By Quentin Fottrell
Citibank mailed 346 million offers to North American customers in the third quarter, The Wall Street Journal reports Tuesday. “That is more than one for every man, woman and child in the U.S.,” the paper reports. Experts say this is a good time for some attractive credit card deals.
But quantity is one thing. Quality is another. In that aggressive mailing campaign, Citi is pushing the Simplicity Card, Thank You Card and Executive AAdvantage – and many more that are big on rewards. Experts say they are often times not appropriate for “revolvers” – those who don’t pay off their credit card balance every month.
We asked five experts for their evaluation: Odysseas Papadimitriou, the chief executive of Cardhub.com; Beverly Harzog, a credit expert for Credit.com; Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research at CreditCards.com; Edmund Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Groups; and Curtis Arnold, founder of CardRatings.com.
Our experts take on Citibank’s latest offers:
The Simplicity Card has 0% APR for the first 21 months, but Mierzwinski notes that it has a variable APR of 16.99% thereafter; he cautions against being tempted if you are a revolver. Emily Collins, spokeswoman for Citibank, says it helps the card holder manage their finances responsibly, and says all the bank’s offers target a broad demographic.
During the first 12 months you earn five points per $1 spent at gas stations, supermarkets, and drug stores as well as one point per $1 on all other purchases. “However,” Arnold says, “you are downgraded to one point per dollar on all purchases after that— not that competitive to say the least.”
You get 30,000 American Airlines points after $750 in purchases if made within the first four months of membership. Arnold says, “If you don’t travel frequently you would be better off with a card with a much smaller or no annual fee.” Papadimitriou says this is nothing new: “All credit card companies have their own points/miles rewards program.”
Other Citibank cards our experts recommend:
It offers $200 cash back after $500 purchases within three months of opening an account. However, quarterly enrollment is required to earn more than 1% cash back on specific spending categories that keep changing, Papadimitriou says. Harzog adds, “This is not a good choice if you need to carry a balance.”
Earn 30,000 American Airlines bonus miles after spending $750 within the first four months of membership. Papadimitriou notes a $50 annual fee after the first year and, as with many rewards cards, he says the 15.24% APR makes it “prohibitively expensive to revolve a balance.”
It gives 0% APR for 21 months. But after that the variable APR is 11.99% to 20.99%. Harzog says that there are no rewards earning potential and notes the wide APR range is dependent on your credit rating. “Most consumers with excellent credit can get an APR better than that,” she says.
For more read: “The New Best Credit Cards” on SmartMoney.com.