"You have been pre-approved for the new Quadruple Miles Anytime Card from DisMasterVis."
As one goes through the 20 or so credit card offerings that pour through the mail every week, something quickly becomes apparent:
These companies could reduce the interest rates they charge by a point or six just by getting rid of these unwanted and unsolicited mailings. Lord knows what their postage bill is, but proper allocation of those funds could probably eliminate the national debt.
Some cards offer you a companion airline ticket after your first charge of a certain amount. Others offer you airline miles "that never expire and are good on any airline." Some tout "No fees on checked baggage." Yet others will "double the points earned if this card is used at select florists, grocery stores or gas stations."
My goodness, if you fill up the car, purchase some frozen burritos and get your sweetie a rose, you are halfway to Europe! Pick the right card and your bags can go too!
Funny, though, there's only one thing all these offers have in common: All will charge you a hefty double-digit interest rate on any unpaid balance.
At a time when the average savings account earns around 1 to 2 percent, it is interesting that after the first wonderful "No Interest For A Full Year," most of these credit card offers will charge between 12 percent to 18 percent on unpaid balances. Fall behind on a payment and it can ratchet up into the 20s.
Hmm . . . maybe most of us don't need another credit card. We're pretty certain we don't need another loan with a 14.99 percent interest rate - and that's basically what these promotions are pushing.
Our advice would be that if you need a credit card, go see your local banker. The fine print in most of these mail offers turns out - on closer observation - to not be so fine.
* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.