The Worst Credit Card I Have Ever Seen

by golbguru on August 31, 2007

I often wonder about the irony of subprime lending - whether it’s made available through mortgage or through credit cards or through any other source of credit. I mean, people with bad credit are the very people who should be staying away from subprime borrowing. These people are already in the subprime category because of financial troubles and then there are these stupid (and very likely, unaffordable) subprime products targeted at them - which have the potential to throw them deeper down the financial hole.

Here is one such stupid subprime product - the Continental Finance MasterCard. It’s hard to believe that this piece of plastic comes with an initial credit limit of just $53 after a long list of fees!

Below are some of the amazing rates and fees that go along with this card.

  • Account setup fee: $99
  • Program participation fee: $89
  • Annual fee: $49
  • Account maintenance fee: $120 (charged @ $10/month)
  • Purchase APR: 19.92%
  • Authorized user fee: $30 (great! seems like $53 credit is a bit too much for a single person to handle)
  • Credit limit increase fee: $25 (and you don’t even have to ask for it!)
  • Each Credit Limit increase will be $100.00, subject to a maximum Credit Limit of $2,000.00. Each increase will appear on your Account no later than one (1) month after you have qualified for such increase. At the time of each Credit Limit increase, a $25.00 Credit Limit Increase Fee, which is a FINANCE CHARGE, will be charged to your Account.

    You need to call these people and ask them to stop; otherwise, they are automatically going to increase the limit by $100 each time and charge you the $25 fee.

  • Internet payment fee: $4 for each authorized internet payment. I just don’t get this - why are people with bad credit charged for paying their bills online? .. probably to make sure that they don’t start paying their bills automatically or something?

And, here is how the $53 initial credit limit appears:

Your initial Credit Limit will be $300.00 and you agree to pay the following fees, which will be billed to your Account and will appear on your first monthly Billing Statement: a one-time Account Processing Fee of $99.00, a one-time Program Participation Fee of $89.00, a monthly Account Maintenance Fee of $10.00 and an Annual Fee of $49.00. Your available credit after these charges will be $53.00 at Card issuance.

Here is an YouTube video that points fingers at this same credit card for some of the reasons mentioned above:

[youtube]FunpS4QXcRI[/youtube]
[Feed readers click on this link to watch the video.]
I agree that people with bad credit pose the risk of potential losses for the credit issuing company, but this a bit too much for a credit line worth just $300. This is where the irony strikes me - if you make it difficult for people to pay back what they borrow, it’s only going to increase the chances that they will never pay back what they borrowed. Isn’t there a risk assigned to this perspective?

If it’s so much risk then don’t issue credit cards to people with bad credit (I have similar thoughts with regards to subprime mortgage - it’s a self-inflicted disaster on part of both, lenders and borrowers). Just offer secured credit cards and lend against a collateral.

By the way, there is another not-so-obvious trap hidden in such credit cards for people with bad credit. If you apply for a particularly horrible “bad credit” credit card and start building your credit history with this card, then some time down the line, when you think you have built sufficient credit and no longer need this horrible card, you are going to face a problem - your credit history is going to take a hit if you close this account. And, if you don’t close it down, the annual fees are going to create a leak in your pocket for quite some time to come.

So much for the cost of bad credit and so much for people with bad credit wanting a credit card (which creates the demand for such products in the first place).

If we ever have a competition for the worst credit card in the world, do you know some good competitors for the one I mentioned above?

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{ 51 comments… read them below or add one }

1 KK 08.31.07 at 7:36 am

Um,
This is just stupid…I want to believe that this is a joke.
How are they going to charge $99 for processing and another $89 for participation? That makes absolutely no sense to me…
Granted, I understand that there are people out there with bad credit but this is just too extreme. I could see if they knocked off some of the charges and allowed the user to add his/her funds to the cc…
this is so stupid. I can’t finish my statment.
This reminds me of Wells Fargo. I had qualified for a car loan with Eloan for 8.79%. Of course I wasn’t too happy but my credit score isn’t in the 700’s-plus the car was only $5000.
So, they (Wells Fargo) contacted for a car loan and offered me 11%. Of course I declined. They also wanted a co-signer which was odd to me.
However, they did approve me for a credit card with a $2500 limit. There was no introductory 0% and it had a 22% interest rate. The kicker was them wanting to charge me $25 annual fee.
I have about 4 credit cards with no annual and 0% interest.
Just an example of how these credit card companies kill me.

2 R 08.31.07 at 7:38 am

wow.

3 kitty 08.31.07 at 8:38 am

When I read it, my first question was - how can I go into business issuing this type of cards? It seems like such a win for the issuer: with fees like these and the credit limit so low the risk to the lender is minimal while the potential profits are pretty high. Maybe I should look into this company’s stock.

Are there really people who get this type of cards? This about how many useful things you can buy with these fees… I like my credit cards, but if I had a choice between no credit cards or the one like this, I’d just do without one.

4 42 08.31.07 at 8:41 am

this scam has been around for a long time. just after I finished grad school (a period where I had almost no income) I got one of these offers which sounds almost exactly like this one. if I’d done it I think I would have ended up with about $72 available.

what’s maddening is that someone somewhere will take the bait and end up with a rusty hook in their mouth for at least a few years. nobody needs a credit card that badly.

5 Mike Stankavich 08.31.07 at 9:14 am

I made the mistake of getting a First Premier card several years ago. As soon as I received the card I realized my mistake and sent it back. Fortunately I was able to get them to close the account without dinging me for all of those fees. You can see the fine terms that they offer at

http://www.credit.com/products/credit_cards/firstprem.jsp

A google search found this page that detailed their abusive fees. http://cc.edumacation.com/finserv/firstpremier.html

6 Mike Stankavich 08.31.07 at 9:23 am

Sorry for the comment spam, but I found one more link about the First Premier card. They recently reached a settlement with the New York Attorney General’s office to settle an investigation of abusive and unfair credit card practices. See this link for more:

http://www.northcountrygazette.org/news/2007/08/15/credit_card_marketing/

7 cooking4two 08.31.07 at 9:58 am

“if you make it difficult for people to pay back what they borrow, it’s only going to increase the chances that they will never pay back what they borrowed. Isn’t there a risk assigned to this perspective? if you make it difficult for people to pay back what they borrow, it’s only going to increase the chances that they will never pay back what they borrowed. Isn’t there a risk assigned to this perspective?”

Sure, but you have to remember, the huge balances are fees, or if they aren’t, then the debtors have already paid the fees and are now using the card, so either way, this bank is making a boatload of money off the ignorance of some. And if they don’t collect the huge ‘fee’ balance what are they out? Not much, but if they do they stand to gain a bunch of profit with little effort.

My understanding, incidentally, does not mean I condone such actions.

As to the subject of sub-prime lenders in general, I have to say, I’m grateful they exist. I was an idiot when I was in my late teens/early twenties and I ran up a ton of debt I could never pay off. As a result I ruined my credit. Without sub-prime lenders willing to give me a second chance it would’ve taken much, much longer for me to get my credit rating back to a respectable level. Of course our (few) credit cards we have now are with prime lenders so we’re saved the high interest rates. I guess my point is that just because a lender is sub-prime doesn’t mean they’re not an honest company. There are a few out there who, other than charging upwards of 29% interest on many accounts (and who can blame them, I *was* a credit risk, after all), are no less ethical than any prime lender.

8 Minimum Wage 08.31.07 at 12:19 pm

Isn’t there a risk assigned to this perspective?
—————————————–

Yes, and the card issuer dumps the cost right on the cardholder.

I analogize it to a self-fulfilling prophecy…you get credit (card or loan) with bad terms, OTHER THINGS BEING EQUAL (which of course they’re not), the risk of delinquency or default is GUARANTEED to be greater. When things are not equal (subprime), the risk of course is even greater.

9 42 08.31.07 at 5:35 pm

Mike: yes! First Premier! that was the bottom-feeder “bank” who sent me that so-called offer. Nice to see them squirm with that NY settlement.

Lampreys, all of em, but nobody’s forcing anyone on the other side to accept such suicidal terms.

10 42 08.31.07 at 5:46 pm

ah, OK, found the ancient blog entry dealing with these scumbags.

http://queerbucks.blogspot.com/2007/08/auld-lang-syne.html

… as soon as I clean up the old ascii detritus.

11 Fiscal Musings 08.31.07 at 6:48 pm

This sort of thing is actually quite astonishing. It would make more sense to just pay with cash instead of the credit card because of all the fees.

You can’t really blame the company since they’re out to make a profit, albeit at the consumer’s expense/demise, but you have to wonder about those who sign up for such a thing.

12 RateLadder 09.01.07 at 10:30 am

That is pretty bad… The card you only take if you have to.

13 MoneyNing 09.01.07 at 10:51 am

I think you are giving the credit card companies too much credit (no pun intended) when you argue that the credit card is going to get them more into debt because you are suggesting that they actually care.

Credit card companies are businesses, and most businesses’ goal is profitability and not to save someone from going bankrupt. I know it’s quite sad but that’s just one of those things I guess.

14 Rose 09.03.07 at 3:48 am

I have to agree with you - that is a very bad credit card with the worst and most expensive fees that I have seen! But I’m also feeling that a lot of people are going to fall for it too!

While I’m very leery about credit card offers and working to maintain a good credit record there are others who are going to apply for that credit card offer if they get it in the mail. They won’t be looking at the fine print and the terms!

It just seems that so many people are going into debt in order to get out of debt.

15 Pinyo 09.03.07 at 6:19 pm

I have seen some of these offers in my mail for my younger cousin and I am absolutely horrified.

16 joe 09.06.07 at 12:27 pm

If it’s such a bad product, maybe you shouldn’t promote sites that support them.

17 golbguru 09.06.07 at 1:56 pm

Joe: There is no active promotion of such products on this blog. There are certain aspects of advertising that are difficult to handle - but that’s advertising - it’s a mixed bag. It’s a good idea to always view third party advertisements as merely advertisements - and these should not be viewed as promotions.

The best analogy I can give you is of the television. There are ads and there are things you want to watch - you ignore the ads if they bother you that much, or filter them out so that you don’t see them. But for feasibility purposes, they will still be around.

In summary, there is a subtle difference between lending advertisement space and “promoting” certain products. What you see here is the former and that does not in anyways affect the content of this blog.

If you have further concerns, feel free to email me. More discussion in this comment thread on this issue is not commensurate with the topic of the post.

18 D M 09.06.07 at 5:46 pm

Wow…. and I thought the First premier cards were horrible… just wow

19 ishobo 09.06.07 at 6:08 pm

Credit unions offer cards for people with either bad or no credit, all without extra fees. I am amazed people actually pay an annual fee for any type of credit card.

20 Mike Toreno 09.10.07 at 6:35 pm

Your credit score ain’t really going to take a hit for closing that thing. First, account age is only 10% of your score. Second, a closed account factors into your account age and doesn’t age off for 7 years. So you still get whatever benefit you have from that thing during the time you’re likely to need it.

Now, a more significant factor is utilization, which is the total you owe versus your total limits. Dropping the card lowers your total limit, but if you only have a $300 limit, that’s not going to reduce your total that much. And if you don’t owe much compared to the limits of whatever other cards you have been able to get by that time, it have any effect at all.

What people in that kind of situation need is a secured card. You put some money into a savings account, and they give you a limit up to the amount in the account. I think Wells Fargo has one for $18 per YEAR. This friend of my wife had one, and after a year they graduated her to an unsecured one with no fee.

21 Ben 09.11.07 at 10:09 am

Also beware of Cross Country Bank. They Point Blank Suck.

22 Ian 09.14.07 at 10:14 am

“This credit card account (”Account”) is offered and credit cards are issued by First Bank of Delaware, Wilmington, Delaware, ”

Delaware…why am I not surprised?

23 LA ACTOR HEADSHOT 09.17.07 at 5:35 pm

HAVING FALLEN FOR THIS TRAP (WITH LESS DRASTIC FEES, THANK HEAVEN) I’M AT MY WITS END. IT HURTS YOUR CREDIT RATING TO PAY OFF THESE CARDS, AND CANCEL THEM ? I DON’T SEE A WAY OUT!!! DON’T DO THIS!! IT ONLY MAKES THINGS TOUGHER!!!! TODD

24 Mrs. Micah 10.21.07 at 8:55 am

In defense of Delaware, Ian, that’s where almost all credit cards come from, good and bad. The state needed something to bring jobs after the chemical factories were (thank God) going downhill. Northern DE is quite a pretty place to live.

As for the card, it’s the worst I’ve seen too…and I’ve seen some sucky ones (used to get a lot of offers).

25 chris 12.09.07 at 2:51 pm

Too bad First Premiere is still applying those fees. Being one who has filed bankruptcy and trying to clean up and improve my credit, they don’t make it easy. I have gotten offers from “debit card” companies. What do I need a Master Card Debit card for when I can get an ATM/Visa card thru my bank?

26 s_jenkins 12.10.07 at 8:21 pm

Ho, Ho, Ho tis the season to try to NOT go into credit card debt. I agree with your post to watch your credit card spending and maximize those sweet credit card rewards. Before you go broke this holiday season, check out this site http://www.financeglobe.com for real credit card reviews.

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There is a new equally idiotic creditcard in Europe as well with all costs and you must deposit 1,000 euros on it for your future costs.

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