There have been rumors if this for a long time, but Emigrant Direct has finally announced their new credit card. This is a “platinum” MasterCard that offers up to 1.25 percent cash back on all purchases with no yearly limit. The rewards are deposited directly into your Emigrant Direct account twice a year.
If you have an average daily balance (for the last six months) of $10,000 in your Emigrant Direct savings account, you qualify for the 1.25 percent cash back rate. If you don’t have that average daily balance, your cash back rate is only 0.5 percent. (Thanks to fivecentnickel for pointing out this stipulation.)
Banking Deal: Earn 1.00% APY on an FDIC-insured savings account at Barclays.
I’ve had an Emigrant Direct savings account for nine months, and I have had none of the problems that some people speak about. The sign-up process was a little long, but nine months later, that is my only complaint.
Emigrant Direct does not offer the highest interest yield anymore, but the combination of the relatively high APY and the credit card rebates may be enough to win over more customers.
The credit card I use is a CitiBank Dividend Platinum Select MasterCard. To compare, the CitiBank card offers 1 percent back on all purchases and
5 percent back on purchases at supermarkets, drug stores, and gas stations. However, your cash is not automatically deposited — you have to request a rebate check every so often, so you’re missing out on (taxable) interest while the money is held by CitiBank.
February 1, 2006 Update: The CitiBank card now offers 2% cash back rather than 5%.
The Emigrant Direct card would be more worthwhile if the rewards were deposited immediately. Since they are only deposited twice a year, the bank, like CitiBank, is earning interest on your cash while you’re not.
Updated June 24, 2016 and originally published January 20, 2006.