Make Your Credit Card Work For You
Many consumers with impeccable credit have seen huge rate and fee increases imposed on them recently by the major credit card companies – see Pay Back Time For Credit Card Companies.
There are many well run, lesser known card issuers who lent responsibly and do not have to charge exorbitant rates to cover large credit losses. Many of these card issuers have tougher underwriting standards but their rates reflect the lower credit risk of customers that they approve. Many of these card issuers also offer substantial benefits to their customers in the form of cash rebates or travel miles.
If you have great credit and are annoyed by the manner in which your current card issuer has treated you, it is certainly worth the effort to see what the competition is offering. The new credit card legislation restricts some of the more obnoxious tactics employed by many large card issuers but does not do much to restrict the interest rate or fees charged to A+ customers who deserve better treatment.
The Credit Card Good Guys
Many smaller banks and credit unions are offering some of the better deals in the credit card industry. Since credit cards are a basic necessity for most of us, it’s worth shopping around for the best deals. Here’s a sampling, courtesy of Kiplinger.
Pentagon Federal Credit Union’s Visa Platinum Rewards card. There is no annual fee, and you get a 5% rebate on gas, 2% on groceries and 1.25% on everything else.
Visa Classic card from Pulaski Bank & Trust (soon to be known as Iberia Bank), in Little Rock, Ark. The 0% balance-transfer offer is good for six billing cycles, and there is no transfer fee.
The BP Visa gas card earns a 5% rebate on gas, 2% on travel and dining, and 1% on everything else. Plus, you get double rebates for the first 60 days. We also like the Simmons First Visa Platinum Travel Reward card. You earn one point for each dollar spent; it takes 22,000 points for a plane ticket anywhere in the 48 contiguous states.
Despite a $35 annual fee, for a low rate it’s tough to beat Iberia’s Visa Classic cards, with a purchase rate fixed at 6.5%, compared with a national average of about 13%. Farm Bureau Bank’s no-fee Platinum MasterCard currently carries a low, 5.24% variable rate.
For each $2,500 you charge on your Wells Fargo Home Rebate card, the bank applies 1% of that amount to the principal of your Wells Fargo mortgage. Fidelity Retirement Rewards American Express card gives Fidelity account holders a 2% rebate that can be deposited in any Fidelity-managed individual retirement account. The Schwab Bank Invest First Visa card sweeps a 2% rebate into your Schwab IRA or brokerage account.
The new Upromise World MasterCard deposits a 1% rebate on all purchases in your Upromise college-savings account, then adds another 10% rebate on spendng at drugstores and groceries. Fidelity’s 529 College Rewards American Express card earns a 2% rebate that can go into any Fidelity-managed 529 account.