The NetFirst Platinum card makes a lot of promises to consumers: an unsecured $500 credit limit, no employment or credit check and approval for those with bad or no credit. It sounds like a great option for those who want to improve their credit scores. But if you read the card's terms and conditions carefully, you'll find that those supposed benefits come with stark limitations and costly membership fees.
The NetFirst Platinum isn’t a typical credit card that can be used wherever, say, Visa or Mastercard is accepted. In fact, it’s not a Visa or Mastercard, but rather a store card that can be used only at a single online retailer, the Horizon Outlet. (This is also true of the Horizon Gold card, another card marketed by Horizon Card Services.)
This card isn't the best choice for those who want to build their credit. It’s expensive and inflexible, and there are better options for those with limited or bad credit.
Nerd tip: The NetFirst Platinum card's terms and conditions spell out the limitations quite clearly: “Horizon Card Services™ is not a credit services organization, banking institution or insurance company, nor is it affiliated with any credit services organization, banking or insurance institution. This product is not a Visa, Mastercard, or debit card. Horizon Card Services account is a line of credit that can be used by an account holder to shop exclusively at our online shopping website www.thehorizonoutlet.com. ... Horizon Card Services™ does not facilitate, nor provide assistance in obtaining credit from any other credit-issuing entities. Horizon Card Services™ does not charge an advanced fee to establish credit, nor does Horizon Card Services™ attempt, or claim to attempt to repair a customer's credit history.”
High monthly costs, lackluster benefits
The NetFirst Platinum card doesn’t accrue interest, but it costs a whopping $24.95 a month in fees, for a total of $299.40 a year. This is far more than you’d pay for a decent secured credit card, especially if you’re paying off your balance in full each month.
And the costs don’t stop there. Others include:
Processing fees that can vary "per item purchased."
A $3.50 signature verification fee for deliveries.
A $2.50 residential delivery fee.
A one-time $5 "card issuance and account validation" fee.
Almost $300 a year in membership fees alone is more than the annual fee of many perks-laden rewards credit cards — but the NetFirst Platinum’s benefits don’t even remotely compare. Your membership gives you a card with a $500 limit and benefits including privacy protection, a prescription benefit, legal assistance and a roadside assistance plan.
The privacy protection plan provides you with a credit report. But you’re already entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus at AnnualCreditReport.com, the federally authorized site. (And through April 2021, you can get a free credit report weekly from each of the three bureaus.)
The prescription benefit, known as My Universal RX, claims to save you up to 40% of the cost of “covered prescription medications,” but you can’t access the list of qualified medications until you sign up for the card.
Roadside protection annually allows “3 service calls or towing requests up to 15 miles not to exceed the operator cost of $50.00.” Keep in mind that coverage includes only one call in a 30-day period.
The legal assistance plan gives you one 30-minute consultation with “a legal professional in your area specializing in your area of law interest.”
These benefits are available only to the person whose name is on the account. (You may add family members, but you have to call customer service to get pricing.)
Shipping is costly — and you can’t use your card to pay for it
The Horizon Outlet — the sole retailer you can shop with using your NetFirst Platinum — has a variety of products, like clothing, home goods, electronics and toys. Prices seem comparable to what you’d expect to pay at any other discount store, but there’s a catch: fees, fees, fees. In addition to a $2 delivery fee and a $3.50 fee to verify your signature at delivery, there are reportedly exorbitant shipping costs. And these shipping fees can’t be paid for with your NetFirst Platinum card.
Per the Horizon Outlet’s FAQ page: “We ask that you pay a small shipping and processing fee at the time of ordering; this allows us to finance you at a 0% interest rate. You do need to use a Visa or Mastercard and provide a valid CVV #. The amount you will be charged will be available at checkout before you submit your order." Since the NetFirst Platinum isn’t a Visa or Mastercard, you’ll need a traditional debit or credit card to pay this expense.
Bad or no credit, you have other options
If you’re interested in getting the NetFirst Platinum card because you want to build your credit, there are other more affordable options that allow you to use your card at any retailer.
One of the best options is a secured credit card. Designed for people with no credit or bad credit, a secured card requires you to pay a security deposit upfront, usually equal to the credit limit. This money is collateral, which you’ll get back when you close the credit card account in good standing and move on to a traditional unsecured credit card. In some cases, an issuer might even offer a way for you to “graduate” to an unsecured card without having to close the account; this won't be an option with the NetFirst Platinum card.
What's more, many secured cards report your monthly payments to all three major credit bureaus. The NetFirst Platinum promises only that it will report to “at least one” of them. That means that in the future if a lender attempts to pull your credit from a bureau that has no record of your NetFirst Platinum account history, you may not qualify for the loan you're seeking.
Of course, if you carry a balance on a secured credit card, you can expect to pay interest costs on your average daily balance. And it may be daunting to save up the required deposit. But over time, it can be much less costly than getting a card like the NetFirst Platinum, which charges nonrefundable fees every year, not just once upfront.
And if you're just not able to come up with that one-time security deposit, you can consider “alternative” credit cards. These cards typically don't require security deposits and instead rely on proprietary underwriting methods to evaluate your creditworthiness, including things like your income and your employment status.