I am starting a new weekly series called “Junk Mail” Saturday. The reason for it is that I have people asking me all the time about offers they get in the mail or e-mail and if it is a good idea. Also, we get such mail all the time that I will normally throw out without opening, but we have been getting some interesting mail lately and I thought it would be good to put them out there so you can be on the lookout for the good offers and know to stay away from some bad. Feel free to comment below with some of the mail you might get to add to the discussion!
Normally, credit card offers and deals are referred to as junk mail for a reason – most of the offers are junk. Sometimes the offers are quite laughable, though! On rare occasions, people receive spectacular offers that are highly targeted – like some people having received Delta Skymiles American Express offers for 70,000 miles or people receiving 100,000 Ultimate Reward point offers with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. These are very worthwhile and should never be thrown away!
So, here are some pieces I received this week and my verdict on them (in case you receive similar).
Union Workers Credit Services Platinum Card
The Offer: This card offer guarantees $10,000 in credit valid toward purchased from the credit provider, Union Workers Credit Services. All I have to do is to send the activation form back in within 3 weeks and include a check for $37 for the fee for the card. As if it is some type of plus, they state that they are not affiliated with Mastercard or Visa.
The Summary: These people have a horrible reputation and you can see that and more at the Better Business Bureau’s site – here. The line of credit can only be used with them. The form you send back in only requires your signature to activate – no date of birth, no social security number, nothing official. Reports are people send in the $37 and never hear back again.
The Verdict – Very Poor
Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature Spending Promo
I already have this card and received a letter from them this week designed to encourage me to use the card some more. I have rarely used it as of late (the Hilton card I have been using gives me 6x points on my bluebird purchases) so they obviously want me to use this one some more.
The Offer: Earn 3 Bonus HHonor points per $1 spent on retail purchases at electronics and computer, clothing and accessory, toy and department stores. Earn up to 2,500 HHonor Bonus points through 03/31/13.
The Fine Print: The offer starts within 4 business days of when you enroll and will end on 3/31/13. The max you can earn is 2,500 points through this promotion.
The Summary: To reach the maximum, you would need to spend $833 by March 31st to earn the max of the 2,500 Hilton points. If you need to fatten up your Hilton account, this might be a good way to do it. However, if you have the Hilton American Express card, through May 1st, you can receive 6x points at drugstores, like when you purchase your Vanilla Reload cards. If you purchased a $500 card, that would give you a total of 3,023 points (counting the fee) all at once. Also, I would choose to use a card that I need to meet minimum spending on at department stores for which I do not receive some bonus with a different card.
The Verdict: Average
Discover Card – Game Changer (they say)
My wife receives Discover card offers all the time. For the most part, the biggest thing that Discover has going for it is their list of card offers with 0% interest on purchases for a certain amount of time and 0% interest on balance transfers for a certain amount of time. In addition, they have other things such as cash back of different amounts, no fees on a variety of credit related issues (no foreign transaction charges, no late fee or increase of APR on first late payment, no phone fees, etc)
The Offer: 0% Intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months. $0 intro fee for each balance transferred by April 10, 2013, then 3% for each balance transferred. No annual fee.
The Fine Print: The usual in regards to APR after promotion – 14.99%. No penalty APR. 3% fee for balance transfers posted after the promotion date of April 10, 2013.
The Summery: Discover cards can be useful for different situations – you really just want a cash back card, you are working on minimum spending and you would like to get a large chunk done at once (so you transfer the balance of the card with interest and minimum spending to the Discover card and pay that as you would when you would have made the regular purchases you advanced with the minimum spending card), or for some different personal reason. I have actually never had a Discover card simply because it does not fit within my card strategy and I don’t want to take the credit inquiry for it. If you are interested in it, there is an offer of 18 months 0% interest on balance transfers that I do get credit for. I would advise you to be cautious of applying for cards simply because of the 0% interest offer, but I also recognize that situations come up where people do look for something like that. If you are in such a situation, here is the link for the 18 month, 0% interest on balance transfers offer. I do get a commission for this card should you apply and be approved – Application link
The Verdict: Average
FIA Card Services – Low Promotional APR
This card I currently have is issued by Bank of Hawaii and is my Hawaiian Airlines card (no, I am not going to Hawaii, but these miles transfer to Hilton at a rate of 1:2). So, this offer is for the card I already have.
The Offer: Enjoy a 0% promotional APR on each new purchase of $99 or more made with your Visa Signature credit card account now through April 18, 2013. Enjoy this rate through your September 2013 statement closing date.
The Fine Print: The Promotional APR applies to purchase of $99 or more and apply for eligible transactions posting February 1 through April 18. The APR for non promotional purchase is 15.24%
The Summary: I really was expecting something like this to show up since my annual fee on this card will post this month. So, this is a nice tactic that really does not cost the issuer anything because of current credit card laws and policies. My annual fee of $79 will roll to the bottom and will be accruing interest since payments will go towards the promotional amount first. In other words, if I didn’t make any purchase under $99 during this promotion, I would still be on the hook for for $6 in interest come the end of my promotional period because of the interest accruing on my annual fee. In addition, if I did make any more purchases under $99 (like most everyday purchases), I would owe quite a bit more in interest. I would not consider this a great deal unless you have plans to keep the card and this fits in with your current spending needs. If that is the case, make sure you do not put any purchases under $99 on the card.
The Verdict: Poor
FIA Card Services – Spending Promotion
I received another offer for the same card. This one is for spending a certain amount on travel.
The Offer: Earn $25 cash back after qualifying travel purchases through March 31,2013.
The Fine Print: To qualify for this offer, the transaction(s) must be assigned one fo the following specified merchant category codes: Airfare (3000-3299, 4511), Hotels (3501-3999, 7011), Travel Agencies (4416, 4417,4722), Car Rentals (3351-3441, 4121, 7512), Cruises (4411). If your account is converted to a different rewards program or to a card without a rewards program during the offer timeframe, the offer is no longer valid.
The Summary: The only way I would make use of this offer is if I was taking advantage of the offer above this one – purchases over $99 are interest free for 6 months. The reason for that is if I were to purchase travel, I could get 4x Ultimate Reward points if I used my Sapphire card through the UR shopping portal link for Travelocity. For a travel purchase of $500, I would receive 2,140 Ultimate Reward points (because of the 7% dividend). I would value these points at around $45 so this blows the $25 offer here out of the water. However, if you were going to book travel with this card to take advantage of the interest free promotion, might as well activate this offer as well to get $25 back! Watch that you don’t change your card (like to a no-fee, especially with the fee renewal at hand) because you will not be eligible for the $25 back.
The Verdict: Average (depending on your situation), Poor (in my situation)
Remember, these are offers that I have received. They may not be publicly available offers. This review is to show different “junk mail” that comes to help you be on the lookout for what is good and how to know what is bad. Your particular needs may vary from mine which would alter the verdict in your case.