Consumer Payment Card News

Instant Gratification

More and more card issuers are jumping online and some into the instant approval business. But as always there are good apples and bad apples. Here is a brief rundown of the best and the worst on the Web today as well as some good advice.

GOOD APPLES

A. NextCard VISA (www.nextcard.com) issued by NextBank, offers
1. Instant online approval, 100% online fraud protection and online access to account information.

2. Risk-based, fixed interest rates of 9.99%, 12.90% and 22.90%.

3. A free rewards program for cardholders carrying balances. The program enables cardholders to qualify for a free domestic airline ticket on any airline for charging as little as $11,500. (Most rewards program require cardholders to charge $25,000 to qualify for a free domestic ticket)

B. Wingspan Platinum VISA (www.wingspan.com) issued by Bank One, offers

1. Instant online approval, 100% online fraud protection and online access to account information.
2. Interest rate of 9.99% fixed.

3. 5% cash back for purchases made at 30 premier online merchants such as amazon.com, etoys.com, garden.com and sharperimage.com

C. Aria VISA Platinum Premium (www.aria.com) issued by Providian, offers 1. Instant online approval, 100% online fraud protection and online access to account information. 2. 3 month 0% interest rate followed by fixed rates as low 7.99% (lowest in the industry) 3. Rewards program offering offer up 5 points for each purchase and free American Airlines domestic tickets for 20,000 points; new cardholders receive 500 points for signing up and 2500 points for a balance transfer. Also offers bonus points from 40 premier online merchants including Macy’s, Blockbuster, and Barnes & Noble.

BAD APPLES
(the following cards are widely promoted on the Internet but do not offer instant approval)

A. Future Card VISA (www.futurecard.com) issued by First Premier Bank
1. Charges $168 in program setup fees against a minimum $250 credit line and then $5 per month thereafter

2. Charges an interest at 18.9% for balances under $1,000

B. First National Credit Card VISA (www.fncc.com) issued by First National Bank of Pierre, SD

1. Charges $169 in program setup fees and annual fees against a minimum $250 credit line then $40 annual plus $6 per month thereafter

2. Charges an interest of 19.80%. Also charges up to $50 for increasing credit limit the first time

C. Global 1 VISA/MasterCard (www.creditnow.com) issued by First National Bank of Brookings, SD

1. Charges $348 in program setup fees against a minimum $375 credit line then $5 per month afterward

2. Charges an interest rate of 19.80%

CARDTRAK’s CONSUMER ADVICE

1. Know who you are dealing with. Never apply online for a VISA or MasterCard if there is no bank name mentioned. It may be a bogus offer with the real goal of capturing your personal data for fraudulent purposes.

2. Verify who you are dealing with. If a bank name is listed and you do not recognize it, then check to see if a phone number and physical address is listed. If none is listed, then be wary.

3. Is your application handled in a secure or encrypted mode? Does your browser support SSL encryption? Never send personal data to a website that is not equipped to offer a secure session or with a browser that does not offer encryption.

4. Always read the online disclosures. There are many hidden costs associated with credit cards today and there is a compelling need to review the terms and conditions carefully. If there is no disclosure of terms and conditions listed on the web site then proceed at your own risk.

5. Does the web site and card issuer have a privacy policy? How will your personal information be handled beyond the purposes of a credit application?

OTHER INTERNET CARD DEVELOPMENTS

1. NextCard now offers a special Dilbert NextCard VISA which credits your account 50 cents per month for opting to not to receive a printed and mailed statement.

2. An Atlanta company, InfiLink (www.lending.com), announced a program that will enable very small issuers such as community banks and credit unions to offer credit cards online with instant approval

3. Internet-based cards have come to the U.K. Three weeks ago Prudential Bank unveiled the Egg VISA card (www.egg.com). This month HFC Bank (Household International) will unveil the new Marbles credit card (www.getmarbles.uk.co). Both cards are from U.S. based banks.

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