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, October 20, 2006

The Reason Why The Discover Platinum Credit Card Is Very Popular for Transferring Balances

Discover Credit Cards
Discover Credit Cards
Lately, I've been getting emails from folks asking why the Discover Platinum credit cards are so popular for balance transfers. Why do savvy consumers chose Discover over the competitors?

Well, folks, it's really quite simple: Discover offers the best value.

The Discover Platinum Card offers an interest-free period of 12 months for both transferred balances and new credit card purchases. Generally speaking, other credit cards typically only offer an interest-free period for balance transfers, and charge interest on new purchases.

Discover Platinum is also a rewards credit card: icing on the cake!

Last, but certainly not least: there's no annual membership fee with the Discover Platinum card.

NB: The Discover Platinum Card used to be a "no balance transfer fee" card, but you'll have to pay a fee for transferring balances now: 3% for each balance transfer, with a minimum of $10 and a maximum of $75.

We like the following 3 flavors of the Discover Platinum Card (Update: "Discover Platinum" has been renamed to "Discover More"):

  • Discover® More Card- American Flag
  • Discover® More Card
  • Discover® More Card - Wildlife Collection

OK, now I know that for some of you, the next question is:

"What if I've already transferred my credit card balance(s) to a Discover account? I know I can't transfer from one Discover credit card to another, so what to do? I want a first-class, fee-free balance transfer offer, and I won't settle for anything less!"

If the above describes your situation, then we have good news for you: Right now, there are two Citibank credit cards that offer a 12 month, interest-free period on transferred balances with no balance transfer fee. The tw0 cards are:

  • Citi® Driver's Edge® Platinum Select ® Card
    -- 0% APR on transferred balances for 1 year
    -- no balance transfer fee
    -- no annual membership fee
  • Citi® Home Rebate Platinum Select® MasterCard®
    -- 0% APR on transferred balances for 1 year
    -- no balance transfer fee
    -- no annual membership fee
Remember: the interest-free period for the above-listed Citibank credit cards is for transferred balances only, not for new purchases, so you'll have to stay disciplined if you signup for one of these offers.

It's also important to remember that credit card offers can change at any time, so if you plan on taking advantage of any offer recommended here today, you shouldn't procrastinate.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Prime Rate Plateaus At 8.25%, and Will Stay There for A While

Prime Rate
Prime Rate
Just about every credit card on the U.S. market is tied to the Prime Rate. The Prime is currently at 8.25%, and according to the best predictions out there, it most probably won't go any higher this year. It's a good idea to stay on top of what's happening with interest rates, especially if you plan on consolidating your credit card and other debts. Timing is everything!

For example, you may want to hold off on consolidating your debts if interest rates are on their way down. Consolidating when interest rates are low can end up saving you thousands of dollars in the long term, no doubt.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A New Business Credit Card from American Express: The Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card

You probably know Starwood by the brands they own:

  • Sheraton
  • Westin
  • Four Points by Sheraton
  • W Hotels
  • St. Regis
  • The Luxury Collection
  • Le Méridien
  • Aloft
American Express
American Express
Yup: some of the finest, world-class luxury hotels and resorts are owned by Starwood.

And now for today's news: Starwood and American Express® are introducing a new business rewards credit card: The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card.

You'll be impressed with the rewards and bonuses offered by the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card. You can earn complimentary nights at over 800 Starwood resorts and hotels around the world. And earning reward flights is a snap, because there are over 30 airline brands that have partnered with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card rewards program.

And how's this for a great signup bonus: you get 10,000 Starpoints® just for making one purchase with the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card; 10,000 Starpoints can be traded-in for up to three free nights at a Starwood resort or hotel. Good stuff!

More details from a recent press release below:

"American Express Company and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. today announced the launch of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card for small business owners and the enhanced Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card for consumers. Cardmembers can take advantage of greater benefits and richer rewards, making it easier than ever for consumers, and now small business owners, to earn free nights at more than 825 Starwood hotels and resorts around the world and award flights with more than 30 airline partners.

New offerings on the Cards, include:
  • 10,000 Starpoints® bonus with first purchase – that's enough for up to three free nights(1)
  • Double Starpoints on stays at participating Starwood Hotels & Resorts and purchases at select Starwood retail outlets, such as Bliss Spa and more(2)
  • Automatic upgrade to Gold Preferred Guest® membership status by spending $30,000 on the Card in each calendar year
  • Access to private sales with select Starwood retail outlets
The new Business Card incorporates all of the improved benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card, as well as programs and services tailored specifically to the needs of small business owners, including the OPEN Savings(SM) program which was designed specifically for small businesses and gives automatic discounts on purchases at OPEN Savings(3) partners, such as Delta, FedEx Kinko's and JetBlue. In addition, the Business Card provides expense management reporting, an online spend tracking system and spending limits on additional cards that aid in better managing employee spending.

Both Cards showcase a new vibrant design to reflect the American Express brand, as well as Starwood's brands, which include St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, Sheraton®, Westin®, Four Points® by Sheraton, W® Hotels, Le Méridien® and the recently announced Aloft(SM) and Element(SM) Hotels.

'We are excited about the expansion of our partnership with American Express and know that our mutual consumer and small business customers will appreciate the enhancements that the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cards bring to the Starwood Preferred Guest program,' said Robin Korman, vice president, Loyalty Marketing at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. 'The benefits of both cards truly reflect our dedication to the principles that have made Starwood Preferred Guest an award-winning program - to set a benchmark in the industry and deliver the most generous and flexible award earning opportunities available.'

'In listening to our customers, they told us they want help managing rapidly rising travel costs and using rewards to offset travel expenses,' said Raymond Joabar, senior vice president and general manager, OPEN from American Express. 'The Starwood Cards from American Express offer consumer and small business Cardmembers one of the most lucrative rewards program with no blackout dates.'

Additional benefits for both Cards, include:
  • One (1) Starpoint for every eligible dollar spent on the Card
  • Redeem Starpoints at over 825 participating Starwood hotels and resorts in 95 countries with no black out dates – if there's a standard room it's yours.
  • Transfer Starpoints to over 30 frequent flyer programs, most on a one-to-one basis
  • Receive 5,000 Starpoint bonus when you transfer 20,000 Starpoints to miles(4)
  • First year fee-free, and $30 annual fee thereafter; fee-free additional cards
  • Automatic enrollment as a Starwood Preferred Plus member
  • Receive a 50% off certificate, good towards a Starwood hotel stay, upon Card approval and annual renewal
  • No limit on the amount of Starpoints a Cardmember can earn
  • Competitive Introductory purchase Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for six (6) months
  • Retail and travel protections such as Global Assist, Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance, Purchase Protection Insurance, Travel Accident Insurance, American Express Card Baggage Insurance, Buyers Assurance Plan, Express Cash Emergency Card Replacement, Emergency Check Cashing, and 24-hour customer service. For these and other benefits visit spg.com/americanexpress, terms and conditions apply.
The new Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card and enhancement to the Consumer Card are an expansion of the existing relationship between Starwood and American Express. The new Cards make it easier than ever for consumers and small business owners to quickly earn exceptional travel rewards through spending on their cards. Starwood and American Express have enjoyed a strong cobranded card partnership since 1996, when American Express first launched the ITT Sheraton ClubMiles Card.

The Starwood Preferred Guest program made headlines when it launched in 1999 with a breakthrough policy of no blackout dates and no capacity controls, meaning members can redeem free nights anytime, anywhere.
The program also offers members the ability to redeem awards at more resorts, more luxury properties, more European hotels and more golf properties than any other hotel program, which has proven to be a big draw for the world's most frequent travelers, and a significant competitive advantage.


(1) To be eligible to receive 10,000 bonus Starpoints, you must make your first purchase with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card within one year of Card approval. Bonus Points will appear on your Starwood Preferred Guest statement 8-12 weeks after your first purchase. Bonus Starpoints are for first-time Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Cardmembers only. You may have more than one Starwood Preferred Guest account, however, if you have or had any such account you are not eligible to receive bonus Starpoints you may be offered for any other such account.

(2) You will receive one additional Starpoint for each U.S. dollar of Eligible Spending charged on your Card Account at Starwood branded hotels and resorts then participating in the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program, and at stand-along retail establishments and on-line stores that, in each case, are wholly-owned by Starwood Hotels and resorts Worldwide, Inc.

(3) OPEN Savings(SM): Payment must be made with an American Express® Business Card. Savings will be credited to your American Express Business Card billing statement. All savings referenced are in addition to any offers made by participating companies. Participation and offers are subject to change without notice. Terms and conditions apply. For more information and the full OPEN Savings partner terms and conditions, please visit opensavings.com.

(4) A 5,000 Starpoint bonus is based on airlines with a 1 Starpoint to 1 mile conversion rate; equivalent bonus will be awarded in accordance with other airline conversion rates.
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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Application Approval Numbers for September, 2006

Credit Cards
Credit Cards
The folks who visit us here at www.FedPrimeRate.com are invariably looking for the best zero percent introductory annual percentage rate (APR) credit card offers, for both purchases and credit card balance transfers. However, for many visitors, it's not as simple as that: credit card deal hunters often want to know which credit card companies have the highest approval ratios, because many credit consumers understand that banks and credit card companies aren't always consistent with their application approval ratios (for various reasons), and it's always a good idea to minimize the risk of having a credit card application rejected.

So, as a service to our visitors, we are starting a new tradition: from now on, and on a monthly basis, we will post the raw approval numbers for the various credit cards listed here at www.FedPrimeRate.com; here are the numbers for September, 2006:

American Express® Blue
1
American Express® Blue CashSM
1
Chase - Sony CardSM
1
Chase PerfectCard™
2
Chase Platinum Visa®
1
Citi® Upromise® Card
3
Discover® Platinum American Flag Card
7
Discover® Platinum Card
1
Discover® Platinum Wildlife Card
1



The Citi® Upromise® Card is starting to gain in popularity, which is no surprise really: it's a great rewards credit card that helps families to save for college when cardholders shop for things like gasoline, clothing, home electronics and more.

As usual, Discover Card leads the pack, with a total of 9 approvals last month for the 3 varieties of their Platinum Card. Discover's popularity comes as no surprise: the interest-free period on transferred credit card balances for all Discover cards we have listed on this site is -- and always has been -- at least 12 months. A year long holiday from paying interest on credit card debt: good stuff! Discover credit cards are also highly attractive because most offer a 0% introductory APR on new purchases for 12 months to boot. It won't surprise us one bit if Discover ends up leading the pack next month as well. Stay tuned!

For those of you interested in comparing September's approval to a month prior to September, here are the approvals from March, 2006:


American Express® Blue
2
Chase Platinum Visa®
3
Chase Sony CardSM
2
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Rewards Card
3
Citi® Dividend Platinum Select® Card
1
Citi® Home Rebate Platinum Select® MasterCard®
1
Discover® Gold Card
9
Discover® Platinum American Flag Card
1
Discover® Platinum Card
1
Discover® Platinum Wildlife Card
2


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