Monday, June 7, 2010

Seriously, is anybody really fooled by this?

Have you heard about “Blueprint”, the new credit card service from Chase Bank? Well, let me tell you, it’s the most fantastic thing that’s ever happened to the credit card business and to customers! With this new service, which Chase hopes will encourage many more consumers to sign up with them, you can now pay off your card in so many ways, you’ll never look at credit cards the same way! But, then again, maybe you will? See, some of the new features are so exciting and avant garde, you may not realize they’re anything new at all!
(by the way, I HATE when companies, especially large corporations like Chase and Cox, use ‘r’ and ‘u’ and ‘ur’ as real, complete words. Thanks for helping dumb down the populace even more…)

So, let’s get a little more serious for a moment, shall we? From the image above (sorry for the blurriness), we can see just one of the new features of this program. Namely, the ability to choose which purchases you pay off in full each month (“Full Pay”). This is very important, because if you don’t pay off specific purchases every month, you end up paying more money in the end, or it will take you longer to pay off your debt. …Huh? Let me ask this: does it matter one iota which specific charges are paid off first, if the interest accrued on all purchases is the same? (obviously excluding promotional rates to bring the context to a normal use account) $50 paid on a $100 total will save the same amount of interest, whether that $50 was assigned to pay off a single item, or a multiple, or to none at all and dispersed to all charges equally, right? Is this not the case in the real world?

It doesn’t matter how you cut it up or arrange it on a piece of paper, it’s the same thing! Here’s a great way to make sure you don’t pay extra interest: pay off your card each month (or as much as you can afford). By doing this, you don’t even have to go to the trouble of signing up for a special card!

What about another feature, such as the “Split” option? According to Chase,
“Split is a feature designed to help you create a custom plan to pay off a large purchase.
Simply decide how much you want to pay each month or how fast you want to pay it off. We’ll do the math for you. And you can clearly see your plan and payment progress separated out for you on every statement.”
As before, this seems to indicate that paying more money on one specific purchase is somehow better than making the same payment distributed across all current charges (or any other configuration of like-interest charges). Are you starting to notice a pattern?

The next (last) two features are a little better, but really nothing more than anyone with a calculator can handle. The “Finish It” and “Track It” features both help customers keep track of their spending and the payments they make on their account. However, they lose their luster when one takes into consideration the fact that any financially responsible person will have already been following their money like this (or else not spending the money in the first place). Add to this that irresponsible individuals, to whom I feel this is targeted more heavily, are just that – irresponsible – and I don’t see them taking advantage of any of this anyway.

To sum up, if you have been bedazzled by the fancy buzzwords and snazzy advertising for the Blueprint product, then you are a bit foolish. If you actually signed up for a Chase card specifically to gain access to these services, then you would probably benefit from learning a bit more about how credit cards work before you used another. Interest is interest, no matter how you arrange it, and putting a label on an arbitrarily set amount of money is pointless.

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