Smart Buying

Credit Card Offerings from Cell Phone Carriers

Some major cell-phone companies offer options worth checking out.

When you’re searching for a new bank account or credit card, your wireless carrier probably isn’t the first place you’d check. But a couple of major cell-phone companies offer options that are worth a look.

The Verizon Visa Card debuted over the summer, and Verizon Wireless customers may find good value in the card’s rewards. To start, you get 4% back on grocery store and gas purchases—competitive paybacks for a card that has no annual fee. Cardholders also earn 3% back on restaurant spending (including takeout), 2% on Verizon purchases (including devices and wireless bills) and 1% on all other spending. Rewards are in the form of Verizon Dollars, which you can redeem for Verizon purchases, such as monthly bills, smartphones and accessories. (Verizon Dollars are forfeited if your account is inactive for two years.)

Another perk: You qualify to get up to $10 off per phone line on your Verizon bill if you use the card to make automatic payments. If you use any other credit card, you won’t get the auto-pay discount, but you are eligible if you use a debit card or bank account instead.

High-yield checking for T-Mobile customers. The T-Mobile Money online checking account is available to those who are not customers of the wireless company. But customers get a better yield: 4% on balances of up to $3,000 and 1% on the portion higher than that threshold, compared with 1% on all balances for noncustomers. To earn the 4% rate, you must deposit at least $200 in the account monthly. If you meet the deposit requirement, you can also overdraw your account by up to $50 with no fee—but you must make the balance positive within 30 days. The account has no monthly fee or minimum-balance requirement and provides fee-free access to more than 55,000 ATMs in the Allpoint network.

T-Mobile issues the account in partnership with BankMobile, a division of Customers Bank. Bank services are not available in T-Mobile stores—you manage your account online or through an app, and you can call customer service for help.

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