Bank Deals: July 2012

Consumer confidence may not be roaring back to life yet, but many large U.S. banks are now doing more to attract good credit card customers — using bonuses, credit card rewards programs, and lucrative promotions to broaden their customer base.

Why the summer rush for more customers? Borrower behaviour is stabilizing. “The six largest credit-card lenders saw further improvements in borrower behaviour in May, even as choppy economic data spark concerns over the financial state of U.S. consumers,” the Wall Street Journal reported last month.

With this in mind, here are some of the bank deals you should keep an eye on throughout July, according to Outlaw:

Credit card bonuses: You can see all of Outlaw‘s favourite new card offers ranked and compared right here, including Capital One Venture Rewards (10,000 bonus miles), Capital One Cash Rewards ($100 cash bonus), American Express Premier Rewards Gold (25,000 bonus points), Gold Delta SkyMiles (30,000 bonus miles), American Airlines’ AAdvantage credit card (30,000 bonus miles) and the U.S. Bank FlexPerks Travel Rewards Card (15,000 bonus points). If you’re open to getting a new card this summer, these deals make the transition easy. In my own life, I’m working to reduce my financial clutter, instead putting most of my daily purchases on a relatively new rewards card so that I can accrue as much cash back as possible.

Call-in deals: Just the other day, I called into one of the “big three” banks where I have a checking account. I politely expressed my displeasure about being subjected to a monthly maintenance fee, which adds up to at least $144 per year. The bank’s customer service rep switched my account to an “online-only” version — I will now face no monthly fees, provided I only use the bank’s ATMs and online banking features, rather than using a teller (which I rarely use, anyway). Awesome. Better still, she even spontaneously decided to credit my account with the monthly maintenance fee that was previously taken out of my account, and then she wished me a happy holiday. This has improved my finances by $144/year, the call took only a few minutes of my time, and the bank benefited because now — instead of closing out my account — I will likely use this particular checking account far more often.

It never hurts to call in and express your dissatisfaction — along with a reasonable solution (such as “switch my account to online-only”). You may just be surprised.

Balance transfers: These bank deals are less glamorous than sign-up bonuses or cash back, but could save you thousands of dollars in interest charges over time… making them definitely worth checking out. When you take a balance transfer deal, you transfer an existing card balance onto a new account, typically at 0% Intro APR for a set period of time. During this time, you can pay down your debt each month, without hefty interest charges continuing to accrue. Check out this offer, for example. If approved, you’ll get 0% for 15 months on both approved balance transfers AND purchases made on your new card.

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Disclosures: We’re a credit card promotions site, and as such we maintain financial relationships with numerous banks and financial institutions, including some of the offers and cards mentioned or featured herein. This article originally appeared in slightly different form on Credit Card Outlaw.

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