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Author: drwho17 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308362  
Subject: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch? Date: 9/9/1999 11:48 PM
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Howdy folks, I have a few questions for you.

I currently have a standard USAA Mastercard with 12.5% interest rate and no carried balance. They just sent me a note inviting me to convert to a platinum card, offering no annual fee and 5.9% on balance transfers until 7/31/2000 (prime + 3.9 = 11.9% after).

I was thinking of transfering about $6200 from a Citibank Visa at 8.9% and $2000 from Discover at 21%.

First, is there something I'm missing about the USAA offer?

Second, if the offer is OK, does transferring from 8.9% to 5.9% make enough sense? I calculated $15.50 per month savings on the Visa.
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Author: EPhule One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15558 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 8:51 AM
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I currently have a standard USAA Mastercard with 12.5% interest rate and no carried balance.
They just sent me a note inviting me to convert to a platinum card, offering no annual fee and 5.9%
on balance transfers until 7/31/2000 (prime + 3.9 = 11.9% after).

I was thinking of transfering about $6200 from a Citibank Visa at 8.9% and $2000 from Discover
at 21%.

First, is there something I'm missing about the USAA offer?

Second, if the offer is OK, does transferring from 8.9% to 5.9% make enough sense? I calculated
$15.50 per month savings on the Visa.


Hello DrWho17:

You're probably not missing anything with USAA, but
read the contract again. USAA is a non-profit organization, originally started by army officers to lower their insurance rates. It's sort of a credit union and mutual insurance company together. They have no profit motive, they just have to pay expenses.

It makes sense to me to transfer the balance, simply so that you can close one card and do a happy dance.

Since you're a memeber of USAA, you might want to check out their insurance too. You should be able to save a bit of money there too.


Eric

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Author: zgriner Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15560 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 9:09 AM
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Personally, variable-rate cards make me nervous. But, knowing that USAA is a reputable firm, I would take it.

Ignore teaser rates for long-term debts, unless you intend on paying of the debt by the end of the intro period or you intend on transferring balances continuously.

Why haven't you transfered your Discover card into your current USAA card? This is the only debt that needs to be transferred in its entirety, especially if you work to pay it off by the end of the intro period.

Zev

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Author: todos Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15567 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 10:06 AM
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I have been using USAA for years. While you may be able to find more attractive offers here and there, USAA is in my opinion the best credit card and insurance company, and you should go with them. I have yet to deal with any company that is close to their level of customer service. In short, they care, they operate with integrity and they are honest.

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Author: SpaceEngineer Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15571 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 12:12 PM
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I lump USAA insurance in the same pile as FirstUSA in the credit card business.

I was hit by a USAA insured driver while in grad school, and I was uninsured, so had no insurance company to fight for me. I knew several insurance agents and adjusters who looked at the accident report and immediately said that it was clear-cut that the other driver was at fault (pulling into the road from a private drive).

A lawyer volunteered to help me, and in the end I only paid him the filing fees and copying/mailing costs. He said that it is USAA's usual procedure to take advantage of people like this, and it was one of two insurance companies that he would not accept work from because he did not agree with their practices. I ended up driving a car that was totalled, by insurance company standards, for three years while letters went back and forth, and a lawsuit had to be filed before they paid.

I turn beet-red with anger at the mention of USAA, now - a similar reaction to that of many people here have to the mention of FUSA.

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Author: lalcorn Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15573 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 12:47 PM
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IMHO, USAA is one of the best companies to deal with. Just make sure to read the fine print about when they can hike your interest rate up (i.e. how many late payments in what length of time, what constitutes a late payment, fees that can be incurred, etc.).

-L

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Author: lalcorn Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15575 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 1:00 PM
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Space Engineer said:
I turn beet-red with anger at the mention of USAA, now - a similar reaction to that of many people
here have to the mention of FUSA.

todos said:
I have been using USAA for years. While you may be able to find more attractive offers here and
there, USAA is in my opinion the best credit card and insurance company, and you should go with
them. I have yet to deal with any company that is close to their level of customer service. In short,
they care, they operate with integrity and they are honest.

I'm afraid I have to agree with todos. I have never had a day's problem with USAA. My dad was in the army (which is how I qualify), and my father, brother and I all do a lot of business with them. I find them helpful and straightforward. As an insurer, they get one of the highest ratings (A++-superior) in the industry. I'm sorry, SpaceEngineer, that you had such a bad experience. I wish I could convince you this was an aberration...

As to doing *financial* business with them, they have very competitive rates, and tend toward lower-risk clients, so there's less of the constant fee nonsense you get with some other CC companies.

-Louise

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Author: tomatogrwr One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15585 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 2:59 PM
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Keep in mind the USAA cc will not lower their interest rate from the 12%, even using CCCS in my experience.

I found it very frustrating to have to enter my acct#s and then have to repeat the whole thing again every time I tried to talk to another "human" at USAA cc.
MBNA automated phone service has been much more user friendly.

Be careful when you pay them off.
They are *smart* enough to charge all the interest, but when I called for a payoff amount... they just were not able to give me a guesstamate amount. So I sent them a check all ending in 6666.

I am glad to have paid them off.
I'm sure the CC is just fine otherwise.
We have USAA car insurance, so far so good. Of course no accidents.yet ;)

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Author: NoOne2Fear Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15586 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 3:06 PM
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I have USAA mastercard, visa and insurance.

Love the credit cards. Great customer service... but I have to say that I hate the insurance.

I got into an accident a few year back and ended up having to battle USAA not the other guys insurance. My insurance refused to cover my medical bills. it was horrible... all in all I ended up losing 2500 from the settlement because of USAA, plus to this day I still have back problems they wont cover.



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Author: SpaceEngineer Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15587 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 4:06 PM
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I'm sorry, SpaceEngineer, that you had
such a bad experience. I wish I could convince you this was an aberration...


From what I've been told by people in the insurance and legal businesses is that USAA is great to be insured by, but their practices concerning those who have claims against them lean to the unethical side.


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Author: drwho17 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15589 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 5:30 PM
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Thanks for all of the great answers. By the way, I've had my cars and houses insured by USAA for 10 years, and my wife has had an IRA account with them for 5 years.

We've been pretty happy with them, although they once took a month to tell me that my damaged car was in fact totalled. They were really quick about changing my wife's IRA account from two loser funds to three of their best funds. They've also been very good about handling disputes with my credit card, and have never assessed a late fee, even though I sometimes pay close to the due date.

I was mainly wondering if anyone knew anything special about their Platinum card instead of their regular card.

drwho17

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Author: TMF2Aruba Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool CAPS All Star Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15592 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/10/1999 6:59 PM
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I currently have a standard USAA Mastercard with 12.5% interest rate and no carried balance. They just sent me a note inviting me to convert to a platinum card, offering no annual fee and 5.9% on balance transfers until 7/31/2000 (prime + 3.9 = 11.9% after).

I was thinking of transfering about $6200 from a Citibank Visa at 8.9% and $2000 from Discover at 21%.

First, is there something I'm missing about the USAA offer?

Second, if the offer is OK, does transferring from 8.9% to 5.9% make enough sense? I calculated $15.50 per month savings on the Visa.


Hi drwho!

First, it goes without saying that you've got to read all of the fine print very carefully. That's always a must. But if the offer is precisely what you're describing, I'd say go for it. All it can do is reduce your debt and save you money.

Seems to me that you've been offered this card based on an excellent credit history, and anytime you can save money with reduced interest, there's no reason not to take advantage of it.

Hey, it's your money, right?

Good luck!!

Tony
...but I still am...

Off2Aruba

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Author: aj3 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15607 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/11/1999 10:28 PM
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My experiences with the USAA M/C have been very positive in the 12 years I've had the card. The contrasts between USAA and Bank One (owners of FUSA - and we all know what the "F" stand for, don't we? :-) ) are dramatic. Let me explain.

About February 1998, both Bank One and USAA raised my interest rate to about 20%. In Bank One's case they claimed I was late on a payment (I wasn't and had paperwork to prove it, to no avail). USAA said they "repriced" my account because of my credit situation (it hadn't changed substantially in several years - good payment history, didn't carry excessive debt).

Of course I screamed (figuratively) and called and wrote letters diplomatically expressing my feelings to each company. Bank One basically gave me a complete run around or ignored me. USAA's response was totally different.

I got a letter from USAA expressing their sincere apologies because the repricing of my account was in error. I apparently got on a "bad account" list by mistake. All excess interest charges (only one month) were refunded, and they fell all over themselves apologizing. And get this - they even credited my account with an additional $75 as a way to make up for my troubles and sent me a free $50 long distance phone card!!! Can you believe this!?! It's true!

I no longer deal with Bank One or any other business that Bank One has any ownership (FUSA, Wingspan Bank, etc). I do still have my USAA card. Need I say more?

Art

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Author: lalcorn Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15654 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/13/1999 12:07 PM
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I'm sorry, SpaceEngineer, that you had
such a bad experience. I wish I could convince you this was an aberration...

From what I've been told by people in the insurance and legal businesses is that USAA is great to
be insured by, but their practices concerning those who have claims against them lean to the
unethical side.
***
Yikes. Well, I guess I'm glad to have them on *my* side in that case...

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Author: tsmegg Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15661 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/13/1999 12:56 PM
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Absolutely transfer the Discover balance. In regards to the Visa at 8.9%, if someone handed you $15.50, would you turn it down? Personally, I have a Citibank Visa, have for about 7 years. If I receive a better offer from another company, I usually call Citibank to give them an opportunity to match or better the offer...they usually comply (as long as you have a strong history with them). Generally, at least once a year, I play 'credit card canasta', and compare all of my interest rates with any new deals that my cards are putting out. I figure out my best deal, talk with each card personally, and transfer balances if I think it's the best bet.

Obviously, no balance at all on all cards is the ideal...I'm Foolishly working on that.

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Author: db6969 Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15666 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/13/1999 1:26 PM
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Hi. Let me tell you about one of my credit card companies (Fleet Credit Card Services). They sent my some blank checks to transfer some higher interest balances to their bank. They offered by a 6.9% rate
until the balance was paid off in full. I transferred
about $6300 from other cards that had a higher rate.
This was in May of this year. In Aug they closed my
account with a $10,000 balance and raised my rate to
20.9%. Be careful. I am still fighting with them to
give me what they promised but they will not do anything to help me. I am not paying them until they do something. Regards. DB

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Author: jacklez Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15674 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/13/1999 2:07 PM
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I see two options for you.
Option 1: Take the upgrade and transfer the Discover Card balance to Mastercard right away because your interest charges with Mastercard will always be less than the 21 % you are currently paying on Discover Card balances. Do not transfer your Visa balance over unless you plan to pay down most of that $6200 debt by the end of July 2000. At that time your Mastercard unpaid balances will cost you 11.9% versus the 8.9% you presently pay to Visa.
Option 2: You appear to be someone who carries an unpaid balance on one or more cards most of the time. Therefore, you want the card that charges the least interest over the long term. In your example, that card is Visa. I recommend that you ignore the Mastercard offer and transfer your Discover Card balance to your Visa card because, over the long term, you will pay 3% less interest on your revolving loan than with Mastercard.

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Author: ivanhoe2day Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15682 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/13/1999 3:43 PM
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The deal sounds OK. One thing to consider is the service you get - good, bad, indifferent? That could cause one to stop and reconsider even if the annual fee is greater.

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Author: 7467 Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15684 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/13/1999 4:06 PM
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If you intend to pay off your credit card debt by 7/31/2000 then, barring the failure to include some other salient facts in your description of the offer, it makes sense. I haven't done the math, but if you save $15 a month, that's $15 of YOUR money. You could consider it found money and spend it on expensive coffee, an expensive haircut, or buy some really cheap stock to hold for years just for the hell of it to see what happens. If you do not plan to pay off your debt by 7/31/00, then the answer depends on what you think will happen to the interest rate after that date. I'm not the smartest person on the globe, but I'd bet your $15 a month that the rate will go only in one direction and it ain't South. But how much debt will you have by then? That is the question you have to ask yourself. If you plan to keep buying on plastic and carry a big balance (in the interest of full disclosure let me say that I thing that $6K sounds big to me to carry at that rate), you might be more comfortable staying where you are. But bear in mind that a day doesn't go by when you can't receive another offer for a different rate. MONEY magazine normally lists the best rates available for a number of types of credit. You should use these as your benchmark ... and maybe go with one of them instead. Perhaps what you should do is to bite the hook now and transfer to USAA and use the $15 to subscribe to three financial magazines. Then you could spend your evenings studying them and learning how to invest. It might be time well spent and it would also pay a benefit of using up time that you might otherwise spend shopping and increasing your credit card debt. Of course, the best thing to do would be to save the $15 and read the magazine at your local public library.

Enough for me. I am off to get a frappacino at Starbucks. Sorry. It's really true.

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Author: slicklove Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15755 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/14/1999 1:22 PM
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It sounds like a good deal and it is, only
if you can pay it off before the interest
switch date. Prime + 3.9 may = 11.9% now
but it could be over 21% next july.
You will have to keep a watch on it and look
for someother credit card offer next year.

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Author: beast2 Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15769 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/14/1999 4:22 PM
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Transferring the balance does make sense. However, you need to read your the fine print for both Citibank and Discovery for they might charge you a fee for trasferring your balance to another card.

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Author: BlueAdept Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15791 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/14/1999 8:57 PM
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SpaceEngineer writes:

I lump USAA insurance in the same pile as FirstUSA in the credit card business.

I was hit by a USAA insured driver while in grad school, and I was uninsured, so had no insurance company to fight for me. I knew several insurance agents and adjusters who looked at the accident report and immediately said that it was clear-cut that the other driver was at fault (pulling into the road from a private drive).


I'm not sure what this has to do with credit cards, but since you brought it up...

I thought it was illegal in most states to drive without automobile insurance? Even if it isn't illegal in your state, what would you have done if it was you at fault? Would you have been able to pay for the damages of the other driver?

Before I could afford a car and car insurance, I rode a cheap road bike everywhere and found a cheap place to live near my work. I don't exactly live in a bike-friendly area either. Sometimes, I had to take endless series of buses to get somewhere too far to bike, but I saved thousands of dollars in the process. Anyway, owning a car isn't very Foolish if you can't really afford it.

A lawyer volunteered to help me, and in the end I only paid him the filing fees and copying/mailing costs. He said that it is USAA's usual procedure to take advantage of people like this, and it was one of two insurance companies that he would not accept work from because he did not agree with their practices. I ended up driving a car that was totalled, by insurance company standards, for three years while letters went back and forth, and a lawsuit had to be filed before they paid.

I'm glad you were finally able to resolve the issue, but I feel a little differently about USAA.

USAA (as both a bank and insurance company) has always treated me with the most respect, given me great value for my money, and has always been very accessible to me.

Some of the great services provided by USAA bank are:

- good interest rates for checking/savings
- ATM refunds (up to $1.50 ten times per month) since USAA doesn't have ATMs
- useful web banking (not as good as Wells Fargo, but I am closing my Wells Fargo account anyway)
- just about the best non-introductory credit card interest rates possible (it's 11.9% right now)

As an insurance company, they are also pretty awesome. I've had my car radio stolen twice and both times getting my window fixed and radio replaced was completely hassle-free.

BlueAdept


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Author: drwho17 One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 15954 of 308362
Subject: Re: USAA Mastercard - To Switch or Not to Switch Date: 9/17/1999 12:21 PM
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Follow Up:

I called USAA yesterday to get specifics on their Platinum card. The rate is based on prime + 3.9% (currently 11.9%). The old card rate is based on T-bill + 5% (currently 12.5%). The new card is issued from Nevada, not Texas. There will be a $20 late fee for any payment received 15 days after the due date (still good in my book), instead of no late fee.

I decided to go ahead with the new card. Later, while filling out the convenience checks, the amount I wanted to transfer was $100 more than my USAA credit limit, so I called them up and raised it by $500. I also sent Citibank and Discover $500 of my own money.

This year, using Foolish advice, I've closed three cc accounts, and will now close my account with the evil First USA. I've reduced my debts by over $1000, and my monthly finace charges quite a bit. My wife has the bug, too, and has changed her charging habits as well. This month, I have to have my car fixed for over $700, but I'm paying cash! I plan to have all of these debts paid off by the end of 2000.

Happy Dance Time!
drwho17

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