Worst Credit Cards

a mousetrap with a credit card as baitLet’s be honest… credit card companies don’t exactly have saintlike reputations. But which ones are the worst? Who charges the most ridiculous rates and fees? Who has the worst customer service? Well, here is CreditCardForum’s list of the 10 worst credit cards of the year.

Note: In case you are wondering why there are no pictures of these credit cards, that’s because if there were, the card issuers would most likely demand the images be removed on the grounds of copyright – they hate being on this worst credit cards list!

#1 Worst: First Premier Bank Platinum MasterCard

Platinum… it usually means the card is at least half-way decent, right? Or perhaps even prestigious like the AmEx Platinum? Well unfortunately, this First Premier Platinum is neither.

First Premier also issues the Aventium, so I guess it comes as no surprise that their Platinum MasterCard is structured in a similar – and ridiculous – manner:

  • First year annual fee 0f $175.00
  • Second year is a $49.00 annual fee, but that’s when a $14.50 monthly servicing fee starts too, so the total you are shelling out for the 2nd year and beyond is 12 x $14.50 ($174) + $49 = $223.
  • The interest rate is a tad lower, yet still outrageous at 36%

Conclusion? This is a fee harvester credit card on steroids!

#2 Worst: Aventium Classic Credit Card

This card barely squeaks past the law to be legal – the CARD Act says that fees during the first year cannot exceed more than 25% of a card’s credit limit. So what does the Aventium do? Jack them up during year two, of course!

  • First year’s annual fee is $75.00
  • Second year’s annual fees may seem lower since it’s $45.00 but don’t be fooled… beginning on year two there is a $6.50 “monthly servicing fee” which means when combined, you’re paying $123 annually.
  • The APR is a bargain at 49.9%

To learn more about this amazing credit card deal, check out my review of the Aventium credit card.

#3 Worst: Centennial Classic Credit Card

So if the First Premier MasterCard isn’t your cup of tea, perhaps you would like a glamorous Gold card? Well, let’s just say the Centennial Gold is a far cry from the AmEx Gold Card!

I see CreditCards.com is advertising it under their “bad credit” category and one of the card’s bullet points is “Join nearly 3 million credit cardholders.” That’s pretty scary to think that nearly 1% of the U.S. population is a cardholder (assuming they’re referencing American cardholders) because this is one of the worst credit cards to have, ever!

  • There’s a one time “processing fee” of $95.00 to open the account.
  • To add insult to injury, you will also have a $75.00 annual fee for the first year. For the second, it’s a similar setup as above; $45 annual fee + $6.25 monthly servicing fee (so $120 between the two).
  • The APR? Also 36%.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, this is another First Premier Bank credit card offer. In fact, I could round out the majority of this list with First Premier cards (yeah, there’s more) but to change things up, I need to enforce a “3 strikes and you’re out rule” so this doesn’t just turn into a list of all First Premier. So let’s look elsewhere for numbers 4 thru 10.

#4 Worst: Midas Credit Card

For years – even during 2008, 2009, and 2010 when the economy was worse – the highest APR that I recall seeing on a store credit card was 26.99%. Despite the fact that the prime rate hasn’t gone up since then, GE Money Bank decided to take it to a whole new level in 2011 by offering 29.99% on many of the store-branded cards in their portfolio, including this one.

With some many charging 29.99% it was hard to pick the absolute worst of the bunch, but I decided Midas should take that honor. Why? Because let’s face it… if you’re at Midas, you’re probably between a rock and a hard place… dealing with expensive car problems.

It’s one thing to charge someone almost 30% on clothes they don’t need, but is it really necessary to hit ’em when they’re down by charging 30% on what likely may be emergency car repairs?!

#5 Worst: Office Depot Personal Credit Card

There are 3 cards offered by Office Depot – 1 personal and 2 business versions – and the personal card is by far the worst out of the bunch with a 27.99% standard APR (4% higher than the business version).

Aside from the high interest rates, the card doesn’t offer much. You get no additional rewards for having the card – the Office Depot rewards program is completely separate from their credit card.

Now this card does offer no interest for 180 days on purchases of $299 or more, but it’s deferred interest. That means if you don’t pay off every penny of that purchase before the 180 days are up, you will be walloped with interest going back to day one. Being that their APRs are so atrocious, it’s a risky proposition unless you can without a doubt pay it off in time (but who can say that in this economy?).

The personal version should be avoided unless it’s being used to rebuild credit. The same applies to their business cards. You can get up to 5% cash back on office supplies using some of these business credit cards.

#6 Worst: JCPenney Credit Card

It should come as no surprise that department stores offer some of the worst credit cards to have. APRs in the 20’s and lackluster rewards are the norm… and that is exactly what this card will give you.

As of January 2012 the standard APR on the application was a staggering 26.99%. This is a notch worse than the 20% to 25% seen right now on the majority of store credit cards.

But even if you don’t carry a balance, it probably isn’t worth getting this card for the rewards. For starters, it can only be used at JCPenney. But what really sucks about it is that having the credit card doesn’t give you much of a boost in how much is earn for your spending. On regular purchases, the JCP Loyalty Rewards program without their credit card gives 1 point per dollar and WITH their credit card it’s only 1.25 points per dollar… not much of an extra incentive to get the card, is it?

On the bright side, there are no fees associated with this card. Make no mistake about it – this is one of the most horrible cards – however if you have bad credit and need something easy to qualify for to rebuild, then it might not be a bad idea.

#7 Worst: Radio Shack Credit Card

The application page for this card says “Reward Yourself” in big, bold letters. But after seeing what it has to offer, it sounds more like punishing yourself.

For starters, the variable APR is one tier only at 28.99% (even higher than the previous 26.99-28.99% two tier offer). The advertised promotion touting “no interest if paid in full within 6 months” uses deferred interest… if you don’t pay it before then, you will be hit with the finance charges retroactively.

The card doesn’t offer a rewards program, but it does give a 15% discount on in-stock batteries. But is that even worth it, when you consider how expensive Radio Shack can be?

#8 Worst: GE Care Credit

The only reason I don’t have this one higher on the list is that it’s been out for years and by now, hopefully most people already know what a bad deal it is.

In short, it offers deferred financing along with ridiculous interest rates. But the worst part is not the card’s issuer, GE Money, but rather some of the unscrupulous doctors and dentists who peddle it. I personally have been lied to by doctors about how this card’s deferred financing really works. My review of the GE Care card will fill you in.

#9 Worst: Walmart Credit Card

This one boggles my mind, I can’t figure out why anyone would apply. This Walmart credit card review I wrote summarizes why I dislike it, but here’s a little recap:

  • The store-only version doesn’t offer cash back
  • The Discover version (which by the way only operates as the card’s payment network, so don’t expect customer service from Discover) does give cash back but it’s dismal. You get 0.25% on total purchases up to $1,500, 0.50% on total purchases from $1,500.01 to $3,000 and 1% on total purchases over $3,000. The gas rebate at Walmart stations is a joke, when you consider that 5 cents off per gallon = 1.25% with $4 gas.

#10 Worst:  Valero Gas Card

There are a lot of bad gas cards on the market and when it comes to rewards, Valero might is among the most dreadful.

The basic version for consumers gives no rewards, while the “Preferred Gold Card” will cost you $10/year and gives a measly gas rebate as follows:

  • $0.01/gallon for Diesel
  • $0.01/gallon for Regular Unleaded Gasoline
  • $0.015/gallon for Mid-Grade Unleaded Gasoline
  • $0.02/gallon for Super Unleaded Gasoline

These low rewards, along with the high interest rates, leave little reason to apply for a Valero credit card.

Closing Thoughts

With so many viable contenders for the worst credit cards in America, it’s not easy to pick out just the top 10 (err… I mean bottom 10). Share your thoughts and vote for which credit cards you think should make the cut for 2013. Consumer reviews on Credit Card Forum will be used to come up with next year’s list!

This list was last updated July 2012

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.

AAA Member Rewards Visa Card aaanetaccess.com is the worst credit card I have had!!!!
Poor Customer Service
I do not recommend this credit card. The customer service representatives were extremely unhelpful with trying to setup online payment with bank verification. As a result, my credit card issue was left unresolved. If you late 31 days they will report to Credit Bureau.

Hi guys, well as for Midas Credit Card, I got one with a limit of 3500, I got it 2 months ago for a thousand dollar necessary repair on my vehicle. The good thing about this card, which is not mentioned in this article, is that you can have the option to not pay interests for the first 6 months, which is more than enough time for me to repay before any interests are put on the card amount. Ive already done payments and I know it is going to be at Zero before the 6 months ends. After 6 months though, watch out the 29.99 pourcent interests, which is why I will probably never use it again, unless I am desperate..

my favorite thing about these posts, they never mention that when you file bankruptcy, these fees are your only choice in rebuilding your credit, no one else is going to even CONSIDER giving you a card, if you are responsible and pay it in full on time you dont get hit with the high APR, big deal you have a yearly fee, thats the price you pay when you have to rebuild, these cards are for REBUILDING, not for having a ton of extra money to spend.

i had a credit score of 690 (21 years young with very little credit experience yet) got in a car accident as the passenger in a friends car who did not want to pay my bills and i couldn’t afford my 91 thousand dollars in medical bills (yes 91 thousand neck surgery) so i had to claim bankruptcy (LUCKY ME) and let me tell you even some of these really “terrible” cards were denying me, first premier bank was the only one to give me a card to help rebuild my credit for a bankruptcy that i had no control over, so be glad that these are even an option at all for some…..

Regarding the post about the Walmart credit card, the author insists that he can’t think of a single reason why people should have this credit card. Here is one: The credit card gave me the ability to purchase an iPad which I needed for my job and couldn’t afford otherwise. I was able to pay it back little by little every month at a zero interest rate. I live in a remote area and the store is the only place I could get this device without having to drive to the nearest city. So for that, thank you Walmart credit card.

Second: the money I earn doing my job allows me to barely get bye at the end of the month. If it wasn’t for the card, there would have been times where I would have been forced to skip grocery shopping for a couple of days at the end of the month. Just to be clear, I’m talking about skipping every single meal of the day for a couple of days. When there is no money left on my bank account to buy something as basic as food, the Walmart card literally saves my day and I pay the balance back as soon as my paycheck comes in.

So here you have it. Two good reasons you can now “think of” for why “should anyone get a Walmart credit card”.

agree. 3 people driving at 4 cents off a gallon. charging anything over 250 and you have interest free payments as i did on a set of 4 tires for 6 months. excellent. i never carry a balance or pay interest.

Okay…had my AMEX for 16 years, FICO about 770, carry balance of about $15K, pay on time, never delinquent, always have at least $3k available, as limit was $19k. Got email saying my limit was lowered to $16k, no reason given. I feel AMEX is the worst credit card out there.

Discover is OK if you watch your activity with credit cards like a hawk.
Discover will screw you if you don’t pay attention.
Their pay by date is only 5 days from when your new statement
is issued. So when you pay your bill, I suggest you not wait until
the due date. Why….
Ok, here’s why. My partner has a Discover card, and the posting
dates were 8 or 9 days after posting a payment online. Unacceptable!!
She would have been late every time if posting a payment on the due
date, thus incurring another late charge.
I threatened Discover with reporting them to the Comptroller of the Currency
in Houston TX. I then sent in a $1 payment to see if there was some sort
or reaction to my threat. The posting dates suddenly went to 4 days, if
within compliance. Their website also states posting would be within 3 to
4 days, so in essence, by posting 8 or 9 days later, they were in violation
of their own terms.
BTW, you can write a detailed letter of your issues with any institution that
is chartered to the Comptroller of the Currency. Do a Google lookup. These
institutions DO NOT want to hear from the CofC. They will bend over backwards
to make you happy if you have a valid complaint, or if it appears the institution
is not listening to you.
You can also complain to the CofC about double billing. I did, when a bank
said I owed ‘X’ and I paid it. I made a copy of the zero balance due. Then the
bank said I owed more. I challenged that because they said I had a zero balance.
They chose not to listen. I wrote to the CofC. The bank’s excuse was that the
interest charged was for the period of when the statement was issued up to
the time payment was made. Using this logic, this could go on into infinity.
The bank rescinded the payment, I again went to a zero balance, and I’ve
never used that card to carry a balance again. Can you spell citi?
You have got to watch every statement you get from everybody. I noticed
that my employer took $50 for something I paid cash for. I now have to wait
until next payday to get it back.

Discover Card is at the top of my list right now. My husband and I both have accounts with Discover Card. I have been member since 1991 and my husband since 2002. We always make our payments and pay the before the due date. This is the first time that we have ever needed to file a dispute. All and all we are great customers. I have always been a great promoter of Discover Card. It is our primary card and what we use for most of our purchases. Unfortunately we recently had a very bad experience with the poor business practices on the part of Discover card.

I try to be concise as possible with a very involved situation. I am displeased with the way Discover Card handled a dispute on a charge. They did not do due diligence in pursuing this dispute. It is for the land portion of a package to Machu Picchu with Top Destination Travel (Latin America4less) who has now gone out of business. Because the way that Discover Card handles disputes, the Land Portion of the Package was filed separately from the air portion of the package.

Our problem starts with a vacation package purchased 4/21/09. We intended to go to Peru in March of 2010 but due to mudslides knocking out the only rail to Machu Picchu we had to reschedule. We rescheduled for a tour leaving 10/24/10. We got a phone call on 10/19/10 from Top Destination Travel that they were canceling our vacation due to lack of funds on their part and that we could dispute the charges with our credit card.
Knowing that time was of the essence we immediately got online and disputed the charges for the land portion of the package but were told through chat that we would have to fax a request for dispute for the air portion of that package. We sent the fax the very next day. The land package showed up immediately as a temporary credit. 10/25/10 we got an email requesting that we call Discover card. Even though I sent the fax to the number that we had been given it was rerouted to the wrong department. When I called they said that they would reroute it correctly.

I tried to keep a close eye on the dispute waiting for the temporary credit of the flights but my father had a tractor accident on 10/23/10 and was in the Burn ICU in an induced coma from October until December. My failed trip to Machu Picchu was the last thing on my mind. It was 1/2/11 when I finally inquired about the air portion of our travel package with Discover customer service. There were two PDF files listed on the same dispute as the Land portion of the package that were copies of the first fax I had sent and the fax that had been rerouted to the correct department. The Customer service rep. that I talked to acknowledged that Discover had made an error. I was asked to fax the information for the second time. I did on 1/3/11 and by the next day the air portion of the package had been credited to the account. It was only then that Discover card reversed the temporary credit for the land portion of the tour on 1/17/2010. Upon further investigation, I found out that Discover card mailed only one notification on 10/19/10, the same day we filed the dispute and the same day that Top Destination Travel was making all the phone calls cancelling everyones vacation. No follow up was ever sent to see if they recieved the notification and no phone call was made. It took me several phone calls, several e-mails, two faxes and two months to get Discover card straightened out on the airline portion of our dispute but they did not provide the same courtesy on my behalf with the Travel Agency.

I realize that because my purchase was made well over the “from 60 days of purchase” that legally Discover Card has a loophole but I feel that if they had done due diligence they would have been able to contact the merchant and gotten all of our money back. Because this was a travel purchase the initial purchase was made well in advance but the actual service was to be provided October 24, 2010. The service was not provided and I notified Discover as soon as I was aware that the service was not going to be provided. I believe that when inquired about the flights 1/2/11 it was realized that my dispute had just been sitting there for 2 months and someone finally got busy trying to follow through. Unfortunately it was too late to reach Top Destination Travel because they had gone out of business. Our friend that booked this trip at the same time and filed his dispute at the same time got all of his money back 11/22/10 with the Visa Card that he used.

I have tried to handle this through Discover Card but their stance is they have no legal obligation since the purchase was made over 60 days ago and that I already paid the purchase in full. They also keep stating that they already solved a number of disputes for us by getting the air portion of the package credited to us. I did not want any additional compensation I was only looking for what I was relying on Discover Card to get from Top Destination Travel and that Visa got back for our friend.

We are waiting to see what kind of response we get from the BBB and from other consumer investigation sites that I have contacted. I hope that Discover Card makes it to the top of your list next year!