Still Think Credit Card Companies Aren’t Evil? Read This.

News flash – credit card companies are not looking out for your best interests

A common theme that I have on this blog is that credit card companies are never looking out for your best interests, and you need to make sure you always keep a wary eye on them.

Think those rewards cards have no down sides?  Think again.  Think that the credit card company won’t jack up your rates even though you’ve never missed a payment? Think again.

Case in point is this article titled “California: Citibank Stole $14 Million from its Customers” found on

California Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. today announced that he has reached a settlement with Citibank after a three-year investigation into the company’s use of an illegal “account sweeping” program.

Nationally, the company took more than $14 million from its customers, including $1.6 million from California residents, through the use of a computer program that wrongfully swept positive account balances from credit-card customer accounts into Citibank’s general fund, Brown said.

The company knowingly stole from its customers, mostly poor people and the recently deceased, when it designed and implemented the sweeps,” Brown said. “When a whistleblower uncovered the scam and brought it to his superiors, they buried the information and continued the illegal practice.”

I guess I can’t exactly say I’m surprised by the credit card companies going this far, I guess I just never thought they’d be that brazen to just actually steal people’s money! The article continues:

Between 1992 and 2003, Citibank employed a computerized “credit sweep” process to automatically remove positive or credit balances from credit-card customer accounts.

An account could show a credit balance if a customer double-paid a bill or returned a purchase for credit. The credit sweeps were done without notifying the customer and without regard for whether the customer had any unpaid balances or other charges owed to Citibank.

The credit sweeps targeted more than 53,000 customers nationwide. All of the affected accounts were in a recovery status, which includes accounts of customers who have died, sought bankruptcy protection, or been the target of litigation or other collection efforts by Citibank.

In July of 2001, a Citibank employee uncovered the practice and brought it to the attention of his superiors. The employee was later fired for discussing the credit sweeps with an internal audit team.

And finally, here is my favorite quote from the article:

In the words of a Citibank executive, “Stealing from our customers is a business decision, not a legal decision.” The same executive later said that the sweep program could not be stopped because it would reduce the executive bonus pool, Brown charged.

Wow. Stealing from our customers is a business decision. What can you add to that?


Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless 50,000 Points + $250 Marriott Giftcard

The Offer

Direct link to offer

  • Chase is offering the following bonus on the following bonus on the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless card:
    • $250 Marriott gift card upon approval
    • 50,000 points after $3,000 in spend within the first three months from account opening

Card Details

  • Annual fee of $95, not waived first year
  • Eligibility for this product: The product is not available to either:
    • current cardmembers of the Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards® Premier) or Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus), or
    • previous cardmembers of the Marriott Bonvoy™ Premier credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards® Premier) or Marriott Bonvoy Boundless™ credit card (also known as Marriott Rewards® Premier Plus), who received a new cardmember bonus within the last 24 months.
  • Eligibility for the new cardmember bonus: The bonus is not available to you if you:
    • are a current cardmember, or were a previous cardmember within the last 30 days, of Marriott Bonvoy™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express);
    • are a current or previous cardmember of either Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card), and received a new cardmember bonus or upgrade bonus in the last 24 months; or
    • applied and were approved for Marriott Bonvoy Business™ American Express® Card (also known as The Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express) or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card (also known as the Starwood Preferred Guest® American Express Luxury Card) within the last 90 days.
  • Chase 5/24 rule applies to this card
  • Free award night every anniversary valid at a property costing up to 35,000 points
  • Card earns at the following rates:
    • 10x on up to $2,500 in combined purchases at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy™, restaurants, and gas stations within your first 6 months from account opening
    • 6x points per $1 spent at Marriott Bonvoy hotels
    • 2x points per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Elite status:
    • Gold status if you spend $35,000 or more within a card member year
    • 15 elite night credits towards status each year

Our Verdict

Last year we saw a five free night offer (up to category 5). This deal isn’t as good as that in my opinion, but if you want to stay at properties that are higher than category 5 it could make some sense. You should also be able to just resell the gift card as well, but you’ll obviously take a hit on that. For now won’t add this to our best credit card bonus page.

Hat tip to dkf1031


American Express Platinum ‘Exclusive Offers’ ($1,700 In Credits)

Update 3/22/21: This is just referring to previously announced credits such as Saks, Best Buy & Home Depot unfortunately.

American Express Platinum cardholders are seeing a new section in their AmEx offers section called ‘Exclusive offers’ 

This would fit in with the rumor that the American Express Platinum annual fee is increasing soon, there was also a survey sent out regarding changes to the Business Platinum card that mentioned up to $1,000 in B2B credits. I suspect this wasn’t supposed to go live on the American Express site yet and we will get more information in the coming days.

Hat tip to jeffersun8


Barclays Launches Two New AARP Cards

Barclays has launched two new AARP cards and has formally taken over the portfolio from Chase as indicated last year.

New Cards

The new cards are as follows:

  • The AARP® Essential Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays.
    • Sign up bonus of $100 after $500 in spend within 90 days
    • No annual fee
    • Card earns at the following rates:
      • Card earns 3% cash back at gas stations and drug stores
      • Card earns 2% cash back on medical expenses
      • Card earns 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening
  • The AARP® Travel Rewards Mastercard® from Barclays.
    • Sign up bonus of $100 after $500 in spend within 90 days
    • No annual fee
    • Card earns at the following rates:
      • Card earns 3% cash back at airfare, hotel stays and car rentals
      • Card earns 2% cash back on restaurants
      • Card earns 1% cash back on all other purchases
    • 0% introductory APR for 15 months on balance transfers made within 45 days of account opening

Existing Chase Cardholders

Existing Chase cardholders will be contacted by Barclays via e-mail or snail mail regarding the next steps, but existing Chase cards will continue to work until September when your existing card will be automatically converted to one of these new Barclays card, this will mean that your account number will change but everything else will remain the same (e.g card balance and points will transfer over).


Barclays Financing Cardholders To Be Converted New ‘Barclays View Mastercard’

Barclays has sent out a letter to Barclays Financing Visa cardholders informing them that on 5/7/21 they will be product changed to a new card called ‘Barclays View Mastercard’. This card will have the following benefits:

  • Card earns at the following rates:
    • 3x points per $1 spent on Dining
    • 2x points per $1 spent on streaming, internet, phone & TV
    • 2x points per $1 spent on grocery
    • 1x points per $1 spent on all other purchases

It’s unclear if this card will be available to new cardholders or not.

Hat tip to MyFICO Forums


How to Avoid Paying Credit Card Interest

credit card interest

Technology has advanced at nearly light speed over the last few decades, causing the bulk of the industrialized world to go from analog to digital almost overnight. And while it seems no industry escaped being caught up in the flood of digitization, few have been as completely enveloped as finance.

In many ways, consumer credit has shown some of the most obvious signs of the new digital era. Indeed, between the rise of online banking, the finance-app revolution, and plastic replacing cash as king of purchases, the consumer credit world of today looks very different from its ancestors of just a few generations ago.

But for all the convenience brought on by new technology, some old problems remain. The credit card is the perfect example. Credit cards allow you to make purchases in-store or online with a simple swipe or insertion into a chip reader, often providing profitable purchase rewards in the process.

At the same time, all that contemporary convenience can come with some antique strings, primarily in the form of interest fees. With the average credit card charging double-digit interest rates, your futuristic payment method could end up costing you hundreds in old-fashioned interest fees if you’re not careful. Thankfully, several methods exist for avoiding those outmoded interest charges and making the most of modern payment technology.

Pay in Full During the Grace Period

One of the easiest ways to avoid paying interest fees on your credit card purchases is to simply pay off your balance before you’re charged interest. For most credit cards, the time between when you make a charge and when the bill for that charge comes due is known as the grace period. So long as you pay off any charges before the end of the grace period (i.e., your bill’s due date), most credit card companies won’t charge you any interest on those charges.

For consumers seeking unsecured credit cards for bad credit with no deposit, utilizing a credit card’s grace period can ensure that high APR is all bark and no bite. Even if you have a low-APR credit card, interest fees can add up quickly on large balances.

An important thing to remember when it comes to grace periods is that they typically only apply to new purchases. That means other transaction types, such as balance transfers and cash advances, generally don’t qualify for a grace period and will start to accumulate interest charges as soon as the transaction hits your account.

Additionally, failure to pay off your entire balance before the end of the grace period means you’ll be charged interest as usual per your average daily balance over the course of the billing period. So, even if you make more than the minimum payment, you’ll be charged interest on your balance unless you pay off the entire amount.

Transfer Your Balance

If you’re already stuck with a balance on one (or more) of your credit cards and have been, or will be, charged interest on that balance, you can potentially avoid paying more interest fees by transferring the debt to another credit card. Called a balance transfer, this process literally transfers your debt from credit card to another credit card—preferably, one with a lower interest rate.

Since credit card issuers like balance transfers, many companies have started offering introductory offers designed to draw in these customers, and qualified applicants can find introductory deals for zero percent APR on balance transfers. Even better, the intro offers provided by the best balance transfer cards allow you to carry a balance interest-free for 18 months or more.

Keep in mind that introductory offers are temporary by nature, and your zero percent APR deal will expire at the end of the offer period. Once your offer ends, any remaining balance from your balance transfer will be subject to the default balance transfer APR, which is typically the same as—or higher than—the card’s new purchase APR. You can find the balance transfer APR listed in your cardholder agreement.

Another thing to consider before making a balance transfer is the potential balance transfer fee. The receiving credit card (the card to which you transfer your balance) will typically charge a balance transfer fee for the service, which usually runs between three and five percent of the total transferred amount. Depending on your interest rates and balance, a balance transfer can easily be worth the fee, but do the math for your own situation before proceeding.

Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt

While balance transfers can be a great option for reducing—or avoiding—credit card interest fees, they may not be an option for everyone, particularly for consumers whose credit won’t qualify for a quality balance transfer offer. In this case, the best way to lower your interest rate may be to consolidate and refinance your credit card debt with a personal loan.

Credit cards operate on a revolving credit line, which is designed to provide consistent, reusable, short-term financing. Due to their potentially volatile nature, credit cards tend to have high interest rates. Personal installment loans, on the other hand, are intended to be longer-term financing, and are repaid through a series of predetermined payments. Since loans have a certain measure of built-in profit (and security), they often have much lower interest rates than credit cards.

This means that, even with less-than-excellent credit, many consumers can find a personal loan with a much lower interest rate than they’re being charged by their credit card companies. That’s not to say you’ll wind up in the single-digits with a personal loan; you probably won’t, unless your credit is excellent. However, even a relatively hefty 15 percent interest rate on a personal loan is a fair sight better than the 25 percent likely being charged for a credit card at the same credit range.

A great way to make the most of your consolidation loan is to make multiple loan payments each month (i.e., paying more than you’re required to pay, and not splitting your required payment into two). Not only will this ensure you’re never late, but it will also allow you to pay off your debt faster and will cost you less interest over the life of the loan.

The Most Expensive Interest Payments Are Late Ones

No matter which method you choose, always make sure you make at least the minimum required payment each month by the due date. Late payments come with late fees, which can negate any cost savings from lowering or eliminating your interest rate.

Additionally, late payments won’t qualify for the interest savings of your card’s grace period, and may result in a penalty APR or void an introductory APR offer. And that’s not to mention the potential damage a delinquent payment can cause to your credit scores; your payment history is worth 35 percent of your FICO credit score, so each late payment can mean a significant credit score drop.


[Targeted] U.S. Bank – Add An Authorized User & Get A $20 Bonus

Update 3/22/21: Deal is back and valid until April 15, 2021

The Offer

No direct link to offer, sent out via e-mail. Subject line is ‘<name>, earn $20 cash back’

  • U.S. Bank is offering some cardholders a $20 bonus when they add an authorized user by November 15th, 2019

The Fine Print

  • No spend requirement
  • Must add authorized user by November 15th, 2019

Our Verdict

I’m actually not sure if U.S. Bank reports non spousal authorized users to credit bureaus or not. That’s really only important for people still worrying about their 5/24 status. Offer is great for everybody else as there is no minimum spend requirement, just have to add an authorized user and that’s it.

Hat tip to reader Denise & Chong786

Post history:

  • Update 3/13/20: Deal is back and valid until March 30th, 2020.