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Monday, July 26, 2010

Credit Card "Miles" Scam

We've all gotten them in the mail from various credit card companies -  letters that read something to the effect of:
"Hey, you are so special that we are going to rip you off by misleading you into getting a card with a balloon interest rate of 10-20% by redefining the word 'mile'."  ... Or something like that.

In fact, I just got one in the mail this week:
I got a nice shiny letter with a statement in big bold letters saying: ..."earn 1.25 miles for every $1 you spend on any purchase...."

Really?  Well then you read the fine print (which may be too small for you read) written on this giant small-print fold-out brochure, tucked neatly away on panel 3 of 8, which says, "the number of miles you need for travel varies, and depends on the cost... simply multiply your travel purchases by 100...."

Oh...ok.  So, I want to go on an 800 mile trip that costs me $200.  I have earned 800 miles, but wait, we can't use the normal definition of a mile, we have to use this credit-card-created definition of 'mile' which is ticket cost multiplied by 100.  So I have earned 800 miles, but need 20,000 miles to travel 800 miles.  Sure, yeah, that makes sense.

Just to be clear, if you wanted to buy a $10 flight across town (just for a silly example) you'd need to have 1,000 fake miles saved up - which means you'd need to have spent $800 on the credit card just for that.  Call it what you will - fake miles, 'points', whatever... but they are not real miles and therefore it should be illegal to use that term in such a way as to mislead the public.

Of course most of us know this scam, but it is just an example of a simple marketing ploy designed to get quick-judgement people, teenagers, and senior citizens signed up for a credit deal that could ruin their lives.  Yeah, that's all.   The fact that every major credit card company does it should bother you.  Doing away with this nonsense is something that should have been part of the credit card reform bill that passed congress last year.

76 comments:

John Tao said...

I get so inundated by credit card letters that I've come to rip them up immediately without even reading them. I'm glad you've reaffirmed the fact that I'm not losing out in any way.

D. Ebt Relief said...

Many scams occur with these card credits. May be you will be right that teenagers and senior citizens sign up for the credit card and they can ruin up their lives.

Kristine said...

Scams are all over, even in email accounts. It is very alarming and I believe that it is also an indicator of falling economy, poverty and everything. Now it is also in the credit cards. We should always be vigilant on these things or else we will be victimized by these people. I am so glad I came across this article. I haven’t receive one yet but I already know what to do if in case. Thank you!

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