If you have bad credit, it’s tough to find an unsecured credit card that doesn’t try to pick your pocket. The Credit One Unsecured Platinum Visa looks good on the surface, but not when you look under the hood.
This is the third time I’ve updated the review for this card. Some of the terms and rates have changed and I want you to have the most recent information.
Every time I review this card, I think it will be easy. But, heaven’s no, I’ve been working on this baby for over two days! The problem is that the terms and conditions are kind of vague when it comes to the grace period.
See, there is, actually, a portfolio of credit cards from Credit One Bank. They are all fairly easy to get and a few even have rewards. Here they are: Credit One Unsecured Platinum Visa (this review), Credit One Visa 1% Cash Back on Gas and Groceries, Credit One Visa Credit Line Increase Reviews, and Credit One Visa Free Credit Score Tracking.
But which ones have a grace period? In the Terms & Conditions disclosure statement on the website it says this:
“If your Account has a Grace Period, your due date is at least 24 days after the close of each billing cycle and Interest will not be charged on any Purchases if your entire balance is paid by the Payment Due Date each month. For Accounts with no grace period, Interest is charged on Purchases from the posting date. All Accounts are charged Interest on Cash Advances from the posting date.”
Okay, kudos to Credit One for adding a grace period to some cards. But total transparency involves disclosing which cards have a grace period and which do not. To be clear, if you use a card that doesn’t have a grace period, the interest charges begin as soon as your purchase gets posted to your account.
So you can’t really avoid interest even if you pay the balance in full and on time. Grace periods are usually between 21 and 25 days. If you pay your bill in full during that time, you don’t pay interest. I don’t care how bad your credit score is. You deserve a grace period.
Even though the lack of a grace period is actually a big deal, you aren’t likely to see this mentioned on credit card comparison websites (and even rarely in reviews) because if there’s a financial relationship involved, mentioning this ugly secret makes the card a tough sale.
I’d like to edit this classic line from Star Wars: “These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” Regarding the Credit One Bank portfolio: These probably aren’t the credit cards you’re looking for.
If you get one with a grace period, that’s good. But keep in mind that you still have other fees to think about. I’m calling Credit One to see if I can find out which cards have grace periods. If any of you have a Credit One card, please let us know if you have a grace period. Thanks in advance!
Rates and fees
Okay, let’s get down to the basics for the Credit One Unsecured Platinum Visa Card, which doesn’t have any rewards. If you want to look at Credit One’s other cards, you can do that right here. From what I can tell, you’ll see the same ranges for the rates and fees for all the cards. Read on and you’ll see what I mean.
APR: You get a variable rate of 15.65 percent to 24.15 percent. This has gone down a smidgeon, so I’ll give them credit for trying.
Balance transfers: Not applicable.
APR for cash advances: You get an APR between 17.90 and 25.15 percent. The transaction fee is either 8 percent or 3 percent. This is making my head hurt. Why can’t they just tell you which card is 8 percent and which card is 3 percent?
This fee is usually around 3 percent to 5 percent tops, so an 8 percent transaction fee is unusually high. I’ll make it easy for you (and for my head). Just say no to cash advances. The interest starts accruing the second your purchase is posted to your account.
Annual fee: It’s $0 to $75 for the first year; after that, it’s $0 to $99. In the second year, you’re annual fee is divided into 12 portions and you’ll be billed for it each month. For example, if the annula fee is $60, you’ll be billed $5 per month (60/12 = 5).
There’s also an “Authorized User Participation Fee” of $19 per year. Is this like a getting a participation trophy in Little League?
Foreign transaction fees: It’s 3 percent. This is actually within the normal range, but it isn’t listed with the other fees, such as the annual fee. I found it deep in the depths of the fine print. If you want to check out this addition to the fine print, it’s listed in the cardholder agreements under #10 (d) and #24).
Delay on payments posted to your account: If you make a payment on a balance, Credit One states that you won’t have access to the newly available credit until 12 days after they receive it. For example, let’s say your credit limit is $300 and your balance is $100. If you send a $100 payment, your available credit doesn’t increase by $100 until 12 days after they receive it. If you mail it, you need to add two or three more days. So count on a 14-day delay from the time you mail the check to have the available credit again. Do NOT send cash.
Credit limit increases: There’s a fee and it ranges from zero to $49, depending on how long you’ve had your account and “your credit history with us and others.” It also sounds like they will do a review of your credit report again so be prepared for a hard inquiry. This can decrease your score a few points.
A few more “gotchas” in the fine print
The minimum payment due is 5 percent of your balance. This is pretty high. If your balance is $2,000, your payment is $100. You need to be aware of this so you don’t get in over your head financially with this card.
The issuer is trying to sell you a “credit protection program” and it’s usually a waste of money. It costs $0.96 per every $100 of your balance. These programs are over-priced and often don’t even pay off when you need them. Resist the hard-sell tactics that try to make you feel like you can’t survive without this “insurance.”
The bottom line for Credit One credit cards
Have you noticed that my review has shifted from focusing on just the Credit One Platinum Visa card toward all of Credit One’s cards? That’s because as I’ve delved into the deep end of their terms and conditions, it’s become difficult to decipher what to expect with any specific card. But I will be doing a review of the cash back card so I can explain the rewards program. I’ll link to it when I’ve written it.
Now, I acknowledge and applaud Credit One for adding a grace period to some cards. But what cards have them? I’ll bet many folks who get approved for one of their cards have no idea if they’re signing up for a card with no grace period. Please, Credit One, be more transparent about terms and rates so people can make knowledgable decisions about a credit card. And I urge all of you to ask about the grace period if you are offered a credit card.
Credit One’s credit cards are sometimes listed on credit card comparison sites as cards for people with fair credit, which is (roughly) a FICO score between 650 and 699. If you have fair credit, you can get much better terms with other credit cards. Check out this post and you’ll see what I mean: 3 Best Credit Cards for Fair Credit.
Listen, I know you don’t have a lot of choices if you have bad credit. But if you get approved for a Credit One credit card that has no grace period, you could end up in debt. If you pursue one of these cards, ask about the grace period and rates before you open the account.
You could also consider taking a look at a secured credit card. You can find less expensive secured cards that will help you rebuild your credit. Here’s my list: The Best (and Worst) Secured Credit Cards.
Just as an aside, I read several comments on credit boards and forums that mentioned that the Credit One Bank logo is eerily similar to the Capital One logo. You know what? It totally is. I guess Credit One’s going for a halo effect. Well, good luck with that.
Note: Credit card agreements change frequently. So my review is based on the information that I believed to be in effect today. Be sure you read all the disclosure statements carefully. I don’t make money from credit card referrals so you can be confident you’re getting my honest opinion.