By Adam Jusko, ProudMoney.com, adam@proudmoney.com

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is a credit card targeted to bad credit customers as well as customers with no credit history. Most potential cardholders will probably be those who’ve had credit in the past and whose poor history makes it difficult to get an unsecured credit card from a major credit card issuer.

If you have bad credit, you probably already know that most credit cards offered to people like you come with less-than-ideal terms — higher interest, lower credit lines, and annual fees. The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is no exception. This is not so much a strike against it as it an acknowledgment that Indigo is serving customers that the major card issuers don’t trust due to past credit problems (or possibly no credit history at all). Those with bad credit essentially have to pay more as they try to re-establish themselves as worthy credit customers.

Before we go further, we should say that our recommendation is to pass up unsecured credit cards like this that offer limited credit lines and high fees. Instead, choose a secured credit card that requires a deposit but costs less overall and can be a solid step toward building credit with major card issuers. We’ll get back to secured credit cards in a moment.

Indigo Credit Card Features

The Indigo Mastercard is a no frills, no rewards unsecured credit card. It may offer different interest, fee, and credit line amounts depending on how bad your credit history is. In general, here’s what you might see offered to you:

  • A 23.9% interest rate (as of this writing)
  • Annual fees of either $0, $59, or $75 first year/$99 subsequent years
  • Credit lines that vary, but $300 is the example used by Indigo as a potential starting amount, so we will use that as the standard in discussing the card.

Note that if you are charged an annual fee (and you probably will be), that fee will immediately come out of your credit line as a new cardholder. In other words, if you are offered a card with a $59 annual fee and a $300 credit line, you will begin with $241 in available credit and a $59 charge on your first card statement. If the annual fee is $75 in the first year, you’ll start with $225 in available credit and a $75 charge on your first statement.

Pre-Qualification

Indigo offers a pre-qualification tool on its website that you can use to get an idea of what you might qualify for. While it’s a good idea to use this tool, be aware that “pre-qualify” does not mean “guarantee.” You could still be rejected when you actually go through with the full application. However, the pre-qualification will probably show you what you can expect in terms of fees & rates.

Using the pre-qualification form will not affect your credit; it is a “soft pull” on your credit file, so no need to worry about the effect on your score if you’re told that you don’t qualify for the card. If you decide to continue on with a full application for the card after the pre-qualification, that will require a “hard pull” on your file, which will slightly lower your credit score temporarily. (In most cases, you should not worry about this unless you’ve been applying for lots of credit in the recent past.)

Genesis FS Card Services

The Indigo Platinum Mastercard is marketed by Genesis FS Card Services, with Celtic Bank being the actual bank issuer of the card. Genesis is fairly small in the credit card industry as a whole, but it is an established name in the bad credit/no credit section of the industry.

Choose A Secured Credit Card Instead

While the Indigo credit card is “OK” when compared to similar credit cards in the unsecured bad credit market, it’s not a card we would ever recommend. Instead, we would suggest that you choose a secured credit card issued by a major bank as you look to build or rebuild your credit.

Secured credit cards do require a deposit, usually in the $200-$500 range, but it is a refundable deposit that eventually comes back to you if you’ve used the card wisely and paid off your balances. You use it just like a regular credit card, with the amount of your security deposit usually being the same as the credit line you are given. Many of the major credit card issuers offer secured cards, and most will consider you for an upgraded, unsecured credit card after you’ve established a good track record with them. This may take the form of a better card issued by the bank or it might simply mean you get your security deposit back and you continue to use the same card (but now in an unsecured fashion). See our list of the best secured credit cards.

Indigo Is Fine For What It Is

Some people are unwilling to go the secured card route. If this is true of you, Indigo is a fine choice for what it is. It can help you build credit if you use it wisely (it reports to the three major credit reporting agencies), and its fees and interest, though high, are in line with many other issuers that specialize in credit for people with bad credit.