Recently I had cause to be annoyed by my credit card company, whose name I won’t mention, but its initials are CHASE VISA. They think they’re so sneaky, but I’m on to ‘em. I was paying bills the other night, and went online to pay the Visa, as I usually do. So as I’m looking at my bill online, I notice that under the “minimum payment” amount, it says $0.00. So then I look at the paper bill in my hand, and notice that it also says I have a $0.00 minimum payment due. Evidently, I’m not required to pay on my bill this month? While that’s awfully generous of them, I’m almost certain that they have no intention of not charging me interest for that month. So I paid the bill in full and sidestepped their little trap.
This is a new one; they must be getting desperate. Chase hates us because we generally pay the card off every month. They’ve tried to encourage us to get into longer-term debt, and therefore into paying interest payments, by raising our credit limit again and again, to the point where I could put a new Hyundai on my Visa today if I wanted to. They actually lose money on us, because we have a no-fee, cash-back card, so we put everything we possibly can on it each month, and then I only have to pay to one place and not keep track of debit slips (which, admittedly, I suck at). We rack up the cash rewards (which have a better annual rate of return than our money market account), save time paying bills, and poor Visa doesn’t get a spare cent from us. To which I say “Wah.” That knife they like to gouge customers with is double-edged. Just sayin’.
Apparently, they’re aware of this, and people like us are called “deadbeats” in the credit card industry, because we don’t produce any income for them. I’m not sure I want to live in a world where it’s the people who pay their bills every month who are the deadbeats.
Evidently, Congress is in the market for a feel-good, populist program to protect customers from credit card companies’ “predatory” practices: “If enacted into law as expected, the bill would give the credit card industry nine months to change the way it does business: Lenders would have to post their credit card agreements on the Internet and let customers pay their bills online or by phone without an added fee. They’d also have to give consumers a chance to spare themselves from over-the-limit fees and provide 45 days notice and an explanation before interest rates are increased.”
It seems a little insane to me that these common-sense practices aren’t standard operating procedure. I was talking to Scott about it, and he said, “It’s like passing a law that makes the grocery store give you food and your change back after you buy groceries.”
I question the premise that people getting weighed down by CC debt were unaware that they were involved in a usurious relationship. Hello? 22%? What did you think you were getting into? (I guess these are the same people who believed their real estate agent who told them that they could absolutely afford a $400,000 house on their FT salary from the AM/PM, and were screaming later that they’d been duped. Use of a $5 calculator and literacy were beyond them, apparently.)
The CC companies, though, aren’t taking this lying down. Since the government is taking away their god-given right to take people with high debt and low income for every last cent they can panhandle, they’re turning to us “deadbeats” to make up the difference. They’re threatening us with no more grace period—interest will be charged immediately upon purchase. No more rewards. And the responsible will once again subsidize the irresponsible.
Once again, the rich will stay rich, the poor will get a small break, and it will be on the backs of the holy middle class, whom no one could say enough good things about during the endless election season. It’s my job to bail out both those who don’t handle credit responsibly, AND those who are sitting on piles of money already? Scott and I know what it’s like to be at the mercy of credit card debt; we’ve been there a couple times. But we never expected the government to step in and pay our bill. The American people didn’t buy that leather jacket when they were already in debt; I did. (For the record, I’m still wearing that same winter coat 9 years later, and I’m not done with it yet.) There are plenty of deadbeats around, but we aren’t they. And frankly, I’m more than a little tired of being the coerced cosigner ex post facto for debt created by the greedy, the delusional, and the math-impaired, but I can forgive genuine ignorance before I can conscious avarice.
The problem the CC companies aren’t considering, though is that the very same people they’re looking to hit for their missing fees (and, subsequently, profits) are the ones who don’t need credit. I can cut up that card tomorrow, because I use it for convenience. Will it be less convenient to go back to debit, checks or cash? Sure. But I can walk away. YO, VISA—can you?
Oh, it’s fine when you leech off of us, but it’s not fine if we leech off of you? Boohoo. That’s the gamble you took when you offered me the card I have, and the 300 other unsolicited offers I ripped up and threw away. You want to gamble, you have to be prepared to lose sometimes. I grow exceedingly weary of Big Bidness’s entitlement issues, where it believes untrammeled profiteering is its right, but if they lose money, it’s the citizenry’s problem. Nope. That’s not how capitalism works; don’t make me go through this again with you.
The thing is, whether they like it or not, CC companies need people like me. “Deadbeats” like us are the only reason they’ve not gone under entirely, because we’re the only ones sending in money every month. You can’t keep operating if NO ONE is making payments. And given that the CC industry has profits of $30 billion annually, I don’t really think they’re hurting. Not enough to earn any sympathy, no matter how many crocodile tears they cry.