Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Return of the Credit Card?

Major banks are trying to use the recent controversies surrounding debit cards to their advantage, with a major push to sign up new credit card customers. The theory, apparently, is that consumers who get frustrated with debit cards may use credit cards instead, and it not an entirely unreasonable thought. From what I have heard, highly qualified prospects have received a year‘s worth of credit card offers in the past seven weeks, and other prospects have also received an unusual volume of card offers in the mail.

There is little evidence, however, of a big move by consumers to credit cards. To the contrary, many people are making a point of canceling credit card accounts issued by the major credit card banks in connection with the Bank Transfer Day, Move Your Money, Reclaim the Dream, and Occupy campaigns. Separately, I have seen some indication of people who now see paying in cash as a political statement. “Pay in cash and stick it to the man,” is the way one friend explained this concept to me. Ironically, paying in cash is being used to make the same statement that others are trying to make by boycotting government-issued cash and paying in alternate currencies, usually involving silver coins. Either way, part of the idea is that this keeps more of the money in the local economy, and on the surface, this seems likely enough.