Farewell Sweet Schwab Card

Schwab Credit CardThe writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Arguably the best general purpose cash back credit card of all-time, the sweetness that was the 2% ex-Schwab card was bound to end sooner or later. Ever since the card stopped accepting new applications over a year ago, existing cardholders have been nervously speculating when the party would end. Well, doomsday now has a date: October 31, 2011.

Letters to existing cardholders have been going out over the past week, officially giving notice that the 2% cash back on rewards from the ex-Schwab card will only continue through the end of October. Beginning in November 2011, cardholders will be transitioned to a new card.

The vast majority of customers will be switched into the new BankAmericard Cash Rewards card with no annual fee. It earns 3% cash back on gas, 2% on groceries and 1% on everything else. When you redeem your rebate into a Bank of America checking or savings account, you’ll also earn a 10% cash bonus. Alternatively, customers can choose to be switched into the BankAmericard Privileges credit card. It earns 1 point per $1 on all purchases with 3x points in rotating categories that change on a quarterly basis. It also earns a 50% cash bonus when points are redeemed into a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch account. The Privileges card carries a $75 annual fee which is waived for the first year.

There are also reports that a lucky few have received a special targeted offer for a Cash Premier Visa card that offers a 2.5% cash rebate on all purchases when deposited into a Bank of America account for an annual fee of $25.

What’s the next best thing?
Needless to say, while the Bank of America Cash Premier Visa sounds like a great opportunity for those who are offered it, the “3-2-1” and Privileges card are underwhelming. Schwab refugees looking for an alternative should consider one from our list of the best cash back credit cards. Options such as the Fidelity Amex or Visa are strong contenders if you have a Fidelity account.

Another possibility is to use this opportunity to switch to a points-related travel card. The SPG Amex and Chase Sapphire Preferred card remain popular choices in that category.

At any rate, it was a great run while it lasted. And one can always hold out hope that something similar (or better!) will resurface in the future.

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