Q: Hey my ’04 Toyota Camry badly needs new tires, the problem is I can’t afford them right now. Tire Kingdom says I can apply for their credit card and get no interest for 12 months plus a $50 gift card. Is this a good deal? –Jake in Westlake, OH
A: The card they’re talking about – the Citibank Service Central credit card – is used not only by Tire Kingdom locations, but also Merchants and NTB Tire stores (which are owned by the same company).
Generally, I strongly advise against this card for a couple of reasons:
- Possible retroactive interest charges – To get the no interest for 12 months, you must pay off the purchase by the time the 12 months is up. If you don’t do that, then the interest gets charged to account retroactively, going back to the date of purchase.
- No cash back, points or miles – With the exception of that gift card promotion, you don’t earn anything on your purchases. However, earning a couple percent should be the least of your concerns since you need to finance your purchase. But for those who don’t need financing, the lack of rewards is a major drawback.
Instead of using the Tire Kingdom credit card, you’re probably better off using a regular (major) credit card… those will not charge retroactive interest on their 0% offers.
Meanwhile for those who don’t need financing (they can pay in full) but want to earn rewards, then these are some nice options but they both require an excellent credit score to get approved:
- Freedom – This Chase card offers up to 5% rewards on category purchases
- Venture – A nice rewards card from Capital One.
But going back to the credit card from Tire Kingdom, for those with bad credit it will remain to be the best choice. Not because it’s a good choice, but rather because you probably won’t qualify for anything better (so it may be your only choice).
On the brightside, the $25 or $50 Visa gift card promotion from Tire Kingdom is actually quite good for a sub-prime credit card. But it’s a mail-in-rebate and make sure you don’t dilly-dally on sending that in, because the fine print says your envelope must be postmarked within 45 days from date of purchase: