Bad Credit Cards

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The credit cards in our life have gone haywire! They hit us with inexplicable fees; the interest rates are going through the roof; spending limits are being cut; and there are no rewards either. Even if you haven’t looked closely at your credit card bills these past few months, you can be sure that your credit card deal just got quite grim. If it isn’t obvious yet, this is no longer a buyer’s market. All of this may not really put you in the mood to count your blessings; but whatever raw deal your bank just handed to you, you can be sure that there are people out there with bad credit cards and contracts that make your bank look like Santa Claus. Let’s look at some of these winners.

Let’s start with subprime cards. First Premier Bank’s Centennial Gold card gives bad credit cards a bad name. They charge you nearly $30 to set up an account and they slap on nearly $100 for what they call a program fee. There is an annual fee, and you need to pay a servicing fee that’s about $100 a year too. You actually owe more in all these startups fees than the average credit limit the first month. All this changes with the new credit card law though, starting February. They won’t be able to charge you fees higher than 25% of your credit limit.

How about retail cards? These are no freebies or prizes to begin with. Retail cards offer you, with rare exception, the most ridiculous rates ever. Take Macy’s credit card for example. Would you believe that they charge you almost 24% interest on your balance? The Gap, JCPenney or Brooks Brothers, all think that it is pretty cool to charge you that much. Where do they get off with this? The good (non-retail) cards charge only about 10%. The credit cards that treat you with appreciation when you pay back your balance in full by the due date each month are usually well-hidden. There are some bad credit cards (all well-advertised) that think they can pull the wool over your eyes with some strange twisted rules. Take Bank of America’s Money Return Platinum Plus card for instance. Their rules on paper look quite nice. You get a 10% cash rebate for paying back your balance and no charge on balance transfers for six months. But hold on, there is a little caveat to that. The interest you pay on a balance is about 15% – 20%, and you don’t get the 10% cash rebate unless you carry a balance. So you have to pay them 20% to get 10%? ¬†What kind of bizarro deal is this?

Back in the careless and carefree days, the banks just handed out credit cards to all takers, and of course, were bad bets who could not afford a card in the first place. Everyone knows how those people let their imaginations run away with them in using those credit cards and ended up in bankruptcy court. With finances and credit running tighter now, no one is willing to put out credit cards to subprime cases anymore. Instead, people with poor credit can give the bank a cash deposit for as much credit limit as they want, and get a secured card instead.

Usually this should give you a good deal. But there are some bad credit cards that can take advantage of you if you are hard up enough to need a secured card. The New Millennium Bank has a Platinum secured card from Visa and MasterCard. Why they call it Platinum is probably because it’s worth that much to them. You pay a $100 processing fee, an annual fee, and there is no grace period for paying back your charges. You pay 20%, from the time you make the charge to the time you pay them back, even if it is before the due date. This really is a shocker is what it is. A secured card is usually the best deal. What on earth were they thinking?

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