2004 Credit Card Survey

 

Table of Contents

Please note that you are prohibited from using CA's name or any reference to its surveys in advertising or for any other commercial purpose.

Good credit is your shield against unfair risk policies

Consumer Action (CA) examined 140 cards from 45 issuers for its new Credit Card Survey, and found that many banks, allegedly in fear of potential customer defaults, are immediately charging late fees on payments not received on the due date and high punitive interest rates after just one or two late payments or a change in credit performance with other creditors.

"Banks seem to be saying that if there is even a shadow of a doubt that a cardholder might not pay, they are going to get a premium on their money while they still can," said Linda Sherry, who conducted this year's survey with the help of Sol Carbonell, Janice Kohn and Annie Tran. "We believe the real purpose of these policies is to maximize revenue at the expense of those who are least able to afford it."

Sherry points out that 26 (58%) of surveyed banks now have a cut-off time for late payments on the due date. "If you are even five minutes late, it can cost you up to $39. Banks should be forced to consider postmarks when posting payments. If the Internal Revenue Service can do it, why can't credit card issuers?"

This year, 48% of surveyed issuers are using tiered late payments tied to the cardholder's balance or the number of annual late payments. Last year 20% of issuers had adopted this strategy.

Late fees head up

The highest late fee found last year was $38, charged by US Bank to customers who paid late twice in the same year. This year, three major banks have $39 late fees at certain balance levels. Bank of America and MBNA charge a $39 late fee on balances of more than $1,000 and Providian on balances of more than $200.

Only 10 surveyed banks (22%) don’t hit you with a late fee on the day after the due date. The handful of banks that are at all lenient allow from one to 25 days.

Credit card fees cost cardholders about $13 billion per year. Citgroup, the largest issuer of credit cards, recently announced its 2004 first-quarter earnings had risen 29%, bolstered in large part by higher fees on credit cards

Universal default

An increasing number of issuers use universal default or “insecurity” policies to increase interest rates based on their customers’ credit performance with other creditors. Companies review customer credit reports on a regular basis, and 44% of the banks surveyed use this information to identify so-called risky cardholders and raise their interest rates, even if they have never made a late payment. Last year’s survey found 39% of banks with universal default policies.

“Your credit card company might use the fact that your mortgage payment was delayed to justify a rate increase,” noted Sherry. “While your card company has always checked your credit on a regular basis, it’s now coming down hard when it senses a negative change in your credit.”

Penalty rates

Late payments will cost cardholders a higher “penalty” rate with 85% of the issuers surveyed. CA found 38 issuers with penalty rates ranging from 12% (Arkansas National) to 29.99% (Providian), with an average penalty rate of 22.91%—1.38 percentage points higher than last year’s average.

Of these issuers, 31% said a penalty rate could be triggered by just one late payment, while 35.5% said that it would take two late payments in consecutive months or in a six-month period to cause a rate increase.

The average interest rate on all surveyed cards was 11.97%—a drop from the 2003 average of 12.19%. Surveyors found 99 variable rate cards, with an average rate of 12.12%. The average rate on fixed-rate cards was 11.60%. Just over half (51%) of the surveyed institutions will not provide a firm annual percentage rate (APR) until they have screened the applicant’s credit history. Only 39% of surveyed issuers had this policy last year.

Cash advance APRs

Of the 140 cards surveyed, 73% have a higher APR for cash advances taken with the card. In addition to interest beginning to accrue immediately on cash advances, 103 cards charged higher rates on cash balances—the average cash rate was 19.50%.

Forty-three banks (95.5%) have over limit fees ranging from $10 to $39 each month that the account balance remains higher than allowed. The average over limit fee this year is $29.13 as compared to $28 a year ago. (Over limit fees may be charged in each month that the balance exceeds the cardholder’s credit limit.)

Of the 140 cards, 95 (or 68%) have no annual fees. Annual fees range from $15 (Helena National Bank) to $99.95 (Eufora/Infibank). The average annual fee this year is $37.33—an increase from $35.67 in 2003.

Introductory rates

Lower introductory (“teaser”) rates are offered on 78% of the cards. There are 53 cards offering initial interest rates of “zero per cent” on purchases and/or transferred balances for periods ranging from four months (Fifth Third Bank) to 15 months (Chase Bank of NY and Huntington Direct Bank). (A list of all introductory rates at the time of the survey appears on the section "Introductory rates".) On transferred balances, American Express, Chase Manhattan Bank and National City Bank offer a low rate for the “life of the balance,” or until the balance is paid.
(Surveyed issuer US Bank has a $29 late fee, but bumps it up to $38 for cardholders with two late payments in a 12-month period.)

Foreign exchanges

If you use a credit card overseas, MasterCard, Visa and American Express add a “currency conversion fee” to the charge when converting it to dollars. On all Mastercard and Visa charges the amount is 1%; American Express charges 2%.
In addition to the MasterCard and Visa charge, many banks add another fee of their own. This year 26 of surveyed issuers are adding their own currency conversion charges that are separate from MasterCard and Visa fees. The number has grown since last year’s survey, which found 17 issuers including American Express with currency conversion fees. However, the average fee has dropped from 1.86% to 1.56%.

The bank charges range from 1% to 3% of the amount converted, which does not include the MasterCard/Visa commission of 1%. “Of the large issuers, we found that Capital One, Fleet Bank and MBNA do not add a charge of their own,” said Sherry.
If you have not been prescreened, nineteen (almost 39%) of the surveyed institutions won’t quote you a firm APR until they’ve checked your credit history. This rule applies to 33 of the cards surveyed this year. The widest range of rates—6.50%-19.25%—is offered by Wells Fargo Bank, although at 23.99% Providian has the highest rate in the survey for risky borrowers.

More than half the cards (53%) surveyed require cardholders to pay only 2% of the monthly balance each month. Last year’s survey found just 43% asking for only 2%.

Survey at a glance
Issuers: 45
Cards: 140
Average APR: 11.97%
Variable Cards: 99
Average Variable APR: 12.12%
Average Variable Rate Range: 4.00% (Huntington Direct Bank - Prime Rate Platinum) to 21.15% (Sears National Bank - Standard)
Fixed Rate Cards: 42*
Average Fixed APR: 11.60%
Fixed Interest Rate Range: 4.75% (Pulaski Bank) to 18.90% (Retailers National Bank - Target Card**)


* American Express offers fixed and variable rates on its Optima card so it appears under both categories.
** Lower rates are available for customers with good credit.


Getting credit for your credit

In the 2004 Credit Card Survey, 23.5% of all surveyed cards offer rewards such as cash rebates, points toward merchandise or airline mileage. The average interest rate on rewards cards surveyed was 12.55%, about half a percentage point higher than the survey average.

Of the 33 rewards cards surveyed, 13 (or 39%) have annual fees ranging from $19 (Capital One GoMiles) to $90 (US Bank World Perks Signature Card), with an average fee of $49.92.

The survey includes 18 cards offering points toward air travel. No-fee exceptions are MBNA’s World Points program, which can be added to most of its cards at no cost, and Bank One/First USA’s Value Miles Platinum.

Make sure the card allows you to use airlines that have direct routes to the places you want to go. While many cards allow your points to be redeemed on any major airline, some programs are limited to certain airlines and their partners.

Not created equal

In most cases, the miles you earn with a card that is not affiliated with a specific airline cannot be combined with the miles you have earned in any carrier’s frequent flyer program. However, if you are a member of an airline’s frequent flyer program and use your credit card award to travel on that airline, you will earn miles for the trip.

Another big difference between mileage points cards and airline-sponsored frequent flyer mileage programs is that you must purchase tickets with 21 days advance notice. In most cases the airline affinity cards allow you to redeem miles on short notice if a seat is available.

The survey includes 11 cards that offer cash, rebates or merchandise rewards. These cards rarely have annual fees, although one, Metropolitan National Bank’s Cash Rewards Platinum Card, comes with a $40 fee.

According to some estimates, up to three-quarters of U.S. credit cardholders have cards affiliated with an awards program. In the last four years, the number of people with rewards cards has doubled.

On-time payments

Rewards cardholders must pay their bills on time, as virtually every credit card rewards program invalidates your points if you’re late with a payment or go over your credit limit. Some companies, like American Express, charge a $29 fee to reinstate points forfeited by late payments. In most cases the rewards disappear within 30 days to six months after you close the account.

You usually get one mile or point for every $1 charged, but some cards offer 2 points for each $1 on transactions at grocery stores or gas stations or tickets purchased on affiliated airlines. This excludes cash advances, fees, finance charges and merchandise.

It is common to find expiration dates on rewards of from three to seven years. Read the fine print before applying for a card. For instance, rebates on Citibank’s Conoco Card expire if not redeemed in six months.

Annual limits

Most cards have monthly and annual mileage caps that limit the miles you can earn in one month or one year. You may be exempt from caps if you are a frequent flier. Even if your card promises unlimited mileage, it may dole out only 1 mile for every $2 charged after you reach a certain annual limit.

Terms vary among cards. For instance, it may take fewer points to earn a round trip ticket with some cards. Most cards require at least 25,000 points for a domestic round-trip ticket. But on Bank One’s Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards, you need 19,200 points while Jupiter Bank’s Orbitz Card requires 20,000.

Capital One’s GoMiles uses the lowest available fare on a given route to figure how many points you need. For example, if the lowest fare on a route is $300, the amount is multiplied by 90 to arrive at the number of points required—in this case 27,000.

True cost of points

It pays to consider how much you are actually forking out for points. To charge $25,000 and pay annual fees of up to $90 just to get a free round trip domestic flight doesn’t make financial sense for many people. You might be better off using a cash-back card like American Express Blue Cash, which pays you 3% of most purchases made with the card.

Since a cross country flight can cost as little as $200-$300, charges of $10,000 would cover the trip. If you can buy a low cost fare, save your points or mileage redits for a more expensive flight.

To gain the most from the use of a rewards or mileage card, use the card for everyday purchases that you can pay in full each month so that interest payments don’t cancel out your award.

Cash rebate cards typically send a check to the cardholder only when the credit has reached a certain amount. For instance, if your card offers a 1% rebate, you cannot collect until you have spent $2,500 on the card and your rebate is at least $25.

In most cases, cash rebates cannot be used as credit against the account balance, although gasoline company rebates usually pay only when you make future purchases. With Fleet Bank’s Savings Bond Card you can earn one $50 Series EE U.S. Savings Bond for each $2,500 in purchases, with a limit of 10 bonds per year. On some cards, the reward is tied to one company. The GM Card, offered by HSBC Bank USA, allows cardholders to earn a credit for 5% of most charges during a period of up to seven years, to be used toward the purchase of a new GM vehicle.

The MBNA LLBean Card offers free regular shipping and monograms on merchandise from the Maine catalog merchant, but freight charges apply to all furniture purchases.
Rebates may be limited by the amount you spend in each billing cycle, or may be tied to a tiered schedule. In some cases, rebates are higher on certain purchases, such as airline tickets or shopping at non-chain grocery stores, pharmacies or hardware stores.
For online comparisons of travel rewards cards, visit Frequentflier.com or Insideflyer.com.


Make your rewards card pay

  • Ask if the annual fee can be waived the first year.
  • Use your rewards card for everyday purchases that you can pay in full each month. Use a low rate card for carrying balances.
  • Pay on time—you can lose your miles or rewards if you make a late payment.
  • You may get a mileage bonus for referring new members.
  • Look for cards that offer free or low-priced companion tickets.
  • Choose a card with a generous expiration policy on points and miles and no blackout or seat restrictions.
  • Remember that cash advances, fees and finance charges don't count toward rewards or miles.

High court rules that over limit fees are not finance charges

In April, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that credit card over limit fees are not finance charges—they can be posted as separate transactions and as such, added to balances subject to finance charges.

The court considered only how over limit charges may be listed on billing statements, not the legitimacy of such fees.

MBNA customer Sharon Pfennig complained that over limit charges are really a cost of using the card and should be listed as finance charges. She sued under the Truth in Lending Act, a federal law requiring that consumers who borrow money be given certain information about the loan or extension of credit.

Pfennig’s suit charged that MBNA allowed her to exceed her credit limit and imposed a $29 fee for every month her balance remained over the original limit. Instead of listing the fee as a finance charge, the company posted it as a new purchase on which she had to pay additional finance charges.

“It is perfectly reasonable to characterize an over limit fee not as a [finance] charge imposed for obtaining an extension of credit over a consumer’s credit limit, but rather as a penalty for violating the credit agreement,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for the court.

MBNA and Household Credit Services had asked the high court to overturn a lower court ruling in favor of Pfenning. That court denied her right to sue MBNA for financial damages but allowed her to seek a declaration that the fee was not disclosed properly under Truth in Lending.



Beware of two-cycle billing

While the vast majority of credit card banks surveyed by Consumer Action use the standard one-month method of calculating interest charges, the survey found that Bank One and Discover use a billing method that calculates interest on the two previous months’ balances. This can result in higher interest charges for cardholders who switch from paying in full to carrying a balance from month to month.

Nine of the cards surveyed this year are issued by Bank One and its subsidiary First USA. Of the nine cards, only the AARP, United Plus and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards cards don't feature two-cycle billing.



Fewer credit card offers in the mail

You’re probably receiving fewer credit card offers, according to industry tracker Cardweb.com. It said that direct mail credit card offers dropped to 4.3 billion in 2003 after peaking at 5 billion two years ago. On average, 69% of U.S. households received 4.8 offers per month, compared to 75% of households receiving 5.1 offers per month in 2002. Most (90%) direct mail offers come from the 10 largest card issuers.




Fewer paying in full

According to a March study by the Cambridge Consumer Credit Index, 39% of the more than 1,000 people surveyed said they paid off their monthly balance in full, down from 43% a year ago.

Low rate credit cards

Cards with no annual fees Cards with annual fees
Variable Rates Variable Rates
APR Bank (Card Name) APR Fee Bank (Card Name)
5.90%* First Tennessee Bank 4.00% $75/$79 Huntington Direct Bank (Prime Rate Platinum)/Wells Fargo (Prime Rate Card)
6.90%* Amsouth Bank (Gold/Platinum) and Wells Fargo (Platinum) 7.25% $45 Amalgamated Bank (Gold Plus)
6.99%* Bank of America (Platinum Variable Rate) 7.50% $37 Amalgamated Bank (Standard Plus)
7.49% Centura Bank (Platinum) 7.99%* $40** Metropolitan National Bank (Platinum)/US Bank (Elan Platinum)/US Bank (Platinum)
7.90%* BB&T Bank (Platinum) 9.00% $15 Helena National Bank (Basic)
Fixed Rates Fixed Rates
APR Bank (Card Name) APR Fee Bank (Card Name)
7.99%* American Express (Blue) 4.75% $35 Pulaski Bank (Standard/Classic)
8.90% Capital One (Platinum) 4.90%* $19 Capital One (Go Miles Rewards)
8.95% Simmons First National (Gold) 7.92% $50 Arkansas National Bank
8.99% MBNA (Sovereign Bank World Points Platinum Plus) 9.90% $20 SouthTrust Bank (Fixed Rate)
9.90%* MBNA (Firstrust Bank Card, LL Bean Card, PNC Bank World Points Card and Working Assets Card); National City Bank (Elite Card); Bank of America (Platinum Fixed Rate); Retailers National Bank (Target Card) 11.90% $39 BB&T Bank (Platinum Fixed Rate)
* This is the issuer’s lowest rate and is available only to applicants with excellent credit.
**Fee waived with annual purchase.


Introductory rates at time of survey

Key to chart
* - Balance transfer required. Life - Rate applies until balance is paid off.

Credit Card or Issuer % Rate Months Purchases Balance Transfers
5 Star Bank 2.90% to 4.90% 4 Yes Yes
AARP Card (Bank One/First USA) Zero% 12 Yes Yes
Amalgamated Bank 3.90% 6 No Yes*
Amsouth Bank 1.90% 6 Yes Yes
AOL Card (Bank One/First USA) Zero% 6 Yes Yes
Associated Bank (Citibank) Zero% 6 Yes Yes
AT&T Universal (Citibank) Zero% 9 Yes Yes
Bank of America Zero% 6 Yes Yes
Bank of New York (Chase) Zero% 15 Yes Yes
Bank One/First USA Zero% 6 Yes Yes
BB&T Bank 1.90% 6 Yes Yes
Blue (American Express) Zero% 6 Yes No
Centura Bank 2.90% to 4.90% 5 Yes Yes
Chase Cash Builder Zero% 12 No Yes *
Chase Classic, Gold & i-Card 2.99% 6 Yes Yes
Chase Perfect Card Zero% 9 No Yes *
Chase Platinum/Ultimate Rewards Zero% 12 Yes Yes
Citibank Diamond Rewards Zero% 9 Yes Yes
Citibank Platinum Select Zero% 6 or 12 No Yes *
Columbus Bank & Trust Zero% 6 Yes Yes
Commerce Bank 3.90% 6 Yes Yes
Continental Airlines (Chase) 7.99% 6 Yes Yes
Delta Skymiles (American Express) 9.99% Life No Yes *
Discover Bank Zero% 12 Yes Yes *
Emigrant Savings Bank 2.90% 6 Yes Yes
Eufora - Infibank 1.90% 5 Yes No
Fidelity Bank (Bank One/First USA) Zero% 12 Yes Yes
Fifth Third Bank Zero% 4 Yes Yes
First National Bank of Omaha 1.9% F 6 Yes Yes
First Tennessee Bank 3.90% 6 Yes Yes
Fleet Bank Zero% 6 Yes Yes *
GE Titanium (Bank One/First USA ) Zero% 12 Yes Yes
GM Card (HSBC Bank) Zero% 6 Yes Yes
Household Bank (HSBC Bank) 3.90% 6 Yes Yes
HSBC Bank USA Zero% 6 Yes Yes
Huntington Direct Bank Zero% 15 No Yes *
Juniper Bank 6.90% Life No Yes *
LL Bean Card (MBNA) Zero% 9 No Yes *
M&I Bank 5.90% to 7.90% 6 Yes No
MBNA 1.70% to 2.90% 6-9 No Yes *
Mellon Bank Card (Citibank) Zero% 6 No Yes
Metropolitan National Bank Zero% 12 Yes Yes
National City Bank 5.90% Life No Yes *
Optima (American Express) 7.90% 6 Yes Yes
Orbitz Card (Juniper Bank) 3.90% 6 Yes No
People’s Bank Zero% to 4.90% 6-8 Yes Yes
Providian Zero% 6 Yes Yes
Pulaski Bank Zero% 6 No Yes *
Quicken Card (Citibank) Zero% 6 Yes No
SouthTrust Bank 1.90% 4 No Yes *
State Farm Bank 2.90% 6 No Yes *
Union State Bank 7.90% 12 Yes Yes
US Bank Zero% 6 Yes Yes
Wal-Mart Card (Chase) 7.90% Life No Yes *
Washington Mutual (Citibank) 5.99% 6 Yes Yes
Wells Fargo Bank Zero% to 5.90% 6 Yes Yes

Consumer Action 2004 Credit Card Survey

Note: You are prohibited from using Consumer Action's name or any reference to its surveys in advertising or for any other commercial purpose.

Key:
APR - Annual Percentage Rate
V - Variable interest rate
F - Fixed interest rate
* (Asterisk) - See note in
Additional Information column.

Definitions:
Annual Percentage Rate: The finance charge expressed in terms of an annual figure, a percentage of the amount owed. APRs listed are for purchases—cash advances often carry a higher APR..
Notes:
• Survey conducted 2/16/04 through 3/31/04.

• Survey does not include introductory or promotional (teaser) rates. (See the chart "Introductory rates" for introductory rates at the time of the survey.)

• For variable rates, the APR may not reflect recent changes in the index, such as the Prime Rate, Federal Discount rates or LIBOR. (The Prime Rate was 4.00% during this survey. Bankrate.com lists all current index rates.)

Grace Period: The number of days after the close of the last billing cycle in which you can pay off new bills without being charged interest—if there is no prior balance. Unless otherwise noted, cards have a 25-day grace period.

Card Issuer
Phone Number / Web Site
Annual Fee A P R Additional Information
5 Star Bank - Standard/Platinum
800-776-2265,
afbabank.com
None 11.40% - 17.40% V Cash advance fee: 2%/$2 min./$50 max. Late fee: $20. Over limit fee: $15. APR is Prime + 2.90%-8.90%. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
Amalgamated Bank - Standard
800-723-0303
aboc.com
None 10.75% V Cash advance fee: 2.5%/$30 max. Late fee: $25. Over limit fee: $20. APR is Prime + 6.00%.
  Standard Plus $37 7.50% V APR is Prime + 2.75%. Other terms same as above.
  Gold None 9.25% V APR is Prime + 4.50%. Other terms same as above.
  Gold Plus $45 7.25% V APR is Prime + 2.50%. Other terms same as above.
American Express - Blue Cash
800-600-2583
http://americanexpress.com
None 8.99% - 14.99* V Grace period: 20 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $15<$100; $29, $100-$1000; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 4.99%-9.99%. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Blue None 7.99%-14.99%* F Terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Optima None 9.99%-12.99%* F or 11.99% V On variable card, APR is Prime + 7.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Delta Skymiles
800-223-2670, http://www.delta.com
$55* 13.99% V APR is Prime + 9.99%. Other terms same as above. *Annual fee may be waived for the first year.
American Online Bank - Classic
800-610-1201, apbank.com
$18 16.92% F Cash advance fee: 3%/$5-$10 min. Late fee: $25. Over limit fee: $25.
  Gold $35* 13.92% F Other terms same as above. *Annual fee may be waived for the first year.
Amsouth Bank - Fixed Rate Card
888-462-7627, amsouth.com
None 13.90% F Grace period: 26 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min./$50 max. Late fee: $15, $10-$100; $29, $100-$1000; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: $35.
  Gold/Platinum None 6.90%-11.90%* V APR is Prime + 2.90%-9.90%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Gold/Platinum Rewards None 8.90%-15.90%* V APR is Prime + 4.90%-11.90%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Fixed Rewards None 15.90% F Other terms same as above.
Arkansas National Bank
888-226-5262, anbfinancial.com
$50 7.92% F Cash advance fee: 2%/$5 min./$25 max. Late fee: $25. Over limit fee: $25. Must be banking customer to qualify. Minimum monthly payment debited automatically from checking account. *Fee waived with Plus Checking Account.
Bank of America - Platinum (Fixed)
800-678-2632
http://www.bankofamerica.com
None 9.90%-12.90%* F Grace period: 20 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5-$10 min. Late fee: $19<$100; $29, $100-$1000; $39>$1000. Over limit fee: $35. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  Platinum (Variable) None 6.99%-16.99%* V APR is Prime + 2.99%-12.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
Bank One/First USA
800-677-7101, bankone.com
AARP Platinum, 800-824-6673,
http://www.aarp.com/leisure
None 8.99%-16.99* V Cash advance fee: 3%/$10 min. Late fee: $15<$150; $29, $150-$1200; $35>$1200. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 4.99%-12.99%. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  AOL Platinum Card
(888) 211-9095
None 8.99%-14.99% V* No over limit fee. APR is Prime + 4.99%-10.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history
  Fidelity Bank None 8.65%-14.65%* V Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 4.65%-15.74%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Free Cash Rewards Platinum None 9.99%-15.65%* V No over limit fee. APR is Prime + 5.99%-11.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  GE Titanium
800-347-7887, ge.com
None 8.65%-14.65%* V Grace period: 25 days. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 4.65%-10.65%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  Bank One/First USA Platinum None 8.99%-14.99% *V Grace period: 20 days. No over limit fee. APR is Prime + 4.99%-10.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
800-483-9573, southwest.com
$39/$59* 12.65% V Late fee: $15<$250; $35>$250. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 8.65%. Other terms same as above. *Higher fee is for “Signature” card with no over limit fees, granted to applicants with good credit.
  United Mileage Plus (Code 9PRM), 888-819-3529, united.com $60 13.99% V No over limit fee. APR is Prime + 9.90%. Other terms same as above. Earn airline miles with purchases.
Value Miles Platinum
800-347-7887
None 9.99%-15.99%* V Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 5.99%-11.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
BB&T Bank - Platinum Card (online)
800-476-4228
www.bbandt.com
None 7.90%-16.90%* V Cash advance fee: 3%/$3 min. Late fee: $29. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 3.90%-12.90%. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  Platinum Fixed Rate (phone)
800-473-4228
$39 11.90% F Other terms same as above.
California Bank and Trust
888-758-5349/800-494-1698
http://www.calbanktrust.com
$18 16.90% F Cash advance fee: 2%/$3 min./no max. Late fee: $10. Over limit fee: $10.
  Gold $25 12.00% F Other terms same as above.
Capital One - Go Miles Rewards
800-955-7070, http://www.capitalone.com
$19 4.90%*-9.90%** F Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $29<$1000; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: $29. *Pre-approved solicitation. **Internet applications.
  Platinum None 8.90% F Terms same as above.
Centura Bank - Classic/Gold
(800) 236-8872
http://www.centura.com
None 10.49% V Cash advance fee: 3.5%/$5 min. Late fee: $29. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 6.49%.
  Platinum None 9.49% V* or
11.49% V
APR is Prime + 3.49%. Other terms same as above.
Chase Manhattan Bank      
  Bank of New York
888-LINKBNY, bankofny.com
None 13.49% V or 19.24% V* Grace period: At least 20 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $15<$150; $29, $150-$1200; $35>$1,200. Over limit fee: $29 ($35 when penalty rate in effect). APR is Prime + 9.49%. *Rate for applicants with poor credit.
  Platinum None 9.49% V* or 11.49% V APR is Prime + 5.49%* or 7.49%. Other terms same as above. *Bank of New York customer rate.
  Continental Airlines
800-767-7218, applyfly.com
$65 13.99% V Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 9.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Wal-Mart Card walmartmastercard.com (Applications available online or at stores.) None 10.99%-19.99%* V APR is Prime + 6.99%-15.99%. All purchases made at Wal-Mart receive a fixed APR of 10.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Chase Cash Builder, 800-254-9850, creditcardsatchase.com None 8.99%-18.99%* V Over limit fee: $29 ($35 when penalty rate in effect.) APR is Prime + 9.74%-14.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  Classic/Gold None 8.49%-17.49%* V APR is Prime + 9.49%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  i-card None 8.49%-17.49%* V APR is Prime + 4.49%-13.49.49%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  Perfect Card $19* 13.74% - 18.99% **V APR is Prime + 9.74%-14.99%. Other terms same as above. *Fee waived with nine annual purchases. **APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  Platinum None 8.40% - 19.24% * APR is Prime + 4.49%-15.24%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
  Ultimate Rewards Platinum None 8.99% or 12.99% *V APR is Prime + 4.99% or 8.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history. Earn one merchandise point for every dollar.
Citibank
AAdvantage Gold
800-640-1517, aa.com
$50 13.99% V Grace period: 20 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $15>$100; $25, $100-$1000; $35>$1000. No over limit fee. APR is Prime + 9.99%.
  Associated Bank - Platinum
866-492-6827, associatedbank.com
None 10.99% V Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 6.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Associated Bank - Classic None 15.99% V APR is Prime + 11.99%. Other terms same as above.
  AT&T Universal
800-423-4343, universalcard.com
None 8.99% V APR is Prime + 4.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Conoco Card Platinum
800-722-2617, conoco.com
None 13.99% V APR is Prime + 9.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Diamond Preferred Rewards 800-950-5114, citibank.com None 9.99% V APR is Prime + 5.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Mellon Bank Card
800-238-3118, mellon.com
None 11.99% V Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 7.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Platinum Select
800-950-5114, citibank.com
None 8.99% V Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 4.99%. Other terms same as above. Some credit lines may be as low as $500.
  Quicken Gold
800-422-3118, quickencard.com
None 13.99% V Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 9.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Quicken Platinum Select None 9.99% V APR is Prime + 5.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Washington Mutual Bank (Visit bank branch to apply.) None 9.99%-20.99%* V Late fee on 20.99% APR card is $35. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 5.99%-12.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
Columbus Bank & Trust
800-543-8227 columbusbankandtrust.com
None 8.15%, 10.15%, or 12.15%* V Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $29. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 3.90%, 5.90%, or 7.90%. *APR is based on applicant’s income and credit history.
Commerce Bank- Classic Fixed
800-645-2103, commercebank.com
None 16.50% F Cash advance fee: 3%/$3 min. Late fee: Under $50, no fee; $20, $50-$100; $35>$100. Over limit fee: $29.
  Classic/Gold/Platinum Variable None 8.90%-15.90% V* APR is Prime + 3.90%-10.90%. Other terms same as above.
Discover Bank - Classic
800-347-2683, discovercard.com
None 15.99% V Cash advance fee: 3%/$3 min. Late fee: $15<$100; $25, $100-$1000; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: Same as late fee. APR is Prime + 11.99%.
  Platinum None 13.99% V APR is Prime + 9.99%.
  Titanium None 9.99% V APR is Prime + 5.99%. Other terms same as above.
Emigrant Savings Bank
888-467-2217, emigrant.com
None 13.99% V Cash advance fee: 3%/$15 min. Late fee: $29/$35*. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Libor + 12%. *Late fee: $29 for new purchases of less than $500; $35 for new balances of more than $500.
Eufora/Infibank
866-866-6279, eufora.com
$29.95, $59.95, or $99.95* 9.99% V Cash advance fee: 3.5%/$5 min. Late fee: $29. Over limit fee: $29. APR is LIBOR + 7.49%. *Annual membership fee entitles cardholders to earn fees for referring new members.
Everbank - Platinum
800-738-2615, everbank.com
None 9.90%-12.90%* V Cash advance fee: 2.5%/$2.50 min./$10 max. Late fee: $29. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 1.90%-4.90%. *APR based on applicant’s credit history. Must be a banking customer.
Fifth Third Bank - Cash Rewards
800-972-3030, 53.com
None 12.99% V Cash advance fee: 3.5%/$5 min. Late fee: $35. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 8.99%.
  Platinum None
7.99%-16.99%* V APR is Prime + 3.99%-12.99%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
First Internet Bank - Classic
888-873-3424, firstib.com
None 12.00% F Cash advance fee: 2%/$10 max. Late fee: $16. Over limit fee: $20.
  Select None 10.00% F Other terms same as above.
First National Bank of Omaha
Gold, 877-932-3626, firstnational.com
None 13.99% V Cash advance fee: 3%/$15 min. Late fee: $29/$35*. Over limit fee: $35. APR is LIBOR + 12%. *Late fee: $29 for new purchases of less than $500; $35 for new balances of more than $500.
  Platinum None 11.99% V APR is LIBOR + 10%. Other terms same as above.
First Tennessee Bank
800-234-2840
http://www.firsttennessee.com
None 5.90%-14.90%* V Grace period: 25 days. Cash advance fee: 2%/$2 min./$20 max. Late fee: $35. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 1.90%-9.90%. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
Fleet Bank - Cash Dividend
800-CALLFLEET, fleet.com
None 14.99% V Grace period: At least 20 days. Cash advance fee: 4%/$5 min. Late fee: $35. Over limit fee: $15<$500; $29<$1000; $35>$1000. APR is LIBOR + 13.82%.
  Classic/Platinum/Titanium None 10.99%-15.99%* V APR is LIBOR + 9.82%-14.82; *Fleet Bank customers and those with good credit get lower rates. Other terms same as above.
  E-Platinum None 9.99% V APR is LIBOR + 8.82%. Other terms same as above.
  Miles Edge $35 12.99% V APR is LIBOR + 11.82%. Other terms same as above.
  Platinum Edge Rewards $19 9.99% V APR is LIBOR + 8.82%. Other terms same as above. Earn reward points.
  Savings Bond $37 9.99% V APR is LIBOR + 8.82%. Other terms same as above.
Helena National Bank - Basic
888-338-6451
hnb.com
$15 9.00% V Cash advance fee: 3%/$3 min. Late fee: $25. Over limit fee: $25. APR is Prime + 5.00%.
  Gold $25 9.00% V Gold card offers higher credit limits. Other terms same as above.
  Blues Card $25 9.00% V Late fee: 5% of minimum payment/$1 min. Over limit fee: 10% of amount over limit. APR is Prime + 5.00%. Other terms same as above.
HSBC Bank USA - Standard
800-975-4722
http://us.hsbc.com
None 11.99% *V Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min./$50 max. Late fee: $15<$100; $25, $100-$1000; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: $29**. APR is Prime + 7.99%. *2% lower for customers with $15,000 or more on deposit. **If over by $15 or more.
  Platinum None 9.99% V APR is Prime + 5.99%. Other terms same as above.
  Household Bank Classic Card, 800-477-6000
household.com
$79* 18.90% V Grace period: 25 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$4 min. Late fee: $29.
Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 12.9%. *Some applicants may be eligible for a card without an annual fee.
  GM Card,
800-846-2273, gmcard.com
None 9.99%, 11.99%, or 13.99%* V Cash advance fee: 3%/$15 min. Late fee: $15<$100; $25, $100-$1000; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 5.99%, 7.99%, or 9.99%. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
Huntington Direct Bank
800-480-2265
huntington.com
None 13.49% V Grace period: 20 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $15<$150; $29, $150-$1200; $35>$1200. Over limit fee: $29. APR is Prime + 9.49%.
  Platinum None 11.49%-13.49%* V APR is Prime + 7.49%-9.49%. Other terms same as above. *APRs are based on applicant’s credit history.
  Prime Rate Platinum $75 4.00% V APR is the current Prime Rate. Other terms same as above.
Juniper Bank
888-232-0780/877-523-0478, juniper.com
None 11.99% V Grace period: 20 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $25<$100; $29, $100-$1000; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: $25<$1000; $35>$1000. APR is Prime + 7.99%.
  Orbitz Card
orbitz.com
$39* 11.99% V APR is Prime + 7.99%. Other terms same as above. *Annual fee is waived for the first year. Earn 1 airline point for each dollar spent (20,000 for a domestic flight).
M & I Bank - Classic
800-642-2657
mibank.com
$15* 11.90% V Grace period: 25 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$3 min./$20 max. Late fee: $35. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 7.90%. (Available in AZ, Fl, MN and WI.) *Annual fee is waived with three or more annual purchases/cash advances.
  Platinum $25*
9.90% V All terms same as above, including *annual fee waiver.
MBNA
800-932-2775, http://www.mbna.com
  Astoria Savings Bank (Code A36P), astoriafederal.com None 12.99% F Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee:$15<$500; $29, $500-$1000; $39>$1000. Over limit fee same as late fee.
  Atlantic Coast Federal Bank (Code QB7F), 800-342-2824, acfederal.net None 10.99% F All terms same as above.
  Central Carolina Bank World Points (Code EDON), 800-551-0839, ccbonline.com None 10.99% F All terms same as above. Earn one travel (air, car, hotel, cruise) point for each dollar in purchases.
  Comerica Bank Platinum Plus (Code EXUT). 800-551-0839, comerica.com None 12.99% F All terms same as above.
  Firstrust Bank, 800-545-7899, firstrust.com None 9.90% F All terms same as above.
  L.L. Bean Card (Code CQG4), 800-833-6262, llbean.com None 9.90% F All terms same as above. Cardholders receive free regular shipping/monogramming and rewards for L.L. Bean purchases.
  M&T Bank World Points
Platinum (Code S9E3), 800-551-0839, mandtbank.com
None 9.99% F All terms same as above. Earn one travel (air, car, hotel, cruise) point for each dollar in purchases.
  Nature Conservancy Card (Code XUOY), 800-932-2775, natureconservancy.com None 12.99% F All terms same as above. The Nature Conservancy receives funds from purchases made with the card.
  Ohio Savings Bank (Code L52P), 800-551-0839 None 10.99% F All terms same as above.
  PNC Bank World Points (Code A877), 800-551-0839, pncbank.com None 9.90% F All terms same as above.
  Roslyn Savings Bank (Code A8J5), 800-551-0839 None 12.99% F All terms same as above.
  Sovereign Bank World Points Platinum (Code RF9D), 877-768-2265, sovereignbank.com None 8.99% F All terms same as above. Earn one travel (air, car, hotel, cruise) point for each dollar in purchases.
  SunTrust Bank World Points (Code ENAU), 800-551-0839, suntrust.com None 11.99% F All terms same as above. Earn one travel (air, car, hotel, cruise) point for each dollar in purchases.
  Union Planters Bank World Points (Code VYCJ), 800-545-7899, unionplanters.com None 10.99% F All terms same as above. Earn one travel (air, car, hotel, cruise) point for each dollar in purchases.
  Wachovia Bank (Code EAC6), 800-892-3263/800-551-0839, wachovia.com None 9.99% F All terms same as above. (Cardholders do not earn travel points.)
  Working Assets Card (Code YRZ4), 800-932-2775 workingassets.com None 9.90% F All terms same as above. With each use, 10¢ is donated to charitable groups.
  MBNA World Points (Code NV2W) None 11.99% F All terms same as above. Earn one travel point for each dollar in purchases.
Metropolitan National Bank
Classic
800-558-3424, http://www.metbank.com
$20* 9.99%-18.99%** V Grace period: 20-25 days. Cash advance fee: 4%/$5 min. Late fee: $29/$38***. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 3.99%-12.99%. *Fee is waived if you make at least one yearly purchase. **APR based on applicant’s credit history. ***If late twice in one year.
  Platinum $40* 7.99%-16.99%** V All terms same as above, including *fee waiver. **APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Cash Rewards Platinum $40* 13.99% V All terms same as above, including *fee waiver. Users earn 1% cash reward.
  Travel Rewards Platinum $55 13.99% V All terms same as above, except annual fee waiver. One travel point per $1.
National City Bank - Elite Card
800-282-7541, nationalcity.com
None 9.90% or 11.90%* F Cash advance fee: $3/$50 max. Late fee: $15<$25; $25<$150; $35>$150. Over limit fee: Same as late fee. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
People’s Bank - Long Island Sound
877-525-9248, peoples.com
None 16.90% F Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $35. Over limit fee: $35.
  Platinum None 9.99% V All terms same as above.
  US Ski Team Platinum None 14.99% F All terms same as above.
Providian - Platinum
800-647-8641
providian.com
None 9.99%-19.99%* V Cash advance fee: 3%/$10 min. Late fee: $19<$200; $39>$200. Over limit fee: Zero if you exceed balance by less than 2%; >$35, fee is 2% of over-limit balance. APR is Prime + 5.99%-15.99%. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
Pulaski Bank - Standard/Classic
800-560-5834, pulaskibank.com
$35 4.75% F No cash advance fee. Late fee: $29. Over limit fee: $29.
  Gold $50* 4.75% F All terms same as above. *Gold card has higher credit limits.
Retailers National Bank
- Target Card
(Apply at Target stores.)
None 9.90%-18.90%* F Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $15<$150; $29, $150-$1000; $35 >$1000 or if account is subject to Penalty Rate. No over limit fee. *APR is based on applicant’s credit history.
Sears National Bank - Standard
800-347-8480, searscard.com
None 21.15% V Grace period: 20 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. Late fee: $10<$50; $25, $50-$999.99; $35>$1000. No over limit fee. APR is Prime + 17.15%.
Simmons First National - Gold
800-272-2102
None 8.95% F Cash advance fee: 3%/$4 min./$50 max. Late fee: $29. Over limit fee: $29.
SouthTrust Bank - Fixed Rate
800-292-6538, southtrust.com
$20 9.90% F Grace period: 25 days. Cash advance fee: 4%/$5 min. Late fee: $20, $1-$499.99; $29, $500-$999.99; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: $35.
  Low Rate $20 9.50% V APR is Prime + 4.90%. All other terms same as above.
  No Annual Fee None 11.50% V APR is Prime + 6.90%. All other terms same as above.
State Farm - Standard/Platinum,
877-734-2265, statefarm.com/bank
None 10.90% V Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min.. Late fee: $25. Over limit fee: $25. APR is Prime + 6.90%.
Tompkins Trust Company - Classic
877-282-0444, tompkinstrust.com
$20 14.90% F Cash advance fee: 2%/$2 min./$10 max. Late fee: $20. Over limit fee: $20. No balance transfers accepted.
  Gold $40 9.00% V All terms same as above. APR is Prime + 5.00%.
Union State Bank - Classic
800-887-8775, unionstate.com
$12 10.90% V Cash advance fee: 2%/$2 min./$10 max. Late fee: $20. Over limit fee: $25. APR is Prime + 6.90%.
  Gold None 10.90% V All terms same as above. APR is Prime + 6.90%.
US Bank - Classic
800-285-8585, usbank.com
$20* 9.99%-18.99%** V Grace period: 20-25 days. Cash advance fee: 4%/$5 min. Late fee: $29-$38. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 5.99%-14.99%. *Fee waived with one annual purchase. **APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Platinum $40* 7.99%-16.99%** V APR is Prime + 3.99%-12.99%. Other terms same as above. *Fee waived with one annual purchase. **APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Elan Classic, 800-558-3424 $20* 9.99%-18.99%** V APR is Prime + 5.99%-14.99%. Other terms same as above. *Fee waived with one annual purchase. **APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Elan Platinum $40* 7.99%-16.99%** V APR is Prime + 3.99%-12.99%. Other terms same as above. *Fee waived with one annual purchase. **APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  SkyPass, 866-759-7277 $55-$85* 13.99% V Grace period: 20 days. Cash advance fee: 3%/$5 min. APR is Prime + 9.99%.
Other terms same as above. *Classic Card ($55), Platinum Card ($85).
  World Perks (Northwest Airlines), 800-692-8472 $55-$90* 13.75% V Grace period: 20-25 days. APR is Prime + 9.75%. Other terms same as above. *Platinum Card ($55), Signature Card ($90).
Wells Fargo Bank - Platinum
800-642-4720, wellsfargo.com
None 6.90%-19.25%* V Grace period: 20-25 days. Cash advance fee: 4%/$5-$20 min. Late fee: $15<$100; $29, $100-$1000; $35>$1000. Over limit fee: $35. APR is Prime + 2.9%-15.25%. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Cash Back Platinum None 9.15%-20.75%* V APR is Prime + 5.15%-16.75%. Other terms same as above. *APR based on applicant’s credit history.
  Prime Rate Card $79 4.00% V APR is Prime Rate. Other terms same as above.

Substitute card numbers offered

To allay cardholders’ fears about fraud when shopping on the Internet, credit card issuers Citibank, Discover and MBNA will provide substitute account numbers for one-time use. The companies believe that using a substi-tute number can increase shoppers’ confidence online as well as avoid potential liability for fraud. After registering your card with the company, substitute account numbers will be provided when you need them. The numbers can be used at one merchant for a single purchase or for a service with a recurring monthly charge.

American Express, the first to offer single-use account numbers in 2000, recently dropped its program, stating that it believes existing credit card liability safeguards work well enough.

CA hosts seminar for Midwest community groups



In early May, Consumer Action and its MoneyWi$e financial literacy partner Capital One held a financial training in Chicago designed to teach local community groups how to talk to their clients about money and financial management. The MoneyWi$e materials created by Consumer Action were used to teach fundamentals of basic banking, budgeting, credit, bankruptcy and talking to teens about money. The event was attended by more than 60 Midwest non-profit community groups.

Featured speakers for the event included Elizabeth L. Handlin from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, who discussed Money $mart Week, a local event designed to promote financial education programs. Rolando Berrelez of the Federal Trade Commission gave a popular session on how to avoid identity theft. Lance Raphael, Esq. of the Consumer Advocacy Center, P.C., a consumer attorney, had to stay for lunch in order to answer all the questions from attendees following his session on consumer rights. On the second day, a panel of non-profit representatives who have received funding from Consumer Action to teach the MoneyWi$e program shared their best practices for achieving financial literacy in diverse communities.

“We applaud the efforts of these Midwestern organizations to provide support and education in their communities,” said Ken McEldowney, Executive Director of Consumer Action. “This is just one way we can assist community groups to provide financial education in their communities.”

The MoneyWi$e materials can be found online at www.money-wise.org.

'This is just one way we can assist community groups to provide financial education in their communities.’
— Ken McEldowney

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