Clark Howard

Clark Hates the Big Banks, but Should You Get Their Credit Card Anyway?

For years, money expert Clark Howard has consistently warned against doing business with the big banks.

His laundry list of problems with them is extensive, but his main complaints include:

  • Poor customer service
  • Bad interest rates on your savings
  • Costly monthly account fees
  • Excessive product service charges

That’s why he generally recommends opting for a credit union or an online bank to facilitate your savings and day-to-day banking needs.

But what about credit cards?

I recently chatted with Clark on this topic to gain some clarity. And his stance on using a credit card from a big bank may surprise you.

Why Clark Is OK With Using Credit Cards from Big Banks

Clark hates big banks, but that doesn’t mean he believes you should skip on their credit card offers.

Between the rewards programs, welcome bonus offers, 0% intro APR periods, and bonus points for spending on things like travel, you are likely to find that a big bank-backed credit card may be the best option for your wallet. And Clark says that's OK!

"I am not as worried about people having a credit card with one of the giant, monster mega-banks as I am a checking account," Clark says. "Credit cards tend to be more straightforward. If the rewards are great, then you don't want to miss those rewards."

Typically, the fees and benefits associated with a credit card are heavily regulated and very clearly defined before you start the relationship with the bank. That means there’s little room for surprises. And if you’re paying your bill in full each month, you should be in good shape no matter which bank is backing the card.

You need not look any further than our article on the credit cards in Clark's wallet to see a few big bank-backed rewards cards.

He has cards from Chase and Citibank in there, for example. But that’s where those relationships end. You won’t see Clark handling his checking, savings or investment accounts at either of those institutions.

If you're able to keep this as a credit card relationship ONLY, you may find that you're able to slyly leverage the big banks for their best perks without exposing yourself to their bad attributes.

Clark says to think of this it this way:

“If someone was considering a big bank, I would say: Are you crazy having your checking account with them? Are you even crazier for having your savings account with them?

At the same time, I’d say you could be crazy like a fox for having a credit card with them!”

Do you have a credit card from one of the big banks? What has your experience been like? We’d love to hear about it in the community.

The post Clark Hates the Big Banks, but Should You Get Their Credit Card Anyway? appeared first on Clark Howard.

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