Simmons FirstMillions of Americans use credit cards, but are we getting the best deals we could? For those who confined their search to the major banks that profit from issuing credit cards, the answer is probably not.

There's a reason American Express (AXP) has generated more than $14.5 billion from its card services segment over the past 12 months. Credit cards favor banks, especially when you commit to minimum payments on big balances at double-digit interest rates.

On Monday, Daily Finance reporter Barbara Thau shared CardRatings' list of the five Worst Credit Cards of 2011 -- plastic to avoid for the sake of your financial health.

But there are deals to be had if you look carefully enough.

Today, we kick off an ongoing series in which we'll profile some of the very best found on the Web. First up, the Simmons First Visa Platinum:

Attribute
Details
Annual percentage rate for purchases
7.25% variable.
Annual percentage rate for balance transfers
7.25% variable.
Annual percentage rate for cash advances
11.25% variable.
Grace period on interest
25 days for purchases. Interest begins accumulating immediately for balance transfers and cash advances.
Annual fee?
None.
Transaction fees
None for balance transfers.
3% of the balance for each cash advance, though not less than $4 or more than $50.
2% of the value of each foreign transaction.
Penalties
Up to $25 per late payment.
Up to $25 for each returned payment.
Source: LowCards.com and Simmons First National Bank.

Three Great Things About This Card

Offered by Arkansas' Simmons First National (SFNC), the Visa Platinum sacrifices frills for low rates. Three other benefits you might like if you're paying 10% or more to a creditor:

1. Cheap balance transfers. While Discover Financial's (DFS) offer to give applicants 15 months of 0% interest on most balance transfers looks great at first, you'll pay 3% of the balance in fees on day one -- or more than 40% of what Simmons First charges annually in interest.

2. Extended grace period.
Many cards now ask that you pay for your bill within 20 days. Simmons First gives good customers 25 days to make good.

3. No annual fee. Need I say more here? Fewer fees means more moola in your pocket.

The downside? LowCards.com, which named the Simmons First Platinum Visa as one of its best credit cards for 2012, says the bank will only issue this particular brand of plastic to consumers with excellent credit. The terms and conditions don't specify a credit score, but 740 or better is probably a safe bet.

Whom This Card is For

Apply for this card if you have (a) excellent credit, and (b) you're looking to transfer a small balance from a high-rate card. The savings will add up quickly if you use extra cash flow to pay off remaining debts.

And if you don't? The hit won't be huge because Simmons First is only charging 7.25%, versus 14% for the industry average as of this writing. But seeing as this is a variable rate card, the good times may not last. Know what you're getting, and plan accordingly.

What credit cards do you use? What is the best credit deal you've found? Please let us know using the comments box below.

Motley Fool contributor Tim Beyers didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and past columns. The Motley Fool owns shares of Simmons First National. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended write a covered strangle position in American Express.






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7 Comments

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Gunga Din

We had a Discover Card and the int rate was a "reasonable" 10.99 which is actually 11%. We ran up a bal of over 2000 due to my lady not being paid by the State of California as a teacher.(too many illegals?) I called them and practically begged them to lower it, as we needed to keep using it. I told them the whole story, and this b----h! of a woman would not budge telling me "your int rate is very reasonable." I paid it off and will never touch them again. Credit Card people for the most part are some of the worst people you can come across.

July 26 2012 at 2:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gunga Din

I have a Simmons because of my great credit score, but they only give you a small limit-say 2000-and if you want a bigger one they want all kinds of info like your salary, etc. No other card does that, and the cust serv is not very good!

July 26 2012 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
James Stein

Card issuers sent out 4 billion credit card offers by mail last year, 3 times as many as the 2009 total, according to data from Synovate. These numbers are not really surprising, as the improvement in the economy was expected to restore the banks' willingness to hand out new credit. What is surprising is how far most issuers are willing to go in doing so.

The very high overall quality of the offers, with incredible sign-up bonuses and rewards programs, makes one wonder whether the issuers are really that desperate to attract new customers or are they actually forced to be so generous, because Americans are just not all that interested in what they have to offer. http://blog.unibulmerchantservices.com/americans-get-4b-new-credit-card-offers-in-2011-but-are-we-interested

January 16 2012 at 7:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alandrives

I've had an Orchard card (through HSBC) for a few years. I pay it off in full every month, so I don't incur any fees or interest. I applied for HSBC's 1% cash back card and was approved. Then I saw that HSBC offered a 2% cash back card. I applied and was denied because "I had too many cards." I only had 2 cards. I called to cancel the Orchard card so I could apply for the 2% card. Orchard said, "Oh, we can just apply that program to your existing Orchard card." They did and now I am getting 2% cash back on all my purchases. And I still have the 1% card to use as a backup (I've used it once). My friend said he was just approved for a 3% cash back card (up to $1500 a year) from Bank of America.

January 11 2012 at 12:19 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ilm9p

The best card out there is the EBT. Ask any welfare scum. The EBT is free, free to swipe, and every month it's re-loaded with cash benefits that you get for doing absolutely nothing. EBT, baby, that's what's happening. Word to your Mother.

January 11 2012 at 6:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brad W

Simmons is a good card, I've had one for over a year. Problem is, they give very low credit limits. If you ask for a credit increase, they make you fill out paperwork asking how long you've been at your job, and how long at your current residence, etc...and I'm wondering...didn't we go through all this when I got the card in the first place?? Not very customer friendly if you ask me.

January 10 2012 at 9:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
laffingull

The BP sponsored VISA card was best I ever had and I spent from one thousand to eleven thousand per month with it. But when their telephone operator said he was forbidden to say Merry Christmas (he might offend less than 1% of the people!) I stopped using the card and am going to cancel it. Not saying Merry Christmas isn't so bad but the reason for not saying it is unacceptable to me. It is time the tail stopped wagging the dog.

January 10 2012 at 6:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply