Depending on who you ask, a Horizon card can be a great thing indeed, or it can be a costly headache. Horizon Card Services gears its products to those with poor, fair or no credit, and it offers the Horizon Gold Card via direct mailings and on the internet. What could be wrong with that? But the company has apparently had its share of issues because the Better Business Bureau has received some complaints.
You don't just sign up for a card with Horizon. You must "enroll" for a membership, and this is where things can get tricky.
What’s a Horizon Card?
First, the good news: Horizon Card Services will give you a Gold Card with a $500 unsecured credit limit when you enroll. It's that simple. There's no credit check or employment check. So far, so good. You must have an active debit or credit card with a bank or other lender, however.
It will cost you $5 to "validate" and open your account and receive your card. You'll be charged a processing fee whenever you make charges to the card, as well as a $6 monthly maintenance fee, although this can be waived if you're an "active" member. Then there's the "benefits plan membership fee," which will run you $24.95 a month. This $24.95 fee isn't charged to your Gold Card account. It's automatically debited from that credit or debit card you provided when you signed up.
What’s the Card’s Buying Power?
Don't plan on swiping your new Gold Card at your favorite boutique or sporting goods store. The card is only good for purchases made at the Horizon online store. The company's website states loud and clear that "HORIZON CARD SERVICES IS NOT A CREDIT SERVICES ORGANIZATION, BANKING INSTITUTION OR INSURANCE COMPANY."
The Better Business Bureau reports that customers have complained that the online store isn't particularly well-stocked. You won't have to make a down payment on anything you buy there, but you'll pay an additional $5.50 to have your merchandise delivered, and $3.50 of that is for "signature verification."
How to Cancel the Card
Canceling the card seems easy enough if you want out. Horizon indicates that you can simply call Member Services at 1-800-251-6144. They're available from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST Monday through Friday, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST on Saturdays. Keep in mind that you're actually canceling your enrollment, however, not just the card. There's no cancellation fee.
Calling Horizon is the only way to cancel directly with the company. You can't do it through your Horizon Gold Card login online.
Requesting a Refund
Horizon says that it will issue at least a partial refund if you're unhappy with the merchandise you purchased, but the Better Business Bureau indicates that this generally only happens after the BBB has received complaints. Horizon also says that it will replace defective items, but you'll have to pay for shipping and processing a second time and it retains the right to refuse refunds if you've simply "changed your mind" about the product or if it determines that you've caused damage to it.
And there's one last catch: You have to request the refund within 30 days of your billing date. The same goes for requesting a refund of any portion of that monthly benefits plan membership fee. So don't blink. Those calendar pages are flipping.