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Credit Card Tips and Strategies, Issue #007 -- American Express Membership Rewards
January 05, 2006
Credit Card Tips and Strategies Newsletter 007
Date : 5th January 2006

Table of Contents

1. American Express Membership Rewards
2. AmeriDollars Cash Rebate Program
3. What credit card deals do isuers give to get new cardholders?
4. A New threat to your credit rating
5. New US Airways credit card from Barclays
6. New line of Citibank American Express Cards

American Express Membership Rewards

A couple of issues a ago, I reviewed the Citi ThankYou Redemptions Network Redemption Reward program. The purpose was to shed light on how good and comprehensive credit card reward programs were. Obviously, when you are choosing a reward credit card, you should look at the reward program to see if you like the rewards that they give. I have just completed the review of the American Express Membership Rewards program.

I have been an American Express Gold Card holder for eleven years and use my reward points mainly for airline tickets and hotel stays. After going through the types of rewards that they have, I realize that it has so much interesting rewards to offer aside from just the travel rewards which I have been using my points for. Compared to other credit card reward programs, this is perhaps the most comprehensive reward program around.

You can our review of the American Express Membership Rewards here.

AmeriDollars Cash Rebate Program

I was editing the directory of prepaid credit cards page a few days ago because there are just so many new prepaid debit cards. Some allow you to build your credit, some pay cardholders a fee for refering others, some have reward programs and even cash rebate program.

I was intrigued and decided to take a closer look at prepaid debit cards with cash rebates programs. Unlike the big bank credit card issuers who design their own unique cash rebate program, prepaid debit cards outsource this function to a third party, with a cash back program called AmeriDollars program.

After a closer look, I came away quite impressed with the cash back program. Unlike regular cash rebate programs of regular credit cards which pay the standard 1% rebate on dollars you spend, or even 5% rebates on "everyday purchase" items, the AmeriDollars rebate program pays you rebates based on the merchants you spend your money with. Most of the merchant partners are well known, the rebate ranges from 1.5% to 10%.

You can check out the AmeriDollars Cash Rebate program here :

What credit card deals do issuers give to get new cardholders?

I am always asked how should one go about choosing a credit card? What are the best deals available? It is not easy to answer because it depends on many things like what is your credit score? what type of credit cards are you looking ? I could easily write a few chapters on this. However, I have decided to take a look instead at what marketing strategies are issuers using to win new cardholders. Here is the article I wrote :

A New threat to your credit rating

On 3rd January, the Wall Street Journal wrote an article titled "A New threat to your credit rating". The article basically mentioned that states are now taking action by calling collection agencies to get back any unpaid parking tickets, late library fees and that these will hurt one's credit ratings.

Local governments that are being aggressive about this include Seattle; Anchorage, Alaska; Austin, Texas; Florida's Miami-Dade county. It also mentions that in New York city, Baltimore and Dallas, libraries are using collection agencies to recover fines.

Hence, beware if you have any late payments to local authorities because if they ask a collection agency to collect the late payments, this may be reported to the credit bureaus. The article mentioned that both TransUnion and Experien (two major credit bureaus) include overdue municipal fines and fees in consumer credit reports. Equifax is a little more lenient on this. They claim to try to weed these out as municipal reporting is very uneven throughout the country.

I once had a close brush on this earlier last year. I had just changed address and had a new medical coverage. I visited a hospital and assumed that the insurance company would take care of everything. But there were some issues and the insurance company did not pay the hospital. The hospital tried to call me but I had just moved. They were then about to get a collection agency to get my "unpaid bill", but fortunately, I visited the same clinic and doctor just before they called the collection agency and resolved everything there and then.

Hence aside from paying any parking tickets and fines on time, make sure you report any change of address and phone numbers to relevant parties.

I thought this was a very interesting article. You can find this by typing the title in the seach function at

New US Airways credit card from Barclays

Barclays has struck a new deal to issue US Airways Dividend Miles World Mastercard with the new merged entity of US Airways and America West. At present Bank of America is the issuer of the US Airways credit cards. Bank of America will continue to issue US Airways cards up until 2007. In 2008, Barclays will have sole distribution rights to the US Airways crerdit card. (By the way, Bank of America is suing US Airways)

To entice new cardholders, Barclays is allowing new cardholders to earn 1.5 miles for every dollar spent on the card during the first year versus 1 mile for every dollar.

They are also waiving the annual fee for two years and giving bonus miles up to 25,000 miles (which is enough for a free ticket) for signing up and transfering $10,000. Barclays also intends to sell 100 tickets a day in February at 50 cents for new cardholders. With these attractive offers, Barclays intends to win over existing cardholders from Bank of America.

We will write a review of this card as we get more details.

New line of Citibank American Express Cards

On 20th December 2005, Citibank and American Express announced that they will be offering co-branded cards. These Citi American Express Cards wil be accepted wherever American Express cards are accepted. In the pipeline are the following cards :

Citi Platinum American Express Card
Citi Dividend American Express Card
Citi AAdvantage American Express Card
Citi Premierpass American Express Card
Citi Diamond Preferred Rewards American Express Card

It appears that the features and rewards will be almost identical to the present Citicards. The only difference being that these cards are technically American Express cards and not Visas or Mastercards.

Nick Lian

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