I’ve been reviewing a lot of credit cards for bad credit because I receive so many questions about these cards. The First Premier Bank MasterCard Credit Card targets consumers with really bad credit.

Note that when you click on the link to the card, you’ll land on a page that says there’s an error. Click where it says you can begin a new application and you’ll reach the landing page. Odd that it won’t let me link to the home page for the card. But everything about this card is a little, um, off.

First Premier offers a bunch of credit cards and they all seem to have the same rates and fees. I think that approach is confusing for people. Really, when it comes to credit cards for bad credit, it’s hard to pick out the best ones, isn’t it?

After I finish a few more reviews, I’m going to rank both the unsecured and the secured credit cards for bad credit. A list could help you decide which card to turn to next if you get turned down by an issuer. If there’s a credit card you’d like me to review, please mention it in the comments section and I’ll put it on my list for this week, if possible.

Okay, back to First Premier. This bank is known for high fees and high interest rates. This bank once offered a credit card with a 79 percent APR. I wish I was joking, but I’m not. Not surprisingly, there are no rewards with this card so we’ll dive right into the costs (of which there are many).

Rates and fees

You know how I always harp about how important it is to read the fine print? This card is the poster child for why you can’t afford not to read the details, which are right here (again, you’ll get an error message; click where it says you can start a new application and then click on Apply Now to get to the fine print).

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No excuses, now, because I’m making it easy for you to find them. Well, as easy as First Premier will let me make it for you! Geez Louise. Okay, as you can see from the first item below, the costs start from the moment you turn in your application.

Processing fee: You pay $95 to apply for this card.

Monthly servicing fee: None for the first year; after that, it’s $75 annually ($6.25 per month).

APR: You get a variable rate of 36.0 percent. No, that’s not a typo. The interest rate is 36 freakin’ percent.

Balance transfers: Not applicable.

APR for cash advances: You get the same rate you do for purchases, which is currently 36.0 percent. The transaction fee is 5 percent. Interest on a cash advance starts ticking right away. If you’re desperate for cash, explore all other options first.

Annual fee: It’s $75 for the first year. In the second, it goes down to $45 per year. There’s also an “additional card fee” of $29 per year.

Foreign transaction fees: It’s 3 percent, which is within the normal range.

Credit limit: You get a $300 credit limit. But note that your initial limit is only $225 because the $75 annual fee is deducted from it.

Credit limit increases: You’re eligible to be considered for an increase after your account has been open for 13 months. There’s a fee to increase your credit limit. You pay 25 percent of the amount of the increase. Here’s the example they use in the credit card agreement: If approved for a $100.00 credit limit increase, a $25.00 Credit Limit Increase Fee will be assessed to your Credit Account, which will result in an additional available credit of $75.00 on your Credit Account.

Let me just say right now that I don’t like this fee. Honestly, if you must use this card, accept the credit limit that’s given until you can improve your credit enough to move on to a better card.

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Other fees: Wire transfer fee, copying fee, late fees, and more. Read the terms and conditions carefully so you’re aware of all the fees.

The bottom line

I know it’s hard to grasp the total cost of the card because I gave you such a long list of things to ponder. So let’s break it down:

Start-up cost: $95 processing fee plus $75 annual = $170. And this is to get a $300 credit limit, which after the annual fee is deducted, is only $225.

Annual cost for the first year: $170, which is the start-up cost.

Annual cost for the second year and beyond: $75 annual fee + $75 monthly servicing fee = $150.

Now, this is just the minimum cost of the card. This doesn’t include any of the other fees you could be charged. And if you carry a balance, well, yikes, I’ll be worried for you.

There is only one good thing about this card. There’s a 27-day grace period, which is longer than average. And you’ll need it, too, to avoid paying 36 percent interest.

I’ve mentioned before that I do understand there are limited choices out there if you have bad credit. And if you’ve had a recent bankruptcy it’s even more difficult to qualify for a decent card. But using this card could make your financial situation worse than it already is.

If you really feel you have no alternatives, I recommend using this card responsibly for a year to get the payment history on your credit report. Don’t carry a balance. Then move on to another credit card as soon as you can, even if you can only qualify for a secured card.

I decided I need to come up with a better rating system because giving this card a “thumbs down” review doesn’t seem strong enough. Any ideas? Should I switch to a number-ranking system? Hmmm. For now, I’ll say this card is in “double thumbs down” territory.

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Note: Credit card agreements change frequently. So my review is based on the information that was in effect today. Be sure you read all the disclosure statements carefully.

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