1% CASH BACK ON BALANCE TRANSFERS: The Barclaycard Ring is offering 1% back on balance transfers for the first 60 days (note: this is not an affiliate offer of mine) and no balance transfer fees.
Is this a good deal? The answer is a definitive “probably not.” First of all, the interest rate on balance transfers is 8%, so after only a month and a half your 1% bonus will be negated. Even if another card is charging a 3% fee, if you combine that with a low APR you’d still come out ahead on that vs the Ring card after several months.
Now some of you are probably thinking, “Can’t I just transfer money in, pay it off, then transfer some more in?” The answer is maybe–it would depend on how quickly Barclays processes transfers and payments. My best guess is that it would not be worthwhile, especially when you consider that Barclaycard has many better and easier offers, but who knows.
Over at FWF, where I first read about this promotion, resident credit card expert imbatman has a very clever idea: “I wonder if you can prepay, then BT (effectively no interest because your balance was never greater than $0).” That would probably be the most efficient way of working this promotion, although it would also be risky since credit card companies might shut you down if you start running lots of very negative credits on your account.
Still, it’s an interesting promotion in that it’s the first time I can remember reading about bonuses for balance transfers in a very long time. Hopefully Chase or Citi will come through with a 5% BT rewards offer one of these days…
ADIOS TO THE LUCRATIVE TRAVELOCITY CARD: A few months ago I wrote about how you could get 12% back (or even 14%) on your travel purchases with the annual-fee version of the Travelocity Amex. It appears as though the party may be over, as Flyertalkers report that the more lucrative annual fee version has disappeared. I couldn’t find the annual fee version either. Let’s hope they’re just getting ready for a relaunch, but just in case… Requiescat In Pace.
DO YOU NEED CHIP CARDS FOR YOUR TRIP TO EUROPE?: There’s lots of talk out there about how you need chip cards (as opposed to the old-timey magnetic stripe cards that we’re used to) if you’re going to Europe. Fortunately for us, hard-hitting reporter Tony Mecia did an objective, scientific study which consisted of making lots of purchases during his family’s recent trip to Europe:
We attempted to use credit cards 106 times in 17 days in three countries (England, France and Spain), following our usual points-collecting strategy of charging everything possible and paying off bills each month. In only 10 cases were we unable to use any kind of credit card. Almost all of those were in Barcelona metro kiosks, at toll booths in southern France and with automated machines used to validate parking.
And to my surprise, only once did my chip card work after my stripe card didn’t: at a rest stop in Fraga, Spain, where I was buying a couple ham sandwiches and some Pringles.
If you have any trips coming up, take a look.
HOW ABOUT SOME 100-YEAR-OLD LIFEHACKS: Enjoy.