The Horizon Gold Merchandise Card is a credit card that can only be spent at the Horizon Gold online outlet store (thehorizonoutlet.com). In other words, it essentially functions as a gift card that may also report its users’ account activity to at least one credit bureau. The card seems to be commonly mistaken for a traditional credit card that can be spent anywhere, and it is specifically marketed to applicants with bad credit scores and limited credit options. Numerous third-party reviewers and cardholders have claimed that Horizon Gold intentionally misrepresents the card as a general credit card in order to get people with bad credit to sign up.
To its credit, Horizon Gold does technically appear to disclose all of its fees and terms on its website. However, the terms and conditions are only initially visible in a gray box at the top of the site’s homepage, which can be scrolled through about four lines at a time. In fact, the only indication that this box contains more information is a barely visible scroll bar on the far edge of the screen.
The Horizon Gold homepage prominently lists a badge advertising “Guaranteed $500 Secured Credit Limit” as well as claims like “$500 Limit,” “Guaranteed Approval,” “No Credit Check,” and “Reports to Major Bureau.” In very small text between these claims, the company states that “The Horizon Gold Merchandise Card credit line may only be used online at thehorizonoutlet.com.” Despite the fact that the company’s website is compliant with federal disclosure laws, it certainly seems possible that unsuspecting visitors could interpret the page as an advertisement for a standard credit card. Applicants should note that Horizon Gold is not a credit services institution, bank, or insurance company, and it does not claim to attempt to repair a consumer’s credit history.
Horizon Gold Card Fee Breakdown
The Horizon Gold card automatically enrolls new members in its $24.95 per month membership plan, which includes credit report access, discount prescriptions, prepaid legal services, and roadside assistance. Members who do not wish to pay $24.95 per month for these services can choose to downgrade to the starter benefits plan, which includes everything but roadside assistance for $6.95 per month. There is a $6.00 monthly maintenance plan with is waived for monthly benefits members, but it’s unclear whether this $6.00 fee applies to cardholders who are enrolled in the $6.95 starter benefits plan.
In addition to its monthly membership fees, Horizon Gold charges a $25.00 NSF check fee, a $20.00 late payment fee, a delivery signature verification fee of $2.50, a residential delivery fee of $2.00, a one-time card issuance and account verification fee of $5.00, and a minimum monthly fee that is $25.00 or more. There are also variable processing and shipping fees associated with purchases from the Horizon Outlet store. The company does not charge an interest rate, a cancellation fee, or an annual fee.
Horizon Gold Card Fees
At a glance
Location: Indiana, Pennsylvania
Issuer: Horizon Card Services
Phone number: 1-800-837-4997
What other reviewers are saying
There are approximately 20 negative Horizon Gold reviews on Ripoff Report. Common themes among complainants include being billed despite never applying for the card, deceptive advertising, difficulty cancelling service, overpriced items and limited selection in the Horizon Outlet store, and complaints about the company’s business model in general. Horizon Card Services does not appear to have responded to any of these complaints.
The Better Business Bureau
Horizon Card Services has a “B” rating with the BBB and has not received BBB accreditation. There have been 93 complaints posted to the company’s profile in the last three years. Forty-seven of these complaints were due to billing disputes, 35 were due to product or service issues, and the remaining 11 had to do with the company’s advertising. Remarkably, Horizon Card Services has resolved 100% of these complaints to the satisfaction of the complainant. The BBB also includes the following note on the company’s profile:
According to the Pennsylvania Department of State, Horizon Card Services filed as a business entity on September 28, 2006 with Robert Kane listed as an owner. The BBB file opened on the company December 02, 2006. Customer complaints allege that they receive an offer for what is believed to be a credit card. The company’s unsecured credit card can only be used to purchase merchandise through the company’s online store. Consumers claim that the merchandise is limited in number and value while requesting a refund. In some instances complainants are offered a partial refund and only after having complaints processed by the BBB does the company usually provide a full refund and an explanation of its position.
NerdWallet openly refers to the Horizon Gold card as a scam, calling it “one of the most misleading cards.” CreditCardForum.com expresses a similar sentiment: “When compared to ‘real’ bank-issued credit cards for bad credit, I see little reason why you would get this quasi-credit card from Horizon Gold. Even the most overpriced cards from an unscrupulous bank like First Premier will still probably end up costing you less than this.” The card also currently averages a rating of two out of five stars on Credit Karma.
Featured User Reviews
I chose 20yrs ago not to use credit. When I turned 18, I done the whole credit card thing and ended up with about 12 gold and platinum cards in all. I had had enough! I applied for a debt consilodation loan, paid them all off, and cut them up. From that point on, I had learned my lesson!
Recently, I realized that since my son was starting school and my current vehicle only gets 11mpg, it would cost me $35 a week just in gas to take him and pick him up so I knew that I needed another vehichle. With no credit, what they say is true, “No credit is the same as bad credit”.
So to help build some credit, which I really hated doing, I started researching some credit cards online. I have even recieved pre paid cards in the mail just for going to their site.
So one day, after retrieving the mail, I find a Horizon Gold Card in the mail. I knew that thier site kept popping up as I was researching cards, but honestly, I dont remember applying for this card. I read everything front to back and realized that there would be a charge each month, added, just for having it.
I sent customer service an email, which was never answered, just to inquire about it. It appears that you have to shop at their “Outlet” and use their “Credit Card.” Since I couldnt get any answers, I thought I would view their “Outlet” site. You have to enter the card number in order to do so. News Flash!!! Soon as you enter the card # and visit the “Outlet,” you activated the card and here come the charges!
I went to view everything offered, since I activated the card. You have got to be kidding me!!! I bet I didnt see more than 40 items offered and everything I seen, looked like something you would buy at a discount store with jacked up prices! I just couldnt believe it.
Here comes the fun part, when you try to cancel it. I sent several emails and was instructed to call. I know why now. Once I called and tried to cancel, they acted as if they were desperate and didnt want me to cancel by any means. They first said, “What if I can tell you now that I can raise your credit limit by $500″ I said no, I would just really like to cancel. Then she said,”What if I can tell you that I can offer you roadside assistance and legal help if needed,” I said no, I really want to cancel, there is nothing at your “Outlet that I viewed, that I would be interested in. It didnt stop there!
Finanlly, I just had to hang up. Note to anyone out there trying to start credit or repair your credit, stay clear of Horizon Gold. You can go to your local Dollar Tree and get the same merchandise and pay %200 less for it! No
Now, I just have to make sure that I dont get charged down the road for anything, that is what I am afraid of!!
-Learning the Hard Way, NerdWallet
First off, this is NOT a Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express card. This card can only be used on the company’s proprietary website, and you can find most of the products elsewhere for less. That being said, it does report to Transunion, and does help improve your credit score, just by having an open and active tradeline. It costs $24.95 per month for your “member benefits”, and the initial $5.00 fee(plus the first $24.95) to set up the account. Compare that to the credit cards that charge you $225 to “set up” your account, then the monthly fees, then th 30% interest rate. I would recommend getting this card to build your credit by having the tradeline reported, but I would not recommend USING it… Say you see an item for $18, there is a “shipping fee” of $12, and a processing fee of $4, both of which you have to pay up front, then the $18 for the item is financed through your credit line… You can get the same item on… let’s say Amazon(the site I checked) for $14.98 including shipping! Never bought anything with it and never will, but it looks freaking FANTASTIC on my credit report- 29 months, never late, and a $3000 limit(they raised it after 6 months). Oh, and a tip: Horizon only reports to Transunion, so after a few months write to Experian and Equifax requesting they add the card to your reports with them, as well.
-Anonymous, Credit Karma
It is difficult to recommend the Horizon Gold card to anyone. The card is worthless outside of its limited member benefits and the Horizon Outlet store, which is widely described as being overpriced and understocked. The card is not intended for use as a credit repair tool and will ultimately be more expensive and less effective than many other credit repair options. Perhaps most concerning, though, are the many reviews from people who claim to have been duped by the company’s online and mail advertising. Regardless of its intent, it is clear that the company sometimes debits funds from the bank accounts of people who have no idea why they are being charged.
Even so, we are hesitant to call Horizon Gold a total scam, as it appears to technically operate within the boundaries of the law and does in fact provide a service of some kind. It’s even possible that Horizon Gold may attract some genuine customers in addition to all of the confused applicants it receives, although we have found no evidence of this occurring. Overall, we do not recommend this service. In fact, we advise consumers to avoid opening the company’s mail, visiting the company’s website, or initiating direct communication with this company if possible.
Have you used a Horizon Gold card? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below: