Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Yesterday's Mail

Yesterday's mail came a bit late but I got a lot of stuff, including a new credit card and my first credit card offer in about a week.

First off, I got my new Chase Cash Plus Rewards Visa (the names of these cards get longer and longer, just think if they sponsored a college bowl game with this card, it could be the Chase Cash Plus Rewards Visa Bowl). This card gives 5 points on gas, grocery and drug store purchases and 1 point on any other purchases, and you can turn the points into cash or use them for gift cards.

I'd been using the Amazon credit card because I like getting books and CDs as rewards, but this card actually gives me more flexibility--I can still use my rewards at Amazon if I want, but I can also get cash or get gift cards at places like Gap, Home Depot, Target, Marriott, Starbucks, etc. if I choose. It appears I only get the rewards every time I reach 5,000 points, but that's fine. I'll do that easy.

(My Amazon card gives me a $25 gift certificate at every 2,500 points, so I'd get the rewards faster, but I like the flexibility with this Cash Plus card. I might be saying goodbye to the Amazon card altogether. It's been a while since I've overhauled the cards I'm carrying.)

In other mail news, I got an offer from Universal Savings Bank for their Upfront Reward Visa. If you've never heard of this, it's sort of a strange card. You sign up for the card and get a free laptop computer--IF you transfer at least $5,000 from another card AND keep at least a $3,500 balance for at least 18 months. The APR I'm being offered is 9.99%--looking online it's possible you could be offered 10.99% or 11.99% as well.

My offer says I'd get a Dell Inspiron B120 Notebook Computer worth $850. Online you'll also find the choice of an IBM Thinkpad, an HP laptop, or a Dell desktop system.

It's not a horrible deal. It's tough to calculate this out, because you have to keep the $3,500 or above limit, but, using this calculator, I can see that if I float that $5000 balance for two years at 9.99% making minimum payments, I still only pay about $734, less than the computer is worth--but that doesn't take into account that making minimum payments (with no new purchases) would take me below the $3,500 threshold, so...my head's starting to hurt. I'm just going to figure it's a wash--if I got this card I'd pay about the same in finance charges over that period as it would cost to just buy the laptop outright, but of course I'd get the laptop upfront (thus the card name), so that might be a bonus.

After you're allowed to completely pay off the card, though, there are no more rewards coming as far as I can tell, so then you have a card with fairly low interest but no other benefits. That is a pretty low rate, actually, but I don't know if you could initially forgo the laptop and just get the card for its interest rate without transferring any balances. Probably not. I don't have big balances, though, so this card's not for me anyway, so why am I wasting my time? (Oh, yeah, they're paying me to blog about my mail. Almost forgot.)

This is a long post, so I'm not going to talk about my other mail. If today's mail is slow, maybe I'll add in some interesting observations about my water bill to thrill you.


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