The Allure Of Credit Card Offers

By Brandi Savitt – October 6, 2011

Planting the Seed to Spend

Yesterday, I saw an email lurking in my inbox with the subject line, “A million dollars could be yours.”  The sender: the Chase Freedom credit card.

And while we all get countless promotions from credit card companies and banks, this one was dangling a bigger carrot than most: a granddaddy million dollar sweepstakes prize (!) plus a slew of smaller prizes, all from one of the biggest banks in the world.  My first thought honestly was – what will they think of next to get people to spend money and rack up debt?  Despite my reservations, I had to see what it was all about.  So, I took the bait and clicked on the link…

Selling Your Soul?

I never got far enough to know if I had to actually apply for the card to enter to win (I’m assuming so).  Promotions today are much less straightforward than that…  To learn more, I had to ‘Like’ the sweepstakes on Facebook, and then I had to give them full access to all my personal Facebook information and friends list.  I couldn’t do it.  Not only do I absolutely not need another credit card, the one in a million chance to win just didn’t seem worth selling out my privacy.

The Power of Marketing

When I first began my inquiry, my fascination was all about how the power of marketing is such a force that it can knock all reason out of even the most logical of heads.  For example: Would you risk going into debt to earn an extra 10,000 points on your card?  But on the flip side, it’s a competitive world out there, so why shouldn’t credit card companies entice you by offering 25,000 free miles, double the points for every dollar spent, or the chance to win $1 million?   Couldn’t it be a win-win if the credit card company matched the consumer up with a card that was tailored to fit their needs?

Don’t Pass the Blame

The truth is, we can’t blame the banks and the credit card companies for marketing the hell out of their products.  We can’t blame them for wanting to make money – and make money off of us.  That’s what they’re in business for, after all.  Therefore, the problem isn’t them – it’s us!

Many of us have no idea how our own credit card habits are affecting our overall credit score.  To add insult to injury, most of us sign up for a new card to get a  bonus offer or discount upfront, without planning on ever using the card again, or worse, not reading the fine print to understand the risks and the benefits the card has to offer.

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Any Thoughts?