Money Basics (Or So I Thought): What? Credit Cards Can Pay You Money?

Normally I stick to communication and business tips on this blog. However, today, I will deviate to share a funny, but surprisingly true story about money. Credit cards to be specific. Considering the current “financial crisis” that’s impacting everyone’s businesses, I think it’s relevant.An experiment in frozen credit cards.

Last night I had to call one of our banks, Bank of America, to follow up on a rebate check for my new Fujitsu ScanSnap that bounced (it’s that “crisis” thing again, I guess). It’s a great scanner, but I am a bit annoyed at having to do double to paperwork due to their third-party rebate service having insufficient funds.

After I got that piece of business settled, the bank customer service person asked me if she could tell me about a great new credit card they were offering. I sighed and waited for the spiel.

The customer service woman (whom I will refer to as Bank Lady going forward) started with, “You’re already pre-approved for $15,000. And for the next 12 months, this card has 0% financing and only 7.5% after that, which is the lowest in the industry.”

I interjected, “Does the card have any cashback bonuses?”

Bank Lady replied, “We offer cash advances.”

“No,” I said. “Cashback bonuses, you know like 1%, 2%, or 3% back on purchases.”

Bank Lady paused, confused. “It’s 0% for 12 months.”

“I know,” I said. “What about you giving me 1% or 2% back?”

Confused pause by Bank Lady.

I clarified, “I don’t keep a balance on any of my credit cards so the APR percentages don’t matter to me. What I’m looking to find out is if your card will pay me to use it. I have one that gives me 3% back on my purchases.”

Bank Lady replied, “What’s the finance rate on that card?”

I said, “I don’t know. I don’t keep balances on my cards, so the finance rate doesn’t matter! I am asking if the card gives bonuses or cashback.”

“Oh, you mean points or something like that?” Bank Lady said in a moment of breakthrough.

“YES!” I said

“No, we don’t offer any points,” Bank Lady said. “But we do have 0% for 12 months…”

I interrupted: “I’m not interested. My credit cards pay me money; I don’t pay them!”

After a few courteous thank you’s between me and Bank Lady, the call ended.

I was in shock… I don’t think this poor child of the modern era even knew that credit cards could pay you, much less that you didn’t have to keep a balance on them and search aimlessly for the lowest percentage rate.

Wow is all I can say. But the good news is that I found a new passion that I could tackle the speaking circuit with: credit common sense. I have a few things to say about mortgages too!

One other thought: shouldn’t banks be educating their customers on how to better manage their finances instead of taking advantage of their lack of financial sense?


Sonia is the marketing strategist & word geek for NeuConcept.