Posts Tagged 'annual fee'

NCUA illustrates credit card difference

The National Credit Union Administration’s new site, MyCreditUnion.gov, is a great place to learn more about credit unions – what defines them, how they’re different from other financial institutions (like banks, or savings and loans), how they’re better, etc.

One of the most illustrative points is their section on credit cards. The NCUA shows what a difference a few percentage points on your credit card rate can make on your payments and total payoff amount.

For instance, the time it takes to pay off a credit card with a $5,000 balance at 18% APR is more than 39 years. At 10.9% APR, the time to payoff is only 19 years.

This comes right along with our new credit card comparison booklet, where you’ll notice that a lot of bank and store credit card rates have been hiked to 18% or more. The store cards are especially high – usually in the 20% range.

The NCUA site also mentions credit card pitfalls to avoid, like balance transfer fees (we don’t have those) and annual fees (we don’t have those either).

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Credit One Bank: slimy new annual fee practice

Credit One Bank (not to be confused with Capital One, even though they share a similiar logo) has raised the annual fee to a whole new level of under-handed: they’ll charge it to your account in monthly installments.

That’s what we learned when one member received a Credit One Bank Platinum Visa solicitation – complete with a $7 “premium design” option.

Credit One offers “no enrollment fee” (whatever that means), but they do charge a hefty annual fee: $75 for the first year, and $99 each year after that. For your convenience, they’ll include that in your monthly bill at $8.25 a month. So no matter what, you have something to pay each month.

Isn’t that thoughtful?

But then being thoughtful isn’t part of Credit One’s business plan. There are plenty of complaints about them on the Web. Add this monthly annual fee charge to that list of complaints.

Exposed: Best Buy credit card has no good options

Best Buy, the giant electronics and appliances retailer, offers a MasterCard from “the world’s local bank” HSBC that gives you two options: a higher rate, or an annual fee. Neither option is good for you.

The tricky part is that you don’t learn this until you start to fill out Best Buy’s online application. It’s not until you’re just about ready to say “give me the card” that they let you know the bad news. And here it is:

You get the “choice” between a card with an annual percentage rate of 17.99%, 22.99%, or 21.74% if you opt for an annual fee.

If you opt for the annual fee, how much is it?

So you pick – up to 22.99% a year, one of the highest purchase interest rates we’ve seen, or $59 a year. That’s not much of a choice.

And since Best Buy hides their disclosures behind their online application, we downloaded it for you and we’re making it available. Check it out for yourself.

Worst credit card ever: First Premier Bank

In all the Visa card research we’ve done, we finally found a credit card that takes the cake: First Premier Bank‘s credit card.

Why is it the worst? The South Dakota-based bank’s interest rate took our breath away:

First Premier annual fee

And here we thought 29.99% was the most we’d ever seen. Hope you enjoy that $10 purchase, because it could cost you $16 on your next bill.

How about fees? First Premier has them in spades:

First Premier fees

How about $75 in annual fees? Or $36 per year even after you close your account? They won’t even consider your application unless you pay that $45 processing fee.

Here’s our favorite:

First Premier internet fee?

An “internet fee”? To manage your account online, you have to pay $4?

It gets better: First Premier’s online application only asks for $95 to get the whole thing processed. Even if you wanted to apply, good luck visiting their site without getting hit with a swarm of pop-up ads:

First Premier Bank has a record of misleading potential customers and engaging in shady credit card practices. Read the fine print on their credit card statements, and it’s not hard to figure out why.

First Premier claims to “lift others up,” but really – with all those fees – they’re tearing your financial life down.

WSJ: Banks roll out new fees

The Wall Street Journal reports that banks are finding inventive and creative ways to charge their customers more fees:

Credit-card companies already have been racing to slip new fees and practices into customer contracts ahead of the [Credit CARD Act]. Issuers are closing accounts, switching cards with fixed interest rates to variable rates and introducing cards that have an annual fee…The changes come against a backdrop of rising anger at the nation’s banks—having been largely supported by hundreds of billions of public bailout dollars in late 2008 and 2009.

This is mostly a result of the Credit CARD Act, passed and signed earlier this summer, which puts limits on bank credit card policies and puts a $50 billion hole in banks’ revenue.

Banks will attempt to fill that hole by charging new fees, or resurrecting long-neglected fees. So beware.

Exposed: debunking the Visa Black Card

Visa Black Card

Maybe you received one of those slick black envelopes in the mail, with an “Invitation Enclosed” message and promises of limited membership and benefits.

This is what the Visa Black Card, fresh from London, England, tries to sell you. But we’re here to tell you it’s not worth it.

We got our hands on one of these “exclusive” invitations thanks to an American 1 member. Put together in fancy packaging, the Visa Black Card mailing says it comes with limited availability, special “luxury” gifts, and a carbon – not plastic! – credit card that will make your dreams come true. It claims, as you can see above, to provide a yacht-club-style membership.

The reality is, when you dig into the details, this card could cost you. Big time.

Visa Black annual fee

First, there’s an annual fee. And it’s a whopper. Almost $500 every year you use this card. Maybe because it’s steered toward the luxury market, the folks at Black Card (actually, a British bank called Barclays which is no stranger to controversy) think a $500 annual fee is nothing.

We think it’s crazy.

Then there are the other fees. If you’re late on a payment, go over your credit limit, make a payment that is returned, or “do any of the above on another account” you have with the fine folks at Black Card – zoom, your rate jumps above 30%.

Those feelings of exclusivity? Hope it’s worth it.

There are other fees, like a cash advance fee, balance transfer fee, and a $2 minimum interest charge, that add up to luxury-style costs. With this card, you won’t feel luxurious for very long.

The Visa Black Card only appears to give you a limited lifestyle. Add it all up, and you need to be fabulously wealthy just to afford this card.

For more in-depth credit card research, visit our Top Secret Visa site, and catch a glimpse of our Visa philosophy at WeUnderstand.org.

Citi adds $60 annual fee

Citi's annual fee

Bad news if you’re a Citi credit card customer, says Connecticut Watchdog:

Many Citi cardholders are receiving letters about a $60 annual fee that is being added to their account effective April 1, 2010. If consumers make $2,400 in purchases during the year, then the annual fee will be credited back to their account.

It appears that Citi’s test of adding an annual fee to a small percentage of their customers in August of 2009 proved successful for the issuer. At that time, Citi began charging some cardholders an annual fee of $30 to $90 unless they spent at least $2,400 per year. Now a far greater number of customers are receiving this notice.

A representative from Citi says they’re imposing the hefty annual fee to “maintain the quality of our service amid the rising cost of doing business.”

So they mess up the economy, and you pay. Get it?

I first saw this on a Simple Dollar post, where a long-time Citi customer got the same letter, despite his years of loyalty. You can read the full letter at the Consumerist blog.

Is that any way to treat your customers?

We treat our members a little differently. To get our perspective, visit WeUnderstand.org and let us know what YOU think of all this annual fee nonsense.