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 @ FedPrimeRate.com

Friday, January 27, 2006

Latest Citibank Offer: 2.99% APR Until Transferred Balances Are Paid In Full!

Sometimes, this credit card balance transfer game can get very, very frustrating.

Today, I received balance transfer offer in the mail from Citibank: 2.99% APR until transferred balances are paid in full! A fantastic offer, considering the fact that the current U.S. prime rate is 7.25%, and will probably be going up next week. But I don't think I'll be able to take advantage of this offer, darn it (read on for the reason why.)

In the letter I received today, Citibank refers to itself as a "responsible lender," and to be perfectly honest I agree with that. The last time I took advantage of a Citibank balance transfer offer, the folks @ Citibank were gracious enough to raise my credit limit by a considerable amount, so that even when the transferred balance was added to my current account balance, the resulting balance was still less than half my credit limit, which looks great on a credit report (creditors don't like to see an account that's maxed out or close to being maxed out.)

OK, now for the bad news: I recently transferred a considerable amount to the very same credit card account that is associated with the above balance transfer offer. The deal was very similar to the above, except that the offered APR was 3.99% until the transferred balance is paid off. So now that I've transferred all the balances I wanted to transfer with the original 3.99% offer, I am now faced with a new offer that has an APR that is 1 percentage point lower.

Is the 1 percentage point a big deal? Sure it is! When you are dealing with many thousands of dollars, a single percentage point can translate to hundreds and sometimes thousands of dollars in savings in the long term, no doubt!

So I guess I have 2 options:

  1. Call Citibank and see if they'll drop the APR on the balance I transferred from 3.99% to 2.99% (or maybe I should try for 1.99%! The worst that can happen is they'll say "no.")
  2. Transfers my current Citibank balance away from Citibank, wait a few weeks, then transfer it back with the superior 2.99% balance transfer offer.

Makes sense for me to try the phone call first, but I am not very optimistic about option 1's chances. Wish me luck!

Please feel free to post comments about your own credit card balance transfer triumphs, pitfalls, anecdotes, etc. Your comments are welcome and appreciated!

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Are You Ready for The Carmen Electra Prepaid Credit Card & Gift Cards?

That's right, the Carmen Electra Prepaid Credit Card and the Carmen Electra Gift Cards are coming. One thing's for sure: the card art will be attractive. Yup.

More details can be found below in the snippet from a recent press release:

"Payment Data Systems, Inc. (OTC BB: PYDS), an integrated electronic payments solutions provider, announced today that it has signed an agreement with Meta Payments Systems (MPS), a division of MetaBank. Meta Financial Group, Inc. is the holding company for MetaBank.

Under the Agreement, MetaBank will be the issuing bank for select PDS prepaid card programs running on the various card associations and debit networks.

MPS and PDS will work together to develop a series of competitive celebrity, gift, and personal spending prepaid debit card programs. PDS is focused on aggressively developing and marketing prepaid gift cards, personal spending cards, and health benefits programs.

Louis Hoch, President and COO of Payment Data Systems, Inc, said, 'We selected Meta Payment Systems for their unparalleled leadership, financial viability, and their premier standing with the various card associations. The combined ability of MPS and PDS will create a card-issuing platform that will have unique execution and product capabilities.'

Ian Stromberg, Director of Business Development for Meta Payment Systems, said, 'We are very pleased to have PDS join us as one of our Program Managers. PDS brings to this relationship a drive to create innovative card products for this market and we're looking forward to the new opportunities they will present.'

About Payment Data Systems, Inc.
Payment Data Systems is an integrated payment solutions provider to merchants and billers. We provide an extensive set of tailored products to deliver world-class payment acceptance, processing, and risk/fraud management. Payment Data has solutions for merchants, billers, banks, service bureaus and card issuers. Whether you are in the market for card issuance, payment acceptance or bill payment solutions we have a solution for you.

Payment Data is the owner of the electronic bill payment portal, http://www.billx.com, which has the ability to transmit payments to thousands of national billers.

Payment Data is also the exclusive license holder of the rights to market the Carmen Electra gift and prepaid cards. To receive updates on the Carmen Electra card program sign-up at www.carmencard.com."


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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Are Credit Card Companies and Banks Resisting The New Minimum Payment Rules?

Question: Are banks and credit card companies resisting the new monthly minimum payment rules? According to the following press release*, maybe:

"Contrary to reports in many media outlets, an IndexCreditCards.com survey of the seven largest credit card issuers found that none is doubling credit card minimum payments. In fact, most are adhering strictly to new federal guidelines or believe that their current minimum payment formulas are adequate to satisfy the government’s desire to see credit card balances paid in a reasonable amount of time.

Guidance from the government’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency suggested that card issuers should require their customers to pay monthly at least one percent of their principal credit card balances, plus all finance charges and any fees. The goal was to get balances paid down -- under the previous industry standard two percent minimum payment, customers with high balances could conceivably 'meet the minimum' without even paying off a full month's interest, much less taking a chunk out of the principal balance.

While the government’s guidance led to fears that credit card minimums might double, information from the seven largest card issuers (who own an estimated 60% to 70% share of the credit card market) suggests otherwise:

• Four of the largest issuers are strictly adhering to the new guidelines of one percent of the principal balance, plus interest and fees.

• Two issuers are making no changes, due to long-standing minimum payment policies that the companies feel already address the government’s concerns.

• One issuer has thus far made no change to their minimum payment policy of 2% of the credit card balance.

'In mid-December we reported that claims of minimum payments doubling were not accurate; now we have the proof,' said Justin McHenry, Research Director for IndexCreditCards.com. 'Most credit card issuers are adhering to exactly what the government suggested or are sticking with minimum payments already above those guidelines. While some customers will see increased credit card minimums, the impact will be slight--certainly not a doubling.'

By way of example, a person with a $10,000 credit card debt and a 19% annual interest rate would have a required monthly payment of approximately $203.16 using the old 2% minimum payment standard. Under new requirements that most issuers are using, the monthly payment would be $258.33 ($158.33 in interest, plus $100 of the outstanding balance). This is a difference of roughly $55 - on a balance and interest rate that exceeds what the average consumer is carrying."

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Nonstop Snail Mail Credit Card Offers from Discover and Capital One

If I had the ability to convert all the paper used to print and mail all the offers of credit sent to me by Discover Bank back into trees, I would be able to build myself a small forest, no doubt.

The folks @ Discover are obviously very aggressive marketers, and I really have no problem with aggressive marketing (it's the American way, really) but enough is enough! I get a new snail mail credit card offer from Discover at least once a week, and it's just too much. Same goes for Capital One: Capital One has been sending me snail mail offers for a business credit card on a regular basis even though I already have a business credit card issued by them! That kind of waste in not acceptable.

The folks @ Discover are offering some of the best zero percent balance transfer and intro APR deals in the credit card market today; e.g. 2 days ago I received a 0% into APR balance transfer offer from Discover that has an interest free period on transferred balances that lasts until April of 2007 (with a "go-to" rate of 9.99%.) That's a great deal, and I am the king of transferring credit card balances, but I won't risk another rejection by Discover. Allow me to elaborate.

I don't believe that the folks @ Discover Bank are a bunch of scammers, but they really need to clean up their offers. In the most recent snail mail offer I received from Discover Bank, the letter begins:

Dear [Me],

On your journey to financial success, there are markers that clearly show your progress. I'm pleased to announce you have reached on of these milestones. You're Pre-Approved for the no-annual-fee Discover® Platinum Clear Card and these superior benefits:

0% intro APR. Receive a 0% APR on purchases until September 2006. Save with our low 9.99% APR thereafter. Plus, save even more when you transfer your higher-rate balances to our 0% APR until April 2007...

The bold in the above quoted text is not my own embellishment, that's how the text appears in the letter.

Ok, now the thing is, this is the same (or very similar) introduction I read in a previous offer of credit from Discover, an offer that looked really great. So I applied, and even though my FICO credit score was near-elite in status, and even though I was "pre-approved," the folks @ Discover rejected my application! The guy on the phone said something about a derogatory item on my credit report, but I found that very hard to believe because:

a) I've haven't been denied an offer of personal credit in this century--literally; car loan, credit cards--you name it: I've been approved.

b) I check my credit report with all three credit bureaus on a regular basis, and I know that there are no derogatory items.

Pre-approved? Ha!

It's a shame that Discover rejected my application, because every rejection looks bad on a credit report (I was able to transfer my target credit card balance to a Citibank zero percent balance transfer offer, but the Discover rejection still looks bad.) So now I have to cool my balance transferring jets for a while so as to give my credit history some time to absorb the Discover rejection.

I've noted a prescreen, opt-out notice on the latest Discover credit card offer, so I am going to call and get myself off their mailing list on Monday (FYI: the number is 1-888-567-8688.) I'll report here again when the offers stop coming, which I am hoping will happen soon.

I'm curious about the kind of support offered with a Discover credit card. If you have one, please post your comments about the company, especially if you've had any experience with Discover support. Thanks!


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Friday, January 13, 2006

American Express® Has A New Business Credit Card: The Platinum Business FreedomPass Credit Card from OPEN

American Express® has recently introduced a new business credit card with a great rewards program, no annual fee, 0% intro APR on purchases, travel accident insurance and more. It's the Platinum Business FreedomPass Credit Card from OPENSM. Click here for more info.

The Platinum Business FreedomPass Credit Card also offers:

  • 5000 point welcome bonus

  • Redeem for savings on any flight, hotel, car rental or cruise

  • No blackout dates and no travel restrictions

  • OPEN Savings including Travel Accident insurance and Purchase Protection Plan

Click Here to Apply.

Click here to view other great credit card offers from American Express.

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