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If you have good to excellent credit and wish to finance a large purchase or transfer a high-interest balance from an existing credit card account, this card is definitely worth a closer look. However, with no sign-up bonus or ongoing cash back rewards program, it is not ideal for those who wish to earn a return on every dollar spent.
Also, BB&T only operates in part of the United States – roughly from Maryland to Texas, throughout the southeastern U.S. While you don’t need to be an existing BB&T deposit account customer to apply for this card, you do need to live in the bank’s service area. If you’re from another region of the United States, BB&T Bright Card isn’t your card – at least, not until BB&T expands its range.
Introductory APR Promotion
BB&T Bright Card has a long introductory APR promotion for balance transfers and purchases: both have a 0% APR for 15 consecutive months following account opening.
Optional Overdraft Protection for BB&T Customers
If you have a BB&T deposit account, you can link it to your BB&T Bright Card to protect against overdrafts. Overdraft protection kicks in when you attempt to make a purchase that would normally result in a negative balance, at which point your credit card account is charged an amount equal to or just greater than the negative balance. Each occurrence costs $12.50, with a limit of one fee per day. Remember that overdraft protection transfers add to your credit card’s balance, so you should pay them off as soon as you’re able.
Visa-Backed Card Benefits and Protections
This card comes with a nice selection of Visa-backed benefits, at least by the standards of the low APR credit card category. Notable benefits include extended warranties on items purchased with the card and enhanced security through Visa Checkout.
After the introductory purchase and balance transfer APR periods end, the purchase and balance transfer APR rises to range between 12.65% to 21.65%, depending on your personal creditworthiness and prevailing interest rates. The cash advance APR is 23.65%, also variable, from the day you open your account. There is no penalty APR.
This card does not charge an annual fee. Balance transfers and cash advances cost the greater of $10 or 3% of the transferred or advanced amount. Late payment fees range up to $37, and there is no returned payment fee.
BB&T Bright Card requires good to excellent credit. Major blemishes are likely to disqualify your application. Minor credit issues may be acceptable.
- No Annual Fee. BB&T Bright Card has no annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders.
- No Penalty APR. This card has no penalty APR. If you occasionally miss payment due dates due to liquidity issues or unexpected expenses, this can save you a boatload on interest charges. Many competing cards charge penalty interest up to 30% APR, and maintain those elevated rates indefinitely once the cardholder misses their first payment.
- 0% APR for 15 Months on Purchases and Balance Transfers. BB&T Bright Card has a long introductory purchase and balance transfer APR promotion: 15 months at 0%. That’s equivalent to competing cards such as Chase Slate, which is regarded as one of the best options in the category.
- Potential for Low Regular APR on Purchases and Balance Transfers. While it’s always better to pay off credit card balances in full each month to avoid interest charges, it’s sometimes not possible or practical to do so. If you want the flexibility to carry a balance from month to month, this card’s relatively low APR range could help. The rates on the low end of the range (12.65% and up) are more attractive than most competing cards’ rates.
- Decent Fringe Benefits for Basic Card. For a card whose main selling points are a 15-month 0% APR promotion and below-average ongoing interest, BB&T Bright Card has a nice lineup of fringe benefits. These include overdraft protection for BB&T deposit accountholders and Visa-backed benefits such as extended warranties on certain purchased items.
- No Rewards or Sign-up Bonus. BB&T’s biggest drawback is its lack of a rewards program. Some competing cards, such as Discover it and Chase Freedom, manage to offer attractive introductory APR promotions (both keep purchase and balance transfer APR at 0% for 12 months) in concert with cash back rewards schemes with better than 1% returns on spending.
- Still Carries a Balance Transfer Fee. BB&T Bright Card always charges a balance transfer fee: the greater of 3% or $10. That’s a drawback relative to category leaders such as Chase Slate, which waives its balance transfer fee for the first 60 days.
- Has a Foreign Transaction Fee. This card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. That’s bad news for cardholders who occasionally travel internationally.
- Only Available in Certain Areas. BB&T Bright Card is only available to applicants in certain states – mostly the U.S. Southeast, roughly from Texas to Maryland. If you live outside BB&T’s trade area, you can’t apply for this card. The best you can do is find a comparable card, or otherwise wait for BB&T to expand its coverage.
Millions of people live in BB&T’s trade area, which stretches from the Baltimore area to Texas, excluding Florida. However, most Americans don’t live in BB&T land. And, unfortunately for them, BB&T doesn’t take applications from people outside that region.
The good news is that many credit cards with attractive introductory APR promotions and low ongoing APRs do accept applications from people outside their trade areas. In fact, some credit card issuers playing in this sandbox have few if any physical branches at all – Capital One comes to mind. So you shouldn’t be too badly inconvenienced by BB&T’s restrictiveness. If anything, it’s BB&T’s loss.