Saturday, June 13, 2009

Credit Card Reward Program Review

Reward Programs offered by the major credit card issuers:

Chase: Ultimate Rewards
; Freedom (rotates 3% different categories quarterly, with no earnings cap or expiration date); Chase Continental OnePass (credit card has $85 annual fee; 2 debits: $35 or 65 annual fee)

Citibank: ThankYou Network points program

Discover: Discover cashback; 5% cashback quarterly in different categories, plus sporadic monthly bonus 5% category; otherwise, purchases are tiered $1-3000 at 0.25%; >$3000 at 1.0%)

American Express: Membership Rewards; Different cards have different programs but usually 1 point/mile per dollar spent (ie. Delta SkyMiles, Starwood Preferred, HHilton Honors,; some offer 20,000 or 25,000 bonus points for first year with spend $500 or more...or higher, but have annual fees; Starwood=45;).

Capital One: The NoHassle Miles or Rewards

FIA (Bank of America): WorldPoints 1%

HSBC: Rewards Program (1%) They also have the Weekend Card that gave 2% cashback on Weekends, 1% on every other day.

* Depending on your FIA/BoA credit card, WorldPoints can be redeemed for different amounts. (For example, $100 gift card may cost 12,500 points with one FIA card, and 13,500 points with another FIA card.)
* Most reward programs that I have seen: $25 gift card for 3000-3500 points; $50 giftcard for 5000-6000 points; $100 gift card for 10,000-13,500 points.

FIA-SchwabSignatureVisa & FIA-FidelityAMEX: 2% cashback rewards; but requires a brokerage account, and you to link it. JPMChase-OptionsXpress: 1% cashback rewards, requires OptionsXpress account; has intro 12m, 0%, $75BT max.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

Credit Card Issuers increase their Balance Transfer Fees

It looks like using your credit card may be more pricier for balance transfers (BT), cash advances, and making purchases in foreign currency-transactions. By going to, you will see the changes:

Learn more about the WorldPoints®Platinum Plus®MasterCard® Credit Card

WorldPoints® Platinum Plus® MasterCard® Credit Card

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases Standard Variable APR:
between 11.99% and 19.99%.
The APR you receive is determined based on your creditworthiness.
Other APRs Balance Transfers: 0% Introductory APR for the first 12 statement Closing Dates following the opening of your account for all Balance Transfers and Direct Deposits. The Introductory APR will end sooner if your payment is late or the account balance is over the credit limit. After that, the Variable APR for any balances that were subject to the Introductory APR is between 11.99% and 19.99%, based on creditworthiness. The Standard Variable APR for Balance Transfers is between 11.99% and 19.99%, based on creditworthiness. See 1 and 6 below for explanation.

Cash Advances: Standard Variable APR is 24.24% for all Direct Deposits, Check Cash Advances, ATM Cash Advances, Bank Cash Advances, Overdraft Protection and Cash Equivalent transactions. See 7 below for explanation.

Default APR: Variable APR is 27.24% for all Purchase, Balance Transfer, and Cash Advance Balances if late or overlimit. See 2 below for explanation.

Variable-Rate Information Your APRs may vary. For each billing cycle, we determine each APR by adding a margin to the prevailing U.S. Prime Rate. The margin for the Standard Variable APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers is between 8.74% and 16.74%. The margin for the Standard Variable APR for Cash Advances is 20.99%. The margin for the Default APR is up to 23.99%. See 3 below for explanation.
Grace Period for repayment of balance for Purchases At least 20 days from the statement Closing Date (provided you fully paid your New Balance Total from the previous statement by its Payment Due Date). See 4 below for explanation.
Method of computing the balance for Purchases Average Daily Balance
(including new purchases).
Minimum Finance Charge $1.50
Annual Fee None
Transaction fee for Purchases Transaction fee for the purchase of wire transfers from a non-financial institution: 5% of each such transaction (minimum $15).
Foreign Transactions Transaction Fee for any transaction made in a foreign currency and any transaction made in U.S. Dollars that is processed outside the United States: 3% of the U.S. Dollar amount of each such transaction. This fee will be in addition to any other applicable fee.

Fee for Balance Transfers and Direct Deposits that are subject to the Introductory APR: 3% of each such transaction (minimum $10). See 5 and 6 below for explanation.
Standard Balance Transfer Fee: 4% of each such transaction (minimum $10).
Standard Cash Advance Fees:
Direct Deposits and Check Cash Advances: 4% of each such transaction (minimum $10).
ATM Cash Advances, Bank Cash Advances, and Cash Equivalent transactions: 5% of each such transaction (minimum $15).
Overdraft Protection Cash Advances (if enrolled): 3% of each such transaction (minimum $10).
Late Fee: Based on your balance as of the day the fee is assessed - $15 if $0 - $100; $29 if between $100.01 - $250; $39 if $250.01 or over.
Overlimit Fee: $39.
1 The Introductory APR is effective upon the opening of your account and does not apply to Purchases or Cash Advances, other than Direct Deposits. When the Introductory APR ends, the Standard (non-introductory) Variable APR is calculated using the Variable-Rate Information and is applied to new and outstanding balances (consisting of Balance Transfers). If your payment is late or the account balance is over the credit limit, the Standard Variable APR will be applied to those balances as of the first day of the billing cycle in which the payment was late or the balance exceeded the credit limit. We reserve the right to change the APRs in our discretion including, for example, the margins.

2 When your minimum payment is either late (i.e., not received by 5 p.m., ET, on its Payment Due Date), or the account balance is over the credit limit, on any two occasions within 12 consecutive months, we may increase each of your account's Standard Variable APRs up to the Variable Default APR. The Variable Default APR will be applied to all new and outstanding balances. APRs will be reduced a minimum of two percentage points, possibly as low as the previously applicable Standard Variable APR(s), after six consecutive months of making payments on time and not exceeding your credit limit.

3 The U.S. Prime Rate used to determine your APRs for each billing cycle is the highest rate appearing in The Wall Street Journal at any time within the immediately preceding three months. On May 29, 2009, the U.S. Prime Rate applicable using this formula was 3.25%.


These changes were effective June 1, 2009. And, here are those from Discover Card:

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) For Purchases
0.0% until the last day of the billing period ending during December 2009;* then the standard APR, a rate between 10.99% variable and 18.99% variable
Other APRs
Balance Transfers: 0.0% until the last day of the billing period ending during March 2010;* then the standard APR for purchases
Cash Advances: 23.99% variable
Default Rate: Up to 29.99%* variable
Variable Rate Information
The standard purchase APR may vary monthly and equals the Prime Rate plus an amount between 7.74% and 15.74%. The cash advance APR may vary monthly and equals the Prime Rate +20.74%.
The default APR may vary monthly and equals the Prime Rate + up to 27.99%, but such rate will never exceed 29.99%.
Grace Period for Repayment of the Balance of Purchases
At least 25 days when you pay your balance in full each month
Method of Computing the Balance for Purchases
Average Daily Balance (including new purchases)
Foreign Currency Transaction Fee
2% of the U.S. dollar amount of each purchase made in a foreign currency
Annual Fee
Minimum Finance Charge
Other Fees
BALANCE TRANSFER TRANSACTION FEES: 4.0% for each balance transfer made under this offer, with a minimum of $0.
CASH ADVANCE TRANSACTION FEE: 3% for each cash advance, with a minimum of $5 and no maximum. LATE FEE: $19 on balances up to $250 and $39 on balances over $250. OVERLIMIT FEE: $15 on balances up to $500, and $39 on balances over $500.

It looks like credit card companies are raising there fees, as well as their APR+Prime before the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009 becomes in effect in 2010. I know Capital One still charges 3% with no max for Balance Transfers and cash advances (they'll charge 3% fee if you transfer a balance to their card with a 0% APR for 11 months; or, you can choose 0% fee to the card with a 12.9% transfer APR). They're sneaky; they have some cards with annual fee, some without, some with rewards, and it different APR depending on if your credit is excellent, good, fair, or poor.

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