Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chase Jacking Up the Interest Rate on My Amazon Visa

Got the news today that my Amazon credit card is getting a big interest rate hike --- from the current 10.90% up to 14.24%, a raise of 3.25 percentage points. That's big!

I have the option to turn down this hike BUT if I do I can't use the card anymore. AND I need to use my reward points before rejecting the hike, otherwise I lose them.

I pay off my credit card every month, so I don't really care and I'll keep the card at the new rate. But many other people have been getting these notices recently, and they're not necessarily in the same situation in terms of keeping their balances at zero.

On Friday President Obama signed a new law that is going to stop card issuers from doing a lot of things like raising rates on existing balances or changing rates with like 5 minutes notice. That's good stuff, but I will guarantee you this: every person in American who holds 2 or more credit cards will see the interest rate go up on at least one of them. These card companies know how to take money --- tell 'em what they CAN'T do and they'll start thinking about what they CAN do to get the money flowing again.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January 27, 2009: Capital One No Hassle Miles MasterCard

Today's credit card offer comes from Capital One. It is my special invitation to their No Hassle Miles Platinum MasterCard. The skinny:
  • 1 mile per dollar on purchases
  • 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers until February 2010
  • 12.99% interest rate
Now, looking at Index Credit Cards Travel Credit Cards page, I see:

Capital One No Hassle Miles Rewards Credit Card:
  • 1.25 miles per dollar
  • 0% APR on purchases until January 2010
  • 8.15% APR
It's hard to say that one is "better" than the other, because the mail offer I got is offering a 12-month 0% balance transfer (although there's that 3% transfer fee to consider). Otherwise, though, a higher interest rate and fewer miles per dollar.

This is why credit card companies structure offers in so many different ways. They put them out there, see what response they get, and then make new offers based on that feedback. You never know what they might offer next.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Back in the New York Groove

That's a Kiss reference in the title if you didn't know. I wrote it on account of I'm posting again after 5 months. Every time I post I promise to get back on a regular schedule and I never follow through on that promise. This time will be different. Really. We've got a new president Obama and when he asks me if I will blog regularly I say to him "Yes I can!" So here goes.

Here are the last 3 credit card offers I got in the mail:

First up is one from National City, a Visa Business credit card. They just got bought out, but they're not gonna let that stop them from clogging my mailbox. Their offer is for me as a small business owner. They want to give me a 0% rate on balance transfer until December 2009 and then an interest rate somewhere between 8.99% and 21.99%. Why not just make it between 0% and 100,000%? There is no balance transfer fee on balances I transfer with the app, and that's actually a pretty good deal. I don't have any balances to transfer, but I do have to give them credit for the offer. They also will let me be part of their "points from National City" program, although they don't offer too many details on it. I'll pass on this offer but thank you National City I mean PNC.

Okey Smokey, next up is American Express with a Blue from American Express offer. Wait, I already have this card! Oh, wait, I see, they're not offering me a new card but want me to add more people to my card. Hee, hee, that ain't happening. I like this line:

"Additional Cards let you be with your favorite people even when you're not, so if a friend wants to pick up dinner or a family member is away on a ski trip, you can still provide for your loved ones with Blue."

Yeeeeaaaa, I'm almost going to put my friends on my card so they can buy dinner when I'm not around. Just what I've always wanted, the ability to live vicariously through others via my credit card bill. No thanks Amex but thanks for the funny stuff. (Or the funny stuff you're smoking, can I get some?)

I think this next one is for real a card offer from Amex... yep, it's the Business Platinum Card from American Express. It says I could get hold of some of the "pride that comes from carrying a Business Card recognized the world over for its power and prestige." If I get this card I'm going to be like freaking James Bond, man. I've been over this before. I'm not much of a traveler, and travel benefits are the only upside I see to a card with a hefty price tag like this one has ---$450. I could buy a Wii for less than that and maybe a game or two.

One other note: Chase sent me a letter telling me about changes to the terms & conditions on my account. They are: Overdraft Advance APR is 20.99% (prime + 15.99%), Cash Advance APR is also the same 20.99%, and the default rate is (prime rate + up to 26.99%), topping out at 29.99%. I don't know what an Overdraft Advance APR is exactly, but I hope I never get one that's for sure.

All right. I promise to post again soon. Maybe even in 2008!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

7 Credit Card Offers in Three Weeks

It's been exactly 3 weeks since my last post and the credit card offers have not been the usual stream, it's definitely slowed to a trickle. Still, I got 7, which is over 2 per week. Let's take a look at what I got.

The American Express Business Platinum Card is first. This is the one that wants to charge me $450. I already went over this on the last post, but they continue to send me this same offer. No thanks.

An offer for the Capital One Visa Business Platinum Card with No Hassle Miles (say that 10 times fast) showed up in an oversized envelope that had a sticker on the front stamped Time Sensitive and a little fake code 29051154 on the sticker. Marketing. Anyway, this one offers 2 miles per dollar in spending for the first year plus a 0% balance transfer offer for a year. 3% fee on the balance transferred, though, and after a year it's just a mile per dollar charged. OK, but nothing to jump up and down about.

Next up is the American Express SimplyCash Business Credit Card that offers 5% cash back on gas, office supplies and cell phone service and 1% back everywhere else. This one is really a nice deal, especially if you're going through gas a lot. No cap on earnings, and no annual fee. Good interest rates, too. I've already got an old Chase card that gives 5% back on gas and some other purchases that I'm happy with, but I'd go after this one otherwise.

Bank of America wants me to get their Platinum Plus Visa that has a 0% intro rate on purchases and balance transfers for roughly 12 months. and an APR of 10.24%. I'm all about the rewards, though, and this has none. If I was looking for a nice 0% introductory offer on purchases, though, this would be a keeper.

American Express is trying to get me on board the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card. Comes with 20,000 bonus miles after the first purchase, which is nice. No annual fee for the first year, but then $95 per year. If I was a big Delta user, I might go for this, but I don't travel enough and have no airline loyalty.

Another one from Capital One, this time in a padded envelope. Cap One is the best at crazy envelope packaging to get your attention. I open it up to find it's not a padded envelope exactly, but just a piece of bubble wrap slipped inside to give it that cushiony feel. I like to play with bubble wrap, so it gives me warm feelings toward Cap One as I check out the offer for the Capital One Visa Business Platinum Card with No Hassle Miles. Hmmmm. I already got this one! Let's see if there's any difference between the two... yes. This one does not offer me the 2 miles per dollar for the first year, but it's giving me a 0% rate on purchases and balance transfers all the way to October of 2009. Another good offer if I was looking for a 0% rate to float some purchases for a while, but for now I don't need that. (The bubbles on the bubble wrap are too small for popping. Hmmph.)

Finally it's American Express again for the 4th time. This time it's the Business Gold Rewards Card. They'll waive the $125 fee for the first year and give the equivalent of a free airline ticket if I spend $1,000 on the card in the next few months. I might do this if I just wanted to swing a free ticket really quick, but I don't want any of these American Express cards that you have to pay for. It just doesn't make sense unless you really travel a ton and can use some of the extra travel rewards that you can get. In most cases, though, I think their customers are paying a fee with not a whole lot to show for it.

Ta-ta for now.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

American Express Wants Me to Pay for a Credit Card. Why Would I Do That?

In the past two weeks, I've received 6 mail solicitations from credit card companies, with 3 of those being American Express trying to get me to sign up for a card I have to pay for. Let's see what they're offering that's so great I'd pay for it, and we'll look at the other offers, too.

First off is the Platinum Card from American Express, which they say I'm being offered for being such a great cardmember for so long. (And I have been good, I'll give them that.)

This card costs $450 per year. What could possibly move me to pay $450 for this card? Let's see.

I'd get enrollment in the Membership Rewards First program, which is supposedly a step up from the Membership Rewards program you peons have. the selling point of "First" seems to be better travel rewards, luxury rewards from their First Collection portfolio, and "one-of-a-kind experiences." No word yet on what is so great here.

OK, I can get a complimentary companion airfare when I use the card to buy an airline ticket. That could cover the $450 right there. This of course assumes I'll be traveling somewhere that would make me fork over real money for an airline ticket. As the airlines know all too well, we're all trying to get by on frequent flier miles these days. Anyway, that could make this card worth it.

Another feature is access to airport clubs from American Airlines, Continental, Delta and Northwest. Nice for the frequent traveler, not so much for me.

From here the benefits are only so-so as far as I'm concerned. Upgrades at certain hotels, upgrades on certain cruises, membership in "premier" car rental programs, etc. No big deal. I'm not spending my time cruising around the world.

OK, back to the Membership Rewards program. It's still one point per dollar, just like the others, and supposedly it offers something more, but it's unclear what it is.

They're also telling me the card has a personal concierge service to help me no matter what I might need, from "a conference room in Boston" to "a gift delivered in Paris" to "help locating a rare edition of a classic novel." Who am I? Nelson Rockefeller?

There's also the By Invitation Only feature that gets you into experiences that "are simply not available to the general public at any price." Sports, fashion, fine dining, and performances are mentioned. It would be nice to include a few examples, like maybe if I get to be in the locker room at the Super Bowl, which would seem worth it to pony up some cash.

If you are a frequent world traveler and international (wo)man of mystery, I could see paying $450 per year, but otherwise I don't understand the attraction. Other than the free companion ticket, the rest is nice but not vital.

I also got a solicitation for the American Express Business Platinum Card. The marketing says "Be among the few who know what it feels like". That sounds almost sexual; I'm excited.

This one costs $450, too, and offers pretty much the same benefits as the card above. It markets the By Invitation Only events as good for client entertainment, which is interesting. It also offers a couple of event examples --- the US Open Tennis Championships and an unforgettable wine tasting tour through California's Napa Valley. (I once had a forgettable tour through Napa Valley. I have a hard time remembering it after getting drunk on so many tastings.)

So, same deal with this card I think. If you travel a lot, could be worthwhile, but unless you're going to use the companion ticket feature, it probably doesn't pay for itself.

Not done yet. I could also get the American Express Business Gold Rewards Card.

This one's cheaper. Only $125 per year, with the first year's fee waived.

Unfortunately, it's even more hazy as to why I'd pay for this card. I do get the Membership Rewards program, including the opportunity to earn some decent bonuses --- $5,000 points when I use the card the first time and $20,000 points if I put $1000 on it in the next 4 months or so. That 25,000-point bonus is an airline ticket right there. Not bad.

There's some other features they tout, but I'm not buying. Other than the initial point bonuses, I fail to see why I'd want to pay $125 for this.

Here's what I got these last two weeks...

I could get the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card (also from American Express). Costs $95 per year, but first year is waived. If I was already a heavy user of Delta, this would obviously be attractive.

I'm pre-qualified for the Banco Popular Platinum MasterCard. Nothing so great there.

Bank of America has a Platinum Plus Visa with my name on it. Offers a 0% rate on purchases for about a year. If I needed to stash some debt at 0% I might go for this, but I don't see anything too special otherwise.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Today's Credit Card Offers: American Express and National City Bank

American Express sent me some checks I could use to transfer balances from other credit cards and only pay a 1.99% APR until November of this year. Only in the fine print did they mention that I would pay a fee of 3% of the total transferred, capped at $99, but still.

Here's how I figure it: If I had a balance of $3,000 that I wanted to transfer, I'd pay $90 to do so. Well, if I had a card with a 12% interest rate, $90 would be 3 months worth of finance charges. Transferring the balance, I'd pay those 3 months of finance charges up front, then get the 6 months at 1.99%, then I'm basically back to where I started from. A little savings, but not much.

On the other hand, if I had a $6000 balance and an 18% interest rate on the other card, then it would be a much better deal, because I'd be charged $99 to transfer that balance, which is roughly one month of finance charges on that other card.

I don't have any balances to transfer, so it doesn't matter, but I thought I'd share the math in case you're thinking of doing this and wondering if you're getting a good deal or not. Watch those balance transfer fees!

I also got an offer from National City for a Visa Business credit card, which will offer me a 0% APR on transferred balances until July of 2009. and this with no fee on the transfer. That's a good deal if I had a balance elsewhere. It says the card's interest rate could be anywhere from 9.99% to 17.99%. That's kind of a big range, which I find annoying, but almost all the card companies do that now. You don't get to find out your interest rate until after you fill out the application and they send you the card. Surprise! You get a 13.99% interest rate! Surprise! You get a 17.99% interest rate! And if you don't like it, you have to go through the hassle of canceling the card.

Anyway, I'm not getting this card, although it's not a bad deal.

Friday, July 20, 2007

This Week's Credit Card Offers

Although I haven't posted since February, please play along and pretend it was just last week, OK?

Fine new credit card offers this week:

The Citi Diamond Preferred Card is offering me 0% on purchases and balance transfers until July of 2008 plus a 9.99% fixed APR after that. That's way better than what they offer online, where you'll see they're only giving the 0% on balance transfers and NOT purchases, and the ongoing rate is 12.74% at best. Plus there's the reward program. For me, though, I'd be more likely to take the online deal because you get 6,000 of those ThankYou points free and the mail offer is not giving me that. I don't need 0% anything, and I don't carry balances, but I do like my points, yes I do.

Next up is a Wells Fargo Visa Business Platinum card. Wellsy is offering me 0% on purchases for 12 months, interest rate as low as the prime rate + 4% (which would thus equal 12.25% assuming I qualified for their best rate), and "up to" 2% cash back on purchases, with the cash reward credited automatically to my account. I got excited for a moment and thought it was a straight 2%, but reading the fine print I see it's 0.5% on the first $350 of purchases, 1% on the next $1,650 and then 2% after hitting $2000. And that's per month, not per year. So you really have to be using that card to hit the 2%. Ah, Wellsy, your fine print stinks. That's the ultimate come on---2% my butt.

All right. Now we have the American Express Rewards Plus Gold Card, which has come in some fancy golf leaf enveloping. This is one of Amex's charge cards, which comes with an annual fee of $150, although they'll waive it for the first year. It's not a bad card if you're a traveler---2 points per dollar on airline and hotel purchases for the first year and 1.5 points per dollar after that. It also promises access to Gold Card Events, "giving you the ability to purchase some of the most sought-after tickets" to concerts and sports, "often before they're made available to the public." I wish I knew someone who had this card so they could tell me just how often they get some kind of VIP status to get good tickets. I'm skeptical, but that might draw me in if I really believed I could get good tickets to a U2 show or something. For now, however, it goes n the circular file.

I actually have a stack of 40 other offers I've received since I last posted, but I don't feel like opening them all. I'm wiping the slate clean and will only report on new mailings in the future.

A commenter asked why I never seem to talk about Chase credit card offers. The reason is that I'm already up to my eyeballs in Chase cards; it just so happens that Chase has had a lot of cards that I've wanted in the last few years, and so they really don't bug me with new offers very often. Maybe I'll close down some of those accounts that I don't use much so I can get more mail from Chase. Nah.