Q: Have you ever heard of Platinum Visa by Credit One Bank?
Yes, we've heard of Credit One Bank. It started as a tiny, community bank outside San Francisco. Then, it grew up, shipped off to Las Vegas, and focused on offering credit cards for bad credit.
Credit One markets a Platinum Visa with some of the highest fees and finance charges of all cards carrying that designation. Before the Credit CARD Act of 2009 restricted application charges and service fees, Credit One's Platinum Visa would have qualified for "fee harvester" status.
While the bank doesn't comment on its approval practices, its customers tend to sound off in online forums. Many of them state that Credit One approved them for credit limits just a little more than the amount of fees that would immediately get charged to their new cards. As a result, a Visa credit card marketed as a way to build credit could easily report a high utilization percentage to credit bureaus, a signal that usually means a drop in credit score.
Credit One, like many subprime credit card issuers, has changed its offers and its marketing language to fit today's new rules. The maximum annual fee promoted on its website falls below 25 percent of the card's minimum credit limit, one of the Credit CARD Act's mandates.
Don't confuse Credit One with Capital One, by the way. Despite the similarity in name, the two banks are completely unrelated. Credit One's website lacks any sign of Alec Baldwin or Visigoths, but the company's logo features a swoosh and a typeface that might remind casual viewers of the better-known Capital One.
Credit One also offers the same "use your own image" feature popular among Capital One cardholders. Savvy web surfers could tell the difference, but it wouldn't be hard for someone following a web search to wind up on Credit One's site and not think they're looking at Capital One.
Like many credit cards for poor credit, the value of Credit One Premium Visa lies in how badly you need to establish a new line of credit. For the amount of cash you'll need to set aside, I'd prefer to see you set up a secured credit card account with Bank of America, Capital One, or Wells Fargo.