Imagine Gold Mastercard Review - Another Card From Compucredit


 
Executive Summary - This card was one of the better well known sub prime cards prior to the financial crisis in 2008. It is laden with high fees and low credit limits. If you have bad credit and are looking for an unsecured card, then we will provide some better suggestions at the end of this review.

The Imagine Gold MasterCard is a sub prime credit card offered initially by First Bank of Delaware and CompuCredit, which is similar to many of the other cards that are offered by these institutions (Tribute and Continental Finance, for example). The idea of simply having a "Gold MasterCard" may seem to be a big plus to bad credit consumers, but there are a number of real points about the Imagine Gold MasterCard that need to be examined.

Interesting Imagine Gold MasterCard Checking Account Link? The biggest difference between the Imagine Gold card and other sub prime credit cards is that it requires an automatic payment plan from your checking account. Two plans are available- the EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer Plan) or a RCC (remotely created check) plan. An EFT electronically transfers funds from your checking account, while an RCC requires you to authorize First Bank to create paper drafts to process payments directly from your checking account.

Fees - Yes Those FeesIn keeping up with the rest of the standard sub prime cards, the Imagine Card also includes its higher than normal fees. The annual fee for the Imagine Card is $150. When you activate your card, you will then be billed a monthly maintenance fee of $6.50 which is another $78.00 a year for as long as you carry a balance. You will also need to pay a one time setup fee of $4.95 whether you choose the EFT plan or the RCC plan.

New cardholders receive a credit limit of $300. After deducting the fees, your initial limit will be $150 and you will be eligible for a credit limit increase after six months. Although the payment history is reported to all three credit bureaus and could help establish or re-establish your credit history, one must seriously consider whether a card with a $150 limit is really worth having. This is without mentioning that the annual fee and monthly maintenance fees add up to $228 per year just to have the card.

APR - The APR is prime rate plus 11.50%, with a minimum rate of 19.50%. The average daily balance method (including new purchase) is used to calculate monthly balance. The grace period given is 25 days.

Imagine Gold MasterCard vs All Other Sub Prime Cards - The exorbitant and seemingly scandalous fees are unfortunately typical of the credit cards available for people with no credit or bad credit. Even extremely high APR's are acceptable to quite a few people (see First Premier's 49.9% and 79.9%). The worst part about the Imagine card is the mandatory automatic payment plan that has to be connected to a person's bank account. Combining a sub prime card with a bunch of fees that most cardholders are oblivious to with a mandatory automatic payment plan is just asking for trouble. This practice alone resulted in a number of complaints of funds mistakenly being electronically transferred or paid when the cardholder wasn't expecting them to be paid. It is ironic, that while most cardholders were working on rebuilding their credit with this card, the payments and issues with the payments instead ended up causing more damage to their credit.

Update - In 2008, the FTC sued CompuCredit for deceptive credit card marketing and many of the complaints by cardholders including not understanding the fees and credit limit (or lack of) that were associated with the card.

 

The FTC alleges that CompuCredit violated the FTC Act by misrepresenting the amount of credit that would be available immediately to consumers, failing to disclose up-front fees, failing to disclose that certain purchases could reduce a consumer's credit limit, and misrepresenting a debt collection program as a credit card offer. -FTC

CompuCredit ending up settling for 114 million dollars and agreed to pay a $2.4 million civil penalty and issue credits to consumers for fees arising from deceptive marketing practices. Needless to say, the Imagine Gold MasterCard is no longer available.

Peer Comparison - The Imagine Card is an incredibly expensive sub-prime card. While most subprime credit cards have high fees, the imagine credit card tips the upper end of the fee scale. The annual fee and total monthly maintenance fee adds up to $228.00 a year! If you are looking for an unsecured credit card, then I would suggest that you consider the Credit One Bank Visa With Gas Rewards.

In fact, the Credit One and First Premier Bank are the only two unsecured issuers of sub-prime cards today that we know of. The First Premier Bank charges a one-time application fee of $95. During the first year, the annual fee is $75. From the second year onwards, the annual fee is $45 but a monthly processing fee totally $75 a year ($6.25 a month) is charged. That means that the ongoing fee for the is $45 + $75 = $120 a year. While this is lower than Imagine, it is still high. The other card that is available today is the Credit One Visa. The annual fee ranges from $35 to $75, a much more reasonable proposition and they also report to all three credit bureaus.

The table below shows how much lower in fees the is.
 

Cards Annual Fee One-time application Fees Monthly Maintenance Fees APR
First Premier Bank 1st Year = $75, 2nd Year Onwards = $45 $95 From 2nd Year, $6.25 a month = $75 a year 36%
Imagine Gold MasterCard $228   $4.95 to $6.50 P+11.90% (min 19.90%)
Credit One Bank $35 to $75 N.A. N.A. 17.9% to 23.9%


Verdict - The Imagine MasterCard (like all subprime cards during their heydays, charges a ridiculous amount of fees. The card is no longer issued today (thank goodness). Instead, the two main issuers are First Premier and Credit One Bank. Looking at the fees and rates for these two cards, it is pretty clear that they are much lower than Imagine's. However, in the days where Imagine card was still around, they would pretty much accept anyone with really bad credit. These days, modern sub-prime cards are a little more picky and the type of cards you get approved for really depends on specific circumstances.

For example, if you have recent charge offs and collections that are still not settled or if you have just emerged from bankruptcy, it is very highly unlikely that you will be approved for an unsecured card. Instead a secured card like First Progress will be more appropriate.

If you have no recent charge offs and collections, or they have been settled, and you have a couple of other credit lines (like a secured card or auto loan) in your report and do not have many recent inquiries, and if your score is at least in the 600s, then you might just have a shot at a couple of no annual fee unsecured cards. You should check out cardholder reviews of the Barclays Rewards MasterCard and the NFL Credit Card. To get the best chance of success, it is best that you have very little recent inquiries (Barclays pulls from TransUnion). Many folks also have had success with reconsideration request (866-408-4064) even after an initial decline).

If however, you still have some unresolved baddies on your credit report, then perhaps the Credit One Visa with Gas Rewards would be a card to apply for. When you get to their site, you first have to be pre-qualified first. They soft pull Experian. For the best chance of success, it is best that you have a 550 and above credit score, a checking account (you can be declined if you do not have one), and existing credit lines (if you do not have one, get a secured card first). For most of you reading this review, this card should be your best bet if you are looking for an unsecured card.