When you look back at how 2008 treated its credit card consumers, it could only be defined as a roller coaster. Early in 2008 the economy was riding high; business was booming in most parts of the country, the housing market had been fun for everyone and every credit card issuer was offering fantastic rewards programs with big up front bonuses … even if you didn’t have the best credit in the world.
And then, in October of 2008, everything fell apart. A somewhat complex cause of debt vs. liquidity became apparent and in less than 24 hours, every bank in the country was scrambling to figure out how to survive. Banks which carried a lot of mortgage debt were hit particularly hard and it took future bailouts from our government to insure that some of the largest financial institutions in the country stuck around.
To start the year, some of the best credit card offers around came from various issuers.
The Citi Professional Cash Card was one of the most popular credit cards ever, as it offered an up-front cash bonus of up to $200 just for signing up (no spend requirement). This card also included a cash back rewards program of 1.25% on all purchases regardless of category and for those with excellent credit, a 0% intro APR on both purchases and balance transfers.
Advanta Life of Balance Transfer Small Business Card – Even though you’ll probably never see a credit card that offers a “life of balance transfer” deal again, Advanta gave it a shot. Their line of small business products was great for any business owner, but offered little profit to Advanta. One card came with a particularly juicy attraction; 1.99% APY on balance transfers for life. Sadly, that offer did not last long as Advanta closed their doors almost immediately after the financial collapse.
Chase Freedom Visa Card – Even though the Chase Freedom Visa Card had been around for a while, the card was given a makeover in 2008 offering increased rewards for things like gas and groceries. Chase was the first issuer to figure out a way to offer 5% cash back on select purchases and began doing so by separating monthly rewards. It was also a plus for JP Morgan that they were not as saturated in the mortgage industry, which kept them on top in the US Banking Industry.
Nine months of fortune followed by three months of misery is just about how one can describe 2008 for the credit card industry. What happened here would be the cause for financial reform and even though the credit card industry has rebounded nicely, we most likely won’t see offers as lucrative as they were just a few short years ago.
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