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.