I received a letter in the mail the other day that was equal parts shocking and appalling… and sadly, genius.
Discover, a credit card I’ve held for a couple years and last used nearly that long ago, sent a letter offering me $500 and encouraging me to rack up massive amounts of debt in the process.
The hook was obvious. Who doesn’t want five crisp bills? But the catch was brazen and laughable and dangerous. Simply notify Discover that you want to make them your credit card of choice and then proceed to spend $2000 a month on the card each month for the next four months. Presumably the first step is optional
I actually found myself insulted at the mere thought of such an offer. I suppose that reaction may sound elitist but I’ll count that as a compliment when compared to the brain waves engaged by those eager to fall prey.
That’s $8000 in new credit card debt in exchange for $500 in return – an amount that would be consumed by the interest charges nearly as quickly as it would be “earned”.
Now forget for a moment that we’re still in a slow recovery from an economic swoon brought on my too much debt… let that sink in for a moment… but actually planning to incur eight grand in plastic debt before summer hits its full stride is a losing plan all around.
As for those willing to game such an offer, I generally laugh at your hubris. Personal finance is not a math problem. Credit cards and their purveyors would be tame beasts and not nearly so widely marketed were logic a principle tenant in their usage.
Consider that no one signs up for such an offer without some hope or idea of benefitting. That alone puts you in questionable company.
But suppose you were able to navigate the offer, including the small print and specialized restrictions and terms of the deal. Through it all you were able to pay off each balance and incur zero interest charges. In this unlikely scenario you would have managed to prove 2 things – 1) you are the rare exception to the rule and not the true object of Discover’s snare, and 2) you likely have a healthy cash flow position such that jumping through such hoops for a couple hundred bucks should generally not be worth your hassle.
At least that’s my take and why I’ll rail against such offers every time they cross my path.
But that’s why Baskin Robbins offers 31 flavors of ice cream. There’s a taste for every taste, and more than most will make Discover fat.
Photo By: bitzcelt
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