First PREMIER Bank
First PREMIER Bank, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is the 10th largest issuer of MasterCard brand credit cards in the United States. The bank is known for specializing in a wide range of subprime credit cards that are marketed to individuals with "less than perfect" credit. The bank was founded by T. Denny Sanford.
In 2007, the bank settled a case with the New York Attorney General who claimed the bank used deceptive practices to market its credit cards. The bank paid $4.5 million as part of the deal.
In October 2010, the bank was cited for providing the nation's worst credit cards by the Consumers Union. The group reported the bank charged as much as 59% interest on credit cards limited to $300. These cards are marketed under the names Centennial and Aventium as well as First Premier.
As of December 2010, Premier Bank was reportedly offering a credit card with a 79.9% interest rate and a $300 limit. This was cited by Senator Bernie Sanders as an example of what he called "extortion and loan sharking".
As of August 2011, Premier Bank is offering a credit card with a 49.9% interest rate and a $300 limit. Additionally, it requires a security deposit of $95, and a $75 annual fee the first year. After the first year, the annual fee becomes $45 and a $6.50 monthly servicing fee is added (a total of $125 in fees annually). Cash advances are charged a minimum fee of $6 and limited to 10% of the total credit limit for at least the first 90 days. Any credit limit increases are charged a limit increase fee of 25% the amount of the increase, and increases may happen automatically after the first 13 months, though the customer may request the automatic increase be reversed within 30 days and the fee will be refunded. The contract also allows Premier Bank or any third party it chooses to contact customers via cell phone or text message even if the number was obtained without the consumer's consent via a third party.
In 2014 it was announced that First Premier Bank sued cardhub.com for allowing customers to view rates and terms and also letting users review the card.
First PREMIER Bank's CEO, Dana J. Dykhouse, who is among South Dakota's largest republican donors, was referenced in a 2014 piece in the Argus Leader as belonging to a group of would-be local benefactors who the author wrote, "should quit gouging poor people who can't make it from paycheck to paycheck, or don't qualify for regular credit cards. ... Loan sharks who charge an obscene profit just because they can don't make good community leaders."
Dykhouse has contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to dozens of campaigns dating back to 1996, including those of scandal-plagued politicians such as Mike Rounds, Norm Coleman, Bill Janklow, Rick Berg and Deb Fischer. Dykhouse also listed himself as a "homemaker" when making a $2,500 contribution to Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.
- http://www.c-span.org/Watch/Media/2010/12/10/HP/A/41780/Sen+Sanders+Held+a+Tax+Cut+Filibuster.aspx Senator Bernie Sanders Speech 3:01:10
- https://www.applyformypremier.com/CardDetails.aspx?appid=GY1108061548D3W9R retrieved 8-6-2011
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