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Size Does Matter With Credit Card Issuers

March 12, 2010
Credit Cards
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We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Frustrated that your bank just increased your APR from 10% to 18% with no justification?  Did you get a notice in the mail saying you were going to be charged a fee for not using your card?  Or just concerned that your bulge bracket credit card company seems to keep finding new ways to nickel and dime you?

The solution, according to Ismat Mangla at Money magazine, is to go smaller.  Regional banks and federal credit unions tend to be more consumer-friendly.  Credit cards aren’t viewed as cash cows with these guys, so you can still find a good deal on a card.

You can see in our Low APR and Balance Transfer search results that the top 10 are all little guys, including the Iberiabank Visa Classic and the Platinum from Simmons First, both of which Ismat recommends to her readers.  There’s also the recently-announced PenFed Promise, which offers absolutely no fees and a 36-month intro APR of 7.49% on balance transfers.  And the PNC Bank Platinum, which has a 15-month intro APR on balance transfers of only 1.99%, and then 7.99% after that.  Be careful though, because PNC Bank’s 3% transfer fee is not capped, so if you’ve got a big balance you should run some numbers in our new Finance Charge Calculator to see if it makes sense.

And don’t think that if you leave the big banks you can’t still get rewarded.  Ismat recommends the PenFed Visa Platinum, which pays at least 1% cashback while only carrying a 13.99% APR.  And we also called attention to the Classic from First Command in a recent blog post, because of its 1% reward rate and 10.25% APR.

So don’t be afraid to venture beyond the walls of the big banks.  If you know where to look, or rather how to look, you can still find a good deal.