This is certainly a change from my usual philosophy that credit cards, in most cases, are worth using as opposed to cash or debit cards. (Since you can earn cash back or air miles, I find using plastic to be vastly superior to handing over dirty dollar bills when you buy something — plus, you get a degree of purchase protection, whereas with cash once the money’s gone… well, it’s pretty much gone for good at that point.)
But hear me out — it will be fun to play Devil’s Advocate this week.
Use cash or your debit card for the next few months. If you don’t really need to apply for a credit card today, then don’t. Wait for a few months until the U.S. credit card market heats up and more closely resembles the U.K.’s… in other words, wait for the banks to become more ruthless, and “outdo” each other with offers.
As London’s Financial Times recently reported, “The past week has seen a rash of new lengthy credit card deals, culminating in the longest interest-free balance transfer period ever seen. After MBNA and Virgin both moved to offer 18 month windows to new customers who moved their debts over, Barclaycard came back with a 20 month zero interest balance transfer rate for its Platinum Credit Card.”
Good luck finding an offer like that here in the United States!
Of course, there’s always fine print, even in England: the Virgin card has a 2.89% “handling fee” for balance transfers, and as a new cardholder the 0% intro APR on purchases lasts for a surprisingly short 3 months — most good credit card offers in the U.S. will provide a new cardholder with at least 6 to 12 months of 0% intro APR, depending on your creditworthiness.
Regardless, Virgin’s offer is excellent. If it were available here, I know I would be recommending it to Outlaw‘s readers without hesitation — and I’d probably apply for it myself.
View all of my favourite new credit card deals and offers over on Outlaw.
Disclosures: I used to review credit cards for a living. Also, my web site has a financial relationship with certain card issuers. No financial relationship or position on Visa Inc, Barclays, MasterCard Incorporated, Virgin, MBNA or any other firm mentioned in this story at time of publication.