares to answer the call.. this credit card just sucks real time.. and one should recommend this to their worst enemy…

Actually I had a fraud issue a few days ago, I was on the phone with customer service for maybe 10 minutes (mostly because she made me verify my identity through every piece of data on my account before allowing me to do anything) and she was friendly, then transferred me to Security, where I again had to reverify. They closed my card and sent me a new one in about 20 minutes. I do enjoy my card, it might not be the best one out there but at least it is something and they increased my credit line from 250 to 1000 after 5 months of on time payments, and I didn’t even ask them to.

Holly how long did it take to get your card in the mail ?