Skip to main content Skip to header navigation

10 Risky credit cards to avoid

Looking for a credit card? We found 10 cards most people should avoid at all costs.

1. Visa Black

This card plays on the esteem of the very black and very heavy American Express Centurion. But the Visa Black isn’t the same. With a $495 annual fee and really low rewards, the only benefit we can see here is that if you grab the check fast enough, hold it in front of your colleagues long enough for them to see that it’s black and snap the book closed fast enough, they’ll think you’re pulling down a six-figure salary. Your call.

2. Arvest Bank Classic

In a day and age when 0 percent introductory APRs are all but standard (often for a year to 18 months), you should probably be leery of one that charges 4.9 percent for only six months before jumping to 17.9 percent regular.

3. Apple financing

It’s not that we don’t love Apple products (because we totally do), but its financing option may not be the best way to go for most people. The good news here is, its terms couldn’t be more clear on the website. The problem is, many people don’t think through what the terms mean for them before signing up and charging it.

The APR will be a whopping 22.99 to 26.99 percent, depending on your credit worthiness. And if you don’t pay it off before your introductory offer is over or if you make a late payment, you’ll be retroactively charged all the interest you should’ve been charged since the date of sign up. And in all likelihood, the minimum monthly payment won’t be enough to pay off the balance in time. So unless you plan to purchase a lot of Apple products and pay them off on a specific schedule, this isn’t for you.

Now, if you can afford a $120-ish payment per month for 18 months on a purchase of $2,000, it’s still a good deal, but Erik Larson, president and founder of, says you’re still better off with something like the Citi Simplicity card, which has the same 0 percent introductory APR for 18 months but with no retroactive interest or late fees.

4. American Airlines credit

This may be one of the worst cards on the list. Unless you fly a lot and really need to build your credit, you should skip this one. It offers 0 percent APR on purchases of $150 for six months… unless you don’t pay the balance when that period ends, in which case the interest is charged retroactively (there’s that word again!) from the date of purchase at a minimum of 21.96 percent. You get no airline miles, no rewards of any kind. And you can only use it at American Airlines.

5. U.S. Bank College Visa

There are a multitude of cards that help college students build credit, but the college bound shouldn’t get too excited if they receive this one in their on-campus mailbox. It offers zero rewards and introductory rates, and charges a really high interest rate (even for student cards) of 20.99 percent.

6. First Premier Bank Gold

This credit card should never be considered by anyone who isn’t rebuilding his or her credit, and to be frank, there are better ways to rebuild. The First Premier Bank Gold charges a $170 up-front fee, $120 per year after that and has a whopping 36 percent APR. It makes all of these fees seem smaller by calling them separate charges, but you end up paying more than you think. All that for a “generous” $300 limit. Want a $400 limit? You can have one… kind of. If approved, you’ll pay $25, effectively making your limit $375 for all the trouble. This isn’t rebuilding your credit, it’s keeping yourself in (and maybe even building) unnecessary debt.

7. Applied Bank’s Secured Visa Gold

Woo-hoo! A 9.9 percent annual rate! Could it get better? Turns out, it totally could. This card’s fine print notes that it has no grace period, so you start paying that interest the minute you make a purchase. And since it uses an interest calculation that it calls “average daily balance,” you end up paying more interest than on other cards. There’s an annual fee of $50, which sounds fair, except since this is a secured card, if you pay $200 toward it, you have an effective credit limit of $150.

8. Fingerhut

Its credit card actually sounds like a pretty good deal with 24.9 percent interest. Except… you can only use the card for items in its catalog, which has crazy inflated prices. So you could end up paying between 25 and 50 percent more just to put your purchases on credit… in addition to your interest rate.

9. Credit One Bank Visa Platinum

With this card, you could get a limit between $300 and $1,500. Your annual fee will vary from $75 to $99 depending on what your limit is, billable in monthly installments starting in your second year with the card. It’s risky to use a credit card for cash advances, but if you’re going to, this is not the card for you. It charges 8 percent after the first year, which is approximately twice what most other cards charge.

10. Matrix and Cerulean Discover

These dastardly cards emblazoned with the trustworthy Discover logo have some pretty bad deals lurking behind them. First, you’ll pay 29.99 percent interest after already paying for the secured fee in the first place. Worse, you have to pay a $75 fee for a measly $300 limit, which is deducted from your card, so you only really get $225.

Not enough? They also have these “monthly maintenance fees” that total $144 a year, and you have to pay a fee of $30 just to increase your limit by $100. And you’ll also get charged for just about any other thing you want to do — add an authorized user, pay late, go over your limit… ask for paper statements, etc.

More financial advice

Spring clean your finances
Who handles the finances in your house?
How to keep divorce from devastating you family finances

Leave a Comment

Comments are closed.