Total Visa Credit Card Review - Is This The Right Card If You Have Bad Credit


Executive Summary - A subprime card that has the usual high fees and rates. Though there are other cards with higher fees (upfront, annual and monthly maintenance), we would still recommend shopping around for other cards that have lower fees and rates (the Credit One would be an alternative), or consider secured cards.

Plains Commerce Bank is a bank out of South Dakota which began as the Bank of Hoven in 1931. The Total Visa Card was issued by Plains Commerce Bank as a card for people with no credit or bad credit, as a means to not only have a credit card but to establish and improve on their credit in the meantime. Unfortunately, regardless of the long bank's long history in South Dakota, the Total Visa Card is not the greatest card to use to assist in that process.

Fees - Because Total Visa is a sub-prime card targeted at those with not so good credit, they can of course get away with an obscene amount of fees because people who are trying to rebuild their credit histories will pay them. Once you get approved for this card, there is an account set-up fee of $56.00. There is also a program fee of $96.00. The annual fee is $48.00 and there is also a monthly participating fee of $8.00 (which works out to $96.00). This totals $296.00 just to have the card for the first year.

For the second year onwards, the total fees per year works out to $48 + $96 = 144. Though not the highest (that award might well go to the imagine card), it is pretty high.

The APR is a fixed rate at 19.92% for both purchases and cash advances, which isn't the highest APR that we've seen with sub-prime cards, but considering all of the other fees that are involved, it's still pretty high. The average daily balance method is used to calculate your monthly interest charges. The grace period is 25 days, which is longer than the standard 20 days that most credit cards give.

Total Visa Card Comparison With Other Sub-Prime Cards - Way back before the 2008 financial crisis, there were lots of other similar card to this one. Today, however, there are only two other similar competitors as the rest of them have been fined by the FTC and closed down or bought over and no longer issued (like Orchard Bank).

Although all of the cards have additional fees for carrying the cards, First Premier's fees include a security deposit of $95.00 which is refundable, an annual fee of $75.00 the first year and then $45.00 annually thereafter and a monthly servicing fee which is billed at $6.50 per month for a total of $78.00 annually. These fees total a little lower than Total Visa Card's fees however, the APR on the First Premier card is 36%.

The other card to compare with is the Credit One Bank Visa with Gas Rewards. The annual fee ranges from $35 to $75 and there is none of that one time processing or application fee. Compared to the other cards, this one is the most reasonable in terms of fees. Furthermore, you can earn reward points for gasoline spending (rewards are rare for subprime cards).

Verdict - The Total Visa® Card will appeal to those have bad credit and want to get an unsecured credit card. There are some upfront fees and annual fees that you have to pay but to be honest, these fees are exorbitant even for a sub-prime card. If you are considering this card, you should also check out the offering from Credit One Bank.

Update - Total Visa is no longer being offered because of the CARD Act which prohibits issuers from charging an upfront fee that is up to 25% of the initial credit limit given. Since the initial credit limit is $300, all the fees are clearly way above 25% and are actually almost 100%. In fact, even before the CARD Act, the fees were really too high to begin with. Based on the comparison of sub-prime cards we would still suggest you consider the Credit One Visa instead of the Total Visa card. You will pay less fees, earn rewards and still get reported to the three major credit bureaus.