The USA Gold Card is a catalog credit card that is specifically designed for those who are looking to establish or re-establish their credit. We always recommend those with bad credit to get a secured credit card as it is probably the most cost effective among the alternative sub-prime credit cards. However, those who have been consistently turned down for any credit card application may want to consider the USA Gold Card. However, you have to be aware of what this card will and will not do for you. From our research, we have ascertained that this card is being marketed by Commonwealth Marketing Group1. The one thing you should be aware of is that Commonwealth Marketing Group had a settlement with the FTC back in 1998 regardless their marketing of vacation packages2.
Fees - There is a one-time application fee of $149.95, consisting of an enrollment fee of $114.95 and an application fee of $35.00. The application fee of $35.00 is non-refundable once you apply for the card. Otherwise, there is no annual fee, maintenance fee, interest charges or transaction charges. Hence, aside from the one-time application fee, the ongoing maintenance cost is lower than most credit cards in this category. If you carry a balance, you have to pay either 15% of your balance or $25.00.
usashoppingclub.com - This catalog card can only be used at usashoppingclub.com. The Shopping Club offers over 14,000 products.
Figure 1. usashoppingclub.com
You can get an unsecured credit line of up to $5,000. The amount will be lower initially and your credit limit will be increased periodically if you have made timely payments. Your monthly payments will also be reported to one major credit bureau. But USA Gold Card does not tell you which major credit bureau do they report to.
$300 Grocery Gift Card - USA Gold offers a $300 grocery gift card consisting on 30 $10.00 coupon certificates.
Fine Prints - There are a few fine prints that you have to be aware of before you apply for this card.
Firstly, when you are approved, USA Gold will give you a 30-day *free trial whereby you can access your credit report. (On their website, they are not specific as to which credit bureau you do you get your report from). However, after 30 days, they will start charging you $9.95 per month to access your credit report unless you inform them that you are canceling this service. This is rather annoying as many people will not even be aware that they have been signed up for this service. You can actually get a free report from the three major credit bureaus once a year. Even if you wanted to get instant access to your reports and credit scores, you will be better off buying this service from the credit bureaus themselves.
Secondly, under the terms and conditions, you will be automatically given a 30 day *free trial of USA Gold elite membership program (as a cardholder, you are a "member" of the usa shopping club. As an Elite Status Member, you will receive privileges in USA Credit Care, USA Prescription Discount Plan and USA Emergency Roadside Assistance Plan. If you choose to be an "elite member", you will be charged $19.95 monthly fee (more like your bank account will be debited with a monthly $19.95 monthly payment to USA Gold) until you call them up to cancel it.
Thirdly, on the USA Gold Card website, there is a section that says that you stand a chance to win a free DVD. To get a chance to win that free dvd, you have to once again enroll in a membership of an external website call freecooloffers.com. Unlike the previous two cases, you are not "automatically enrolled or given a free trial". My take on this to forget about this offer as your one-time payment to get this card will probably get you a very good Sony DVD palyer!
Lastly, when you submit an application for the card, you would have authorized USA Gold Card to debit your bank account of $114.95 as an enrollment fee and $35.00 for the application fee. The $35.00 application fee is non-refundable (which means if you change your mind about getting this card, you will lose $35.00). Hence, you have to be sure this is the card you want before you apply.
Verdict - If you have bad credit, you just might be tempted with a card like this. However, we would advise you to get a secured credit card instead. The reason is that a secured card will only have a $30-$50 annual fee and you will most likely receive no annual fee offers if you use it responsibly after 18 months. This is much better than coughing up with $149.95. Furthermore, a regular secured card will be a Visa or MasterCard and can be used almost everywhere it is accepted.
1. BBB report on Commonwealth Marketing Group
2. FTC Complaint against Commonwealth Marketing Group