Staples: Save $5 on Activation Fee of $200 Visa Gift Cards (4/11/21 – 4/17/21), Limit 5

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Staples stores are selling $200 Visa gift cards with a $5 discount off the regular activation fee cost ($6.95) from 4/11/21 – 4/17/21.

The Fine Print

  • Limit 5 per customer
  • Valid 4/11/21 – 4/17/21
  • In-store only

Our Verdict

Not as good as the deals where the full activation fee is waived, but still good enough for people with cards that earn at a high rate on office supply store purchases.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

What to Do with Your Old Credit Cards

You know that “starter” credit card collecting dust in your wallet? The one with a high interest rate, lackluster benefits, and zero rewards? Now that you’ve upgraded to a better card, you might be tempted to close your old cards and never look back.

Not so fast! Canceling your old credit cards can actually hurt your credit score. Old, unused credit cards can still build credit, but you need to keep them open.

Here’s what to do with your old credit cards.

Keep Them Open

If you keep them open, your old credit cards will positively influence two of the factors that determine your credit score: length of credit history and credit utilization rate.

Length of Credit History

The length of your credit history makes up about 15% of your FICO credit score. Over time, your credit cards and loans contribute to that history. The longer you’ve been managing credit, the better.

If you start closing accounts, they’ll no longer build up your credit history, which is especially valuable when you’re new to credit.

Credit Utilization Rate

Your credit utilization rate makes up roughly 30% of your FICO credit score. Simply put, it’s the amount of your available credit that is tied up in debt. For example, if you have two credit cards with a combined credit limit of $10,000, and your combined statement balance for those cards is $2,000, then your credit utilization rate is 20% (2,000/10,000 = .20).

If you close an old credit card, you’re automatically lowering your credit ceiling. Any balances you carry on other cards will take up a greater percentage of your available credit and raise your credit utilization rate.

A good rule of thumb is to use less than 30% of your available credit.

Get Rid of Interest and Fees

Keeping old credit cards open can help you build credit, but you won’t want to pay for the privilege of doing so.

First, stop making new purchases on your old card. Second, pay down the balance to $0 as quickly as possible. This way, you can avoid accruing interest on recent charges and you’ll have one less payment to keep track of.

You may be tempted to close your card if there’s an annual fee. Before you do, contact your credit card provider and see if they’ll waive the fee in exchange for keeping your account open. Or, try to downgrade your card to a free option with the same credit limit.

Keep Them Secure

Once decide to stop using your card, you should keep it out of the hands of thieves. Even though federal law limits your liability for unauthorized charges to $50 (many credit card companies extend that to $0), you don’t want a thief running wild on your credit card.

Keep your card in a secure place. You don’t need to carry it around in your wallet, but it should be accessible in case of emergency.

You may also want to scrub your old credit card from the internet. If shopping websites or other companies have your old card number on file, consider updating your information. You can replace it with your new card number or even switch to virtual card numbers for greater security.

Even after you take these precautions, your card could still be vulnerable. Read your monthly statements or periodically check your account to make sure your card hasn’t been compromised.

Is There a Valid Reason to Close Your Credit Card?

There are many valid reasons to close an old credit card, even considering the implications for your credit score.

If you are having financial problems and you can’t manage your debts responsibly, you may need to take a break from credit cards altogether. If the credit card company won’t cancel your annual fee, the benefits might not be worth the expense. And if your credit is strong enough to take the hit, you may want to cancel for simplicity’s sake.

Just remember to consider the effect that closing an old credit card will have on your credit.

If you’re concerned about your credit, you can check your three credit reports for free once a year. To track your credit more regularly, Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card is an easy-to-understand breakdown of your credit report information that uses letter grades—plus you get a free credit score updated every 14 days.

You can also carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

Image: iStock

Source: credit.com

New Credit Card Rules Take Effect: CARD Act Of 2009

Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act (CARD) of 2009

On May 22nd, 2009 Barack Obama signed new legislation into law called the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (Credit CARD Act).  The law was supposed to force credit card companies to become more transparent with their fees, interest rates and other provisions, and create a more consumer friendly environment.  Whether or not that will actually happen is still up for debate.  As of yesterday, February 22nd, 2010, the law is now in effect.

Provisions Of The 2009 CARD Act

The bill looks to put some limits on what the credit card companies can do in regards to charging fees, upping interest rates,and in theory forces them to be more transparent with customers.  Many believe it will significantly change the face of the credit card industry.   Some of the major provisions include:

  • Requires credit card companies to give cardholders 45 days advance notice of an increase in interest rates.  (You can opt out of interest rate hikes, meaning you can repay at your current rate, but not make new purchases)
  • Prohibits credit card companies from increasing interest rates retroactively on existing balances unless the cardholder is more than 60 days late in making a payment. If the cardholder pays on time for the following six months, the company will have to restore the original rate.
  • Prohibits credit card companies from marketing and issuing cards to borrowers under the age of 21.
  • Requires balances with higher interest rates to be paid first, instead of lower interest first as many companies do now.
  • Permits consumers to set credit limits lower than the limit offered by the credit card company.
  • Requires that statements be mailed out at least 21 days before payment is due.
  • Card issuers can’t charge customers extra fees to pay their bill unless it is an expedited payment.
  • Card holders must give consent to allow card issuers to process over the limit transactions. Even with consent, only one over limit fee is allowed per billing cycle.

Side Effects Of The Card Act

A lot of people are saying that the CARD Act could have unintended consequences.  Among them:

  • Possible reduction in airline miles, bonus programs and cash rewards programs.
  • New annual fees implemented where there weren’t any before.
  • Annual fees raised.
  • Reduced rebates.
  • Harder to get a credit card, even for those with good credit.
  • Increased transaction fees for retailers (higher costs for consumers?).

All in all I think the legislation isn’t necessarily bad, I just don’t think it will help as many people as it’s supposed to – and the banks will find ways around the new laws.  A new day, a new scheme to make money.

Really want to cut out your worries about using credit cards?  Pay cash instead!

What’s your opinion of the CARD Act?  Do you think it will be beneficial for consumers?  Have you seen your rates at your bank go up? Have you gotten a barrage of new credit card fees and regulations pamphlets in the mail?  Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

[Targeted] Best Buy Credit Card: Spend $250+ At Best Buy & Get $25 Credit

Update 4/13/21: Deal is back until the 17th, I suspect this will be available every week.

The Offer

No direct link to offer

  • Some Best Buy credit cardholders are being offered a $25 Best Buy eGiftcard when you activate and spend $250 or more in a single purchase at Best Buy

The Fine Print

  • Valid until 4/10/21

Our Verdict

Nice offer if you can make use of the best buy credit.

Source: doctorofcredit.com

[Targeted] Redeem American Express Membership Rewards Points against Charges with 40% Discount (1 cent-per-point)

Some people are seeing an option to cover their American Express charges by redeeming Membership Rewards points to offset the charge and getting a 40% discount on the redemption. Whereas typically redemptions against charges offer a poor value of .6 cents-per-point, those who have this offer can offset these eligible charges at a full 1 cent-per-point value.

Lots of people get better value than 1-cent from their Membership Rewards points, but this could be useful for those who don’t. If you have a Schwab American Express Platinum card, you can get 1.25 cents per point always.

Hat tip to reader Cavin

Source: doctorofcredit.com

AmEx Gold & Platinum Cards: What’s the Difference?

[UPDATE: Some offers mentioned below have expired and/or are no longer available on our site. You can view the current offers from our partners in our credit card marketplace. DISCLOSURE: Cards from our partners are mentioned below.]

When many people imagine a credit card or charge card, they probably think of one of the traditional cards from American Express that have been around for decades, including the Green, Gold and Platinum cards.

American Express has added more cards to its product line over the years, but it still continues to update its traditional products and offer them to new applicants.

Why Choose Amex?

When people who use American Express were asked why they use this company, the feedback was about the same. While American Express is a prestigious and very common household name, they continue to use Amex because of the many reward opportunities they are presented with and the value and high customer service they receive as cardmembers.

Some have even said that American Express offers one of the best account management websites they have ever seen, and another reported that they are the only credit card company they have found to put their customers first, especially if there is a dispute with a merchant regarding any purchases made on the account.

Thinking about getting an American Express card? Here is what you can expect from its current crop of Gold and Platinum cards.

The American Express® Gold Card offers 3x Membership Reward® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com, and 4x Membership Rewards® points at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets.

American Express® Gold Card

  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, plus, earn 4X points for Uber Eats purchases too.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • $120 Uber Cash: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

You also have access to a personalized travel service that can assist with making reservations and the Preferred Seating program that helps you secure premium seats for cultural and sporting events, based on availability.

There is a $250 annual fee for this card.

Unlike the Gold card, the American Express Platinum Card, offers one point for each dollar spent, with five times the points for reservations purchased through American Express travel. But otherwise, it comes with far more features and benefits than even the Gold card.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties . Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

Cardholders enjoy access to several airport lounge programs including the Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select network, and American Express Centurion Clubs.

You also receive elite status with Hilton and Starwood hotels, as well as Avis, Hertz, and National car rentals.

There is a $550 annual fee for this card and no foreign transaction fees.

Before Applying

Remember, applying for new credit results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, and credit scores view hard inquiries as a slightly negative bit of credit history.

Before you apply for a credit card that is right for you, it’s a good idea to make sure you can qualify for them. You can view your two free credit scores, updated, every 14 days, to find out where your creditworthiness stands.

Once you determine your current credit standing, you can then begin to weigh the advantages of each Amex credit card.

Which American Express Card Should I Choose?

Before choosing any card, you will first want to determine which ones allow you the chance to earn transferable points, which one allows you to earn points or miles in a program, and which allow you to earn a fixed return. Once you determine these factors, you can then begin to consider the welcome offers, the earning rate, and the benefits you will be able to receive as a valued cardmember with American Express.

Transferable Points

If you are a traveler, then having a credit card that allows transferable points is always a bonus. American Express offers transferable points in the form of their Membership Rewards Points. They also partner with approximately seventeen different airlines and a few hotels, so you can get the most out of your points.

Welcome Offer

Most credit cards offer a generous welcome offer, and American Express is no different. The Platinum Card® from American Express allows its cardholders to earn 75,000 Membership Reward® points after they spend $5,000 on purchases with the new card within the first 6 months of card membership. Also, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.

The Platinum Card also offers five times the points for flights and hotels and as mentioned previously, allows its cardmembers access to over 1000 different airline lounges and a $200 airline fee credit. By getting the Platinum Card, you will have the opportunity to take advantage of the welcome offer, higher earning rates, and many other beneficial benefits.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a good choice if you are a frequent traveler.

The American Express® Gold Card is another card that is commonly utilized by frequent travelers because cardmembers may be able to see a 6% return on their spending and purchases.

Welcome Offer

The welcome offer for the American Express® Gold Card is 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you have spent $4000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months. The earning rate for this Amex Card has also been improved, and cardholders can earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.

The American Express® Gold Card is the ideal card for those who are regular travelers and can take advantage of the available reward membership points and credits.

When choosing any American Express Card, you ultimately want to decide what kind of rewards you would like to earn with a reward program. You can then dissect each individual Amex Card to see which one allows for the most benefits and works out for your own specific spending needs.

You will also want to weigh the amount of the annual fee to see if it will be worth the rewards and other perks you are receiving.

At publishing time, the American Express® Gold Card is offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply and ultimately sign up for these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment.

Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.

More on Credit Cards:

Image: BraunS

Source: credit.com

Chase Cards: Earn 5x On Purchases During April – June, Up to $1,500 Spend (Southwest, United, Marriott, Hyatt, IHG, Avios Cards, Disney, AARP, Starbucks)

Update 4/8/21: Many people who were not able to register earlier are now finding themselves able to register for these promotions. Emails are going out about the offer now as well. (ht olmsted)

Update: Added Southwest, Ritz, British Airways/Iberia/Aer Lingus cards below. Also added a catch-all link, and added some additional offer variations.

The Offer

Check all your Chase Offers here (should work for any offer on any card)

Chase is offering spend bonuses on their co-branded cards during April, May, and June, on up to $1,500 in purchases. Some of these offers are for spend anywhere, some are specific to select categories of stores, and some are threshold spend offers.

These offers are found on the following cards: Southwest, United, Marriott, Ritz, Hyatt, IHG, Avios Cards (British Airways/Iberia/Aer Lingus), Disney, AARP, Starbucks.

  • Enroll your card to get 5x/5% per $1 on all purchases, up to $1,500.
  • Enroll your card to get 5x/5% back per $1 on all purchases made at grocery stores and restaurants, up to $1,500.
  • Enroll your card to get 5x/5% back per $1 on all purchases made at grocery stores, gas stations, drugstores, up to $1,500.
  • Enroll your Chase Starbucks card to 1 Star per $1 spent at grocery stores and 1 Star per $2 spent at restaurants, up to $1,500.
  • Enroll your Chase United card to get 6,000 bonus points with $6,000 spend.
  • Enroll your Chase Hyatt card to get 5,000 bonus points with $3,000 spend.

Some of the direct links are below, better to just use the generic catch-all link for each one of your cards and it’ll show what your card is eligible for.

United | United 2 | Marriott | Hyatt | Hyatt 2| Hyatt 3 | IHG | Disney | AARP | Starbucks

The Fine Print

Sample terms on United card:

  • To be eligible for this bonus offer, you must activate by 06/30/21 11:59 p.m. E.T.
  • You will earn 5 miles total for each $1 spent on up to $1,500 in total combined purchases from 04/01/2021 to 06/30/2021.
  • Total miles shown are the maximum you will earn on those purchases during the promotion, regardless of what you already earn on those purchases in your rewards program.
  • For more information about Chase rewards categories, see chase.com/RewardsCategoryFAQs. Purchases posted to your account with a transaction date during the offer period are eligible for this offer. Delays by the merchant, such as shipping, could extend the transaction date beyond the offer period. Please allow up to 8 weeks after qualifying purchases post to your account for miles to post to your account. (“Purchases” do not include balance transfers, cash advances, travelers checks, foreign currency, money orders, wire transfers or similar cash-like transactions, lottery tickets, casino gaming chips, race track wagers or similar betting transactions, any checks that access your account, interest, unauthorized or fraudulent charges, and fees of any kind, including an annual fee, if applicable.) To qualify for this bonus offer, account must be open and not in default at the time of fulfillment. This bonus offer is non-transferable.

Our Verdict

Some nice offers here. This offer will probably work for anyone – try out the link and see if it allows you to enroll. (The links sometimes aren’t fully live initially, and it might not be live yet.)

Reader MG sent in a few of these, and I played around with the links and found some others, and readers in the comments below contributed the rest.

Source: doctorofcredit.com