E*Trade, the online securities and brokerage firm based in Washington, D.C., offers a Platinum Rewards Visa card to current and new account holders. The card comes with a handful of premiums and the ability to earn points rewards, but it also comes with a catch. It is available only to E*Trade power customers who conduct 30 or more trades per month.
The E*Trade credit card has no annual fee, no introductory interest rate, and a comparatively low regular APR. For standard purchases and balance transfers, the APR is the Prime Rate plus 3.90%. According to current numbers the APR would equal 7.15%. Cash advance rates are also comparatively low at Prime plus 12.90%.
Cash advance and balance transfers incur a 3% fee, with a minimum of $5.00 and a maximum of $50.00, and there is a minimum monthly finance fee of $.50.
E*Trade Points Rewards
Earning points with the E*Trade credit card is pretty standard fare. Card holders earn one point for every dollar spent with no limit on the amount that can be earned. Points can be redeemed for travel expenses, merchandise, gift certificates, or future trades.
Redeeming points for trades is an attractive benefit for E*Trade customers, but tax issues must be considered in order to determine if doing so is truly a good value. The cost of trades is tax-deductible when paid for in cash; it is not when redeeming points for trades. Card holders should also be aware that trades acquired from points are subject to calendar restrictions.
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The maximum benefit of the points reward program appears to be applying points to an E*Trade IRA. Card holders who exercise this option will be paying tax-free dollars into their account simply by making every day purchases with their card. It is an easy and painless way to increase the compounding effect of the IRA without taking additional cash out of your pocket.
E*Trade Other Benefits and Premiums
The E*Trade Platinum Rewards Visa provides card holders with travel accident insurance, extended warranty coverage on some merchandise purchases, rental car insurance, and easy, online access of all accounts. As a premium for new card holders, 10 free trades are awarded as a sign-up bonus upon approval of your application. Card holders also get 2,000 bonus points after their first purchase.