Merit Platinum Card Review
While the Merit Platinum credit card has "credit card" in its name, it's not a credit card in the traditional sense. One of several cards issued by Horizon Card Services, the Merit Platinum card can only be used to purchase items online at the Horizon Outlet store.
However, the Merit Platinum card reports to one credit bureau, which can help you improve your credit score. On the other hand, high fees and limited available credit are two big drawbacks.
What Is the Merit Platinum Credit Card and What Bank Issues It?
The Merit Platinum card is one of a family of cards issued by Horizon Card Services. It's important to note that Horizon Card Services isn't a bank or a credit card lender.
Rather, it's an online store that issues a credit line in the form of one of its eight cards, including the Merit Platinum card.
This is an important distinction, as the credit line Horizon Card Services offers is more like a loan than a credit card. Horizon even states explicitly on its website and in its card services member agreement that it's neither a bank nor a lending institution.
Like all the cards Horizon offers, the Merit Platinum credit card caters to people with bad credit. Because Horizon doesn't do a credit check, even individuals with poor credit scores should be able to qualify.
Merit Platinum Card Overview
Because it has "platinum" in the name, it's easy to think of the Merit Platinum credit card as an exclusive card with plenty of perks and cardholder benefits. In this case, however, the name is somewhat misleading.
First, the Merit Platinum card has terms identical to those of other cards issued by Horizon Card Services. For example, the Net First Platinum card and Freedom Gold card feature the same fees and terms as the Merit Platinum card.
With the Merit Platinum card and others offered by Horizon, high fees and restricted uses make it an expensive card to own. While the credit bureau reporting might be an advantage, the disadvantages likely outweigh this benefit.
Merit Platinum Card Fees
While the Merit Platinum card has no annual fee and an annual percentage rate (APR) of 0%, cardholders must pay a range of high fees in other areas.
Most notably, the Merit Platinum card charges a monthly membership fee of $24.95. There is also a $6 monthly maintenance fee, which is waived as long as you enroll in the membership plan.
Other fees include:
Type of Fee
Late payment or NSF
Residential delivery fee
Delivery signature verification fee
Returned check fee
Card activation fee
Pros and Cons of the Merit Platinum Card
The Merit Platinum credit card has few benefits and several drawbacks. Here's what you need to know.
Reports to one credit bureau - Horizon states that it reports payment activity to at least one major credit bureau. However, there are other credit cards marketed toward people with bad credit that report to all three credit bureaus.
Easy to get - Because Horizon doesn't pull your credit or ask your credit score, it's easy to get approved for a card.
Member benefits - If you enroll in the membership plan and pay $24.95 per month, you get access to benefits like free roadside assistance, prescription benefits, legal assistance and privacy protection.
However, the benefits are subject to numerous restrictions, and you can probably find similar benefits from other providers at a more affordable price.
High fees - When you apply for a card, Horizon will automatically enroll you in its $24.95 a month membership plan. This adds up to nearly $300 per year, which is more than you'll pay for a more flexible secured credit card.
Low credit limit - The Merit Platinum card has a maximum available credit limit of $500. While some reviewers say they received a credit limit increase, it's unclear how cardholders can get a credit increase or how long they need to have a card to qualify for one.
Merit Platinum Card Reviews
While it's difficult to find reviews for the Merit Platinum card, there are plenty of online reviews for the Horizon Outlet store. Because many of Horizon's cards have identical or similar terms, you can get a good idea of what users think by taking a look at these reviews.
Several users give Horizon a positive review. For example, one reviewer states that Horizon helped improve their credit score and gave them a credit limit increase to $1,000.
However, Horizon also receives numerous negative reviews. Several users complained about both the credit card and the merchandise, and some reviews say Horizon never reported their payment history to a credit bureau.
Alternatives to the Merit Platinum Card
If you have bad credit, you may think you have few options when it comes to getting a credit card. However, there are several credit cards on the market designed to help even those with poor credit get the second chance they need to raise their score.
1. Capital One Secured Mastercard
The Capital One Secured Mastercard is a secured card, but you have the option of choosing a direct deposit that fits your budget. You can make a down payment of $49, $99, or $200.
If you make your payments on time for a minimum of five months, Capital One will increase your credit limit without requiring an additional security deposit.
2. Citi Secured Mastercard
The Citi Secured Mastercard requires a security deposit of at least $200, but you have the option to put down as much as $2,500 if you prefer a higher credit limit.
With an APR of 22.49%, the Citi Secured Mastercard's interest rate is lower compared to many other credit cards, including unsecured cards. The card has no annual fee.
3. OpenSky Secured Visa Credit Card
The OpenSky Secured Visa credit card has a $35 annual fee, but it offers an 18.95% APR, which is quite low for a credit card, secured or unsecured. The minimum security deposit required is $200.
OpenSky doesn't pull your credit when you apply, so the card is available to nearly anyone. It also reports to all three credit bureaus.
Merit Platinum Credit Card FAQs
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers regarding the Merit Platinum credit card.
What Credit Score Is Needed for the Merit Platinum Credit Card?
Horizon Card Services doesn't specify what kind of credit score is required to qualify for a Merit Platinum card. However, Horizon doesn't pull credit scores when making a lending decision, so the majority of people should qualify for a credit card.
Where Do I Apply for the Merit Platinum Credit Card?
You can apply for a Merit Platinum credit card by entering your name and email address in the form available on the Merit Platinum website.
Where Can I Use My Merit Platinum Card?
You can only use the Merit Platinum card to make purchases online from the Horizon Outlet store.
If you have bad credit, the Merit Platinum credit card could help you improve your score by reporting your on-time payments to a credit bureau. However, there are probably better alternatives out there, including credit cards with no annual or monthly fees.
About the Author
Mike is a recognized credit expert and founder of Credit Takeoff. His credit advice has been featured in CNBC, Investopedia, CreditCards.com, Bankrate, Huffpost, The Simple Dollar, Reader's Digest, LendingTree, and Quickbooks. Read more.