Credit Card Grrl

The 411 on the marketing side of the credit card industry

20050730

Jet Blue Card from American Express

Announcement from a subaffiliate network ...

We have just activated the new Jet Blue Card from American Express offer. The banners, text, and links are now available in your Member's area. Also, just a reminder that if you are promoting Amex offers through keyword (pay per click) advertising you cannot use Amex trademarks or keywords, such as; american express, american express cards, amex, amex cards, american express credit card, amex credit card, american express blue, american express blue cash, amex blue, americanexpress.com, blue cash, amex business card.

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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

Mexicana® Airlines Visa® Platinum, etc.

The following Bank of America card products were launched within a subaffiliate network today:

Mexicana® Airlines Visa® Platinum
Make-A-Wish® Visa®
Efectiva™ Visa®


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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

20050728

American Express sued by some schmuck!

American Express sued over "My Life. My Card" tagline

I have to say, when I started to see the print campaign for this (first noted the Ellen Degeneres kitchen ad), I thought it was pretty schlocky. yourlife_300x250_SBSRGR It ties into that whole emotional (read: nonrational) schtick that AmEx is so reliant upon, yes. But it doesn't necessarily resonate with me, and I've got the AmEx Gold and the AmEx Blue cards in my wallet.

And anyway, the dude's technology has to do with a photocard option (egads). This guy's powerpoint ended up on some low-level serf's desk, never actually made its way to the copywriters at Ogilvy, and now schmucko wants to get some buckos? Give me a break-o. Ay dios mio.

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The links provided are for convenience only and it should not be assumed that they relate in any way to any offer details you may or may not see in this post. So chill out, lawyer types (a.k.a., sales prevention department). There's no misleading-of-consumers afoot here.

SmartMoney credit card picks

Here's a transcript of an interview with some SmartMoney chica talking about good credit cards.

WNBC-TV (NBC) Channel 4: Today In New York

Date July 26, 2005
Time 5:00 AM - 6:00 AM
Station WNBC-TV (NBC) Channel 4
Location New York City
Program Today In New York

ROB MORRISON, anchor:

Americans are using their plastic at a record pace, but which credit cards make the most sense and which ones give you the best rewards? SmartMoney magazine sifted through thousands of offers and rated the top cards. Leigh Gallagher is here to share their top picks. Good morning.

Ms. LEIGH GALLAGHER (SmartMoney Magazine): Good morning.

MORRISON: Thank you so much for coming in.

Ms. GALLAGHER: Thanks for having me.

MORRISON: Before we start to look at the top picks--and we have four of them--how many credit cards does the average American have in their wallet?

Ms. GALLAGHER: The average American has about five credit cards, and that's up from five years ago by one or two credit cards. So there's been an explosion in credit cards and in the ways that consumers use them. Credit card companies flooded our mailboxes last year with 7 billion credit card offers.

MORRISON: Yeah, every day it seems as if there's a new one. If you're in the market for a new card--say you have some old cards that you just don't use any more. I've heard different things about these theories. Is it good to close those accounts out or to keep them for credit rating purposes?

Ms. GALLAGHER: You know, you always want to hold onto at least one card that you've had for awhile, because credit rating agencies look for a history of credit. So even if you're not using it, it's good to hold onto it.

MORRISON: All right. Let's take a look at these. First one is best for rewards, and this is pretty much an old standard; the American Express Preferred Rewards. Tell me about this card.

Ms. GALLAGHER: Well, rewards are a really booming category right now. They allow you to earn points with every charge that you make. But there's all sorts of pitfalls, like these cards have high annual fees. They oftentimes have high interest rates.

But we really like this card because it does have an annual fee, but importantly, there's no cap to the number of points you can earn. Some cards will limit the amount of points you can earn so all you can get is a coffeemaker. Not so with this card.

MORRISON: It seems as if American Express is trying to urge their customers too to use that card for more everyday type of things.

Ms. GALLAGHER: They are. They reward higher points for certain partnered retailers like supermarkets and gas stations.

MORRISON: All right. If you travel a lot?

Ms. GALLAGHER: Travel, frequent flyer cards are a thing of the past. Now there are these travel cards that allow you to earn points, not for one particular airline, but for--that can be used on all airlines. And for this card we really like the Citibank PremierPass Card. This card is really unique in that it has no annual fee and it lets you use your points on any airline, like all cards. But it also awards points for miles you fly. So you're earning points just by getting on the plane. No other card does that.

MORRISON: Very nice. And like you said, the no-blackout dates.

Ms. GALLAGHER: And there are no blackout dates. It's very flexible.

MORRISON: All right, best for cash back. You say it's the Citi Dividend Platinum Select.

Ms. GALLAGHER: Yes. Cash back cards are all the rage right now. This is the most obvious reward. It's free money, and this card we like because it awards a minimum of 1 percent on your purchases and as much as 7 percent again at certain partnered retailers. And there's no limit on the points you can earn. So this is a great card.

MORRISON: All right, and finally best for low interest. This is the MBNA Motley Fool Low Purchase.

Ms. GALLAGHER: Yes, it's a long name.

MORRISON: This isn't a Motley Crue credit card, is it?

Ms. GALLAGHER: Not to be confused with Motley Crue. It is a co-branded card with Motley Fool, the Web site. This is a great card if all you want to do is pay off your debt and you don't care about rewards; you just care about a low interest rate. So this has no annual fee and has a 6.9 rate, which is pretty good.

MORRISON: All right. Looking at the big picture: the fact that so many Americans are carrying more credit cards and more debt. Besides the obvious, what does that tell you about Americans' spending habits in this day and age?

Ms. GALLAGHER: We are just leveraged to the hilt. We are a consuming nation. We are a leverage nation. We love our credit cards and you know that's fun, but it gets to the point where you need to think about spending responsibly and a lot of these cards will help you do that.

MORRISON: All right, well, great tips, great cards and Leigh Gallagher from SmartMoney magazine, thank you so much for coming in.

Ms. GALLAGHER: Thank you.

MORRISON: If you'd like any more information about any of the cards we just showed you or anything else in the SmartMoney magazine, issue, you can always log onto our Web site, wnbc.com.

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Links to offers are provided for convenience and reference only, and should not necessarily be considered indicative of the specific offer referenced.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Rewards Card

July 27, 2005
CardLine (U.S.) Related Press Release

U.S.: CitiCards Hit New Rewards Levels

Citibank Inc. is taking credit card rewards programs to a new level, offering 10 points for every $1 in spending at drugstores on its Diamond Preferred Rewards card.

Citi began a special three-month promotion on the card on July 14 at Osco/Jewel drugstores in the Chicago region and in Sav-On drugstores in the West and Southwest, according to Citi.

After Sept. 30, cardholders earn five points for every $1 dollar in drugstore spending. Cardholders also can earn five points for each $1 spent at supermarkets and gas stations. In addition, the card offers a free, $50 gift card at select merchants. New cardholders are awarded 5,000 points after their first purchase, and the points can be redeemed for the gift card once the points are posted to the cardholder's account.

The promotion puts Citi into the hot "everyday spend" market, a segment that American Express Co. has promoted for several years as it seeks to expand beyond its core travel-and-entertainment base.

The Citi rewards program is designed to convince consumers to use their cards at drugstores, a segment dominated by cash and check payments, Gail Sneed, director of market development at Maritz Loyalty Marketing, tells CardLine. Citi is a Maritz client. "Ten times is probably the richest I've ever seen," says Sneed.

The Diamond card points are part of Citi's ThankYou rewards program in which customers earn points for various accounts with the bank, including checking, savings, personal and home equity loans, mortgages, and direct deposit. The Diamond introductory offer includes 0% APR on balance transfers until July 2006 and no annual fee. The card carries the MasterCard International brand. Osco/Jewel and Sav-On are subsidiaries of Albertsons Inc., the $40 billion supermarket chain based in Boise, ID. Albertsons did not sign on to the recent suit by seven large grocery and drugstore chains against Visa and its credit card interchange policies.

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Please note that the link to the Diamond card is provided for convenience only, and is not related to this special targeted promotion. The Chicago test location was likely chosen because of the dominance of Discover in the Midwest. The claim that AmEx has shifted to everyday spend for several years is not true; the rollout and embedding of Membership Rewards into their gold and green products occurred in September 2001 as part of their charge card revitalization efforts. I'm not sure that "almost four years" equals "several years"... Anyhoo.

20050727

Credit Card Grrl's big book debut!

Credit Card Grrl may very well appear in a book slated to come out next spring. I just received a permission request to be quoted in the tentatively titled "Generation Debt", which will be published by Riverhead Books on February 16, 2006.

The unfortunately true quotes are as follows:


    Credit Card Grrl, 28, has worked for the past three years in online credit card marketing, "increasing the national consumer debt one person at a time," she jokes.

    "People are not reading the fine print. They're not making smart choices, not paying attention."

    She ran up $12,000 in credit card debt starting in college, and took three years to pay it off despite making a consistently good salary. "I would see a cool pair of shoes in a magazine and just pop online and buy it. It was too easy."


Gulp. But I do have a lot of cool shoes now.

Click here to check out the author's blog.

20050726

Free annual credit report

Some dudes that we voted into office (I think) passed a law that allows consumers to get a free copy of their credit report annually. Click here for details.

Factoid: the credit card industry is mad reliant on these objective credit reporting agencies (Experian, Transunion, and Equifax) in order to decide whether or not to approve applicants. Think about non-U.S. situations. They don't have credit reporting agencies in, say, Tibet. So the issuance of credit becomes a hairy beast. You have to swing by your buddy Ulag's hut and make sure he's even steven when it comes to goat-borrowing and whatnot. It's not like you can pull some data and say, "Hark! 730! There will be light! And a $14,500 credit line!"

Makes you noodle a bit on the wealth disparity and the reliance on data and big fat machines humming with 010101001011010 and how technology has made all of this consumption possible.

Ah, the sweet smell of capitalism!

Enough on that. Check out the link above and mark your calendar for when you can git your free credit report.

20050720

Note to self: don't screw up.

They're fucked.

Let this be a lesson to all of us: don't screw it up when it comes to the hand that feeds you. Following on the heels of VISA's decision to no longer utilize CardSystems for payment processing, American Express has followed suit.

Methinks: this gives MasterCard incredible negotiating leverage with CardSystems, meaning they can probably screw 'em on pricing terms, meaning they can get fatter margins from their interchange. If I were them, I'd keep it all to myself, UNLESS, I wanted to shift some of the bank cards over to my platform from VISA. Then, I could pass along the margin to the banks.

Of course, who knows what percentage of the business CardSystems has, or just how competitive their pricing terms would need to be in order to make any kind of dent. But when you're talking these kinds of transaction volume, every penny counts, yes?

20050718

BankAmericard VISA Platinum


I guess the problem about mass marketing is that it's fundamentally marketing for the masses. They read USA today, get non-ironic Glamour Shots, buy suits at JCPenney. Sincerity just doesn't sell well in my zip code; you need to be a little bit edgy, funny, smart. Which is why I like those darn Citi Identity Theft ads so much. But man, even my MOM likes those ads. They're funny and well done!

Unlike this junk mail from Bank of America. Does Higher Standards equal boring boring boredom standards?

OE: Which stands for outer envelope, for you uninitiated. 'Reintroducing... BankAmericard(R) 0% Fixed Introductory APR No annual fee See details inside'. Consistent red white and blue scheme action.

LETTER: Fake plastic with URL then 800#. The plastic isn't even trying to be card art. It sucks, cheesy red white blue wavy shenanigans. Johnson box: 'It's back... and it's better than ever.' I never heard of it the first time, so this isn't really working for me. It's not like the McRib, ya know? I read on and apparently the BankAmericard was the first credit card issued back in '58. I'm prequalified for a credit line up to $12,975. 0% on purch. & BT (balance transfers) thru June 1.

No color insert, just a rate info thing, and a return envelope.

I don't know anything about why this card is great, and why I'd want something from the fifties in my wallet. This just ain't hittin' it. Why is it even better now? This question is not answered.

I'm bored already.

Chase Visa(R) Platinum card.

OE: PLEASE DO NOT DISCARD. Wilmington, DE address. (Thought it was MBNA.)

LETTER: Four-fold, dry stock, two color ink. Pre-Approved, 0% Fixed on purch. & BT until October 1, 2006 (!), No annual fee. Fat ugly font. 800# and URL in top right corner. God, junk mail is so ugly.

INSERT: Dry stock, lists go-to rate as 7.99%. Picture of card art which isn't that fly. I googled Chase+Visa+Platinum and went through all of the images but none of the images online match what's on the insert.

Tri-fold black and white fine print insert; business reply envelope for the tear-off application.

Can't find a link to the Chase Platinum app online, but here's a link to the Citi Platinum card. Different offer, obviously -- you'll never see offline offers presented online because of the varying responder characteristics of each channel -- but if you're hankerin' for a Platinum card from a superprime issuer, then, there ya go.

** Please note that the details above refer to a direct mail package. The link to the online application will not necessarily direct you to a similar offer.**

Discover Platinum Card junk mail. Again.

"Accept Your Discover(r) Platinum Clear Card Today!"

Package contents:
- Outer envelope
- Full color four-fold letter on glossy stock
- Return envelope
- Full color insert on glossy stock
- Plastic fake card

AGAIN.

Marketing & Offer details:
- OE had boring 'Important Document Enclosed'
- Johnson box: 'o% intro APR* on Purchases and Balance Transfers!' (go to rate of 10.99% on purchases -- 2% higher than a couple of months ago, likely due to increase in prime)
- 0% on BT through July 2006
- 0% on purchases until January 2006
- Three card art choices: Clear, Clearly Proud, Platinum (Plat not listed on insert)
- Insert touts 'Exclusive Cardmember Privileges' that are standard for credit cards

All in all, I find Discover to be fairly middling. AGAIN.

** Please note that the details above refer to a direct mail package. The link to the online application will not necessarily direct you to a similar offer.**

Issuers, etc. respond to security challenges

Consumer-targeted ads focus on security

I've noticed the GRPs of the Citi Identity Theft ads increasing recently. I suspected it might be in response to all of this theft action going on, and this article in the Times concurs. However, I'm staring at some corporate glom printed up several months ago, and this month's graphic for the annual calendar is from the Identity Theft campaign. So who knows, perhaps the GRPs were planned all along to give the Thank You campaign a rest. Hard to say without access to their original media plans and subsequent changes.

(GRPs = gross ratings points, a measure of the eyeballs purchased by an advertiser. The higher the GRPs, the higher the presumed audience for said ad. Is a function of popularity of television show and frequency of commercial airing.)

20050716

Bidding guidelines for Chase co-brand cards

From an affiliate network ...

**Chase Co-Branded Cards**

Chase is no longer allowing affiliates to bid on any trademarked term for their co-branded cards (Sony, Marriott, Disney, Avon, etc.) They are working on getting us a specific list of guidelines soon. Until then, please stop bidding on any term related to the co-branded Chase offers.


**GM Card Changes**

Please be advised that effective 8/19/05 at 3 am PST the GM Card will be offering the following terms and conditions:

- New Pricing: 0% Full Intro through the first 12 billing cycles, go to P+ 4.99% (Floor 10.99%), P+ 9.99% (Floor 15.99%), P+ 11.99% (Floor 17.99%)
- A Balance Transfer Fee of 3% ($15 minimum) will apply to each Balance Transfer transaction and a $75 maximum for Balance Transfer Checks included in your Welcome Package
- New Default APR: 27.99
- New Cash APR: P+15.4 (20.99 Floor)
- HSBC Bank, Nevada, N.A and its affiliate, HSBC Card Services, Inc., are responsible for operation and administration of Cardmember credit matters and maintain their own Customer Center to answer credit-related questions.

All websites must reflect these updates, otherwise HSBC will not pay for accounts booked under incorrect terms and conditions.

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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.

20050712

Chase's version of the Citi Dividend card




Continuing the game of follow-the-leader, Chase launched a card whose value proposition is eerily similar to the Citi Dividend card.

Chase Cash Plus Rewards Visa Card

(say that ten times fast)

Branding looks similar to the AmEx Blue Cash card. Will be interesting to see how these all do.

Man, I would kill to run a head to head comparison, design a tri product splash page, buy some keywords, drive to the page and let consumers pick. Hmm ...


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Please note that any links directly to card product offers are provided for informational purposes only. Any descriptions within this post about an offer may not necessarily align with the offer to which these links connect.