Posts Tagged 'visa'

Scam Visa calls going around

We’re getting reports of members receiving calls soliciting their Visa information from someone saying their account is going to be closed. The caller comes from an unavailable number and won’t leave a name or identify themselves.

If you receive such a call, don’t give the caller any information. If American 1 has to call you, we already have your account information and don’t have to ask. That, and we’re not afraid to identify ourselves over the phone and leave our phone number. In fact, your caller ID may list us on the display.

When you receive calls like this, simply hang up and call the credit union yourself and ask about the situation. If there is one, you know you’re calling the right people. Plus, we like to stay on top of fraud situations like this.

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Store credit cards make more, cost more

A news item from the Wall Street Journal confirms what we’ve found – that store cards (like from Target, Kohl’s, or Best Buy) cost more than a plain old credit card:

A chunk of the customer base for these cards is made up of low-income households and less credit-worthy borrowers. As a result, these cards typically carry higher interest rates and lower credit lines than general-purpose cards.

Store label card issuers also make more off these cards.

“Issuers of retail credit cards make $16 to $18 of interest and fee income on every $100 loaned out, before subtracting expenses,” the Journal says. “Earnings on general-purpose cards typically are $14 to $15 per $100 loaned.”

That one or two dollar difference may not seem like a lot, but multiply it by thousand dollar balances and the millions of people who have store cards, and it adds up to a lot of profit for credit card issuers.

Customers think that by signing up for the store card and getting 10% off a purchase (for instance), they’re getting a good deal. Over the long term, however, these store brand cards can cost you more.

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.

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.

Useful ideas for your old Visa card

What to do with that closed-out, expensive, higher-rate card from a big out-of-town bank?

Cut it up and use it as a guitar pick! That’s what Financial Facts recommends, along with 10 other oddball ideas. Many Americans have wallets filled with harmful credit cards – why not put them to good use, like combing your hair or cutting your food?

It’s like finding uses for those old AOL discs you got in the mail. Just make sure you close out your account first.

Big bank balance transfer rates going up

Bad news if you play the credit card balance transfer game, says MSN Money:

In July, JPMorgan Chase, the largest credit card issuer in the country, cited the new federal regulations when it sent letters to its customers informing them that the bank will increase its maximum balance transfer fee to 5% — the highest charged by any issuer. Subsequently, the company stopped including balance transfers in most of its new offers.

…Bank of America – the second-largest issuer – has increased its maximum balance transfer fee to 4%…The standard balance transfer fee had been about 3% – and some issuers also limited the total fee, often to less than $100, with caps.

From the research we’ve done, most big bank credit card issuers charge some sort of balance transfer rate on top of the regular rate for each transaction total.

American 1? We don’t charge any balance transfer fee.

We’re looking for Visa stories

Want to appear in our next Visa video? Or maybe provide a testimonial on how much you like our Visa program?

Have a horror story about a big bank credit card you’d love to share?

Let us know! We need members’ stories to include in our next round of promotional materials. If our Visa has saved you money, you had a great experience with our ScoreCard rewards program, or you just like how we do business – let us know. You could appear in a future American 1 ad or on our branch posters.

Or you can make your own video and link it to our YouTube channel. We’ll share what you make.

For details, e-mail a1responseteam@a1fcu.org – or leave a comment below.

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.

Credit CARD Act roundup

There’s been lots in the news now that the Credit CARD Act is hitting financial institutions.

More often than not, however, big banks are the ones doing the hitting – especially with their customer’s wallets.

Here’s a quick roundup of the latest news about big bank credit card practices and what they mean for you.

Credit Card Fees; the new trap (Wall Street Journal): “Banning these and other profitable tactics is expected to cost the card industry at least $12 billion a year in lost revenue, according to law firm Morrison & Foerster. This has sent the industry scrambling to find new sources of revenue. So get ready for higher annual fees, higher balance-transfer charges, and growing charges for overseas transactions.”

It’s a new day for credit cards (WSJ): “Annual and application fees cannot exceed 25% of your credit limit. But don’t get fooled by them. They can represent another form of interest on your account.”

Mixed blessing: credit card reform may shock some (Mlive.com / AP): “During the past nine months, credit card companies jacked up interest rates, created new fees and cut credit lines.”

Remember that American 1 has not participated in the harmful practices, like annual fees, that big banks are bringing back.

To learn what we think of all this, visit WeUnderstand.org and let us know how YOU feel about the new Credit CARD Act.


American 1 Federal Credit Union