Credit Card Grrl

The 411 on the marketing side of the credit card industry

20050831

Citigroup’s Response to Hurricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina has left in its wake untold devastation through the Gulf states of the U.S. The initial death toll is well over one hundred and climbing. Thousands are still stranded, many tens of thousands have lost their homes and millions are without power. Area residents face a desperate need for clean drinking water and food while they battle disease, environmental hazards, and property loss. The infrastructure in some cities will also need to be rebuilt. Damage estimates are approaching $25 billion, making this the second most expensive storm in U.S. history.

Citigroup has announced that it is offering 0% APR, no fees, no collection calls, no minimum due and an exemption from default pricing for all Citi Cards customers affected as well as a one month amnesty on mortgage and auto payments upon customer request and cease foreclosures for 30 days.

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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.

20050825

Credit card makers forced to scrutinize security

Article by Eric Dash of The New York Times

Wow, big news day!

I read an article like this and I think about flyover country and how their jobs are moving away from manufacturing jobs and towards service industry jobs. I know that a lot of these states have lobbyists trying to get manufacturing jobs to stay, using oft-repeated arguments about how we're losing jobs to overseas workers.

The reality is that many countries are losing manufacturing jobs. Not just the States, but China, Guatemala, Turkey. As technology improves processes, you just don't need as many warm bodies in order to make more stuff.

So what's a state like, say, Indiana, to do? Well, why not get into the terabyte business. After 9/11, many companies beefed up their information security efforts and tested their backup data centers. These centers aren't in major metropolitan areas but rather hidden outlying spots. Wouldn't it be smart if a state like Indiana were to focus its troops on recruiting companies with a shitload of 101010010101s to protect and get them to put their boxes on their flatlands? It takes an educated worker to watch the boxes, too, which would also mitigate the brain drain that many of these states experience.

If I had a shitload of money and some henchmen to execute on my brilliant business ideas, I'd be all over it. If you do it, write me a check, okay? (I don't accept credit cards :)

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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.

Eight-five Percent of Credit Cards to Carry Rewards by 2009: Research

Fully 85% of credit cards will carry rewards by 2009, up from 63% of cards today, according to Packaged Facts research. That's up from 25% of cards in 2003 and only 10% in 1999.

Packaged Facts estimates there will be 849 million rewards-based credit cards in circulation in 2009, up from 404 million cards in use now. Growth will come quickly over the next few years, then taper off, the research firm predicts. Younger cardholders are more likely to embrace rewards programs because they grew up with them, said New York-based Packaged Facts in its U.S. Market for Rewards Cards report.

Part of the push comes from financial service firms' focus on boosting card usage, rather than acquisition. As the card market matures, firms earn more by increasing current cardholders to spend more than seeking new customers. Chase, for example, reports that 64% of sales are on rewards-based cards, even though rewards-based cards account for only 38% of active accounts, per Packaged Facts. American Express' Membership Rewards members spend four to five times more than standard cardholders.

"Offering rewards will increasingly become a necessary part of issuer card programs," said Packaged Facts Acquisitions Editor Don Montuori in a statement. "Industry data strongly suggests that reward programs can help increase customer spend, usage, and retention, all the while helping to facilitate the shift toward electronic payment platforms."

Forty-three percent of American consumers have a rewards-based credit card now, and account for 8.6% of all current credit- and debit-card holders, Packaged Facts reports. Consumers prefer reward, co-branded and loyalty cards 2:1 over standard credit cards.

Favorite type: Co-branded airline cards, followed by an issuer's own program (such as Visa Rewards) and co-branded, non-airline cards (see chart).






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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.

New Diners Club Card Targets Thailand's Young Executives

Bangkok - Exclusive travel and entertainment benefits are the standout features of a new Diners Club credit card launched in Thailand last week.

"Besides the benefits, the introduction of the card is also notable because it is the first Diners credit card to be launched in Thailand," said Mr. Yuenyong Ken Songsiridej, General Manager, Diners Club (Thailand) Company Limited.

"Though Diners Club has had a presence in the Kingdom since 1969, this is the first Diners credit card to be launched here. The previous Diners offering in Thailand was a charge card payment product that required the customer to pay the total balance every month."

Speaking about the new card, Mr. Yuenyong said, "The target customer segment for the card is the young executive market and we have tailored a benefits package that appeals to this market. Like their counterparts in the region, many young Thais enjoy travel, dining and entertaining, and the rewards package provides benefits in these areas.

"For example, cardholders will receive rental car upgrades and a 50% discount from Budget Car Rental. As well, they can also enjoy room upgrades and a 40% discount from the Central Hotel and Resort chain," added Mr. Yuenyong.

Some of the other benefits include:
Diners Club Reward points (3) for purchases made at petrol stations, car rental services, travel agents and airlines
Discount offers at a range of restaurants, hotels and resorts in Thailand
Treatment and check-up discounts at a number of leading hospitals
Annual fee waiver if the cardholder's average balance is more than 10,000 baht per month throughout the year
Up to 40% discount and a seat upgrade at any Major Cineplex cinema
As well, customers who apply for a card before October 31 will receive complimentary Major Cineplex movie passes after they record three transactions. And cardholders who spend over 25,000 baht in their first three statement cycles will also receive a Samsonite handbag. The minimum income requirement for a Diners Club card is 30,000 baht per month.

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Diners Club - Diners Club is a member of Citigroup (NYSE:C), the leading global financial services company, has some 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 100 countries, providing consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, insurance, securities brokerage, and asset management. Diners Club was the world's first charge card and is issued today in over 70 local currencies around the world. Other major brand names under Citigroup's trademark red umbrella include Citibank, CitiFinancial, Primerica, Smith Barney, and Banamex. Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com or dinersclubnorthamerica.com

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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.

20050813

Rules for Discover card affiliate program

So, here's something that was sent out from a subaffiliate network. It must be slow at the banks, summertime, these people have nothing else to do. I think it's great that Discover is cracking down like this (not allowing the prime plus format?! are they insane?!), because everyone knows how great their approval rates are ... (cough)

Dear Valued Affiliate,

Discover's auditing department has begun auditing our affiliate's sites. Apparently, they are discovering quite a few sites to be non-compliant with their offers. I have attached the official Discover approved text file (Word) and an offer comparison chart file (Excel). Please review these files and check your sites. Discover has given us until August 19th to have the compliancy issues resolved. If your site is found to be non-compliant after this date, Discover has requested that we deactivate your Discover links.

Discover will probably be sending us a list of sites and the changes that need to be made within the next day or so. Once I receive this list, I will contact each affiliate individually with the changes that need to be made.

In addition, we are currently planning on providing you with an easy method to get this information (the attached files) from within your Member's Area in the near future.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Previously, Discover allowed us to use "*See Terms" in the APR section. This is no longer allowed. Discover wants the APR % listed if you have this information on your site. In addition, Discover does not allow the "Prime+" format. If you list APRs on your site, you can get this information from the comparison chart file (Excel) that is attached.

Thanks in advance for your assistance in this matter.



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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.

New BofA Text Compliancy Update

Wow, Bank of America continues to NOT impress with their complete lack of understanding about affiliate marketing. Do they have monkeys in marketing who can't push back on the monkeys in legal? Seriously. Say hello to your 8 accounts a month, BofA! Idiots.

Here's an alert that was sent across a subaffiliate network today:

Dear Valued Affiliate,

Great News - We just received additional clarification on the new BofA text that was recently released. According to our BofA rep, you can pick and choose which items from the approved text you would like to use but what you decide to use must be listed exactly as written. For example, here is the approved text for the BofA Miles Edge offer;

Approved Copy:

APR (Purchases): Intro Rate - 0% for six billing cycles. Goto rate is variable risk based rate between Prime + 4.99% and Prime + 12.99%
APR (Balance Transfers): Intro Rate - 0% for six billing cycles. Goto rate is variable risk based rate between Prime + 4.99% and Prime + 12.99%
APR (Cash Advances): 21.99% Variable* minimum 19.99%. (P+15.99)
Finance Configuration: Average Daily Balance (including new purchases)*
Annual Fee: $19
Additional Cardholders: $0
Grace Period: 20 Days (Min.)
Minimum Credit Limit: $500
Maximum Credit Limit: N/A
Late Payment Fee: $19 on balances up to $100; $29 on balances of $100 up to $1,000; and $39 on balances over $1,000
Over-The-Limit Fee: $35
Cash Advance Fee: 3%, $10 minimum
Balance Transfer Fee: None

Reward Program Details
Points per Dollar in net purchases: 1 Point
Bonus Miles: 1,000 upon first use
Miles Expiration: Up to 5 years (points expire on the last day of your Billing Cycle that closes in December of the fourth calendar year in which they were earned).
Yearly Limit on miles you can earn: 75,000 points

Perks / Notations
Up to $1,000,000 in travel accident insurance.
Auto rental insurance.
Extended warranty protection.
Various travel and emergency assistance services.
Medical referral services.
Legal referral services.
Lost luggage recovery.
Emergency airline ticket replacement.
No liability for unauthorized Internet transactions.
Optional personal photo on card.
Discounts on auto rentals.
Optional Mini Card.
See website for additional benefits.
Important Notations
*See website for complete terms and conditions of card usage and application disclosure. *Terms and Conditions

URL for Terms and Conditions:
http://www.bankofamerica.com/creditcards/application/modules/mod_page_popup.cfm?product_type_id=travel&card_type_id=plat&association_id=visa&interest_rate_id=&origin_id=&content=tc_print

Legal Requirements
Card overview must include the following copy; - "Card issued by Bank of America, N.A. (USA)"
Term & Conditions access - Where APR information is listed, a link to Bank T&Cs must be available
Mini Card - First letter in both words must be in capitalized
In this example, I just want to use the following text on my site -

Annual Fee: $19
Balance Transfer Fee: None
Points per Dollar in net purchases: 1 Point
Bonus Miles: 1,000 upon first use

Perks / Notations
Up to $1,000,000 in travel accident insurance.
Medical referral services.
Legal referral services.
Lost luggage recovery.
Emergency airline ticket replacement.
No liability for unauthorized Internet transactions.
See website for additional benefits.
As you can see I only selected a few text points to put on my site but the text wording is exactly as listed.

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: Even if you only use a few of the text points, you must still comply with the Legal Requirements:

Legal Requirements
Card overview must include the following copy; - "Card issued by Bank of America, N.A. (USA)"
Term & Conditions access - Where APR information is listed, a link to Bank T&Cs must be available
Mini Card - First letter in both words must be in capitalized
Hope this helps. Sorry for the short notice but we just received this information.


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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.

20050811

Bank of America tightens controls

Not sure if this is an outcropping of the MBNA deal, but Bank of America is beginning to monitor their affiliate marketing program more closely. This is on the heels of a definite tightening by Citi on affiliate publishers. Highlights:

  • Affiliates need to be able to make changes quickly
  • Affiliates must be open to changing banners at text at BofA request
  • Affiliates must drive moderate to high volume on BofA offers

Here's what BofA's process looked like (allegedly):

  • BofA releases approved offer text
  • Affiliates have five business days to change copy to be EXACTLY as written
  • BofA to audit sites for compliance
  • Non-compliant sites have 24 hours to fix
  • If not fixed, links will be deactivated and affiliate loses right to market BofA

Affiliates get three business days to make future updates.

Here's my analysis of the situation:

  • The business folks in the online marketing team at BofA don't know jack about affiliate marketing. Instead, they're letting compliancy or general counsel prevent sales (as usual) sans understanding of the landscape.
  • It's August. Do you really expect publishers to be at the ready to make changes immediately?
  • The whole point of an affiliate marketing program is that sites with small volume, in the aggregate, can drive a ton of volume.


My guess is that BofA volumes will tank, publishers will get pissed off, and by the time BofA realizes their gaffe it will be too late, they will have pissed people off.

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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.

20050803

Credit card marketing to the Muslims

An Egyptian publication entitled Kolenas published an article yesterday about a promotion that Citi ran over the holidays.

Citibank MasterCard International Winner Named in Innovative Holiday Promotion

Citibank and MasterCard International have announced that Mr. Tamer Hassen is the lucky winner of a $10,000 prize titled "Holiday Season Promotion – Ramadan 2004." The promotion was launched for MasterCard holders (from the participating banks) who had used their MasterCard to purchase merchandise from 24 million shops accepted in locations worldwide, entering them automatically into a drawing for $10,000.

Mr. Khalid El Gebaly, Country Business Manager for Citibank's Global Consumer Bank in Egypt, declared, "We aim to underline that all Citibank customers are winners through extending a wonderful package of excellent products, delivery channels, customer support, and rewards."

Magdy Hanna, Vice President and Manager of MasterCard International mentioned, "We were delighted with the prompt response of credit cardholders who vigorously participated in the ‘Holiday Season Promotion.' We constantly aim to provide them with added value and special offers through exciting promotions like this one."

In the spirit of giving, MasterCard International, a leading global payments solutions company, announced the launch of its promotional campaign – "Together Everywhere" – which offers MasterCard holders a unique opportunity to win an invaluable "excursion" experience.

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Historically, there's been a disconnect between the use of credit cards for practicing Muslims. Interest-bearing accounts also bad; investing in stock market good. (This is why investments and oil and the Bush family and Saudis get along so well ;) I think it's interesting how they are using the holy days in order to try and overcome this barrier.

Very interesting stuff. When you think about the cultural elements that we take for granted in the States, and then transpose that on the challenges of overseas marketing (coupled with the lack of credit reports...). Well, wow. Pretty interesting stuff.

20050801

Chase Value Miles Platinum Visa & PerfectCard

Thank you to the kind visitor who noted that Cheez Winz. Given the market demand, and the fact that Chase is marketing something with the title of PerfectCard, I'm inclined to agree!

Chase just came out with some new interactive creative (read: banners) for two of their card products. There's new banners out there for The Value MilesSM Platinum Visa(r) and The Chase PerfectCard™.



Value Miles kinda sorta sounds like Citi's Premier Pass (something about miles and any airline and all that). Mr. Perfect has a very similar benefit as the Driver's Edge card, at least in the whole 6% rebate on gas purchases thing.

I like watching these card issuers bandy their offers about as they try and figure out what's gonna stick in the new pull landscape, where mail doesn't work and the consumers come to you. What will the masses want?

Cheese, apparently. PERFECT. ;)


This is a disclaimer about the links. They may have nothing to do with the copy near them, but I've provided them for the sake of convenience anyway. If you're going to apply for any of these cards, do yourself a favor and read the fine print.