[DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]
If you have bad credit and are looking to improve it, you may have heard that getting a credit card can help you do that. While that can be true if you manage the card properly by making on-time monthly payments and keeping your balance low, it’s good to keep in mind that not all credit cards are equal.
In the case of the Horizon Gold Card, which offers cardholders an unsecured $500 credit limit with no credit check, it’s not only not equal, it’s also not really a credit card. That might got lost during an initial glance of Horizon’s website, though it does let potential customers know “The Horizon Gold Merchandise Card credit line may only be used online at thehorizonoutlet.com.” There also are no cash advances. On top of that, there’s a monthly fee of $24.95, whether you make purchases or not. Yes, that’s almost $300 a year for a card that allows you to shop only at the company’s online store.
What’s the Horizon Gold Card?
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The Horizon Gold card is comparable to a lot of other cards that offer “catalog card” programs that also can only be used to shop from the card issuer’s catalog. The online Horizon Outlet Store sells merchandise for men, women, kids, home and other categories and, while the prices don’t seem astronomical (a potential drawback of many catalog card programs), the inventory appears limited. Many apparel items, for instance, only had one size or color available at the time of writing this. You’re also not dealing with major name brands (minus one or two exceptions), so it can be hard to get a read on the quality of what you’re buying. Finally, that $24.95 monthly fee doesn’t exempt you from shipping and processing fees. You’ve still got to pay $2.50 for shipment signature verification, for example.
That said, the Horizon Gold card does offer a 0% APR on the purchases that are made at its online store, and Horizon says on its website that it does report to at least one of the three major credit bureaus every 30 days. That could theoretically help you improve your credit scores if the card is properly managed, although the card’s fine print states that the account “does not guarantee aid in building or rebuilding credit, or to the posting of any positive references to any credit report” so you would be taking a chance here.
The card’s site also says membership includes privacy protection, a prescription program, legal assistance and roadside assistance, but, while there is some information about what these services entail on the website (legal assistance entitles you to one free 30-minute consultation with a legal professional in your area of interest, criminal cases, excluded, for instance), it’s a good idea to call Horizon’s customer service line for full details in order to fully assess their potential worth.
Credit Cards for People With Bad Credit
It’s worth keeping in mind that there are other credit cards for people with bad credit that will end up costing you less and give you more flexibility with how you are able to use them. If you have bad credit and want to rebuild it using a credit card, it’s worth your while do some research. You can start by viewing a free snapshot of your credit reports on Credit.com. to know exactly where your credit stands. (It might not be as bad as you think.)
Once you have a better idea of where your credit is, consider looking for a card from a widely-known bank or issuer geared towards people looking to build credit. Keep in mind, if your credit is in really bad shape (say you have a bankruptcy that has not yet been discharged damaging your scores), qualifying for an unsecured card could be tough, and you don’t want to ding your credit to see if you qualify only to be turned down. In that case, a secured card, which requires you to put down a cash deposit to serve as the credit line, could be a good option.
Here’s two alternate credit cards (one unsecured, one secured) to consider.
Credit One Bank® Platinum Visa® for Building Credit
- See if you Pre-Qualify without harming your credit score
- Track your progress with free online access to your Experian credit score, terms apply
- Looking to rebuild credit? We report to the major credit bureaus monthly
- Receive opportunities for credit line increases, a fee may apply
- Make paying your bill easier with the ability to choose your payment due date, terms apply
- Stay in-the-know with customizable account alerts via email and text
- Receive 1% cash back rewards on eligible purchases, terms apply
- Enjoy peace of mind with $0 Fraud Liability
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Card Details: This is an unsecured card designed for people who need to improve their credit. It offers cardholders 1% cash back on gas and groceries, flexible payment dates to help cardholders make timely payments and automatic reviews for credit line increases.
Annual Fee: $0 - $99
APR: 17.49% - 25.49% Variable
Discover it® Secured
- No Annual Fee, cash back on every purchase, and helps you build your credit with responsible use.
- Your Secured Credit Card requires a refundable security deposit up to the amount we can approve of at least $200 which will establish your credit line. You will need to provide your bank information when submitting your security deposit.
- We will automatically begin reviewing your account starting at 8 months to see if we can transition you to an unsecured line of credit.
- Earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter, automatically. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
- Get a dollar-for-dollar match of all the cash back you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
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Card Details: It offers cardholders 2% cash back at restaurants and gas stations up to $1,000 every quarter, plus 1% cash back on all other purchases. And the card can be secured for a deposit of as little as $200, which you can add to as your cashflow allows.
Annual Fee: $0
APR: 24.49% Variable on purchases & balance transfers
Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind if you have bad credit and want to improve it by using a credit card is that you don’t have to settle for a card with bad terms and high fees. They can end up hurting your credit more than helping, so it’s important to do your research and find the right card for you before signing up.
At publishing time, the Horizon Gold card, Credit One Bank Platinum Visa for Building Credit card, and Discover it® Secured are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.