15 Mar What Type Of Credit Card Do You Have? Part I
The amount of thought that goes into credit card marketing is staggering. I can only imagine a world where as much thought goes into solving our nation’s problems as goes into the marketing of credit cards.
If you have a credit card, and chances are that you have some type of plastic in your wallet, the question is: What type of credit card do you have? Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover have many different types of cards out in the marketplace. They cater to the consumer’s every whim, desire or need.
First, there are the plain old vanilla credit cards. Visa and Mastercard have the market locked up, and many merchants accept these cards. American Express and Discover are a distant third and fourth in the market, but make no mistake, they still make millions of dollars each and every month.
Interestingly, unlike American Express and Discover, Visa and Mastercard do not directly issue credit cards to consumers. For a long time Visa and Mastercard had a lock on the banks which issued their cards. After the Department of Justice investigation, banks can now issue American Express cards as well as Visa and Mastercard.
For example, lately there has been a proliferation of Affinity Card offers in my mailbox. An affinity card is a credit card which caters to a designated organization like NASCAR or a University like Tulane. Of course, it will feel great to break out the Visa with your alma mater’s logo in front of the Alumni Association, and you will look great because a small percentage goes to the University or organization that you are supporting.
There are also affinity cards that donate money to charity. A quick look at bankrate.com website will give you all you need to know before applying for a credit card that supports a charity. The affinity program was made famous by MBNA, which is now owned by Bank of America. But, when all is said and done affinity cards are still just credit cards.
Retail cards are another source of pain. These cards are hawked by the cashiers in the stores. I’m sure there is an incentive for cashiers to push these cards; however, I always feel uncomfortable in these situations.
For example, the other day my wife and I were at Target, and we proceeded to the cashier to pay for our items. The cashier looked at us as if we were fresh meat and said: “Would you like to save 10% on all of your purchases today?” I politely said: “No Thank-You” The polite cashier looked at my wife and I like we were insane and said: “Why would you not want to save 10%, all you have to do is fill out this credit application.”
Oh, is that all. Where do I sign to be penalized 25% or more if I cannot pay the bill in full each and every month. Where do I sign up for late fees, over the limit fees, and horrible customer service. This time I kept my composure and didn’t ask any questions of the nice cashier. Unfortunately, several cashiers have heard my tirade on the store card and credit card industry. My goal was not to come off like a jerk, but have the cashier understand the consumer’s point of view.
Consumers are hit with thousands of marketing messages each and every day. Some of us, do not want to be hit with more marketing messages while checking out.
As an experienced bankruptcy attorney, I’ve dealt with clients who did not want to give up their Sears cards. People build strong ties with their cards, and they are very heartbroken when they have to give them up. Part II of this article will deal with the remaining types of credit cards
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