Credit card offer more hassle than helpful

November 9, 2010 6:10:04 PM PST
A Bay Area mother of two was trying to provide for her children, when she received an offer for a credit card. However, there was no credit and she lost what little money she had.

Alondra Powell was unemployed and struggling when her daughter's seventh birthday rolled around. Things didn't change a few days later when her son's sixth birthday hit. It was the first time she couldn't afford to buy any gifts.

"I felt depressed. I never, never, never miss my kids' birthday," she said.

Powell applied online for a quick cash loan that didn't come true, but soon after she received a response from Platinum Trust Card offering her a $9,500 instant line of credit.

"'I'm like, oh yeah, I can get my kids something for their birthday," she said.

The card cost $89 up front, but Powell figured it was worth it. Platinum Trust said she could shop online and build her credit. Powell told the Platinum Trust agent to wait for her unemployment check to clear before taking out the $89 fee and then send her the card.

Things went all wrong after that. The company took the money from her account right away. The account went into the red and Powell was out the $89 plus a $27 overdraft fee. On top of that, Powell could not use the Platinum Trust card to buy anything.

"I just felt deceived, I felt betrayed," she said.

Platinum Trust only lets customers buy items on the Platinum Trust website. Not only that, shoppers must use their existing debit or credit card to buy the items. Platinum Trust takes up to half the purchase price from those accounts, then bills for the rest. The company advertises no annual fee, but it charges a monthly fee of $19 or $228 per year.

"Really no one who wants to make a good financial decision should get this card," Joe Ridout from Consumer Action said.

Ridout says it's a trap that catches those least able to afford it. Powell was out $116 for what she considered a useless card and the overdraft fee, but then a friend gave her some advice.

"Call 7 On Your Side and watch what happens," she said.

Powell called us and we found Platinum Trust has a "F" rating with the Better Business Bureau, with 44 complaints this year alone. However, after we spoke with the company about Powell, it agreed to give her money back, plus pay her overdraft fee.

"I said, 'wow,' I was on the bus and I was so excited, I was like, yeah!" she said.

The card may not help your credit at all, as it claims. In the fine print, Platinum Trust says it decides whether or not to report customers' accounts to the credit bureaus.

Consumer Action recommends getting a secured credit card instead, since fees are lower and you can use your line of credit anywhere.


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