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Top banks begin offering top cards to top credit users

Oct 17, 2011 Philip Burgess

Struggling from sinking stock values and a barrage of new regulations - not to mention some substandard PR - four of the nation's largest banks are calling on their most creditworthy customers to take on more debt. Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and Wells Fargo have all begun mailing credit card balance-transfer offers with rates as low as zero percent, Bloomberg reports. "It looks like they're giving away the farm," Ben Woolsey, director of marketing and consumer research, told the source. "On the small percentage of people who don't pay it off on time, they make a killing." The surge in low-interest cards comes as the banks continue to impose new fees on other services, the most notable being BofA's new $5-per-month fee on debit card use. Citigroup announced recently that it also plans to impose new fees on checking accounts. Meanwhile, Chase is attempting to soak up some disgruntled customers of those banks by advertising its commitment to free checking and debit card use. Last week, the Federal Reserve reported a 4.6 percent decrease in annualized consumer credit, suggesting consumers are less willing to take on new debt amid widespread economic uncertainty.