Sure, you buy tons of TP and caseloads of coffee at BJ’s and get all your groceries and household stuff cheaper at Walmart, but have you ever considered getting a mortgage there? For our July issue, we decided to take a look at some of these financial services, like bill-pay options, credit cards, mortgages, checks, insurance policies, and more, to see whether they’re worth it. Here are a few of the services and what we thought.
Walmart expedited bill pay: Buy
OMG! You suddenly realize that if you don’t pay your credit card, mortgage, or auto loan by tomorrow, you could get hit with a late fee of up to $50—and even your bank’s online bill-pay service won’t get it there in time. To avoid the penalty, you can use an expedited payment service for as much as $25 a pop. But Walmart charges only $1.50 for next-day payments and $4 to $12 for same-day payments to affiliated billers, so it may be worth it in a pinch. (Next time, use your bank’s free online bill-pay service to schedule payments at least a few days before their due date.
Costco mortgages: Consider
Always compare lots of deals to get the best mortgage rate, because even a difference of a fraction of a percentage point can save you a load of money over time. Check out the offers of national and local banks, as well as credit unions, mortgage brokers, and search services such as Bankrate.com—and yes, Costco, too! Costco provides mortgages and refinancing deals through First Choice Loan Services, a mortgage broker. Ten lenders vie for your business, and lender fees are limited to $750 for Costco Gold Star members and $600 for Executive members (other fees still apply).
BJ’s, Costco, and Walmart credit cards: Skip
The rewards programs of the no-annual-fee credit cards offered by BJ’s, Costco, and Walmart are OK, but their annual interest rates are higher than what you might expect. The BJ’s Visa, issued by Barclays Bank, has variable interest rates currently ranging from 14 to 25 percent, depending on your credit rating. Costco’s True Earnings card from American Express has a 15.24 percent variable rate. Walmart has the worst deal, a Discover-branded card issued by GE Capital Retail Bank with a variable rate of 23 percent. Recently the national average credit-card rate was about 16 percent, according to Bankrate.com.
See the rest of our results in our July issue, on newsstands now.