Is First PREMIER Bank Platinum MasterCard the Worst Credit Card Ever?

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Few financial services brands have suffered the recent public spotlight with greater dread and discomfort than credit card issuers. In past cycles of scrutiny, the answer to credit card industry critics was “increased transparency” — if consumers could understand the terms and conditions of their credit cards, they had some chance of actually abiding by them. But transparency alone hasn’t worked, given the dire state of household consumer credit debt, estimated at $8,000 – $10,000 for every American family with a card or close to $1 trillion dollars in total. Even upscale customers find their mailboxes largely bereft of enticing offers and existing credit lines curtailed or canceled. There’s no doubt that consumers overspent, but the card industry also overreached, creating concepts like “universal default,” where card issuers hike interest rates when consumers made late payments to a different, unrelated lender. Double cycle billing to maximize interest charges for consumers who occasionally carry a balance. Fees for exceeding credit limits even when purchases have been authorized by the lender. Such practices culminated in President Obama’s signing the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (notice the clever acronym . . . Credit CARD Act) shortly before Memorial Day, promising a new era of better behavior by all parties.

Even with the new regulations coming on line nine months from now, there will still be plenty of room for shenanigans for those who rely on the act’s protections and ignore the fine print. Take a solicitation BrandCultureTalk received for the First Premier Bank Platinum MasterCard.

At first blush, this offer looked pretty great: a 9.9% APR on all purchases and a 5% rebate on all on-time payments for 12 months. What’s not to like? What this card gives on the one hand it takes away — and then some — with fees . . . and more fees. Account Set Up Fee: $29. Program Fee(?): $95. Annual Fee: $48. Monthly Servicing Fee: $7/month or $84 a year. An additional card will set you back another $20. For those savvy consumers who think they can make up these fees with the 5% purchase rebate, think again: the credit line on this card can be as little as $250. The final analysis: the First PREMIER Bank Platinum MasterCard, less the fees for the first month leaves you with $71 of credit available and $179 in new debt. And this is their “Platinum” card? After six months, you may be able to increase your credit limit, but you’ll pay another $25 fee each time your limit is bumped up. There are fees for obtaining Internet access to your account ($3.95), automatic payments ($11 or $7 for each payment), Priority Mail for your card ($35). Incredibly, the fees keep coming even after you close your account; in addition to ongoing interest, there is an additional fee of $3 a month if you close your account, but have an outstanding balance of $20 or more.

Rather than focus on fees, First PREMIER understandably chooses to accentuate the positive (“we didn’t take TARP funds”) in a jaunty little intro called It’s Time for UP!, summoning sufficient positive momentum to rival that of Levitra. And here’s President and CEO Dana Dykhouse promoting “U + PREMIER. Stronger Together.”

No amount of peppy branding or “UP” messaging can cure the confiscatory fees that put this card in the running for “worst ever.” Distracting sophistry aside (“Response in 60 Seconds!” Low APR!” “5% Rebate for on-time payments!”), this card is a financial disaster. Now First PREMIER doesn’t target people with pristine credit with this card “[b]ecause we know that bad things happen to good people.” But hasn’t the sub-prime consumer suffered enough?  A different card from First PREMIER features an annual fee of $75 and an unprecedented 79.9% APR:

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It’s pretty clear that qualifying for these cards represents less a reversal of fortune than a cure that is worse than the disease. Folks with damaged credit should look elsewhere — department store “house” charge cards, gasoline cards, secured cards, etc. — to rebuild their FICO scores. And others with better credit profiles can find far better Platinum MasterCards to shoot for . . . like that offered by the Farm Bureau Bank. Currently it offers an APR of just 7.24% with no annual fees.

Now It’s Your Turn
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  • Spring Summerfield
    Jun 11, 2009

    This is such good advice for the bleaguered credit card debtor, it needs to reach a wider audience. The BrandCulture blogs are all filled with useful knowledge, good humor, and are well written. You should all be columnists. I know that blogs are the current media medium, so find a way for your messages to spread through the land!

  • Rob
    Jun 12, 2009

    Hey guys,

    I love this post, and you’ll be happy to read my plug for BrandCultureTalk on my most recent blog post (link below). Reading through your intimidatingly well-phrased bitch-fest about this card, I was reminded of my recent experiences with Verizon FiOS. And that led me to write a whole post about industries that suck. No one enjoys dealing with credit card companies. Or cable providers. Or airlines (these days, anyway). How does this happen to whole industries? And what happens when a company realizes it and uses it to successfully position against their competitors?

    http://www.semanticargument.com/?p=395

  • Connie Kern
    Nov 15, 2010

    No it isnt, not the greatest but not the worst. I have a card through first bank of delaware/ Continental finance.This is the worst ive seen.$18 a month fee ,$50.00 dollars annual fee and $25.00 increase fee every six months.Adds up to/oh 20.0% interest===$$$$$316.00 a year just to keep open even if a zero balance exist.

  • kylee
    Apr 1, 2011

    this card is the most dumbest card ever all it is is fraud im sick of getting screwed this is the worst cad i ever got ad the lie and lie and lie

  • dan kreeper
    Jun 20, 2011

    bascially this credit thing is all wack,I’ve paid cash for things now for 5 years,but cant get a personal loan or a car loan because of credit, so these will at least show “revolving credit” and yes dave ramsey program is for the wealthy ……………………………………….

  • Allie
    Dec 5, 2011

    I read a lot today about this credit card, which I keep in my wallet for emergencies only and to rebuild my credit. Turns out its really not worth it and I am planning on closing the card out this week.

  • Eric
    Dec 19, 2011

    I have a First Premier Bank Master Card. I had not so favorable credit and was trying to rebuild credit with these snakes in the grass. There was a 54% APR. an even a $11.00 charge to make a payment on time if done by phone. Along with all of the extra charges $3 dollars here $15 dollars there by the time you get done with the extra charges a $30 dollar payment turns into $ 120 this has to be the biggest scam. With companies like this a $100 dollar watch could turn into a $2,000 dollar nightmare. I would tell anyone burn the application if you recieve one in the mail, and tell everyone you know to do the same.

  • Alex
    Jul 31, 2013

    Wow, I see nothing but negative publicity for First Premier Bank all over the internet. Ridiculous! Hopefully this will prompt people to start focusing on bringing up their credit scores, so you don’t have to fall prey to these unscrupulous predatory lenders. Good luck and thanks! For some good related information, please go here http://www.bestcreditcardoffersforbadcredit.com

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