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Review: Simmons First Visa Platinum credit card

By Peter Andrew

Review: Simmons First Visa Platinum credit card

If you follow the gossip columns, you may see a lot of master-of-the-universe types from Wall Street at $5,000-a-plate charity fundraisers. But, as a group, those in the financial services sector aren't famous for their altruism, at least when it comes to business. So when banks and credit card companies come to you bearing gifts, it's usually wise to read the small print carefully.

This applies to credit card rewards as much as anything else. These are in part funded by higher interest rates. In mid-November 2012, IndexCreditCards.com's credit card rate monitor found that the average rate for a consumer non-rewards card was 15.19 percent APR. The average for a consumer rewards card was 17.45 percent. Such a spread can easily wipe out the benefits of cash back, points and miles very quickly.

That's the reason many financial advisers recommend charging to rewards plastic only those purchases you plan to pay off quickly. Everything else should be put on cheaper, non-rewards cards. Among the most affordable of these is the Simmons First Visa Platinum card, though you're only likely to lay your hands on one if you have excellent credit.

Ultra-low interest rate

Just how cheap is its standard credit card rate for purchases? Well, it's currently 7.25 percent APR variable, which is less than half that of the average for its competitors' comparable products. That "variable" means that it's going to go up and down in line with the prime rate, which is published daily in The Wall Street Journal's Money Rates column. Nearly all credit cards offer only variable rates now, so this one's likely to remain among the cheapest cards -- - if not the cheapest -- for the foreseeable future.

Here are some other ways in which this is an inexpensive card:

  1. No balance transfer fees, although you don't get a 0 percent introductory rate: just that standard low 7.25 percent from day one.
  2. Foreign transaction fees of 2 percent, which is lower than many, although you can find cards that charge nothing.
  3. Cash advances and convenience checks attract a 3-percent fee (minimum $4; capped at $50), and a higher rate of 11.25 percent APR variable, though again that's much, much lower than many competitors offer.
  4. Late payment and returned payment fees are capped at $25, and may be lower.

Minimal features

No bank could offer such an affordable card, and also provide perks, privileges and rewards, so the Simmons First Visa Platinum comes with very few of these. However, you do get:

  1. Travel accident insurance that covers you against death and dismemberment while you're traveling with a "common carrier" airline.
  2. Car rental cover against collision, theft and vandalism that could allow you to decline collision damage waivers and save money.
  3. Emergency cash and credit card replacement.

An excellent and straightforward card

MoneyBlueBook.com discourages its writers from endorsing products too enthusiastically, because it's our job to provide fair and balanced information on which readers can rely. However, it's hard to think of anything bad to say about the Simmons First Visa Platinum card. True, you shouldn't bother applying if:

  1. You ALWAYS zero your card balances. You never pay interest so rates are irrelevant to you.
  2. You're ineligible because your credit's less than excellent or you don't meet U.S. citizenship/residency requirements.
  3. You like throwing money away.

But otherwise, what's stopping you?

Peter Andrew has over 25 years of experience writing about marketing, advertising and management. He regularly covers consumer credit card topics for IndexCreditCards.com and other personal finance publications including Fox Business, TheStreet and MSN Money. He also writes frequently about mortgages and auto loans. Peter has spent extended periods living overseas, in the UK, France and Africa. He lives with his partner of 20+ years, and wastes too much of his time on cryptic crosswords.

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