Sounding the death knell for the Schwab Visa Credit Card

A couple years ago there was perhaps no better credit card to carry than the Schwab Invest First Visa. The card was, quite frankly, superb. No foreign exchange surcharge well before all the others got on board with this benefit. A 2% cash back credit across the board. They even included a pretty solid travel insurance offering included. And no annual fee. I’m sure there are some other benefits, too, but these were the most significant for folks on the road.

Then Schwab decided to get out of the credit card business and they sold their portfolio to FIA Card Services, formerly known as MBNA. For a while the benefits continued and, with the exception of a move to a completely horrendous website for managing an account, the overall effect was pretty minimal. Keeping the card was still a reasonable thing to do.

The past couple weeks, however, have seen a number of letters sent to card holders informing them that the card is effectively dead. The Invest First card is being terminated and replaced with a Bank of America card of some sort. And the great travel benefits that come with it are no more.

  • That 2% cash back benefit? Gone. If you want anything even close you’re now looking at a hefty annual fee.
  • Foreign Exchange? Get ready to pay an extra ~3% on every transaction.
  • ID Theft and Price Protection? No mas.
  • Travel insurance? Slashed by 75% for the max payout.

The worst part of all these changes is that they are being doled out one or three at a time. I haven’t actually been notified that the f/x rate is going up, for example. I only found out when I got a letter telling me that the 2% was disappearing and I called in to ask about it. The agent insisted that by telling me little bits over time I was more likely to understand the changes. Apparently they really do think their customers are idiots.

I’ll most certainly be canceling my card. No point in using a product that provides such poor value. Doubly so when they think that by dribbling out the changes customers won’t notie the cuts. Farewell, Invest First. It was great while it lasted.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I think the Schwab checking account (with no ATM fee or foreign transaction fee), and is a checkcard is still around. Granted, no 2% back but a good card for ATM withdrawls traveling internationally.

  2. I’ve had this card for close to four years, sad to see it go. I’m definitely canceling as well I think.

    Any thoughts on the Fidelity Amex? I’m thinking about that one, except I just got a couple Amex cards this summer with all the wild sign-up bonuses that are (were?) going on.

  3. Almost all banking products are based on customer “stickiness”. The hassle of making a change, changing the account numbers stored on websites and for autopay, etc.

    They may hope you overlook a change or two, or that any one change is small enough that you decide it’s not worth the hassle of changing. I’m sure the purchase price was based on assuming a certain level of attrition and increasing profits of who stayed. As a connaisseur of credit cards, you would be expected to be part of the group that attritted (is that a word?)

  4. What about keeping the card in no-fee version simply for credit score purposes, that is for length of credit history and utilization percentage?

    1. I do have the ATM card, Billy, and I will continue using it. I’ve mostly shifted to cash purchases on the ground overseas anyways for the convenience factor. Still, there are a number of transactions that are rather larger which I’m going to need a no-f/x card for. I have my biz Platinum from AmEx but not all my travel expenses are business related so that’s not a great solution.

      Carl: Bonus points for atritted. I like it. Yeah, I’m probably one who pays more attention than not, but it is definitely a series of changes that severely decreases the value.

      And I have no idea about the Fidelity AmEx, Tom. For most CC stuff I yield to Brian over at for the low-down on what’s worth going with. He’s got a pretty solid dedicated site to CCs at There is also a pretty good comparison grid available at Free Travel Genius that can help you out. I’d start with those guys and see what works for you going forward.

  5. as someone with lots of money in BofA, i can tell you that they are really uncutting their staff who want to drive the biz. getting rid of this credit card is just another reason to hate BofA, and stay away from them. firing 30K workers, people who have made them a tolerable bank for my needs is another reason to stay away

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