Credit Card Grrl

The 411 on the marketing side of the credit card industry


AmEx 'princess' lawsuit

The facts are untoppable so I will post this article as-is.

Thanks for the Black card!

Perhaps I should sue her for making New Yorkers all look like a bunch of melodramatic superficial shopping-obsessed egomaniacs with a case of bipolar.

Oh, wait... is that ... is that the shoe ... fitting ... ?


Bank One Platinum Visa

The font is made for blind people. The Johnson Box reads, in HUGE letters, '0% FIXED intro APR / No Annual Fee'.

Comment one: It's always a fixed intro APR, you jackanapes. Unless you screw up payments somewhere else in your monetary life, that intro APR ain't gonna change.

Comment two: Good use of the application URL & the 800#, all nice and neat above the Johnson Box. The design team is vomiting on this, but the URL marketing squad is applauding Bank Dumb's efforts.

Other offer details
  • Intro APR on purchases & balance transfers until June 2006 (14 months)
  • Faux Platinum benefits (c'mon, rental car insurance? puhleez)
  • I'm pre-approved, but it gives me no credit limit info

Package info
  • Four-fold letter w/tear-off app
  • Legalese insert listing go-to rate of 7.99% fixed. Now, that's hot. That should be on the letter. Duh.
  • Postage paid return envelope with really dorky 'Thank you for replying!' script on the back.
  • Matte insert, full color, with card art (boring, navy blue). 0% takes up HALF the friggin' insert. Here we see the 7.99% fixed.

The big picture
It seems that Chase is continuing to test the Bank One brand equity by sending out this direct mail piece. What are the other test cells, I wonder? Something with the Chase brand? Unclear. Only time will tell.

I can't get over the size of the font. Ay caramba.


CitiBusiness Card

I received an offer for The CitiBusiness Card in the mail a week or so ago and am just now getting around to posting the details.

Offer details:

  • 0% APR on Balance Transfers Through May 2006 (15 months)
  • Earn $200 Back on Purchases
  • Generous Credit Line
  • No Annual Fee

Package details:

  • Letter with full color card art in upper left; Johnson box same as offer details (above). On the left, we see "Save money" with details, then "Save time". Letter reads, "Take care of business online, too." However, app drives to 800#.
  • Tri fold glossy insert explaining how the card saves you money and time
  • 4 $50 certificates on one page, to be redeemed as coupons towards payment of your statement. Looks time-consuming to redeem, though, which sort of goes against the whole "Save time" thing

Honestly, I am just beginning to understand the business marketplace, so I can't really expand on the bottom line here. I don't know if this is a competitive offer / card product for this target, but if anyone has any input or ideas feel free to comment.

Please note that online offers generally differ greatly from junk mail offers. I've linked to an application above for the sake of convenience, but offer details that I've described here apply to the junk mail package only, and not necessarily the online offer.


Discover Platinum Clear Card

I received some junk mail for the Discover Platinum Clear Card yesterday. Offer details:
  • 0% intro APR on Purchases (until October 2005 - 8 months) and Balance Transfers (until May 2006 - 15 months)
  • After intro period, APR is 8.99% (technically, Prime + 3.74%)
  • 1% cashback on all purchases; up to 2% with a lot of complicated fine print

Package details:
  • Semi-glossy letter with Johnson box of '0% intro APR* on Purchases and Balance Transfers!' in this light blue comic font. 'Online account access and Cardmember privileges' is in bold on the letter, but there's no URL for applying on the letter.
  • Fake card plastic of the 'Clear' design is included, probably to illustrate its translucence. Its design is a C-list version of the American Express Blue card family, though. (I have AmEx Blue in my wallet.) Not bad but it's no AmEx Blue.
  • Insert that reiterates offer, illustrates translucence of 'Clear' & 'Clearly Proud', and points out that I'm 'Pre-Approved!'. I actually hadn't noticed that in the letter, although checking back I see it's in the first paragraph. Return application slip says I'm pre-approved for 'Up to $50,000'. Ha, ha, ha. That's hilarious!
  • Return envelope has 'PRE-APPROVED' in fake stampy maroon near the return envelope section. Also says 'Save with a 0% intro APR* - transfer balances today!' near the bottom of the back.

Bottom line: This card would be great for someone who is currently carrying a balance on an existing card and doesn't feel like / cannot pay it off in full. Having 15 full months to have your balance sit would be great. HOWEVER, the fine print illustrates the cost of transferring a balance: 3% for EACH transfer, with a minimum of $5 and maximum of $29. So you'd need to do the math -- if transferring is going to save you MORE MONEY than the cost of transferring, then you may want to consider. But if it costs you $15 to transfer and you'll only be saving $10, then why bother -- you'd be losing $5 at the end of the day.

Please note that online offers generally differ greatly from junk mail offers. I've linked to an application above for the sake of convenience, but offer details that I've described here apply to the junk mail package only, and not necessarily the online offer.

If any of this is confusing, please add a comment with your inquiry and I will try and follow up with a future post that clarifies things.

MBNA Rewards American Express Card

I've heard rumblings about the MBNA AmEx card but hadn't seen any marketing materials for it anywhere. How excited was I to get their junk mail yesterday! Never mind that they had inverted my last name and my first name. No one is perfect. Offer details:
  • 2.9% fixed intro APR for cash advance checks and balance transfers until January 2006 (11 months); 7.9% APR after that
  • Purchase APR of 7.9%
  • One point for every dollar spent, unlimited, with double points on travel & dining through January 1, 2006

Package details:
  • Standard envelope with a blue horizontal line a la AmEx; mbna and AmEx blue box logos in lower right corner
  • Letter on slight off white non gloss paper. Johnson box lists offer details. Font is clearly Chairman-esque and copy tries to evoke that world-class AmEx thing, but it hits a false note and I suspect it was created in-house at MBNA. Letter mentions "World-class service is at your command at the touch of a phone or the click of a mouse"... but no mention of a URL for applying. (Johnson box drives to a 1-877 number.)
  • Non-gloss insert that reads, "Introducing the MBNA Rewards American Express Card", again in a faux-Chairman font / feel. Apparently "Everyday life has its own rewards" is the tagline for MBNA WorldPoints.
  • Smaller business-card sized insert that reminds 'EARN DOUBLE POINTS' and 'IMPORTANT' -- even if you have a card already, this one has 'no annual fee'.

Bottom line: It seems that MBNA is trying to differentiate itself from the standard American Express line of products by mentioning the No Annual Fee, pay in full or pay over time. They're trying to leverage the classic feel of an AmEx product with the font, the world-class service, the Roadside Assistance. But, the whole package fails -- you don't get to see the card art (suggests they haven't even designed it yet) and it feels like a brand new Toyota Corolla. It's trying to be a luxury car, but it just ain't.

This would probably be a good card for someone who just wants a basic low APR card (7.9% is great) but doesn't need to transfer balances, as the 2.9% APR isn't very competitive.

If any of this is confusing, please add a comment with your inquiry and I will try and follow up with a future post that clarifies things.

** About **

I used to help make junk mail and banner ads for one of the nation's largest credit card issuers. I also have a number of friends and colleagues currently in the credit card industry, so I get a lot of current marketplace information.

Bottom line: I know credit cards.

I also have a lot of friends, mostly grrlfriends but guyfriends too, who have no idea about anything credit. Balance transferring, earning points, managing their credit ... it's all greek to them.

So I figure ... why not take what I know about the credit card world, help out my friends, and have some fun writing at the same time?

  • Should I transfer balances to this low rate offer I got in the mail?
  • What's with these points and miles and stuff?
  • Is it totally bogus to pick a credit card because it looks cool?

I'm here to help answer such burning questions, and more!

Plus, for you cynics out there, anyone who ends up applying and getting approved for a card -- yes, sometimes I do get a kickback. That's the cherry on top of it all, but it's not why I am doing this. It's a vicious world of capitalism out there, & if I can drop some knowledge to ease the pain of navigating the world of credit cards, then I've done my job.