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Credit Card Points Gone Wrong: Commerce Bank Rewards Users Who Carry A Balance

Small local and regional banks are starting to get back into the credit card business following a long absence.

But not all of them offer the best deals for consumers.

Commerce Bank (www.commercebank.com), which is based in Kansas City and operates in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Colorado, is one of them.

Commerce Bank has a unique way of rewarding card customers.

Unfortunately, the reward strongly encourages bad credit behavior by consumers, namely carrying a balance.

Just about all of the bank’s cards reward you anywhere from three to five points for every dollar in interest you accrue on your monthly balances. In other words, the longer you carry a balance, and the more interest you pay, the more points you’ll earn.

That’s not a good deal.

These points are in addition to any spending rewards you may earn.

Not only do these cards reward negative behavior, but they’re also slightly deceptive. You only earn points on the interest you pay, not the amount of the balance.

For example, if you’re carrying a balance of $1,000 and your APR is 12%, one month’s interest comes to about $10. You earn the points on the $10, not the $1,000. That’s a huge difference.

Here’s a look at the credit card details on Commerce Bank’s Special Connections Visa with Rewards:

APR 10.24% to 20.24%; 0% for six months on purchases and balance transfers.
National Average APR 14.98% (source: CreditCards.com)
Annual Fee None
Rewards One point per dollar on spending, five points per dollar on gas, grocery and dining purchases for the first six months. An additional three points per dollar on interest accrued on monthly balances.
Verdict Never try to earn rewards points by carrying a balance. It’s a losing proposition.

Two other Commerce Bank cards go even further. The Commerce Miles Visa with Rewards and the Commerce Bank Visa Signature Credit Card give you four and five points, respectively, on the interest you accrue. Both also carry a $29 annual fee.

But whether it’s three, four, five points or whatever, it’s still a bad deal.

If you want to earn rewards, never try to earn them by carrying a balance. The number of points you earn will never come close to covering the dollars you’ll spend on paying interest.

Using our example above, it will cost you $10 in interest to earn 30 points, which are worth 30 cents. Does that sound like a good deal?

Points can be redeemed for merchandise, gift cards, cash back and travel.

On the plus side, APRs on Commerce Bank cards are generally pretty low, if you qualify for the best rate, which is 10.24% if you have good credit. There’s a 0% introductory APR on both purchases and balance transfers for the first six months.

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