Consumer expert Clark Howard’s column appears here each Thursday in conjunction with Deal Spotter, a weekly print section in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Looking for the best credit card in America? I’m still standing by a prior recommendation if you’re someone who pays your bill in full every month.
Consumers have been shedding credit card debt at an incredibly fast pace. I read in Barron’s that the outstanding balances at the nation’s biggest credit card issuers are down by 20 percent to 50 percent from their peaks three years ago. Sure, a small percent of us defaulted, but the larger majority of us paid down those balances.
Now the banks have credit card portfolios that aren’t as profitable. So for those with solid credit scores, you’re probably having your mailbox bombed with pre-approved offers for new credit.
My wife must have a better credit profile than me. It’s not unusual for her to get three pre-approved offers a day. All the offers she gets are back to the hysteria from a few years ago, with big type on the envelopes shouting about bonuses, points, miles or what have you.
If cash is king for you, Fidelity Investments still offers the best card in my book. (If you usually carry a balance, credit unions cards typically have lower interest rates than those from the big banks.)
The Fidelity Rewards American Express card pays two percent cash back, no games and no gimmicks. The money can either go into a 529 plan, a Roth IRA or the Fidelity equivalent of a checking account and it’s your money to spend.
Cards that have those teaser intro rates — where you can get 10 percent cash back (and then it says “for 90 days” in mice type) or where they constantly change the category of purchase that qualifies for cash back — are a joke. It’s like a part-time job figuring out how to best use them!
If you’re looking for simple, look at Fidelity.
-by Clark Howard, Save More, Spend Less, Avoid Rip-offs
Find more answers to your consumer questions at ClarkHoward.com. You can also listen to his radio show live 1-4 p.m. Monday through Friday on AM 750 and NOW 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB.