Last week, I got a question from reader, and wanted to highlight it:
“Hi! I hope to get some advice. I got a targeted credit card offer from PNC Bank. It looked like something we might want to do. It’s called PNC Flex Visa. I has a 0% intro APR on balance transfers through April 2016. That’s what we would most like. We are really trying to pay down some credit card debt.
And then it says you get 50,000 bonus points after you spend 500 in 3 months. No annual fee. So my question is: What do you think of this offer? I can’t see what the bonus points translate too. Are there any other options? “
First, let’s start with PNC Flex Visa. While the bonus sounds impressive, it’s really only good for a $100 Walmart gift card. We are talking Zimbabwean points here.
Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
This particular offer also comes with a 3% balance transfer fee. My reader didn’t mention exactly how much debt she has, but in a follow-up email said it’s less than $10,000. So, let’s assume it’s $8,000. The balance transfer fee will run $240. If you subtract the value of the gift card, we are looking at out-of-pocket cost of $140. It’s not terrible, but can she do better?
For pure balance transfer, I usually recommend Chase Slate card. The card pays me commission. It comes with 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months, with no fees attached. Note what it says in the terms of application:
- We will not process any balance transfer requests that are from any other account or loan that we (Chase Bank USA, N.A.) or any of our affiliates issued.
If your debt is substantial, this is probably your best bet. But it wasn’t my top pick this time.
It was actually US Airways Premier World MasterCard. Say what? Let me explain. As I’ve mentioned many times, the card is on life support. Recently, the sign-up bonus has been increased to 50,000 miles after paying a fee of $89 and making $1 purchase. It also comes with 0% APR on balance transfers for 15 months.
The transfer fee of 3% is not waived. The smart thing to do would be to charge only $1 on the card and freeze it afterwards. That’s because it doesn’t come with 0% APR on purchases.
So, how is it superior to Chase Slate? Assuming you have to pay $240+$89 annual fee, you would be effectively buying 50,000 miles for 0.66 cents per mile.
That is a good deal. Also, as of now, the card still comes with two $99 companion certificates in the Continental US and Canada, as long as the cardholder’s fare is $250 or more.
Based on my communication with this reader, I know that she has a small stash of AAdvantage miles and that’s it. US Airways miles are supposed to merge with AAdvantage in the second part of 2015. She has some vacation plans that involve air travel in a near future with her husband and two kids.
This card no longer pays me commission, but it is still my top bonus pick. I can send you my personal referral that will give me 5,000 miles. There is also a targeted version listed in my page of best sign-up bonuses. If you have this card, check your email for opportunity to refer others.
Of course, there is also an option of getting Chase Slate and US Airways card. But if I had to pick just one, I would go with the latter. It’s very unlikely that you’ll lose out by buying miles for 0.66 cents each.
In fact, for a family with a very low mileage balance, it makes a lot of sense to go that route. For someone with millions of miles, it probably doesn’t makes sense to buy them, period.
One-way award ticket to Alaska currently runs 12,500 through AAdvantage chart. That translates into $82 (plus tax) per ticket. Even if you redeem for a route within the lower 48 states, you’ll have a hard time beating that price. You will get a 10% rebate, amounting to 1,250 miles as part of its new benefit in 2015. You can also eventually redeem these miles for hotel stays (last resort) and get between 0.7-1 cent per mile.
Which card did she choose?
This reader ended up going with a third option. She applied for US Airways card through usairways.com (it was before the referral possibility came up, insert my sad face), and the app was approved. She also ended up getting Chase Slate card as well. The reason she picked this combo was due to the fact that part of her debt was with Chase bank, so Barclaycard would come in handy. And of course, last call for this bonus and all that.
Readers, was I right to recommend this combination?
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.