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, February 08, 2012

New Card from Chase: 15 Month Zero Percent Intro APR, with No Balance Transfer Fee

Slate credit card from Chase, featuring a zero percent introductory interest rate, and no balance transfer feeChase has a new version on their Slate card that offers a zero percent introductory interest rate on both new purchases and transferred balances for 15 months, with no balance transfer fee. This new card is the second card listed on our No Fee Balance Transfer page.

Great news, especially for those still loaded with Christmas shopping-related credit-card debt.

Actually, it's great news for just about anyone who's currently paying interest on any credit-card balance.

Even better: no "limited-time" attached to this new Chase offer, so this one is probably going to be around for a while.

To review other attractive credit-card offers from Chase, check out this page.

As always: enjoy! And stay tuned.

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Sunday, February 05, 2012

Citi's Best 0% Cards Bumped Down to 18 Month Zero Percent Intro APR Period On Transferred Balances and New Purchases

Citi Balance TransferCiti® bounced back into the 0% credit card game with some great offers recently. The following cards were offering a zero percent introductory interest rate on balance transfers and new purchases for a extremely attractive 21 months. These cards offered so much value that we felt that, despite a 3% transfer fee, they deserved to be list on our no fee balance transfer page.

Today's news: Citi has decided to scale back these offers. All 4 cards now offer zero percent intro APR on new purchases and balance transfers for 18 months, with the same 3% balance transfer fee.

Still a great value? Yes.

These cards are:

Enjoy...and stay tuned.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Slate: A New 0% Credit Card from Chase

Slate from Chase
Slate from Chase
The government continues to report positive macroeconomic news. Yesterday, the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released its Purchasing Manager's Index (PMI) for October 2009. The PMI came in at 55.7%, better than what Wall Street economists were expecting, and better than the September figure. For the PMI, any figure above 50% is a strong indication that the American manufacturing sector is expanding.

Though an economic recovery appears to be taking hold, too many Americans are still dealing with various forms of oppressive debt, a home mortgage balance that's higher than their home's value, and job insecurity. In fact, earlier today Johnson & Johnson, a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and number 29 on the Fortune 500, announced that the company will be cutting 7,000 jobs (that's between 6% - 7% of its workforce.) National unemployment, already at 9.8%, will almost certainly rise during the fourth quarter and into Q1 2010. A jobless economic recovery? Yes: we're in it right now.

The whole world is relieved that the subprime debt-inspired credit crisis, which precipitated the worst recession since the early 1980's, and which brought the American financial system to its knees, has almost run its course. The liquidity maelstrom of 2008 and 2009 prompted the banks which survived the subprime debacle to cutback on all kinds of loans, including credit cards.

But financial markets are on the mend, as evidenced by low LIBOR rates, a healthy TED spread and the return of generous 0% intro APR credit cards.

Credit cards that offer a 0% intro APR period of at least 12 months all but disappeared from the market last year. But they're back. JPMorgan Chase Bank, commonly known simply as Chase, recently revealed a new credit card called Slate. Here are the vitals on Slate:

  • 0% introductory APR on purchases for 12 billing cycles
  • 0% introductory APR on transferred balances for 12 billing cycles
  • Balance transfer fee of 3% of each transaction, with a minimum of $5
  • NB: The 0% intro APR is reserved for those who qualify for "Elite" or "Premium" pricing. Those who can only qualify for "Standard" pricing cannot take advantage of any interest-free introductory period with this particular card.
  • For those who qualify for Elite pricing, the "goto" rate (also known as the ongoing rate) is 13.24% (the U.S. Prime Rate plus 9.99%); for Premium pricing it's 17.24% (Prime plus 13.99%.) For Standard pricing, the introductory and goto rate is 22.24% (Prime plus 18.99%.)

If you have a good FICO® credit score (above 700), you will probably qualify for either Elite or Premium pricing.

Slate is a very timely credit card: it has arrived in time for the fast approaching Christmas shopping season. With Slate, cardholders can do their holiday shopping and have plenty of time (12 billing cycles) to pay their credit card balance down to zero without having to worry about interest charges.

The goto rate with the Slate card, however, is relatively high when compared to consumer-friendly credit card offers that were available before the global credit crisis (likely a direct result of new rules included in the Credit Card Act of 2009.) For the consummate borrower who qualifies for Elite pricing, the rate charged on any balance remaining after the interest-free, introductory period ends is Prime (currently 3.25%) plus 9.99%, which translates to 13.24%.

But the U.S. Prime Rate is as low as it can possibly go. As the economy heats up, it will certainly rises, and it will likely do so at a relatively fast clip as the Fed works to contain future inflation. There is no way of knowing exactly how high the Prime Rate will be a year from now, but if we plug in the median U.S. Prime Rate -- 8.75% -- then we get a rate of 18.74%, which anyone would agree is not consumer-friendly. In fact, any rate above 15% would be too much of a financial burden for the typical credit card consumer.

That's why we recommend Slate for anyone who can pay their balance down to zero over 12 months or so, which shouldn't be that hard to do (no need to go crazy with the Christmas shopping!)

As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated.

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Sunday, November 01, 2009

Will 0% Credit Cards Make a Comeback?

0% Credit CardsNo one can predict the future, but if our economic recovery continues on its current course, we most likely can expect 0% credit card deals to stage a comeback.

The Past
When our economy hit its low point in 2008, zero percent offers for balance transfers virtually disappeared from the market. Just months before that, there were a plethora of interest-free offers available, many of them being for 12 to 15 months. As our country’s financial health deteriorated, almost every bank terminated these incredible offers. Instead, they were replaced with promotional rates only valid for three to six months.

The Future
Today, we are seeing positive signs that this trend is now reversing. During the third quarter of this year, issuers like Discover gradually began to sweeten their promotional offers. More and more credit card deals for longer promotional periods have been popping up across the net. Unfortunately some issuers, like American Express and Bank of America, have been slower to follow suit.

Assuming we continue on the road to recovery, these incentives should continue to become more common. Initially, they will probably only be made available to those with average to above-average credit. Once unemployment and foreclosures begin to ease up, banks may extend these offers to those with below-average credit, too.

As the percentage of bad debt goes down, lower interest rates on credit cards should follow. However, it’s important to note that most have APRs which are now linked to the prime rate; if that were to increase significantly, then rates may go up.

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

0% Intro APR Balance Transfer Credit Cards from American Express -- and You Won't Have to Pay A Balance Transfer Fee

American Express Credit Cards
American Express Credit Cards
Here at, we are constantly on the lookout for the best 0% credit card deals. We live and breath credit card balance transfers, for the simple reason that 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) credit cards are, quite easily, the most consumer-friendly financial tools available today.

Allow me to present the anatomy of the perfect 0% intro APR credit card offer -- in my humble opinion, of course. Here are the attributes:

  • 0% Intro APR on both transferred balances and new credit card purchases for at least 6 months
  • No balance transfer fee for the initial balance transfer(s).
  • No annual membership fee
  • A competitive "go to" rate (FYI: the go to rate is the credit card's annual percentage rate that kicks in once the interest-free period ends.)
Right now, the best 0% credit card is the Discover Platinum card, a card that -- believe it or not -- meets all of the above-listed requirements! Citibank (Citi) also has 2 excellent credit cards that meet all of the above, except that they don't offer a 0% intro APR on new credit card purchases.

American Express® Now Has Three, 0% Credit Cards That Are..."Perfect"

Some exciting news for credit card balance transfer fans all across the country: American Express has a new set of consumer credit cards that qualify as "perfect 0% credit cards" -- perfect by my definition anyway -- and these cards offer rewards to boot. They are the American Express INSIDE Rewards cards. Details below:

  • IN:LA Card from American Express

    • 0% Intro APR on transferred balances AND new credit card purchases for 6 months
    • no balance transfer fee for the initial balance transfer(s).
    • no annual membership fee
    • competitive "go to" rate (factors including your credit rating will determine how low your go to APR will be)
  • IN:CHICAGO Card from American Express

    • same benefits as the IN:LA card above
  • IN:NYC Card from American Express

    • same benefits as the IN:LA card above

Of course, it's always important to remember that the terms, conditions, features and benefits of the credit cards we recommend at this website and blog are not set in stone, and therefore can change at any time. So if you plan on taking advantage of any credit card offer recommended here, try not to procrastinate.

Looks like the competition among the major credit card companies is heating up. Let's hope the trend continues!

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Friday, April 07, 2006

Chase Ups The Ante with A 15 Month Interest-Free Period on Balance Transfers

For some time now, Discover has been offering some of the longest interest-free periods on their balance transfer offers for new credit card accounts. But now it looks like the good folks at Chase are making a bid to break away from the pack by offering 0% on transferred balances for up to 15 months with the Chase Platinum card. A bold move on the part of Chase--no doubt--as the U.S. Prime Rate will probably increase by another 0.25 percentage points next month, and higher interest rates have a tendency to dampen the overall credit market.

There is a bit of a catch related to the 15 month interest-free period on balance transfers for the Chase Platinum card: you have to have a good credit rating in order to qualify for the "Elite" or "Premium" pricing levels, as only those who qualify for Elite or Premium pricing will be able to take advantage of the 15 month interest-free term on balance transfers. If you are still working on building or repairing your credit, then you'll probably have to settle for "Standard" pricing, which would get you a 0% APR on transferred balances for 3 months.

The other major credit card companies are still offering some highly attractive interest-free periods right now. Currently, both Discover and Citibank have many credit cards with 12 month, 0% balance transfer offers associated with them, and some of these credit cards come with excellent rewards programs to boot.

It's been a while since I've seen 18 month interest-free periods on balance transfer offers from the major credit card companies and banks; maybe the latest move by Chase will result in a return of the 18 month offers, or maybe even 24 month offers? Keep your fingers crossed!

The Latest Balance Transfer Offers Related to Credit Card Accounts I Already Have Open
Regarding the latest snail mail balance transfer solicitations that I've received--the ones associated with the credit card accounts I already have open--I don't have anything exciting to report. In fact, the offers appear to be somewhat less favorable, from a consumer point of view.

  • Providian (which is now Washington Mutual) offered me 1.99% APR on balance transfers until October, 2006. Not bad, but the low APR period is too short for my tastes. Pass!

  • BJ's (which is a Chase co-branded credit card) presented me with an offer of:

    0.99% fixed APR until October 1, 2006


    6.99% fixed APR until the transferred balance is paid off.

And the game continues.

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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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Monday, February 06, 2006

Latest Balance Transfer Offers from BJ's MasterCard (Chase)

Got a pretty good offer in the mail on Friday from BJ's MasterCard®; this was not an offer to open a new account, as I already have a BJ's MasterCard in my wallet (BJ's is a membership-based, wholesale warehouse "club" a la Costco; the BJ's MasterCard is co-branded with Chase Bank USA [a.k.a. JP Morgan Chase].) The letter began:

"We want to be your number one credit card. We noticed that you recently made a large payment to your BJ's MasterCard® account [via a balance transfer] and want to make sure we're not losing your business. That's why we want to remind you again of these low-rate reasons to stay--it's our way of showing you that your business is important to us."

OK, so far I'm liking the tone of this letter. The letter goes on:

"You can choose which offer is best for you:
  • 0% fixed annual percentage rate (APR) for 6 billing cycles with check number [check #1] and [check #2].
  • 3.99% fixed APR until the balance is paid off with check number [check #3], [check #4] and [check #5]
Use your low-APR checks to save with your BJ's MasterCard account, to deposit for extra cash, or consolidate higher-interest balances. Write them for any amount up to the unused portion of your available credit--and enjoy the money-saving result."

Not bad. The 0% for 6 months offer is too short for my tastes, but the "3.99% until the transferred balance is paid off" offer is quite appealing and I may use it to pay off my Bank of America Visa card which has a balance of about $3,500 right now.

If I do take advantage of the 3.99% offer, I won't be able to use my BJ's credit card until the transferred balance is paid in full; not because of a restriction associated with the balance transfer offer--no, it's because if I were to make any purchases on the card, those purchases would be subject to high interest charges, and I would have to continue to pay the higher monthly finance charges until the account balance is reduced to zero. Making purchases on a credit card to which you've transferred a balance is one of the ways that the credit card companies "get you" with these deals. It's not devious or underhanded, it simply punishes those who don't have the discipline to either a) read the terms and conditions of the balance transfer offer completely, or b) stop using the credit card to which a balance has been transferred. Make a purchase on a card to which you've transferred a balance, and most banks / credit card companies will apply any and all monthly installment payments to the lower-interest, transferred balance(s) first, leaving all other purchases and cash advances subject to the card's standard (and sometimes higher than standard!) annual percentage rate, and they'll keep doing this until the transferred balance is paid in full.

My dilemma is this: my BJ's MasterCard is currently the only credit card I'm using for temporary financing of the usual odds and ends of life. This is because all my other credit cards are either tied up in balance transfer deals or have a standard APR that is relatively high (for me, relatively high means anything higher than 9.99% APR.) I could just transfer my Bank of America Visa card balance using the above deal, then start using my Bank of America card for everyday financing, but then I would lose all the great rewards benefits that are built into the BJ's card.

No big deal, really. I'm probably going to transfer my Bank of America Visa balance and start using that card, because even though the BJ's card rewards are great, they require one to spend quite a bit in order to take maximum advantage of the rewards, and I don't plan on making any major purchases any time soon.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned for the latest on my adventures in the world of credit card balance transfers.

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