Buyer Beware - Catalog cards have been one of the ways that scammers have come to rip off innocent consumers who have bad credit. The pitch is simple: Here is a way to help repair your credit that has been damaged. It comes as no surprise that the USA Platinum is a catalog card that is catered to those looking to re-establish their credit. What most people do not know is that it is not a regular credit card in that it can only be used at usashoppingclub.com. Is this the right to establish your credit?
Fees And Details - Before, we get any further, let's dissect the fees of this card. Firstly, there is a one-time application fee of $149.95. But there is also no apr and hence no interest charges. If you carry a balance, you have to pay a minimum of the greater of either 15% of your balance or $25.00. Though there is a one-time application fee, the absence of any monthly maintenance fee or transaction fee make this card cheaper to maintain than other high cost unsecured, secured or prepaid credit cards. You have to bear in mind that being a catalog card, you can only use for card for purchases from USA Platinum shops (specifically usashoppingclub.com). This is not a Visa or a Mastercard. You can be given up tp $7,500 in unsecured credit line for purchases from their catalog.
Application Criteria - There are no credit or employment checks. The credit line is reported to a major credit bureau. However, they do not specify which credit bureau they report to
Who Is Behind USA Platinum Card - Let's be clear about something. This is not a mainstream card. It is geared towards folks with bad credit. Hence, I think it is important to find out who is behind this card. After much searching, we came across the BBB (Better Business Bureau) site stating that the USA Platinum Card is run by Commonwealth Marketing Group. It does not have a BBB accreditation (because it did not seek for one). It was rated a D!
BBB states that they have had 275 complaints against them by consumers of which 4 were not resolved. Of the 275 complaints, 124 were related to products and services (presumably for shoddy products bought from the usashoppingclub.com! 98 of them were related to billing issues and 53 of them were with regards to marketing and advertising issues.
A lot of the complaints must have arose because USA Platinum Card is often marketed via direct mail (junk mail). And in most direct mails, the fine prints are "pretty fine" (pun intended). What consumers do not often see is the $149.95 fee that will be taken from their bank account before they even get the card. They will obviously not miss the part about the fact that they are no annual fees or credit checks! So many of the complaints were about this and USA Platinum would simply give consumers a refund but not alter any of their marketing practices. I would not be surprised if shoddy products were sold on their online store.
Should You Even Get A Catalog Card To Rebuild Your Credit - To be perfectly honest with you, I am skeptical about using catalog cards to rebuild your credit. Even if you have been through bankruptcy, getting an Orchard Bank Secured MasterCard is much more cost effective. You pay a $35 annual fee, using the card responsibly and within 18 months, you could well get an unsecured credit card. At worst, the annual fee you pay for a couple of years on the Orchard Bank card will not even approach the upfront fee you have to pay for this card. Furthermore, secured cards from mainstream issuers are Visa and MasterCard and will be accepted at most places.
BBB report on Commonwealth Marketing Group