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Is There Any Difference Between Credit Cards?

Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 01:25 PM
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Is There Any Difference Between Credit Cards?

I seem to be the last person on earth who doesn't get miles/special treatment/gifts, etc. from my main credit card. United and City keep sending me inviting offers but all the fine print just confuses me (and I am a lawyer for goodness sakes!) I really would like to get extra miles and upgrades when flying. Any advice out there?
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 01:28 PM
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I really like the Delta Sky Miles Amex card. Our family of 6 has been to Hawaii 4 times on frequent flyer miles. This particular cards gives double miles for groceries, gas, home improvement stores as well as various double and triple mile promotions or mileage bonuses through the year.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 01:32 PM
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Here goes. If you have a favorite airline that goes where you want to go then get a credit card affilitated with the airline. Like Citibanck and AA, or Chase and Continental, etc. Expect to pay for the privilege with a yearly fee and high APR. If you pay it off every month then the cost is very little. If a favorite brand of hotel then do likewise. There are some good deals out there for opening an account to new customers. The trick as always is carrying no balance if at all possible. Be very wary of deals with "no black out dates" , "any airline" ,etc. You may find out they are worth very little when you go to book. Read the fine print on these very carefully.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 02:00 PM
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First determine how you use your card

Anyone using a PERSONAL credit card for the sole purpose of accumulating miles, while carrying a balance is crazy.

First determine how you use your card.

If you carry a balance, then find the lowest possible rate that you can obtain given your credit rating.

The interest savings alone, could easily pay for the upgrade to a first class ticket every few months. CC rates vary WIDELY from 8% to 18% with the same credit score.

That should be your greatest concern if you carry a balance.

If you pay off your cards every month, then find a card that aligns with the airline you fly most frequently on...check out the blackout periods and such.

Many cards will offer cash back as well, which you could liquidate to purchase a ticket.

As a banker, I cannot tell you often I have seen people carrying 15k+ balances on 18% cards.....just because the card accumulated great miles!

Yesterdays release of the US Commerce Report showing Americans last year had a -1% savings rate, says just how well these CC companies marketing gimicks (ie. miles) are working....BE CAREFUL.

Hope this helps.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 02:25 PM
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Some good advice above. Also, if picking an airline-affiliated card, get one that flies where you go and preferably also where you want to go for leisure travel.

If you travel on business it is almost like getting a double hit at miles. For example, we have a USAir Visa card. Husband charges $2,000-$6,000 per month on the card plus we are allowed to charge our son's tuition and college fees - that adds up to a lot of miles per year - enough to fly him home from college free several times/year. We pay off in full each month.

These type of cards often have a fee attached that can sometimes be waived if you call them up and ask.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 02:43 PM
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Gail makes a good point...never ever be afraid to make a call and ask that they waive a fee.

If you are a good customer...they will NOT think twice about waiving an over the limit or late fee...so long as it doesn't happen often.

Same for payment over the phone....many are now charging $15 bucks for that stupidity....ask them to waive it....don't worry most often or not they will...they want your payment!

Even though I am in finance....in my opinion cc companies are the incarnation of evil.

Never have loyalty to them...ever...and if you carry a balance and have a good credit score....turn the tables on them and transfer your balance to a 0% card for the period (sometimes up to one year), and then when that is up, transfer that balance to another card with 0%...but DONT forget to CLOSE the other card!!!

If you are smart with your finances, it is vary easy to turn the tables on them.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 02:50 PM
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There are differences but how much they matter depends on how you use the CC. Rates differ, as does the "grace period" before interest accrues on purchases. Some have started applying what they call penalty rates - miss/ be late with a payment and your interest rate increases - sometimes precipitously. I pay off my balance monthly so avoid interest. IMHO, not doing that is financially dumb. If you really need to buy something and spread the payments out over several months, get a lower interest loan - even signature loans typically carry lower rates than most CC's.
In terms of racking up FF points, just about all the major airlines have a loyalty card. Continental just came out with a new Presidential Master Card that has a hefty annual fee, but it also includes a free membership to their Presidents Club, and you get 5% off airfares purchased with the card plus extra FF miles, so it's a pretty good deal. Of course, that is attractive only if you are a CO OnePass FF program member.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 03:44 PM
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Check out the options at Capital One.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 04:34 PM
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Well if you're an attorney I'm assuming that you don;t carry a balance on your credit cards. (If you do - that's a whole other question.)

In that case just use an AMEX card. There's no interest and for a green card the fee is minimal given all the benefits. And the points you accumulate can be transferred into many different airline and hotel prorams, as well as to "buy" gift certificates and merchandise. (I just got a digital camera and IPOD - together worth over $600 - for extra miles that were just hanging around.)
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 05:00 PM
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Is it true that AMEX does not offer the same protections as most credit cards because it is not actually a _credit_ card?

For example, with regard to disputing charges.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 05:38 PM
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We have had AMEX for years and never had a problem disputing charges. Thankfully, that has only happened a couple times, but they have been great about it.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 06:08 PM
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I've had an United Mileage Plus card for years and have no complaints. I put everything on the card and pay it off each month. It has been pretty easy redeeming free flights, but I think it helps that I live in a city where United has a major hub.

I don't think you can go wrong with their current offer - 1st year fee waived and 21,000 bonus miles. A free domestic coach ticket on United starts at 25,000 miles and Hawaii for 35,000 miles. Check out United's website.
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Old Feb 3rd, 2007, 09:09 PM
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I knew this would be the place to go for some answers! Thank you. And no, I don't carry over a balance on my credit card, I just feel like a sucker for not getting any advantage at all for being a "good" customer. I think at this point that I will take United up on their current offer and go from there. I really appreciate your comments and suggestions.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 04:38 AM
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If you do international travelling, check out the CC's currency conversion surcharge. Many are as high as 3%, most Amex's are 2% and some are 1% (my Captial One , for example.)
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 06:06 AM
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This is in response to Swaying Palms question above: Not only does American Express offer all the benefits of the other cards, IMHO they are usually easier to deal with if you have to dispute a travel charge. For that reason, we use only Amex when we travel. I sound like an Amex commercial . . .
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 06:27 AM
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BarryK, a number of others here are insisting that Capital One does not even charge that 1% on foreign charges. Why does yours?
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 09:37 AM
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No - AmEx offers dispute protection better than regular credit cards. At least every dispute I;ve had has been settled in my favor with no problems. They remove any questioned charge as soon as you ask, send you a confirmatory letter, investigate, then send letter telling you the resolution. And they don;t take the merchant's word for everything - but really require proof.

The only time I had a dispute on a Visa card they were useless (the charge was a clearly bogus one) and I ended up cancelling the card to avoid paying the charge.

Separately, when someone managed to get my card # and use it they removed all questioned charges permanently at once and Fed Exed me a new card the same day.

The other benefit is that unlike most credit cards there is no limit - I've charged over $50,000 (business expenses) in one month on my personal green card - no questions asked.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 09:56 AM
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Thanks for the replies.

I wonder, then, where that idea came from.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 12:47 PM
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nytraveler, your descriptions for AMEX match mine for Citibank MasterCard and Visa. We once disputed a no show hotel bill when we had a double booking -- seems when I had called to check our reservation, the hotel said we didn't have one, so I made another. We went, stayed, and later got a bill for a no show. Seems they had booked the first reservation under my first name as my last name which is why they couldn't find it, yet still they billed my CC for one night as a no show for that reservation when we were there. Calls to them did nothing. They insisted we'd have to pay it. I contacted Citibank and they took care of the entire thing and credited me for it. I had a couple other disputes they handled equally efficiently. And when we've had credit card "number theft" three times, each time they've issued new cards immediately and credited all false charges with no questions asked.

Also when I screwed up a payment to Citibank (by mailing the wrong check on the wrong date) a call them cleared all the late charges and interest. They couldn't have been nicer. When my check to American Express got lost in the mail (or lost in their office which I'd believe first), they refused to credit me for the $50 penalty for not making a "minimum payment" on my statement which was a total that month of $38.
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Old Feb 4th, 2007, 04:51 PM
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NeoPatrick - I don't know the answer to that. Perhaps because it's a rewards card? Or, perhaps they haven't travelled internationally recently. As I recall, until a few years ago, there was a law prohibitng CCs from charging a fee on currency exchange.
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