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The Most Overrated Credit Cards of 2011

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Credit card deals are a dime a dozen these days as issuers actively campaign to win back consumers they lost following the recession. But while it’s often easy to spot an awful offering – a  79.9% APR is among the more notable tip-offs – it can be a lot trickier to determine which credit card is actually the most lucrative.

“You have to look under the hood,” says Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com. He points out that issuers often include qualifiers in the fine print that keep certain offerings from being as awesome as solicitations or advertisements may indicate.

MainStreet talked to industry experts to find out which cards on the market could be considered the most overrated in 2011.

Applied Bank Platinum Zero Secured Card

This secured card will certainly appeal to credit newbies since it offers a 0% annual percentage rate that stays in place even when a consumer is behind in payments. But while the non-existent APR appears to be legit, consumers shouldn’t be so swayed by the card’s purported $0 annual fee.

“If you look in the fine print, you’ll find they charge a monthly maintenance fee of $9.95,” Arnold says. This adds up to $119.40 annually, which is no small fee considering secured cards require the holder to back their credit line with their own dollars.

Arnold also called out Applied Bank’s Gold secured card, which advertises a low annual 9.99% APR, but no grace period to help you avoid paying any interest.

Applied did not respond to numerous requests for comment via fax, which is the company’s preferred method for press inquiries.

Citi Bank Dividend Platinum Select Master Card

At first glance, Citi’s (Stock Quote: C) newer offering seems to carry a fairly decent rewards structure, touting 5% cash back on revolving quarterly categories and 1% back on all other purchases.

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