Credit 
24
comments

Slate(SM) from Chase Review

Chase Slate(SM) Proprietary Sites Only (Private)Chase really made a splash a couple months ago with their Blueprint payment program and their headline card with that program was their Slate from Chase card, which replaced their Chase Platinum Card. I thought the Blueprint program was certainly an interesting take on the recent “responsible credit card use phenomenon” that’s taken hold lately, so I wanted to take a closer look at their flagship card.

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 Personal Finance 
14
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Money Manager from American Express

American ExpressWhen I reviewed the Chase Blueprint payment program, I said I believed that credit card companies were offering money management tools and payment systems to help keep defaults and late payments down. The best credit card customer is a regularly paying one, despite what mainstream media would have you think (that credit card companies love to ding people with fees and send them to the poorhouse). Even the most cynical of consumers would agree with me on that point!

Well, as it turns out, American Express also has series of tools that helps users get a better handle on their finances. It isn’t an alternative payment schedule like Chase Blueprint but more along the lines of an online budgeting tool, except it’s available only to American Express charge cardmembers (and it’s free).

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 Credit 
23
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Chase Blueprint Payment Program Review

If you’ve been watching any TV, visiting any financially focused website, or have opened a financial magazine or newspaper, you’ve probably seen a Chase ad and information about their “Blueprint” program. They’ve done a huge media push over a program that, while a little innovative, only helps people who are carrying a balance. With the average credit card debt, it’s refreshing to see a credit card company offer up tools to help people pay down debt.

I think there are two reasons they’ve pushed these features out. First, it’s great PR to have a credit card company offer features that help people pay down debt. Second, it’s great business to have a credit card company offer features that help people pay down debt because it means they are less likely to default on it! I read the August 2009 Nilson Report, a credit card industry trade magazine, and it listed Chase has having the most outstanding debt at nearly $166 billion. A good customer is a paying customer, not a bankrupt one.

The Blueprint program has four components: Full Pay, Split It, Finish It, and Track It.
Chase Blueprint Program components
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 Credit 
17
comments

Happiest Credit Cards

Liz Pulliam Weston recently published an article summarizing and analyzing J.D. Power and Associates 2008 survey of credit card user happiness. They surveyed 8,000 users on five factors: interaction with the company, billing and payment processes, fees and rates, reward programs, and benefits and services.

I was a little surprised to see that the highest score was 783 out of 1,000 for American Express, with Discover taking second with 751. Everyone else surveyed scored less than the industry average of 724!

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 Credit 
17
comments

Best Cash Back Reward Credit Cards

I’m often emailed by readers to list what I feel are the best reward credit cards currently available. I personally think that “best” is such a subjective term, the best set of reward credit cards really depends on your spending profile. If you spend a lot in a particular category, you’ll want to get the best card for that category and make sure it has a place in your wallet. If you don’t know what you spend a lot on, you might as well save yourself the hassle and get one that works in all scenarios.

The best cash back credit card is the one that maximizes your reward earnings and converts those rewards into cash or products that you would buy at a favorable exchange rate. Many cards offer high reward points on the front end and then effectively reduce your rewards by converting them at a horrible exchange rate when you redeem them. It’s important to look at both sides of the equation.

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 Credit 
2
comments

0% Balance Transfer Card Guide: 2008 Edition

0% Balance Transfer Offer EnvelopeThe reports of the death of 0% APY balance transfers are greatly exaggerated.

Many years ago, no fee 0% balance transfers were a dime a dozen. It would be difficult to find a credit card that didn’t offer a no fee 0% balance transfer as the cheap and easy credit flowed like wine at a Great Dionysia Festival. You couldn’t open your mailbox because it was stuffed full with special promotional offers from all your good friends at the major credit card companies.

The fee-free frenzy gave way to new terms like app-o-rama and balance transfer arbitrage. People would go on credit card application binges so that they could get as many cards as possible (an App-o-rama) just to take advantage of the balance transfer offer. It was not unheard of for someone to get $30,000 (and that’s just a conservative figure) in balance transfers just to put it in a high yield savings account earning 4-5% APY (that’s the arbitrage).

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 Credit 
5
comments

Top 15 Reward Credit Cards

Liz Pulliam Weston of MSN Money asked five credit card industry experts (basically representatives of companies that run credit card websites) and a frequent flier guru for their favorite cards in one of three categories: travel programs, cash-back programs, and savings programs. Travel programs are those cards that offer miles and upgrades and perfect for those with a lot of travel each year. The cash-back programs are, as you would expect, those cards that offer the best cash-back rebate. Finally, the savings programs are those cards that give you savings towards something, instead of straight cash, such as for a house, a car, or even directly into a brokerage account.

One trend you’ll see is that all of the winning cards are American Express! Is this some kind of conspiracy? Hardly. American Express is less widely accepted because they have higher merchant fees. The higher fees means that they’re able to offer higher reward earn rates because their profits are better. So, in each category you’ll see an American Express card winning out.

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 Banking 
8
comments

Lessons Learned from Confessions of a Chase Representative

I love the Consumerist’s Confessions articles and recently they had one from a Chase representative, which taught me quite a bit about the inner workings of a bank and credit card company. The Confessions articles are fantastic because you get actionable information from an insider willing to tell you how things really work. In this case, it’s a customer representative and they validate a lot of ideas people have had about how to work with them. Here are the lessons I’ve learned and distilled from the confessions article.

Be Civil

First off, you should be civil and courteous to anyone you ever deal with. There’s simply no reason to be a prick about anything, even if you are having the worst day of your life. Everyone you deal with is a human being and everyone, deep down inside, wouldn’t mind helping someone out if that person is being nice to them. No one likes being talked down to, insulted, berated, or any of the other things you’d be doing if you flipped out on them. So be civil, courteous, polite, nice, whatever, and you’re more likely to get the results you like.

Get To The Point

Stores are great for books and movies, they’re not good for resolving problems unless the solver needs them. Get to the point of your call ASAP and then let the representative ask pointed questions to dig down deeper. They know the root cause, let them ask questions to find the answer and you won’t waste both of your times giving useless information over the phone.

Three Strata of Credit Card Users

This was interesting and not unexpected, there are three strata of customers (Best, Valuable, and Non-Profit) and I’d guess that every financial institution as at least three categories. What you should take away from this is that you should try to be in the least valuable category (Non-Profit) and learn from the mistakes of the other categories. One interesting point to make is that they don’t consider spending patterns in the calculation (or the confessor just didn’t mention it) because even if you get 1% cash back, the credit card is still earning money on transaction fees. I also disagree with the idea that they won’t waive fees for Non-Profit customers, I’m pretty non-profit and I get fees waived.

Six Months Time Limit

Very valuable to learn, you can get fees waived about once every six months – especially if you’re nice. I would try to get them waived even if you do get hit more often than every six months and then I’d try to fix my behavior so I stop getting dinged all the freaking time.

Those are the things I learned reading that article, did you get anything else out of it?


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