Although balance transfer offers have bounced back onto the market in recent months, consolidation among major lenders means you’ve got fewer banks willing to lure your business with low teaser rates. Credit card issuers reserve their very best deals for first-time customers. If you earned a high credit score by proving you’re capable of paying down a big balance, an everyday low rate from the Simmons First Visa Platinum with no balance transfer fees could be one of your best options for saving money on finance charges.
Alternative credit cards for excellent credit
Surf many of the most popular personal finance blogs and forums, and you’ll find plenty of opinions about Simmons First’s approval process. By most accounts, you won’t even get considered for a Simmons First Visa Platinum at the bank unless your FICO score tops 800. Even then, some applicants and cardholders say, you’ll still need to provide copies of some recent pay stubs and receipts to prove your income.
Scrutinizing applications closely has paid off for Simmons First, which reported just a 1.14 percent “bad loan” rate during a period in which most major lenders chalked up charge-offs as high as 10 percent. That low risk factor lets Simmons First offer a variable APR spread that’s 4 to 5 percentage points lower than the lowest median rates tracked by the Pew Safe Credit Cards Project.
Authentic service for organized cardholders
Many smaller banks and credit unions outsource their credit card operations to bigger lenders, who slap private labels on their customer service and support systems. Instead of dealing with agents at a massive call center run by Bank of America or GE, Simmons First customers get to speak to specialists who work on Main Street, in the bank’s hometown of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. The bank’s website even cautions callers that it may take a little longer to get someone on the phone outside of the usual 9:30 to 4:30 office routine.
How Simmons First stacks up to other Visa Platinum credit cards
Don’t expect bells or whistles from the Simmons First Visa Platinum, just one of the country’s lowest APRs and no annual fee. Along with Visa’s normal cardholder protections, the Simmons First Platinum Visa only adds some enhanced travel insurance and car rental damage coverage. This card really only serves you well if you intend to pay down a large balance from another bank, or if you want to keep an open line of credit in case of unexpected expenses.
If you have the kind of credit score that would qualify you for a Simmons First Visa Platinum, you probably already have your pick of the best credit card offers from larger banks. This card should really appeal to you if you’re looking for an alternative to big lenders, or if you simply want to do business with a friendly group of folks from Arkansas who enjoy offering personal service to responsible borrowers.
Updated July 28, 2014 and originally published February 15, 2012. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.