Credit Cards

Tips, news, reviews, caveats, trends, updates and analysis related to consumer and business credit cards, and prepaid debit cards. From the interest rate specialists @

Friday, October 07, 2016

Credit-Card Promotions Improving, And Here's The Proof...

Citi® Credit Cards
Citi® Credit Cards
The Fed lifted the U.S. Prime Rate from 3.25% to 3.5% at the end of last year.

While the U.S. economy is still not as healthy as it should be this far into the post-Great-Recession recovery, the Federal Reserve may still opt to raise short-term rates again as soon as the December 14, 2106 FOMC monetary policy meeting.

And when the Fed demonstrates confidence in the U.S. economy, big banks tend to respond by making their loan products more attractive.  American banks are more profitable when the short-term interest rates controlled by the Federal Reserve rise.

In the credit-card zone, I'm seeing the return of some very consumer-friendly promotions, including extended zero percent introductory APR offers, on both balance transfers and new purchases, and balance transfer offers that don't charge balance transfer fee.

I'm old, and I'm a very responsible borrower, so I always expect the banks and credit unions with which I have an established relationship to offer me nothing but the best. 

According to Equifax®, my FICO® credit score is 814 out of a possible 900.  A brief, FICO credit-score history is a new feature I noticed when I logged into my Citi® credit card account today.

My FICO® Credit Score - Brief History
My FICO® Credit Score - Brief History

What My 814 FICO® Score Means To Lenders
What My 814 FICO® Score Means To Lenders

FICO® Scores At A Glance
FICO® Scores At A Glance

Right now I'm taking advantage of three concurrent Citi promotions with my Citi® Dividend World MasterCard®:

    Citi® Credit Card Promotion
  • 0% APR on all new purchases until June 1, 2017.
  • 5% cash back on purchases I make at department stores (Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Dillard’s, Kohl’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, etc.) and includes the electronics retailer Best Buy, which suits my geeky lifestyle just fine.  This particular promo lasts from October 1 through December 31, 2016.
  • And last, but certainly not least, I am currently getting 5% cash back on all online purchases I make with my card, until November 30, 2016.

I understand the timing with the above incentives, with the holiday shopping season in the offing, but I won't be doing much spending.  I'm not rich, and I never spend for the sake of spending. 

Move Free® ULTRA
Move Free® ULTRA
But I did use my Citi card to purchase some Move Free® ULTRA Triple Action Joint / Cartilage / Bone supplements, which the website had discounted at buy one, get one free.  I'm an avid quad skater, and my knees have been complaining so much lately that I had to find a solution.  Move Free ULTRA has lots of very positive reviews online.

I like to use my Citi card every once in a while, just to let the folks and computers at Citi know that I'm interested in keeping the card alive.  The card offers the kind of value I appreciate, so I don't want some algorithm and/or employee to close my card due to inactivity. 

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Wednesday, October 05, 2016

One-Year Anniversary for EMV (Chip) Cards

A segment from the folks at Nightly Business Report on the status of EMV cards (also known as chip cards) in the United States:

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Saturday, September 03, 2016

Citi® Quick Lock

Citi Quick Lock
Citi Quick Lock

Citi® Quick Lock: A new and very welcome feature for my +Citi MasterCard®.

And because it is my habit to test everything, I tested it, and it worked perfectly.

I received a very rapid email from Citi when I locked and unlocked my card.


I have a business debit card with Chase®, and it would be great if the powers at Chase added this feature to it.  The card is connected with my business checking account so security is of the utmost importance.

And ditto for my Bank of America® business credit card.


Somewhat unrelated, but I just want to add kudos to both Citibank® and +Bank of America, because during the worst of the 2008 banking crisis and the subsequent Great Recession, both banks exercised decent and responsible banking with my credit-card accounts.  They did not:

  • Lower my credit limit(s)
  • Cancel my active account(s)
  • Force an interest-rate increase

During the worst of everything, my FICO® credit score either continued sideways or moved up, so I did not appreciated being treated like a subprime borrower by other credit-card banks, some of which no longer exist (go figure.)

Here's what my credit scores look like right now, provided by CreditKarma: TransUnion (808) and Equifax (811.)

Credit Scores
Credit Scores

 Responsible banking.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

Where's My Smart Card?

Citi MasterCard with PayPass Sticker
Citi® MasterCar®d with PayPass® Sticker
I was so envious reading about people getting their new smart credit and debit cards from card issuers, and I was starting to wonder why the banks I deal with hadn't sent me new smart cards automatically (smart card, also known as smart chip cards, EMV cards and chip-enabled cards.)

The tiny chips in smart cards work together with smart-card terminals to create a unique and secure transaction at the point of sale, which makes shopping with these cards much safer than cards that only have a swipeable magnetic strip. 

I'm not interested in having a radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled chip in my credit and debit cards, because of this, but I am interested in upgrading to smart credit and debit cards without the RFID.

OK, so it seems that banks like +Citi® have figured how to keep wary cardholders like yours truly happy by separating the RFID from the EMV, via a sticker (pictured, top left.)  You can attach the sticker to your smart phone, or to your credit or debit card, or to anything you'd like to use for contactless payments (like your car's key fob.)  This system lets cardholders use contactless payment technology (either RFID or near-field communication [NFC]) if they want to, and opt out very easily if they don't.

I Just Ordered My Citi EMV Card

With my Citi Dividend World MasterCard®, I clicked the Account Management link in the top left navigation bar, which took me to a page where I found a link for Replacement Card/Chip Upgrade.  Alternatively, I could have waited for my current card to expire, at which point Citi would have sent me a new smart card automatically.

I'm looking forward to the arrival of this smart credit card, as it means no more handing over my card to strangers who may do bad things with it while it's away from my eyes.


Note that:

  • Even with smart cards that have no RFID technology in them, the system can still be hacked, but it's still much safer than the fading standard of magnetic-strip swiping.

  • I've read of people complaining that they can't execute a convenient cash withdrawal on top of a purchase when using their smart debit card.

  • Also heard that some merchants are rejecting the old magnetic-strip cards now, because if the transaction turns out to be fraudulent, it's likely that the merchant will have to eat 100% of the cost, whereas before the cost would often be shared between the card issuer and the merchant.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

How To Disable An RFID Chip In A Debit / Credit Card

Having an RFID chip in your credit or debit card can be a security risk, as posted here, so here's a YouTube clip explaining how to disable these chips permanently...

Cards that use RFID chips include Visa® PayWave®, MasterCard® PayPass®, American Express® ExpressPay® and Discover® Zip.

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