Banking Deals of the Week: Sept. 10

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Americans are back from summer vacation and banks seem to be taking notice.

Exhibit A is this week’s best deals on interest rates – with some real steals on the block.

Credit Cards

Priceline (Stock Quote: PCLN) is offering a new rewards Visa credit card that can slip a $50 bill in your back pocket.

It works like this: Choose from one of three card promotions on Priceline’s Web site.

From the Web site, here are the three deals:

$50 cash back – Get $50 cash back when you apply for the card as part of your Priceline purchase. Or, earn 5,000 points without a purchase.

5,000 rewards points – Get 5,000 points free when you become a cardholder. Use these points to pay for anything you buy with your card

$50 Hotel Bonus Cash - Get $50 towards your next qualifying “Name Your Own Price” hotel stay.  The $50 is awarded after the first time you use your new card to book travel at Priceline.

The $5,000 rewards points seems like the best option, but you be the judge. Priceline warns that the deal “won’t last” but hasn’t issued a deadline date yet – at least in the fine print.

So you might as well act now to guarantee that you’re locked in.

Online Bill Pay

Wal-Mart (Stock Quote: WMT) is getting aggressive about cornering the low-end of the bill payment market.


The latest deal is this: You can pay your bills – household staples like utilities, cell phone, credit cards or cable bills – for 88 cents each – or $1.88 for “next-day” bill payment.

That’s an attractive option to people accustomed to paying a service fee of anywhere from $3 to $15 to paying their bills over the phone. It also might be useful for regular Wal-Mart shoppers, who can pay bills while they’re right there at the store (at one of the retailer’s bill payment centers. Shoppers can also get a check cashed for a $3 fee, and get a money order for 60 cents – both significantly under the price tag issued by other third-party bill payment centers.

It also helps the “unbanked” – people who don’t even have checking accounts. The company estimates that 22 million Americans don’t have a checking account.

Wal-Mart’s closest competitor, Moneygram (Stock Quote: MGI), charges $4.50 (each) for same-day bill payments.

Bank Accounts

PNC Bank (Stock Quote: PNC) is a big player in the populous Northeast United States.

It hopes to grow even bigger with its “Virtual Wallet” rollout. According to the PNC Web site, Virtual Wallet includes three unique accounts that help you spend, save and grow your finances.

  • Spend Account is the primary checking account.
  • Reserve Account is for short-term savings.
  • Growth Account is for long-term savings account, featuring a high-yield interest rate.

Virtual Wallet also comes with an online calendar to track money coming in and going out, online bill pay and a “money bar” which you can use to move money around, among other features.

Now PNC Bank is offering a $100 cash-back deal if you sign-up – and complete one direct deposit transaction (with a minimum deposit of $400).

According to PNC, the payout of $100 will be credited to the eligible account within seven days of the first direct deposit, which must occur within 60 days of account opening. The offer is only available to new PNC Bank checking account customers who must open the account using the bank’s online application.

For more information, visit the PNC Web site.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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