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avatar You are viewing an archive of articles by Joe Taylor Jr.. Joe Taylor Jr. has covered personal finance and business for over two decades, and has written and researched for personal finance websites for over five years. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, Fox Business, and ABC News. Joe also serves as a business sales manager for a Fortune 500 technology company.

Joe Taylor Jr.


To most Americans, Louisiana means great music, good food and some crazy Super Bowl moments. However, keen observers of the credit card industry also know Louisiana as the home of Iberiabank, a solid regional lender that’s been chugging away in cities like New Orleans and Lafayette for more than 125 years. An early adopter of remote banking, Iberiabank offers cards like its Visa Select to consumers with excellent credit all over the country, even if they’ve never been south of I-10.

Iberiabank Visa® Select is the only of Iberiabank’s credit cards that carries an annual fee, albeit a modest one. It’s also the only Iberiabank card with a consistent zero-APR introductory purchase offer, zero percent or 7.50 percent introductory purchase APR for one year from the account open date. After that your assigned purchase rate will apply. Applicants with excellent credit may qualify for one of the lowest variable go-to rates in the country. Even the second- and third-tier APR ranges spelled out in this card’s terms and conditions beat most other cards on the market. Keep in mind other factors, aside from your credit score, may also play a role in the approval process. With a 3 percent balance-transfer fee on each transfer amount and a 12-month introductory balance-transfer APR of either 1.99 or 7.50 percent, this card becomes a good place to park a balance that you know you’ll need to pay off over two or more years. After the introductory period, your APR will be the same as your assigned purchase rate, based on your creditworthiness.

Beyond that, the Iberiabank Visa Select operates like many of the no-frills credit cards you’re used to seeing from national lenders like Chase, Capital One and Citi. Therefore, the real reason you might ever consider this card would be the fact that most of Iberiabank’s larger rivals have merged with each other over the past few decades. By making their best balance-transfer deals available only to first-time customers, some big banks have shut out potential business from consumers who may have once held a card at an acquired institution.

Although banking industry gossip hounds occasionally name Iberiabank as a takeover target for any number of predators, there’s little guarantee that will ever happen. If anything, the bank has used the years since the financial crisis to justify its conservative underwriting approach and to expand its regional branch footprint. Therefore, little Iberiabank looks like a welcome haven for customers who have tried just about every big name in the credit card business.

However, that’s one of the paradoxes that shielded Iberiabank from major damage during last decade’s credit crunch. The kind of consumer who would typically qualify for this credit card probably doesn’t need a destination for a balance transfer. If anything, they’re paying an annual fee in the same price range for a more comprehensive rewards credit card, like a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card or a Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express.

Still, if you’re a fan of the underdog and you’re happy to spend a little money each year to keep a line of credit on standby for emergencies, you can do far worse than the Iberiabank Visa Select card.

Click the card name link Iberiabank Visa Select for rates, additional information and application page.

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By offering a suite of services originally designed to help military families make ends meet, Pentagon Federal Credit Union has grown into one of the country’s largest nonprofit financial institutions. Unlike credit unions that require geographic or employer-related eligibility, PenFed extends membership to any citizen with a family connection to our national defenses.

You can also become a PenFed member by paying a one-time membership fee to join the National Military Family Association or Voices for America’s Troops. Having a PenFed membership doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get approved for the PenFed Promise Visa® Card, so make sure your credit score looks great before you apply.

The PenFed Promise Visa Card is one of the best no-frills credit cards on the market. It carries no fees. No annual fee. No foreign transaction fee. No fee when you make a balance transfer. Not even a fee on a cash advance. It’s a good thing PenFed is already a nonprofit organization, since they’re not making anything from this card other than finance charges from a seriously low variable APR.

Even that’s something you can score a deal on. PenFed has frequently offered new cardholders limited-time opportunities to transfer balances at a low, fixed rate that’s less than half the card’s prevailing variable APR. With some commercial banks charging upfront balance transfer fees as high as 5 percent on their zero-APR introductory balance transfer deals, PenFed Promise Visa Card can probably save you money if you think it’ll take longer than six months to pay off your transferred debt.

PenFed keeps its APRs and fees below the market average by exercising tougher underwriting standards than typical retail banks. Based on feedback from current and former members, you may need to provide documentation of income, even if you carry an above-average credit score. Applicants who normally have no problem getting a quick-response offer reported having to fax copies of pay stubs for credit union review. You’ll also need to agree to receive PenFed credit card statements electronically.

Should you switch to the PenFed Promise Visa?

If your score is on the bubble or if you have late payments or delinquencies on your credit report, you may want to hold back on applying for this card. Otherwise, your donation might help you qualify for a savings account without scoring you the balance-transfer deal you’re really looking for. In addition, that hard credit pull on your profile could make it harder to qualify for another issuer’s best offers.

Overall, this card offers one of the most consistently low variable APRs among all credit cards, even no-frills accounts. With no fees and no penalties, this card makes a great addition for any family that manages bills well, but needs some occasional flexibility due to travel or illness. Credit unions like Pentagon Federal have been breaking customer satisfaction records over the past few years, and the Promise Visa could give you the perfect opportunity to make the switch.

Here’s more information about the PenFed Promise Visa Card.

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The Citi ThankYou® Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs brings a flexible rewards program to a wider audience, with some unexpected perks and privileges for a no annual fee card. However, if you’re already packing a travel rewards card or a cash back card, you might find this account a little underwhelming.

Earning 1 ThankYou Rewards point per dollar spent, this card offers the equivalent of a 0.5 percent cash back rebate. That’s half the rewards value of similar cards from Capital One and Discover. The value of your rewards points increases substantially if you shop the “Rewards on Sale” section on Citi’s website. When compared to published prices on Amazon.com, some of the redemption deals on electronics push point values closer to 2 percent. Additionally new cardholders can earn 2 ThankYou points per dollar spent on the card on dining at restaurants and at select entertainment merchants.

Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs offers a taste of great things to come

Although Citi doesn’t discuss the credit score you’ll need to qualify for a Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs, its marketing materials position this account as the entry level for a series that includes the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Earn 20,000 Bonus Points offer, the Citi ThankYou Premier Card, and the Citi Prestige Card. Each rung of the ladder includes extra opportunities to earn bonus rewards points, making the basic ThankYou Card look anemic by comparison.

However, if this is your first rewards credit card, you might not know how good you’ve got it. Over the past few years, Chase and American Express have ramped up their rewards points programs with some compelling discounts on select merchandise and travel. Although Citi’s ThankYou program resembles both Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards, Citi makes it easier than its competitors to pool rewards with fellow cardholders.

Extra security for travelers to Europe

On the upside, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs may be the most accessible consumer credit card with an embedded EMV chip for use in Europe. American visitors who stray too far beyond tourist zones have expressed increasing frustration about merchants’ refusal to accept magnetic stripe cards. Even though Visa and MasterCard agreements state that merchants should take cards anywhere you see their logos, magnetic stripe cloning has run rampant in some parts of Europe, forcing some retailers to only accept chip-and-PIN transactions.

Until recently, only a handful of business and luxury travel credit cards carried the chip you’ll need for universal acceptance in Europe and a few other parts of the world. Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs includes an EMV chip by default. However, Citi still charges this account’s customers a 3 percent foreign transaction fee. That’s a high enough fee to make you consider Chase’s British Airways Signature Visa or Citi’s own ThankYou Premier Card, neither of which add the surcharge. You might also consider carrying any of Capital One’s surcharge-free cards, breaking out the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs card as a backup when your cashier will only process chip-and-PIN.

Summary: A strong start, but not the go-to rewards card in Citi’s lineup.

The Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs card will do just fine if your credit score doesn’t yet qualify you for an account with better perks. And, with no annual fee, solid cardholder benefits, and a middle-of-the-road annual percentage rate, the Citi ThankYou Preferred Card – Low Intro APRs offers a step up from a no-frills card if you really want to build a relationship with Citi.

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The Discover it® card with an 18 month introductory balance transfer offer arrived on the market with heavy fanfare, including lots of television ads and billboards touting personal service and a new rebate structure that frees customers from most cash back traps. This card’s critics have pointed out that other lenders extend far more generous signup offers, dangling hundreds of dollars in bonus rewards for new customers. If you’re carrying no debt at all, those credit card deals might fit better for you. However, Discover’s 18 month balance transfer deal hits a sweet spot if you’re among the millions of Americans trying to shed an “average” credit card balance. Plus, free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement to help you stay on top of your credit.*

You could save hundreds of dollars with Discover’s balance transfer deal

According to TransUnion, the typical American consumer carries $4,878 in credit card debt. Down from $5,122 the year earlier, the figure shows that we’re making a little headway on our monthly balances, but not much. Using this figure and a 15 percent APR for our example, a $100 monthly payment will zero out your balance in about seven years, costing you $2,700 in finance charges along the way.

Instead, Discover’s deal includes a balance transfer fee of just 3 percent. Buckle down with Discover’s offer by making a $280 monthly payment and you’ll clear your $5,025 balance before the promotion expires. That’s like earning an extra $2,420 over eighteen months.

Even if you can only budget $100 each month toward your balance, you’ll still clear your debt within about four years, paying $1,077 in fees and finance charges. Either way, this deal could save you at least $1,600 if you get serious about your budget — a much bigger haul than sliding a few thousand rewards points into your virtual wallet.

Shifting gears from spending to saving

This deal bucks a trend where major credit card issuers separate their rewards cards from their balance transfer cards. Even though you can find similar balance transfer offers from Discover’s competitors, it’s rare to see this kind of opportunity extend to a card with a minimum 1 percent cash back rebate. That’s important, because if you pull off your “get out of debt” plan with a Discover it Card’s help, you’ll already be in position to start enjoying the benefits of a decent cash back program.

In addition to everyday rewards, you can sign up each quarter to participate in Discover’s quarterly promotions that can score up to 5 percent cash back up to the quarterly maximum spend in purchases on featured purchase categories. Booking travel and shopping through Discover’s online portal can earn you even more bonus rewards.

Can a credit card company ever really be nice?

That brings up one of the key messages this lender wants to project with the Discover it Card. Discover has consistently earned high ranks for customer loyalty and cardmember service from organizations like J.D. Power and Brand Keys. Instead of shipping call center jobs overseas, Discover has hired veterans and military family members to handle inbound phone calls from their home offices.

Furthermore, those customer service agents have received training on how to help callers get through tough life events, like job losses, illness and workplace injuries. Instead of shutting down accounts and imposing penalty rates, Discover has empowered team members to authorize hardship programs with lower rates, lower monthly payments and other forms of assistance.

Of course, they’re not just doing all this to be nice — Discover hopes that you’ll bring other business their way, through savings accounts, student loans and home loans. However, it’s refreshing to see a major lender ditch penalty fees and adjust its approach to add-on services in favor of offering products that can help us manage our financial lives much more effectively.

Discover also offers other variations of this card that may better suit your needs. Be sure to read these additional reviews:

Discover it card

Apply for Discover it cardThe Discover it® card  makes a habit of saying no. No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, no overlimit fee, no APR hike for a late payment, and in fact, no late fee on your first late payment. Discover’s latest incarnation of cash back cards aims to simplify the relationship between cardholder and card issuer into one of easy cooperation. Plus, free FICO® Credit Score online and on your monthly statement to help you stay on top of your credit.*

Discover it for Students

Apply for Discover it for StudentsDiscover’s made strong inroads into student borrowing over the past few years. Discover it® for Students represents the bank’s latest foray onto college campuses, with pricing and features that resemble full-featured credit cards more than the typically watered-down student accounts on the market.

Discover it for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus

Apply for Discover it for Students
The Discover it® for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus is a great way to get a taste of what credit card signup bonus are all about — without getting in over your head. After making your first purchase on your new Card within three months of approval you’ll receive a promotional award of $20; that’s in addition to the cash back bonus you’ll earn on all purchases.

*Click the link on the card name or click the card art to see rates, rewards and other information.

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Discover it for Students

by Joe Taylor Jr.

Discover’s made strong inroads into student borrowing over the past few years. Discover it® for Students represents the bank’s latest foray onto college campuses, with pricing and features that resemble full-featured credit cards more than the typically watered-down student accounts on the market. Loading up your wallet for the long haul For years, student credit cards earned bad ... Continue reading this article…

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Discover it for Students with $20 Cashback Bonus

by Joe Taylor Jr.

Once upon a time, applying for a student credit card got you a cheesy T-shirt, or a hat, or a beer koozie. Often, that same card saddled you with a higher-than-average APR and a bare bones set of features compared to regular credit cards. Instead of spiking your finance charges, the folks behind the Discover it® for Students ... Continue reading this article…

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Discover it card Review

by Joe Taylor Jr.

The Discover it® card makes a habit of saying no. No annual fee, no foreign transaction fee, no overlimit fee and no APR hike for a late payment. Discover’s latest incarnation of cash back cards aims to simplify the relationship between cardholder and card issuer into one of easy cooperation. Discover it Card maintains 5 percent ... Continue reading this article…

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Disney’s Premier Visa from Chase review

by Joe Taylor Jr.

Though I tend to prefer cash back credit cards, a really specific rewards card sometimes comes up with an irresistible offer. Disney’s Premier Visa Card from Chase sounds off the bat like something that would only cater to hard-core fans of the Magic Kingdom. After all, it’s not everyone who can pull off paying for ... Continue reading this article…

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CitiBusiness/ AAdvantage World MasterCard

by Joe Taylor Jr.
Citibank

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your interest, this offer expired and is no longer available. If you’ve spent any time on a plane in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed the growing gap between business travelers and the folks riding in the “back of the plane.” Business owners face a choice: standardize travel on ... Continue reading this article…

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CitiBusiness ThankYou Card Review

by Joe Taylor Jr.
Citibank

Editor’s Note: Thank you for your interest, this offer expired and is no longer available. Citibank wants to lure more business owners away from American Express and Chase with a credit card that cribs from its competitors’ playbooks. Like the original Platinum Card, the CitiBusiness ThankYou® Card streamlines expense reporting and adds significant purchase protection ... Continue reading this article…

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