Best No Fee 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards

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Whether you need to save interest on your existing balances or you’d like an interest-free loan, many credit cards offer 0% APR balance transfers for an initial period of up to 21 months. I’ve looked at hundreds of cards online, scoured the “Terms & Conditions” fine print, and the listed ones below are the best that I’ve found with the longest 0% APR periods and the lowest fees.

It’s been harder to avoid all fees these days, but they can still be found. Also remember that stretched across a longer time period, the overall effective APR can still be very low even with a small fee. I’ve tried to include a variety of card issuers as that allows you to spread your balance across multiple cards if needed. Updated as of JANUARY 2018.

Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards – January 2018

Slate from Chase Card Art 1) Chase Slate® – 0% Introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 15 months. No balance transfer fee for the first 60 days of opening the account. Once the intro rate has expired, a variable APR of 15.74% – 24.49% applies. Cardholders will also receive a free FICO score updated monthly. No annual fee.

CitiSimplicityCard (1)2) Citi Simplicity® Card – 0% Introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 18 months. There is a balance transfer fee of either $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater. From our partner Citi, this is an exceptionally long 0% intro terms of 18 months.  The added balance transfer time can save hundreds of dollars in interest if you aren’t able to take advantage of the fee free options and pay the full balances off in time. Additional unique features on this card include no over-limit fees or late payment fees.  The Citi Simplicity Card has no annual fee.

alliantcc3) Alliant Credit Union Visa Platinum Card – 0% Introductory APR on both balance transfers and purchases for 12 months. No balance transfer fees. After that, a variable rate applies ranging from 9.74%-21.74% APR. A small catch is that you must be an Alliant CU member to obtain this card, but membership is open to anyone who makes a one-time $10 donation to Foster Care to Success. You can also receive card approval first before joining. No annual fee.

Discover it Balance Transfer4) Discover it® 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer – 0% APR on balance transfers for 18 months. Balance transfer fee is 3%.  The Discover it 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer also includes a robust rewards program, that offers 5% cash back on rotating categories throughout the year (like gas, groceries and restaurants) and 1% cash back on all other purchases.  As an added bonus, for the first year, all new cardholders will receive double cashback through their Cashback Match program.  There is no annual fee, over-limit fees or late payment fees associated with the Discover it 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer and all cardmembers also receive their free FICO credit score.

ejworld 5) Edward Jones Mastercard® – 0% Introductory APR on balance transfers for the first 12 billing cycles. No balance transfer fee on balances transferred within 60 days of opening your account. A catch is that you must be an Edward Jones client and thus talk to an Edward Jones advisor first to get this card. Watch out for high fees and hidden commissions in their investment management services. This hassle may be offset by the offer of a $100 Loyalty Invest™ Deposit after you spend $500 on your card within 90 days of opening your account. No annual fee.

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.”

Trim Savings: Connect Your Visa Card For $40 Cashback Towards Everyday Purchases

trimsavings0Financial chatbot Trim has a new feature called Trim Savings. (Here’s a previous review of Trim’s subscription cancellation service.) You link your existing Visa card and they will come up with cashback coupons. The offers are linked to your Visa card number so that when you swipe your card, the coupon is automatically applied as a statement credit on your account. No paper coupons. No codes to show. It sounds very similar to the AmEx Offers feature on American Express cards.

Limited-time promotion. They are currently offering $40 in cashback coupons towards “everyday purchases” like groceries, dining, shopping, and movies. While supplies last. Here’s how that $40 breaks down:

  • Groceries: $1 on any purchase > $5 (you’ll receive 10 of these–a total of $10)
  • Dining: $1 on any purchase > $5 (you’ll receive 10 of these–a total of $10)
  • Movies: $10 on any purchase > $20 (you will receive only once)
  • Shopping: $10 on any purchase > $50 (you will receive only once)

From their site:

For example: You sign up for Trim. We send you a $10 cashback coupon offer for shopping. You go to the Gap and spend $50 on your Chase Visa card. The moment after you swipe at the register, you’ll get a message saying “Trim saved you $10!” You’ll receive a statement credit for $10 on your Chase account.

Requirements. You’ll need both a Visa card and Facebook Messenger account in order to receive and activate cashback coupons from Trim Savings. When I did it, Trim only wanted access to my public Facebook profile. They say that SMS will be supported in the future. Here’s a screenshot from my Messenger account:

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What you’re giving up. The service is free, but you must agree that “Trim and Visa can share my card and transaction details to identify qualifying purchases, provide rewards and personalize offers based on my past and ongoing transactions.” Basically, you are signing up for targeted advertising in the form of coupons based on your spending history.

Bottom line. If you are comfortable sharing your Visa purchase history and have a Facebook Messenger account, Trim Savings seems like an easy $10-$40 bucks upfront for buying the same things you would have otherwise. We’ll have to see what other good coupons come up. Keep it afterward if you like it; unlink your card later if you don’t.

Barclaycard CashForward World MasterCard Review: 1.5% Cash Back + $200 Bonus

OCB_card_rRGB_CashForward_WM (1)Updated with improved offer. Barclaycard has improved this offer by increasing the sign-up bonus to $200 after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days. The $200 flat bonus makes this card work out better for those folks that don’t put a lot of purchases on their cards. For example, if you were to compare this card’s 1.5% cash back with a 2% cashback card with no sign-up bonus, you would have to spend $40,000 for the 2% card to catch up and break even. That could take years for some users. This offer now also has a 0% intro APR interest on purchases for the first 15 months.

Full Review:

Barclaycard has introduced a new cash back rewards card called the Barclaycard CashForward™ World MasterCard® which earns a flat 1.5% cash back on all purchases with no earnings cap. There is also no annual fee and an upfront sign-up bonus. Here are the highlights:

  • Get a $200 cash rewards bonus after you spend $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days after account opening
  • Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on every purchase
  • Every time you redeem, get a 5% cash rewards redemption bonus to use toward your next redemption
  • Redeem your cash rewards for a deposit into a U.S. checking or savings account, a statement credit or gift cards. Redemptions start at $50
  • Cash rewards do not expire as long as your account is open, active and in good standing
  • Enjoy a 0% introductory APR for the first 15 months on purchases. Plus, you’ll get a 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers for each balance transfer made within 45 days of account opening. After that a variable APR will apply, 15.99%, 20.99% or 23.99%, based on your creditworthiness. Please note, there is a fee for balance transfers
  • No annual fee

I suppose the 5% cash rewards redemption bonus could be used to think of this card as a 1.575% cash back card (1.5% times 105%), but keep in mind that it is structured as an incentive to keep you using the card. For example, if you redeem $100 in cash rewards, you will get $5 added to your rewards balance good towards your next redemption. You have to reach $50 to cash out again. As noted in the comments, you could maximize your redemptions by leaving $50 in rewards so that you can cash everything out next time easily. Keep that in mind as your $200 bonus will also get that 5% bonus to become $210.

The competition. Chase and Capital One also have their own versions of 1.5% flat cash back:

These competitors have higher effective cash back rates. Some have a few additional requirements which you may or may not find too much trouble.

If you put a lot of purchases on your credit cards, the gap between a 1.5% and 2% card widens. However, if you are a relatively light spender, it can pay to focus more on the upfront bonus than the cash back rate. For example, if you were to compare a card with 1.5% cashback + $200 upfront bonus with a 2% cashback card + no sign-up bonus, you would have to spend $40,000 to earn an additional $200 in cashback (and thus breakeven with the bonus). If you only charge $500 a month, that would take nearly 7 years. If you charge $1,000 a month, that would take over 3 years.

Bottom line. The CashForward World MasterCard is Barclaycard’s entry into the “simple, no hassle cash back rewards” category. The 1.5% cash back is competitive with similar no-annual-fee offerings from Capital One and Chase (with this card offering an additional small redemption bonus on top), but I would also compare it with the offerings from Citibank and other issuers listed above (especially if you are a big spender). Keep in mind that Barclaycard is currently offering the largest sign-up bonus in this category. You also receive a free FICO score updates from Barclaycard.

Alliant Credit Union Visa Signature Card Review: 2.5% Cash Back + 1st Year Promo

alliantccAlliant Credit Union, the 5th largest US credit union by assets, has launched their new Alliant Visa Signature Credit Card. This cash back rewards card is targeted towards high spenders, with a headline feature of 2.5% cash back with a $59 annual fee. As a first year promotion, they offer 3% cash back and the annual fee is waived. Here are all of the highlights:

  • 3% cash back in year one & 2.5% cash back after.
  • No limit to the cash back awards you can earn.
  • $59 annual fee, waived the first year.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • Works with Android Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.
  • You must be an Alliant Credit Union member to apply for this card.

Cardholders can choose to receive cash back rewards via a credit card statement credit (appearing within one billing cycle) or as a deposit into your Alliant checking or savings.

If you have an existing Alliant credit card, you can ask for it to be converted to this card. If the conversion is accepted, you will also receive the first year promotion of 3% cash back and no annual fee.

Comparison numbers against a 2% cashback card with no annual fee and no sign-up bonus. Instead of a flat sign-up bonus, with this card you are basically getting a 1% boost to your cash back in the first year. If you charge $1,000 a month, 1% more is $120 more cash back over a year. If you charge $4,000 a month, 1% more is $480 more cash back over a year.

After the first year, with this card you’ll get 0.5% more cash back and also pay the $59 annual fee. That makes the breakeven point $11,800 per year in annual spending (roughly $1,000 per month). If you spend more than that, the extra cashback will offset the annual fee. If you spend less, you will have more rewards with the 2% card.

Comparison numbers against a 1.5% cashback card with no annual fee and no sign-up bonus. Instead of a flat sign-up bonus, with this card you are basically getting a 1.5% boost to your cash back in the first year. If you charge $1,000 a month, 1% more is $180 more cash back over a year. If you charge $4,000 a month, 1% more is $720 more cash back over a year.

After the first year, with this card you’ll get 1% more cash back and also pay the $59 annual fee. That makes the breakeven point $5,900 per year in annual spending ($492 per month). If you spend more than that, the extra cashback will offset the annual fee. If you spend less, you will have more rewards with the 1.5% card.

Competition. The following cards currently offer a competitive level of cash back rewards. Please read my card-specific reviews for details.

Notably, the USAA card offers 2.5% cash back with no annual fee but also adds a direct deposit requirement. Perhaps more importantly, USAA membership is limited to members of the U.S. military and their immediate families.

Alliant CU membership eligibility. If you start the online membership application, it does a good job of walking you through their various eligibility options. The good news is anyone that is willing to donate $10 to Foster Care to Success is able to join. Here are their membership groups:

  • Any employee or retiree of a Qualifying Company.
  • Any member of a Qualifying Organization.
  • Any immediate family member of an existing Alliant member.
  • Anyone who lives or works in a Qualifying Chicagoland Community.
  • Anyone who is willing to make a one-time $10 donation to the Foster Care to Success charity group.

Bottom line. The Alliant Visa Signature Credit Card offers 2.5% flat cash back on all purchases with a $59 annual fee. As a first year promotion, they offer 3% cash back and the annual fee is waived. The annual fee makes it best for people that make a high amount of purchases on their credit cards, with the breakeven being $1,000 a month when compared against a 2% cash back card. Alliant Credit Union membership is open to anyone willing to donate $10 to Foster Care to Success.

USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards Visa Signature Card Review: 2.5% Cash Back

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(Update: The card application page is no longer available. USAA is not longer offering this card to new applicants.)

USAA, which serves members of the U.S. military and their immediate families, has a new cash back rewards card called the USAA Limitless™ Cashback Rewards Visa Signature® Card. This card is currently in an online pilot program and is only available for residents in (a growing number of) eligible states. To check your eligibility, visit the USAA credit cards page and select your state of residence. If you see the card listed at the top, your state is eligible. If not, the list has been gradually expanding, so check again later.

The headline feature of this card is flat 2.5% cash back on all purchases, subject to a few hurdles. Here are the highlights:

  • Earn 2.5% cash back on credit card purchases when you have a free USAA Bank checking account with a qualifying direct deposit of at least $1,000 every month.
  • No sign-up bonus.
  • Enjoy unlimited cash back on the amount you can earn.
  • Earn 1.5% cash back on credit card purchases without a direct deposit.
  • No foreign transaction fees.
  • No annual fee.
  • You must be a USAA member to apply for this card.

Here’s the fine print regarding the $1,000 direct deposit requirement:

Within 90 days of opening your credit card account, you must establish a monthly qualifying direct deposit of at least $1,000 to your USAA Bank checking account. A qualifying direct deposit is a single electronic transfer of at least $1,000 that you initiate with your employer, a government entity or an external financial institution. Funds transfers between USAA accounts are not qualifying direct deposits.

USAA membership eligibility. USAA is focused on serving members of the U.S. military and their immediate families. Here are their membership groups:

  • Active Military. Individuals who are currently serving in the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines or Navy.
  • Former Military. Those who have retired or separated from the U.S. military with a discharge type of Honorable.
  • Family. Widows, widowers and un-remarried former spouses of USAA members who joined USAA prior to or during the marriage and individuals whose parents joined USAA.
  • Cadets and Midshipmen. Cadets and midshipmen at U.S. service academies, in advanced ROTC or on ROTC scholarship, plus officer candidates within 24 months of commissioning.

List of eligible states. Here is the current list as stated on the application page, last updated in March 2017. The list has been growing slowly but steadily, so it appears the pilot program is going well and it will be available nationwide eventually. I currently count 26 states.

This product is currently available to members residing in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, KS, LA, MD, MI, MN, ND, NM, NV, NY, PA, RI, SC, TN, TX and WA. It will become available in additional states at a later date.

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • New Mexico
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Washington

Reader experience. Reader JD shares her positive experience with this card over e-mail. Note that you can redeem with just $1 in rewards.

So far, very easy to use (just started using it 2/22/17). There is a simple button you press (view and redeem rewards), which transfers you to the rewards web page. The rewards are posted almost immediately and you can redeem the rewards at any time as long as you have at least 1 dollar in available rewards. You can then transfer the money as a statement credit or into your USAA checking account (which you must open).

Bottom line. The USAA Limitless Cashback Rewards card offers 2.5% flat cash back on all purchases, which is one of the highest flat rewards percentages currently available. Note that you must (1) be a USAA member, (2) have an open USAA checking account, and (3) maintain a $1,000 direct deposit every single month to maintain the 2.5% cash back rate. If you don’t meet the $1,000 direct deposit requirement, you default back onto 1.5% cash back. USAA membership is limited to members of the U.S. military and their immediate families.

  • USAA Limitless™ Cashback Rewards Visa Signature® Card application link

Five Ways To Get a Free Credit Score (No Trials!)

Updated 2017. As noted, the government requires the credit bureaus to provide you a free credit report once every 12 months from AnnualCreditReport.com. Ideally, you should check in more frequently. The services listed below provide you a free credit score updated throughout the year either daily, weekly, or monthly. Most offer additional data taken directly from your credit reports, while some even offer free daily credit monitoring or free identity protection services.

As of OCTOBER 2017, all three major credit bureaus are covered: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. You do not need to already have a specific credit card. Being ad-supported, they can do so without the hassle of annoying trial membership offers, requiring credit card numbers, or having to remember to cancel anything.

Credit Sesame

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CreditSesame.com offers a free credit score every month, based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore). They used Experian data in the past, but it appears that most members have been migrated over to Transunion. Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required.

  • Free daily credit monitoring. Credit Sesame also offers free daily credit monitoring of your TransUnion data, with alerts coming via e-mail, text, or smartphone app. This service tracks more than 40 different credit activities such as a balance change, address change or when a new account is opened.
  • Free identity protection and restoration services. Credit Sesame also includes $50,000 in identity theft insurance and access to identity restoration support in their free membership level.

Credit Karma

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CreditKarma.com offers you two free credit scores, based on your TransUnion and Equifax credit reports and updated weekly (VantageScore). Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required. The two-in-one feature is nice.

  • Free credit monitoring. Credit Karma also offers free e-mail credit monitoring alerts of your TransUnion data.

FreeCreditScore.com

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FreeCreditScore.com offers a free credit score every month, based on your Experian credit report (FICO 08). Score range is 300-850. They require your full Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required.

  • Free credit monitoring. They also offer free e-mail credit monitoring alerts of your Experian data.

WalletHub

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WalletHub.com offers a free credit score based on your TransUnion credit report (VantageScore), updated daily. They also provide access to your full TransUnion credit report daily (although it may not be updated that often). Score range is 300-850. They only require the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number. No trial or credit card required.

Your Existing Credit Card

I wouldn’t sign up for a new credit card just for a credit score, but if you already have one, check to see if it offers a free monthly credit score as a perk:

Some may point out that many of the scores above are not FICO scores. No, they are not FICO scores because Fair Isaac charges more money for them and these companies can’t cover those costs with their advertising. However, these free credit scores can still be very useful for tracking changes and general trends in your credit history. Free credit monitoring is also a great way to track any big changes including fraudulent activity. There is value in getting an e-mail notification whenever a new account is added to my report.

Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card 75,000 Point Offer Review

Citi Hilton HHonorsUpdate – This offer is now EXPIRED

The Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card, from our partner Citi, is offering a limited-time bonus increase. Here are the highlights:

  • Earn 75,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after making $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening*
  • Earn 6 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent at any participating hotel within the Hilton portfolio.*
  • Earn 3 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and gas stations.*
  • Earn 2 HHonors Bonus Points for each $1 spent on all other purchases.*
  • HHonors Silver status as long as you are a cardmember*
  • No annual fee.*

What can I redeem for? Hilton points redemption varies, and they have moved towards dynamic award pricing with more focus on points + cash combinations. Hilton HHonors points are worth the most when redeemed for a hotel stay, as there aren’t really that many great cash-equivalent redemption options.

In order to find the points-only redemption rates, you must log into your Hilton Honors account and check the “Use Points” box when running a search. Here are some sample redemptions that I just ran for mid-March, comparing Hilton points vs. Expedia pricing side-by-side:

  • Honolulu, Hawaii. Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort is $501.33 ($440 + taxes) per night OR 50,000 Hilton points.
  • San Francisco, California. Hilton San Francisco Financial District is $418.16 ($359 + taxes) per night OR 60,000 Hilton points.
  • New York City. Hampton Inn Manhattan/Times Square Central is $358.08 ($309 + taxes) OR 70,000 Hilton points.

Silver Status perks include:

  • 15% bonus on all the HHonors Base Points you earn.
  • 5th night free on Standard Room Reward stays of 5 nights or more.
  • Complimentary in-room and lobby Standard Internet access during stays at Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Canopy™ by Hilton, Embassy Suites Hotels™ and Hilton Grand Vacations™
  • Two complimentary bottles of water per stay (at Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts, Conrad® Hotels & Resorts, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, DoubleTree by Hilton™, Embassy Suites Hotels™, Hilton Garden Inn™ and Hilton Grand Vacations™ hotels)

Please note this fine print:

Hilton HHonors Bonus Points offer associated with a new card opening is not available if you have opened or closed any Citi Hilton HHonors cards in the past 24 months.

Bottom line. The redemption ratio varies and while it is still possible to get $500+ of value out of 75,000 Hilton points, I would say a more conservative range is $350 to $500. The standard bonus is 40,000 Hilton points, with 75,000 Hilton points being the highest that I’ve seen. It is relatively rare to get this size of a bonus on a credit card with no annual fee. The complimentary Silver Status is their lowest elite status and offers a few small convenience perks.

There is also another card called the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card which has a $95 annual fee, but has a bigger upfront bonus and better ongoing perks for frequent Hilton customers. Two free weekend nights can be worth over 160,000 Hilton points. I redeemed for nice weekend stay in Hawaii myself, but I know that some people prefer the simplicity of having no annual fee.

“Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by the issuer. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of the issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer. This site may be compensated through the issuer’s Affiliate Program.”

Barclaycard Ring MasterCard Review: No Balance Transfer Fee

BarclayCard Ring MasterCard

The Barclaycard Ring™ Mastercard® has been updated with a low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances. Importantly, this card also has no balance transfer fee both during and after the intro period. Here are the highlights:

  • A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fees
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Chip technology, so paying for your purchases is more secure at chip-card terminals in the U.S. and abroad
  • Free online access to FICO® Credit Score

In addition, this posting on the their Ring Community page suggests that you can even perform a balance transfer directly to your checking account:

Online ACH Transfers. You can use the available credit on your Barclaycard Ring account to complete a Balance Transfer to your checking account online. We carefully monitor fraud and credit risk, therefore this ACH transfer capability may not be available to all cardmembers. Also, you can only complete one ACH transfer within a 30 day period.

Free FICO Score details. The free FICO score is based on your your TransUnion credit report, and updates every 1 to 3 months. Specifically, you will get your FICO Score 8 or FICO 08 model, which is the most widely used version of FICO. You can see how your FICO changes as you pay down your balances. Here’s a screenshot from my Barclaycard account:

b_ring_fico1

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Other features. This card does not have any cashback, points, or miles rewards program. There is a “Giveback program” that shares community estimated profits if you meet certain spending requirements, but there is no guaranteed amount and there is a certain hurdle that must be reached before any profits are shared. Since you have little control, I would treat any such profit sharing as a nice surprise but not as a reason to get this card.

Bottom line. The Barclaycard Ring MasterCard currently offers a variable interest rate and no balance transfer fee. However, I would wait until another 0% intro APR offer promotion.

Amazon Store Card Review: 5% Back on Amazon Purchases with Prime

amazonstoreA few readers have asked my opinions of the Amazon Store Card, a retail card issued by Synchrony Bank. You can only use it to buy things at Amazon.com – note the lack of a logo from Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or American Express. This is a separate product from the Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card (3% back at Amazon), which is a credit card issued by Chase that you can use anywhere that Visa is accepted. The key benefits of the Amazon Store Card are:

  • 5% Back for Amazon Prime members. Amazon Prime members are automatically upgraded to the Amazon Prime Store Card and can earn 5% back on all Amazon.com purchases.
  • No annual fee.

There are also financing offers, that come with the card, similar to retailer cards from Home Depot or Lowe’s.

  • No interest if paid in full within 6 months on any purchase totaling $149 or more. Interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date if the promotional balance is not paid in full within 6 months. Minimum monthly payments required.
  • No interest if paid in full within 12 months on any purchase totaling $599 or more. Interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date if the promotional balance is not paid in full within 12 months. Minimum monthly payments required.
  • No interest if paid in full within 24 months on select items sold by Amazon.com. Items sold by third parties do not qualify. Interest will be charged to your account from the purchase date if the promotional balance is not paid in full within 24 months. Minimum monthly payments required and may pay off purchase before end of promo period.
  • 12 Month Equal Pay Offer: 0% APR until paid in full. 12 equal monthly payments required.

As with those home improvement offers, you have to watch out for the balloon interest payment at the end. If you don’t pay in full, you will get charged back-dated interest starting back from the purchase date and not the end of the promo period. This credit line charges a variable interest rate based on the Prime Rate. The current Variable purchase APR is 26.24%. Yikes.

Commentary. So why don’t I mention the Amazon Store Card all the time? My rule of thumb is that a “hard” credit check can reliably net me at least $500 in value, usually from “try me! try me!” credit card incentives. It is very rare that I shop at any specific retailer enough to get $500 in savings. For example, it would take $10,000 of Amazon purchases at 5% back to net me $500 in cash back.

At the same time, 5% rotating category credit cards often have Amazon or a place that sells Amazon gift cards as an eligible category. Other cards like the American Express Blue Cash Preferred offer 6% back at grocery stores (that sell Amazon gift cards) or Chase Ink Business cards offer 5% back at office supply stores (that sell Amazon gift cards). Basically, there are other ways that I can stock up on Amazon gift cards at 5% off without having this card.

If you are a loyal Prime member that spends a lot of money at Amazon and prefer simplicity, then this card can make sense. The 5% off is automatic with your bill, and you get to easily track how much your Amazon habit is costing you. You’ll also want to be the type that either pays your bills in full or is great at navigating the fine print on financing opportunities. 26% APR interest is scary.

How To Stop Balance Transfer Checks from Chase, Citibank, Capital One, Etc.

mailbox‘Tis the season for a mailbox full of catalogs and credit card balance transfer checks. (Hint: There is a connection between the two.) If you want these “access” checks to stop, you just have to ask. You simply call them up (see back of credit card) or go online into their Live Chat or Secure Message systems and ask them.

In the past, I didn’t mind the checks as I wanted the opportunity to get money at 0% APR with no balance transfer fee. However, given the current low interest rates and the fact that nearly all of them have balance transfer fees, I’d rather just have less paper to shred. The wording isn’t particularly important, but you can just copy and paste this if you’d like:

Dear Credit Card Issuer,

I am writing to request that balance transfer and/or purchase access checks no longer be sent to me via mail. I would like for this preference to be applied across all of my credit card accounts.

Thank you,

Your Customer

Here are my successful results after online inquiries to Capital One, Chase, and Citibank. I didn’t have to call anyone.

Citibank. Via their Secure Message system:

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Chase. Via their Secure Message system:

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Capital One. I did this one via live chat. In retrospect, rather than waiting around for all the back and forth, it was probably easier to just send off a secure message and wait for the confirmation reply. Below is an excerpt of the chat.

nochecks_cap

If you don’t want any unsolicited offers for new credit cards sent to you, you can also enroll at OptOutPrescreen.com. This is not the same situation as above, because if you already have a relationship they can send you junk until you opt out.

American Express Small Business Saturday 2016

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This year, Small Business Saturday will be on November 26th, 2016. Although it was started in 2010 by American Express on the Saturday after Thankgsiving, since 2011 this day has been officially recognized by Congress.

As was the case last year, there will be no flat statement credits in 2016 for shopping at a small business. Instead, American Express is offering double points or double cash back through the end of 2016 for shopping at small businesses from now until December 31st, 2016. You must register here first. Find local, participating small businesses on their Shop Small map.

The 2X promotion works these various flavors of American Express. When you use your enrolled Card at small businesses:

  • Membership Rewards cards will earn 1 additional Membership Rewards point per dollar spent.
  • Delta Skymiles cards will earn 1 additional mile per dollar spent.
  • Blue Cash cards will earn an additional 1% back per dollar spent.
  • Blue Sky cards will earn 1 additional Blue Sky point per dollar spent.
  • Hilton Honors cards will earn 3 additional Hilton HHonors points per dollar spent.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest cards will earn 1 additional Starpoint per dollar spent.
  • Plenti cards will earn 1 additional Plenti point per dollar spent.
  • Schwab Investor cards will earn an additional 1.5% cash back per dollar spent.

Rewards cap applies; 2X Rewards valid on up to $100,000 in purchases per enrolled consumer card and $250,000 in purchases per enrolled business card.

American Express has also been adding a lot of new offers – including local small businesses! – to their AmEX Special Offers. Log into your account online and see what you have targeted in your area. You may also see 10% off your cable or Satellite TV bill, 10% off your cellular phone bill, $25 off Verizon Wireless, $20 off $100 at Staples.com, or double/triple points at merchants like Amazon, Target, and Home Depot.

If you have a small business and accept American Express but aren’t shown on on their Shop Small map, here’s how to get yourself added:

Please contact the Shop Small Team at 1-800-235-8916, Mon-Fri 9am-6pm, EST and have your federal tax ID handy. We look forward to hearing from you!

Participating small businesses can also sign up for additional marketing materials here.

This Fortune article discusses the positive impact that American Express’s statement credits from 2010-2014 had on small businesses after the 2009 recession. It felt good that this promotion supported independent retailers, whereas most promotions go towards the big chains. Small Business Saturday was also a clever way for American Express to tell the public that they’ve increased acceptance of their cards at small businesses, which has always been their relative weak spot due to their slightly higher fees for the merchant.

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FreeCreditReport.com Review: Free Experian Credit Report Every Month, No Credit Card Required

freecreditreport0Experian, one of the three major credit bureaus, has bought the domain FreeCreditReport.com and converted it to a place where consumers can view their Experian Credit Report for free. There is no credit card required, no trial membership required. Like most of its competitors, “free” does mean that you’ll see advertisements and offers for paid premium features. Checking your own credit will not hurt your credit scores.

All things equal, why not get your credit reports “straight from the source”? If I get my Experian data directly from Experian, that means one less third-party that may have access to my personal information. (I admit, I do sign up for a lot of such sites anyway, and I signed up for this one as well.) Here’s a screenshot (click to enlarge):

freecreditreport1

Sign-up process. You will need to provide your personal information like name, address, birthdate, and Social Security Number. You’ll also need to verify your identity by answering some multiple-choice questions based on your credit report data.

I’m okay with some unobtrusive ads and upsells in exchange for free monthly credit reports. I have not tried any of their paid premium features. I did notice that when you sign up, it is not mandatory to sign up for their special offers. You can still proceed even if you uncheck the box.

How can I refresh my report? You can refresh your Experian credit report as often as every 30 days, but only if you log in to the website. Many sites operate this way, as it reduces their costs of grabbing your score if you are no longer interested. Also, they want you to log in so that they can show you advertisements.

Bottom line. FreeCreditReport.com is legit, owned by Experian, and offers free access to your Experian credit report. Experian already has all your information anyway. No credit card is required. Being able to get an updated report every 30 days is more frequent than other options.

See also: Get a free copy of your TransUnion credit report (another of the three major credit bureaus) through the TransUnion-owned site called TrueIdentity.