If you have poor credit, you may feel like you have no hope of getting an unsecured credit card to improve your credit score or buy the things you need. Whether you stumbled upon the Net First Platinum website or you received one of their sounds-too-good-to-be-true letters in the mail, you may be jumping at the chance to get an unsecured credit line.

Not so fast! Before you sign up, here is everything you need to know about the Net First Platinum card. Also, if you are looking for the best credit card to build or rebuild your credit, we have compiled a list of the best credit cards and services here.

Is This Really a Credit Card?

Your first sign that the Net First Platinum card isn't really a credit card is that tiny little pre-acceptance disclosure squeezed into a scrolling text box. According to federal guidelines, all credit cards are required to disclose a Schumer Box, which shows the fees and interest rate in a specific format. Horizon Card Services, which issues this "credit card," is not actually a bank or credit card service.

The Net First Platinum card is not a credit card. Really, it's just a line of credit that's given to you to shop exclusively at the issuer's online "outlet" store. You won't get the opportunity to even view the store before you get the card, either. Comments from consumers who have been duped into getting this card reveals that most of the merchandise is severely overpriced, however.

A Look at the So-Called Benefits

As soon as you go to the Net First Platinum card website, you'll see a bullet point list of so-called benefits. Let's look at them one by one to see what you're actually getting.

  1. “Guaranteed $500 Unsecured Credit Limit.” The fine print is quick to tell you that Horizon Card Services is not a bank or credit services organization and this is not a Visa, Mastercard or debit card. That $500 limit you get? It's only good at their online website, thehorizonoutlet.com. Don't bother going to the website, either; access is strictly limited to cardholders so you can't even see what they sell.

  2. “Reports to Major Bureau.” This statement is just the first misleading claim on the website. You probably assume after reading this that your payment history and credit limit will be reported to at least ONE of the major credit bureaus. Actually, the fine print puts that to rest with this line: "Nor does Horizon Card Services attempt, claim to attempt, to establish, re-establish or repair any customer history." Basically, don't count on them reporting to any bureau to establish your credit, at all.

  3. “No credit check.” They're also quick to tell you that they won't check your credit, which begs the question: how, then, is this going to help your credit score once you sign up? This is a common trap for people with bad credit, who may be lured into applying for a "credit card" that's really just laden down with high fees and no real product.

As if that Wasn't Bad Enough... the Fees and Hidden Costs

If all of that wasn't enough to convince you to stay away from the Net First Platinum card, maybe this will do it:

If the Net First Platinum was a credit card, it'd be the most expensive on the market.

The first fee you are charged is a processing fee of $29, which sets up your account. Many consumers, however, report paying this fee and never receiving a card (or a refund)! Next comes the $24.95 maintenance fee that's debited monthly "for your convenience." Not only are the items on the supposed outlet website overpriced, you're also charged another processed fee for every item you buy. This amount varies by item so there's no way to even anticipate how much you will be charged with the Net First Platinum card.

While you can't anticipate exactly how much this card will cost you, $300 in fees alone seems about average.

The Bottom Line

Stay away from the Net First Platinum "credit card" at all costs. Having bad credit makes you a target for these scams and bad deals, but you don't need to give in to them. There are plenty of better options out there for you if you don't qualify for a real unsecured credit card. A secured credit card, for example, improves your credit score, works just like a regular credit card and won't cost you an arm and a leg.

Try This Instead

Rather than signing up for the Net First Platinum card to get access to credit and improve your credit score, review our list of the best credit cards and resources for building and rebuilding credit. Finding a good offer for bad credit can be hard but we sort through hundreds of offers each month to find the best ones and include them in our "ultimate list" of resources for building your credit.