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 @

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Credit Card Offers Continue to Improve Despite Weak Economy

Discover More Black CardTo be perfectly honest, I don't see how the American economy can continue to expand while there are still some major economic hurdles to overcome:

  • Unemployment is still high, and will probably eventually settle at a rate much higher than Americans are used to. It's a whole new economy, no doubt. Anyone waiting for the jobless rate to drop below 6% is an anachronism. Tomorrow's July employment report from the Labor Department: expect ugliness.

  • Banks and corporations are hoarding billions in cash. Result: banks aren't lending the way they're supposed to, and companies aren't hiring like they used to. Banks are still collapsing at an alarming rate, while businesses of all sizes have been enjoying significant productivity gains since cutting back on labor during the Great Recession; they don't want to give those gains up.

  • Home prices aren't improving in any meaningful way. Moreover, the residential foreclosure crisis is still going strong.

  • The national debt is unimaginably high, and there is no political will to bring it down while the jobless rate is painfully elevated.

  • The very real threat of deflation likely means that a return to sustainable growth and prosperity are years away.

  • Distressed commercial real estate (commercial properties that are delinquent, in default, in bankruptcy, in foreclosure or are bank-owned) are rising fast.

Double-dip recession? I certainly don't want to see it happen, but I know it could easily become a reality. Here's what former Labor Secretary Elaine Chao had to say about it in a recent TV interview:

Yet, despite the dismal economic climate, credit card offers continue to improve.

Discover recently came out with the Black card, which has the best 0% Intro APR on both transferred balances and new purchases of all Discover cards, and also has the best cashback rewards program. We've always liked Discover's cashback program because it's easy to use and it's one of the most generous cashback programs in the American consumer credit card market.

Just as appealing as the Black Card, Discover has another new card: the Discover More Card with a $75 cashback bonus. This card is great because it offers the same 12 month interest-free period on transferred balances as the Black Card, but also adds a bonus $75 on top of it's already generous rewards program. In order to qualify for the $75 bonus, cardholders have to make $500-worth of new purchases within 3 months. Not hard, really.

Chase is also coming out with new, attractive offers. Chase has the standard Freedom Card, which is a great rewards credit card, but it also has 2 special variants of Freedom: Freedom with a $100 cashback bonus and Freedom with a $50 cashback bonus:

  • With the Freedom $100 cashback bonus card, the cardholder must spend $799 on new purcahses with the card in order to qualify for the bonus. Not as easy as the Discover cashback bonus card, but, then again, the bonus is $25 higher with this Chase card.

  • With the Freedom $50 cashback bonus card, the bonus is easy to earn. You get $50 after making one purchase with the card. Sweet.
There's also the new Chase Slate credit card, which offers 0% intro APR on new purchases and transferred balance for 12 months (Elite pricing, i.e. reserved for those with excellent credit.)

0% intro APR, no fee balance transfer credit cards are alive and well in the UK. When they'll return to the American market is anybody's guess. Hopefully soon. Thanks for reading.

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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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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Consolidating My Debt While Avoiding Interest Charges: Zero Balance On All but Two of My Credit Cards

I recently transferred a few balances in order to consolidate my credit card debt and take advantage of some great lower interest balance transfer deals. Once again, I used a "2.99% until the transferred balance is paid in full" promotional offer that was presented to me by the folks who manage my Citibank Dividend Platinum Select® Card, simply because it was the best deal I could find at the time (Discover is still sending me offers of 0% APR on transferred balances, with the interest-free period recently extended until June 2007--which is a fantastic offer--but I'm still not sure about using Discover, and I really shouldn't be opening a new credit card account. I think I have too many as it is!)

Within a couple of weeks, I will have a zero balance on all my credit card accounts save two, which makes me happy: it means that I have far fewer accounts to monitor, thus reducing the number of did-I-forget-to-make-a-payment-on-one-of-my-credit-cards-this-month? panic attacks, I hope. These days, if you're late on a payment, or skip a payment, you not only get in trouble with the credit card account in question, but all your other creditors can raise your APR's as high as 29% (not all do, but they can); they may also nullify any promotional APR's related to any balance transfer deals you've signed up for, which for me would translate to a nightmarish escalation of debt. It's called Universal Default, and it's perfectly legal.

Stay tuned for more on my adventures with credit card balance transfers!

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Thursday, March 09, 2006

Interest Rates on Non-Reward Business Credit Cards Come Down

According to the folks at, interest rates--or APR's--on non-reward business credit cards fell this week. Now may be a good time to get that business credit card you've been thinking about, as The Fed will most likely be raising interest rates right into the summer.

Here's a snippet from today's press release:

"In an escalating interest rate environment for consumers, the average credit card rate for business customers actually went down this week, according to the weekly Credit Card Monitor.

So far, 2006 has been a year of steady rate increases in the consumer credit card market. The average credit card rate for standard, non-reward credit cards increased to 13.33% this week, up from 12.60% at the beginning of 2006.

Compare this to non-reward business credit cards and you find a significant difference. This week the average non-reward business credit card rate fell to 11.30%, just a shade less than when it started the year at 11.33%. Of note this week was Citi's move to chop down the rate on its CitiBusiness card two full percentage points, to 10.49% from 12.49%. Citi also added a 12-month, zero-interest introductory offer to sweeten the deal. And they're not the first issuer to increase its aggressiveness in courting small business owners.

'For a while now card issuers have been holding rates steady for business customers,' says Justin McHenry, Research Director for 'But to see an actual decrease in the average rate during a time of consistent hikes for consumers is surprising. It tells you there's money to be made in the small business niche, and that no one is dominating that space right now.'

Credit card rates were steady in most other consumer and business credit card segments this week:

The average rate for reward credit cards offering rewards ticked up to 14.46%, from 14.44% last week and 13.80% at the beginning of 2006.

Business credit cards offering rewards did not follow the non-reward cards' movement backward, but neither did they move forward. The average rate remained at 13.42% for the third straight week, although up a bit from the 13.21% average rate at the beginning of the year.

Average credit card rates for college students remained steady (for once), at 15.87%. Nevertheless, that number has jumped mightily from the 15.18% average at the beginning of 2006.

Financial institutions represented in the survey include Advanta, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi, Discover, MBNA, National City, Providian, Pulaski Bank, U.S. Bank, Wachovia, Wells Fargo and more.

About offers credit card research, tips, news and perhaps the most comprehensive index of credit cards available on the Internet today, with a master listing of over 800 credit cards as well as categorized lists based on interest rates, reward programs, business credit cards, student credit cards and credit cards for those with poor credit histories.

Credit Card Monitor is a weekly survey tracking average credit card rates in multiple card categories. Credit Card Monitor information provided in this release may be reproduced free of charge, provided credit is given to"

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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, October 20, 2005

Advanta Platinum Business Credit Card Tops Competitors As The Business Credit Card with the Best Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

The latest news from the front of the business credit card wars is that The Advanta Platinum BusinessCard tops competitors as the business credit card with no annual fee that has the lowest annual percentage rate (APR): The Advanta Platinum BusinessCard currently has a fixed APR of 7.99%, and also makes its competitors green with envy by adding a 5% travel or cash back rewards program and a 0% APR on balance transfers for an extraordinary 15 months!

Right now, the average business credit card has an APR of 9.91%, and the average business credit card with rewards has an APR of 11.37%.

Click here for more information about the Advanta Platinum BusinessCard.

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