The Merit Platinum Card is a credit card targeted at consumers looking to build or repair their credit. This card comes with some benefits offered by Horizon Card Services but also has significant limitations and fees that cardholders should understand before applying.
This post review will examine the key features, pros and cons, fees, and alternatives to the Merit Platinum Card. Whether you have bad credit or no credit history, it is essential to weigh all factors to determine if this card suits your situation.
Features of the Merit Platinum Card
The Merit Platinum Card is an unsecured credit card issued by Horizon Card Services. Key features include:
- $500 credit limit for purchases at Horizon Outlet online store
- 0% APR on purchases (but late fees apply)
- Reports to one credit bureau to help build credit
- No credit check is required for approval
- Automatic enrollment in Horizon Card Services membership plan
This card is geared for those new to credit or trying to rebuild credit. It offers a small line of credit with no interest, but charges many fees and has significant usage restrictions.
Automatic Horizon Card Services Membership
A unique aspect of the Merit Platinum Card is that all cardholders are automatically enrolled in the Horizon Card Services membership program. This provides benefits like:
- Roadside assistance
- Legal assistance
- Prescription discounts
- Identity theft protection
However, the membership costs a steep $24.95 per month, billed to your card. You can cancel, but will then be charged $6 per month in maintenance fees instead.
So while the membership provides some useful benefits, it also tacks on a large annual fee to hold the credit card itself. This is important to factor in when weighing the overall value.
The Merit Platinum Card requires no credit check or employment verification for approval. So it can help those with bad credit or no credit history to start establishing a credit profile.
The card reports your payment history to one credit bureau, Experian. Responsible use by paying on time can positively influence your credit score over time.
However, approval is generally guaranteed, so there is a limit to how much the card can help build credit compared to options that do involve credit checks and graduations. And only reporting to one bureau also limits the credit building capabilities.
A major downside is that the Merit Platinum Card can only be used to make purchases at Horizon Outlet, an online department store owned by the issuer. Your $500 credit line does not have any other flexibility or usage.
For Horizon Outlet devotees, this card can provide financing. But for the majority of consumers, the inability to use it anywhere else seriously detracts from the benefits and convenience of the card.
Rewards and Benefits
The Merit Platinum Card does not offer any rewards program or cash back on purchases.
As mentioned, you do gain access to Horizon Card Services benefits like roadside assistance, discounts, and protections through the automatic membership. But given the high monthly fees, the value of these benefits is questionable.
There are also no other common credit card perks like 0% intro APR offers on purchases or balance transfers; sign-up bonuses; rental car insurance; or extended warranty protection.
Fees and Costs
Let’s take a detailed look at the various fees charged by the Merit Platinum Card:
- Monthly membership fee – $24.95 per month for Horizon Card Services benefits, but charged to your card
- Maintenance fee – $6 per month if you cancel membership
- Residential delivery fee – $2 per Horizon Outlet order
- Signature delivery verification – $3.50 per Horizon Outlet order
- Late fee – Up to $20 if payment is late
- Returned check fee – $25 if your payment check bounces
- Card activation – $5 one-time fee when approved
You’ll also be charged small transaction fees that can add up when making purchases at Horizon Outlet. So in total, expect to pay around $300 or more in annual fees to hold this card.
The lack of any rewards combined with all the fees severely cuts into the value derived from such a limited $500 line of credit.
Pros and Cons
Here is a quick overview of the main pros and cons for the Merit Platinum Card:
- No credit check for approval
- Can help build credit history
- 0% APR on purchases
- Roadside assistance and other benefits
- Only reports to one credit bureau
- Restricted usage at Horizon Outlet
- Numerous fees add up quickly
- No rewards program
Alternatives to Consider
While the Merit Platinum Card is marketed to those rebuilding credit, there are some other alternatives that may be preferable:
Secured credit cards – Require refundable security deposit, but allow flexible usage and cash back rewards.
Credit builder loans – Help establish payment history and credit mix without credit cards.
Local credit unions – Offer bad credit loans, credit builder cards, and financial counseling.
Become an authorized user – Get added to a family member or friend’s account responsibly.
Prepaid debit cards – Allow card transactions and payments without requiring credit checks.
Retail store cards – Department store cards tend to have lower requirements for approval.
Each option has pros and cons to weigh based on your credit situation and financial habits. But they provide more flexibility and lower costs in many cases.
Is the Merit Platinum Card Worth It?
The Merit Platinum Card offers an easy way to get approved for those with bad credit or no credit history. It can help establish a credit file and payment history with responsible use.
However, the severe usage restrictions, lack of rewards, and numerous fees make it a poor choice for most looking to build or rebuild credit. The Horizon Card Services membership provides some benefits but comes at a steep annual cost.
The card may be worth considering for:
- Current Horizon Outlet shoppers
- Those unable to qualify for any other credit
The card is likely not worth it for:
- Anyone not regularly shopping at Horizon Outlet
- Those who want to build credit across all bureaus
Thoroughly assess your credit situation and financial habits before applying. In many cases, there are better credit cards or alternative programs to help build credit without such heavy restrictions and fees.
Since the Merit Platinum Card does not require a credit check, eligibility is generally open to all applicants regardless of income or credit score.
Both current Horizon Card Services members and new applicants can qualify. Simply submit an online application to begin the approval process.
Given approval is nearly guaranteed, those with bad credit, limited credit, or no credit history can qualify for this small starter credit line.
How to Apply for the Merit Platinum Card
Applying for the Merit Platinum Card is quick and easy through their online application form. simply go to the Horizon Card Services website and click “Apply Now” to begin.
You’ll need to provide some basic personal information like:
- Date of birth
- Social security number
No credit check is required, so you won’t need to provide income, employment, or other financial details.
The application only takes a few minutes to complete. Acceptance is virtually guaranteed, but you’ll receive a notification by email within 24 hours confirming your new account approval and details.
Once approved, your Merit Platinum Card will arrive by mail within 5-7 business days. You can then activate it using the included instructions.
Merit Platinum Card Login
To log in to your Merit Platinum Card account online, go to the Horizon Card Services website and click on “Account Login” in the top right corner.
You’ll be prompted to enter your 16-digit card number and 4-digit security PIN. These can be found on your card and the activation letter you received.
Once logged in, you can view your account balance, available credit, recent transactions, statements, and other details. It allows you to closely monitor your account, usage, fees, and payments through the secure online portal.
Be sure to bookmark the login page for quick access whenever you need to manage your account. You can also opt for paperless statements by going into your account settings.
Making Payments on Your Merit Platinum Card
Your Merit Platinum Card monthly statement will detail the minimum payment due and payment due date.
You have multiple ways to pay your bill:
- Set up automatic payments from a checking account
- Pay online through the account portal
- Mail a check or money order
- Use an ATM bill payment slip
- Schedule a one-time or recurring payment over the phone
Be sure to pay at least the minimum payment by the due date each month to avoid late fees. Pay your balance in full to avoid interest charges.
You can also set payment reminders and alerts through your online account to help stay organized.
The Merit Platinum Card offers guaranteed approval and the ability to start building credit history, which can be invaluable for those with damaged or no credit.
However, the lack of flexibility in where you can use the card, minimal additional benefits, and numerous fees make it less appealing compared to other credit building tools.
You have to carefully consider both the pros and cons before applying to determine if the Merit Platinum Card aligns with your credit needs or if you may be better served through secured cards, credit builder loans, or other programs. Monitor your credit reports and scores diligently to track your progress.
With responsible habits, you can establish and rebuild credit over time – with or without the Merit Platinum Card. But be sure to find the right fit for your financial situation.