Credit cards can offer amazing rewards and benefits, but only when you use the right card. The best cards can offer valuable rewards, low interest rates and reasonable fees. But on the other end of the spectrum, there are some lousy credit cards that are marketed to unsophisticated card users.
How to spot a bad credit card
The hallmarks of bad credit cards are high fees, non-competitive or unspecified rewards, and extremely high interest rates. These cards could be marketed to those with poor credit, or average credit or even excellent credit. Applying for a credit card is an important financial decision, and you should always compare the terms from several different competing cards before making a decision.
Here are the five worst credit cards on the market today:
1. First Premier Bank Visa
This card is marketed to those with “less than perfect credit,” and it offers extremely high rates and fees that are structured in a way that can be very confusing. To start off with, it has an astronomical standard interest rate of 36% as well as a one-time “processing fee” of $95. It then hits you with a variety of annual fees and service fees, depending on the size of your credit limit and other factors. Other outrageous fees include a cash advance fee of $6.00 or 5%, whichever is greater, and a late payment fee of up to $37.00. If your credit is so bad that you are considering applying for this card, save your money and apply for a secured card instead.
2. 1-2-3 Rewards Visa card from US Bank and Kroger
Kroger is a giant supermarket chain that includes such brands as Ralph’s, Smith’s, King Soopers, and Harris Teeter. And while these stores appear to be competitive in their markets, it’s co-branded credit card is anything but. These cards offer three points per dollar spent on Kroger brand items, two points per dollar spent elsewhere in Kroger stores, and one point per dollar spent anywhere Visa is accepted. When you redeem 1,000 worth of points, you receive just $5 in free groceries, which makes every point worth a mere $0.005, or half a cent. This is far below the rate of return you could expect from nearly any credit card, and only a small fraction of the rewards offered by a competitive card such as the American Express Blue Cash Preferred, which features 6% cash back on up to $6,000 spent each year at US supermarkets.
3. UBS Preferred Visa Signature credit card
This card offers three points per dollar spent on air travel, double points for gas and grocery purchases, and one point per dollar spent elsewhere. It’s unclear what exactly these points can be redeemed for, and how much these points are worth, which is not acceptable for a card like this that has an annual fee of $495. It does offer access to airport business lounges, but there are plenty of other cards that do so while offering more valuable rewards.
4. Surge credit card
Start with an annual fee of $125 for the first year and $96 per year after that. Cardholders are also hit with another $120 in annual fees that billed at $10 per month. If you want to add an authorized cardholder, that’s another $30 fee. The standard interest rate for this card is 30.24%, and all fees owed will count against your credit limit. There are many good secured credit card offers available, but this isn’t one of them.
5. Vast Platinum Card
If you look closely at this credit card, you might notice that something is missing, which is participation in a payment network such as Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. This means that you can only use it to buy products at their online store myuniqueoutlet.com. Other pitfalls include an application fee of $29.95, a monthly fee of $19.95 and agreeing to receive marketing materials and phone calls from numerous “partners.” Run, don’t walk, away from this card.