From an outside perspective, getting a store-branded credit card may seem like a brilliant idea to lift your credit score, especially if you get repeatedly denied for secured and unsecured traditional credit cards.
The Horizon Card Services issue lots of credit cards that can help those with a so-so credit or no financial history at all build credit, among which is the Merit Platinum Card.
Yet, the question is whether the perks of this card offset the hefty price at which it comes. That’s what we’re going to uncover in this article, so keep reading while we provide you with an in-depth review of the Merit Platinum Card.
Merit Platinum Card Review – In a Nutshell
The luxury Merit Platinum Card is a good fit for the Horizon outlet customers who want to get their finances back on track and build credit with a 0% APR and a not-so-bad credit card limit.
However, we can’t say it’s that perks-rich. In its category, many other cheaper alternatives can help you reestablish your credit on the right foot with lower annual fees, more rewards, and better deals on their stores that you can actually benefit from.
What Is the Merit Platinum Card?
The Merit Platinum Card is a credit card that you can use to make purchases from the online Horizon outlets, then pay off over time.
Unlike a traditional credit card, it carries limited credit, which doesn’t exceed $500, and you can’t use it to shop from other retailers. So it’s only beneficial for those who shop from the Horizon stores, which for the record, don’t offer the most competitive prices for their products.
When you apply for the Merit Credit Card, no hard credit checks or employment inquiries are performed, so your credit report is safe from any black marks. You can also get the card even if your credit score is less than spotless.
Although it reports your information to one of the three major credit bureaus, it doesn’t count as a traditional credit card, VISA or Mastercard. It’s more like a loan but not from a bank, credit union, or even a private lender.
We should note that while it carries the term “Platinum” in its name, it’s far from what Platinum Cards are.
It is, like the Platinum services, designed for high-end customers, considering its high price, but doesn’t offer the high credit limit and extensive rewards commonly associated with such cards. Actually, it doesn’t differ much from other Horizon cards, including the Horizon Gold Card.
Merit Platinum Card Details – Explained
Now that you got an idea about what the Merit Platinum Card is, let’s see what its terms hold.
Although it’s an interest-free service, the Merit Platinum Card fees are by no means cheap. In fact, it’s stacked with subsidiary fees that, when added up, make the total cost of the card expensive despite the seemingly attractive zero interest rate.
The Merit Platinum Card has no annual charges but requires a monthly fee of $24.95 and a maintenance fee of $6. After you receive your card, this payment is inferred automatically from your bank account each month.
But that’s not all! To activate the card, you have to pay $5 as card verification fees. Then with each purchase, expect to be charged $2 for delivery and $3.5 for verifying your signature.
While these costs don’t seem like a stumbling point at first, they make a considerable sum when added up, especially that you’ll be making more than one purchase in the lifetime of your card, or else why would you get a store card in the first place!
The Merit Platinum Card has two package plans, one of which most cardholders aren’t aware of. When you apply for the card, the automatic path will be that you’ll be enrolled in the main Membership plan, which charges a monthly fee of $24.95.
However, there is another starter plan that’s not stated clearly for users, which charges only $6 a month. The plan is pretty much similar to the original, with the exception that it doesn’t offer the Roadside Assistance, which we’ll explain later in the article. Other than that, they’re pretty identical.
The starter plan is designed mainly as a downgraded plan for those who fail to make their payments on time for three consecutive months. Yet, you can request to be enrolled in this cheaper program if you don’t really care much about the Roadside protection service.
However, don’t attempt to default in order to switch plans deliberately. While you may succeed in the original purpose, your credit score will be the victim as any late payments are reported to the credit bureau.
As we said before, the Merit Platinum Card allows you to shop at the online Horizon stores. You can choose to pay for any purchase you make in full or in installments over a period of time.
Yet, there are rules to that. Even if you choose to pay in installments, you have to cover at least 10% of the item’s price at the moment or pay off the minimum charge, which is $25. Also, if you buy any item that costs less than $25, you have to foot the whole bill before you exit the store.
However, these rules don’t apply to the shipping and processing fees, which should be paid instantly whether you pay in full or in installments.
Is the Merit Platinum Card Worth It?
To help you make a well-informed decision, here is a breakdown of the perks and setbacks of this store credit card.
Get Approved Easily
The best thing about the Merit Platinum Card is that everyone has an equal chance of getting approved. The service requires no credit checks, which doesn’t only increase your chances of getting the card but also saves your report from hard inquiries.
It’s also worth mentioning that the credit you get is unsecured, meaning that you don’t have to provide an asset or collateral to get approved.
The Horizon Card Service offers a seven-day trial for those who are not so sure about getting the Merit Platinum Card. The trial allows you to get the card, use it, and cancel any time within seven days with no charges.
Up Your Score
Although it’s a retailer card, it reports to one of the major credit bureaus (Equifax). That means if you have a less-than-spotless score, you can get it back on track if you make your payments on time and follow the card’s terms.
Make Use of the Card’s Benefits
The Merit Platinum Card provides its cardholders with a few benefits, including:
- Privacy protection plan: The membership plan provides you with a credit report for free, although this isn’t necessary since you can get it from any of the major credit bureaus once a year with no charges.
- Prescription benefit: This benefit guarantees you a 4% discount on medications you get from pharmacies that have a partnership with the service.
- Roadside protection: This benefit states that you get covered for “three service calls and towing requests up to 15 miles not to exceed the operator cost of $50.” However, this benefit covers the cardholder themselves, so you can’t request it if there was someone else driving your car.
- Legal assistance plan: You’re guaranteed a free 30-minute consultation with a legal professional in case you’re issuing a lawsuit or seeking legal advice.
The Merit Platinum Card has a limit of $500, which is easy to max out in a single day. It’s also way below what other store credit cards offer, which can be up to $2500 in some circumstances.
As we discussed before, although you won’t be at the risk of accumulating interest rates, you’ll be faced with exorbitant shipping costs and high signature verification fees every time you order something from the store.
Not to mention, the monthly fees total $299.28 a year, which comes close to the annual fees of actual “Platinum Cards” without the worldwide acceptance privileges and the reward-points-per-rupees system.
No Rewards or Welcome Bonuses
The Merit Platinum Card won’t award you welcome bonuses, gift vouchers, or even extra points every time you spend money in their store, which is a shame considering that it comes at a really high price, and that’s what top-tier card services usually do.
Reports to One Credit Bureau Only
While the fact that the Merit Platinum Card reports to a credit bureau can help increase your credit score, it isn’t as beneficial as you think.
Traditional credit cards and some other retailer cards report to all credit bureaus. That means your credit history is recorded in all directions. So next time when you apply for a loan or a credit card, no matter which bureau the lender checks, they’ll find your data.
With the Merit Platinum Card, you get your credit information sent to only one bureau. If that’s not the bureau your next lender checks, you may be denied your loan.
What Can I Buy with the Merit Platinum Card?
You can buy any goods available on the online Horizon outlet and only the Horizon outlet; the card won’t be accepted by other retailers.
However, this isn’t bad news since the Horizon store is full of all types of merchandise, including appliances, clothes, accessories, beauty products, and many more.
How Can I Apply for the Merit Platinum Credit Card?
Just fill the online application on the Merit Platinum Card website, proceed with the fees and get your card.
What Credit Score Do I Need to Get a Merit Platinum Card?
That’s the thing about the Merit Platinum Card! It doesn’t require a credit check, so even if your score is below 600 or your credit reports are blank, you can still get approved.
The Final Say
Taking everything into consideration, the least that can be said about the Merit Platinum Card is that although it collects no interest, it overcharges and underdelivers.
The card makes a good choice for the Horizon store fans, but unless you’re willing to shell out a huge monthly fee and high shipping charges every time you use the card, it may not be the ultimate choice.