To help you shop for credit, for the last sixteen years, Consumers
League has given away the list below of lower interest credit
cards free to people who send us a stamped, self-addressed, long
envelope. Now on the Web, feel free to print out our list
for your personal use. Please note that this list is not updated
a often as we'd like, so the banks listed may well have changed
their rates. However, the list is important because, by and large,
the banks listed have had low rates for many years, which is
why they were included on the CLNJ list. For the most up to date
rate quote, ask the bank itself.
The Consumers League list is free to all as a public service. But if you would like to see it continue, we could use a donation. Join Consumers League, and show us your appreciation.
The list is national. Banks are arranged by state. Click
here for New Jersey. Most of the following banks extend credit
nationally. For each bank below, we list the annual percentage
rate, the annual "fee," and late charges, if we know
them. The banks have a grace period for paying the purchases
without interest, unless otherwise stated. Many banks have a
series of rates, some better, and some worse than those quoted
here. Some banks will actually give you a hard time, and refuse
to quote a rate until after you apply for credit. Skip those
Pulaski B&T ARK
Simmons First Nat'l Bank ARK 800-636-5151
Washington Mutual CA/WA 800-533-5600
Liberty Savings Bank
People's Bank, (CT)
AARP/First USA Bank, DEL
American Express Blue
Amalgamated Trust & S Bk, IL 800-365-6464
First Union, NC/NJ
Hudson United Bank
Central Carolina Bk (NC) 800-577-1680
Ohio Savings Bank
USAA Federal Sav Bk, OKL 800-922-9092
Armed Forces Benefit Ass'n VA 800-776-2322
Which bank is best for you? Two thirds of customers carry balances from month to month: never getting the benefit of a grace period. These consumers should look for low interest rates. If you usually pay 100% of purchases each month, be sure to get a card with a grace period. This means that no interest is charged on purchases, if you paid all purchases last month, and you pay all purchases in the current month. Look for banks in states with strong usury laws. It only takes 15 minutes to change banks and save money. To "transfer" your high interest debts to a low interest bank apply for a low interest card, then pay off the old balances with a cash advance. Everyone should use credit wisely credit cards can be an expensive way to borrow! Watch out for $29 late charges, they are unfair and excessive! This list may not detail all the late charges for every bank. Just ask when applying. A Truth in Lending disclosure will tell you what they are.
While this information was checked by phone, we can't be responsible for mistakes, and since rates do change, (variable rates will change with an index), call the bank directly before you apply. For updates, call the bank directly. Credit card interest rates are, unfortunately, changeable at the whim of the bank.
WORST INTEREST RATES?
CLNJ thinks that 18%-21% for credit cards is way too high.
But did you know that people who don't have credit cards get
robbed in an even more cruel way?
Consumers League has a free pamphlet "With Rent to Own Your Paycheck's Blown." For schools, government and charities, we have a large poster. For the radio, TV (and groups) we have a song/public service announcement on audio cassette: the RENT TO OWN RAP!
Another abominable form of credit is "Payday loans." A payday lender might loan you $200 until your next payday, for a $38 interest charge. What do you think the Annual Percentage Rate is for this loan? If the loan is for two weeks, the annual percentage rate is 494%! Almost ten percent per week! Consumers League does not believe that civilized states should condone the exploitation of consumers. In New Jersey, a civil usury limit of 16%, a requirement to get a license from the Banking Department, and a criminal usury law with 30% maximum interest, make payday lending illegal.
Consumers League Education Fund
60 South Fullerton Avenue
Montclair N.J. 07042
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Interest Paid for our money
|Greed Ratio Credit Card to Checking|
|Bank of NY||0.50%||1.25%||25% *||50 to 1|
|First Union||0.90%||1.88%||15%||16 to 1|
|Fleet||0.50%||1.75%||29.47%||59 to 1|
|PNC||0.55%||1.61%||24.98% @||45 to 1|
|Summit Bank||0.25%||1.70%||16.4% #||66 to 1|
|Trustcompany Bank||1.02%||2.02%||18% #||18 to 1|
|Note: Banks with *, @, # - Credit cards provided to customers of the bank by a different bank through arrangement or purchase of accounts:* Chase; @ MBNA; # First USA Bank|