Episode 2: Is Mexico Canceled?
A little update since my last Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Credit credit journey post: My girlfriend and I still love food, and since we have a new favorite restaurant that just opened up by my apartment, our dining habits haven’t changed a bit. It probably doesn’t help that we’re also exploring a whole new world of places to eat in her new neighborhood (she recently moved, hello pho and Indian cuisine!), either – so much food to try, so little time! We are definitely looking forward to planning our trip to Mexico soon and making it a reality, but I’ve encountered a slight… hiccup.
A Secured Card with Travel Perks?! It May Still Be a Unicorn
Initially, I thought that the biggest inconvenience I’d see from the Aeromexico Visa Secured Card is that the application is online, but cannot be submitted online from the comfort of your home – you are required to print a copy and mail it in with a cashier’s check or money order. While this isn’t impossible, I don’t have a printer at home (I haven’t needed one regularly since college, and paper/ink can get expensive), and with my hectic schedule stopping at the bank, finding a printer, and then stopping at the post office to mail it off actually took longer than it should have. Had I been able to apply and get approval online, like I did with the Uber Visa Card, the process would have been slightly less frustrating. Unfortunately, I ran into a bigger issue – the actual application for the credit card is not available to print.
The Full Aeromexico-branded Secured Card Experience:
Today, I think that the Aeromexico Visa Secured Card must be a unicorn. It sounds like an amazing offer, almost too good to be true, and for the time being at least, it may be. This, the Holy Grail of credit card applications, is no longer available to access via their website. On that site, I located the page for the secured card, and I was excited to get started – I’d initially accessed the page using my cell phone several days earlier and successfully filled out the application, only to be prompted that I’d need to print it and mail it. “Sure,” I thought, “I’ll borrow a friend’s printer and print and mail the application during the week. Should be easy, right?” I might have spoke too soon. When I revisited the Aeromexico Visa® site, excited to complete my application and print it, I was thrown off-guard. The information I’d seen the previous weekend was still available, but the link to the application was no longer visible. I did some digging and noticed that the other Visa® cards from Aeromexico had similar issues with their pages, advertising “Apply now!” without any sort of button or link to the application. While I completely understand that, at times, websites have issues, I would think that most credit issuers would want their customer experience to be seamless and easy. This has absolutely not been the case with the Aeromexico Visa Secured Card. Most of the representatives that I’ve spoken to have been polite, and as helpful as they can be; however, no one has been able to actually tell me how to download the application, and no one has been able to confirm whether this card offer has been discontinued. No one I’ve spoken with that is associated with either Aeromexico or U.S. Bank (the card issuer) has been able to tell me if this is due to simple web issues, or if the card offer is on its way out or being revamped. Basically, I’ve been told that the card offer is active, but the application cannot be done over the phone; even when I was speaking directly to Aeromexico’s Visa services center, I was unable to get help or information regarding the secured card. That representative told me that she’d be happy to assist me in applying for the Aeromexico Visa Card, but that she did not have the application for the Aeromexico Visa Secured Card and that no one in her office would have access to that particular application, either. After I expressed to her my concerns about applying for the regular Visa card (which is still something I plan to do, once I’ve fixed my credit score, thanks to its extremely appealing Aeromexico perks) and putting another hard inquiry on my account without some sort of guarantee that I would be considered for the secured offer if not approved for the non-secured card, she agreed that it was probably best to look at a different secured card and apologized.
What does all of this mean for me?
At this moment in time, it’s safe to say that at the very least, the card issuer is no longer accepting new applicants for the Aeromexico Visa Secured Credit Card. While a representative did confirm to me verbally that I could still apply for the regular Aeromexico Visa Card offer over the phone, the disappearance of the links for the application online leads me to think that there may be more going on behind the scenes, and that this card offer may not be available for much longer. Only time will tell. My dream of flying to Mexico using miles earned from a secured card will have to go on hold, for now. I’m still planning to get their card, I’ll just have to wait until I’ve worked on my credit a bit. In the meantime, I still needed to find a secured credit card to help me improve my credit scores, preferably one that would give me some great incentives to use.
My credit journey: Revisiting My Secured Card Options
Based on my first installment of this blog series, I’d narrowed down the secured card offers I was interested into a total of four credit cards from various issuers. Since the Aeromexico Visa Secured Card would appear to no longer be an option, I revisited my notes and dug a little deeper. I continued to look for card offers that had competitive interest rates coupled with valuable rewards programs, and here’s what I found:
TD Cash Secured Credit Card vs BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards Secured Card
I wrote about the BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards Secured Card in Part 1 of my journey to credit card salvation, extolling the virtues of its generous rewards program: 3% cash back on all gas purchases, 2% cash back on groceries and utilities, and 1% cash back on all other purchases, as well as a 10% cash bonus when cash back is deposited to a BB&T account. This is an extremely attractive credit card offer, especially for a secured card – but I wanted to make sure I did my due diligence and dug a little further. I discovered another cash-back secured card that I hadn’t considered previously, the TD Cash Secured Credit Card. This versatile secured credit card offer from TD Bank advertises 3% cash back on dining purchases, 2% cash back at grocery stores, and 1% cash back on all other eligible purchases – definitely nothing to sneeze at. Just like the BB&T Spectrum secured card, this is an offer that outperforms most other secured cards on the market. With a current purchase and balance transfer APR of 25.24%, the interest rate of this TD Bank secured card is competitive but is slightly higher than the BB&T Spectrum secured card’s APR of 21.49%. The annual fee of $29 is also higher than the annual fee for the BB&T offering, which is $19. Neither card charges foreign transaction fees, which means I won’t need to consider that when comparing the two offers – but even though I am not planning to carry a balance on whichever card I apply for, it’s still worth considering the interest rate of each of these secured credit cards. Based on my dining habits, these two cards seem my best bet for a secured card that is coupled with rewards – and although they aren’t travel rewards, cash back can still be valuable. Since I’m applying for a secured card, as the old adage goes: beggars can’t be choosers – and as such, I had a decision to make. Both cards require you to visit a branch location to apply. Ultimately, the BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards Secured Card appealed to me more than the TD Cash Secured Credit Card; the ability to earn cash back from gas purchases as well as groceries and utilities was more attractive than only earning cash back from dining and groceries. I’d love to earn cash back from paying for recurring bills I already have to pay each month, and while 3% cash back on dining is certainly worth consideration since I eat out a lot, the flexibility to earn rewards from gas, groceries, AND utilities ultimately won me over.
Well, it’s time for me to apply for the BB&T Spectrum Cash Rewards Secured Card now. Although this card does not have an online application, I do have the option to actually go into a BB&T branch location and apply in person. I like this approach for two reasons:
- Rather than waste my time, I can call the branch directly to verify that they are still accepting applications for the card in-person (not an option with the Aeromexico Visa Secured Card)
- I don’t have to worry about finding a printer or a website malfunctioning, since I can apply in person. While this option still will require me to make time in my schedule to do so, it’s preferable to wasting time at home on the phone and online, trying to find a link for an application.
While my trip to Mexico with my girlfriend will have to wait, tacos aren’t canceled. Using my BB&T Spectrum secured card, I’ll be able to get cash back whenever I buy the fixings to make my favorite rendition of the street tacos we’ll sample once we make our way to Chilangolandia. More updates coming soon!