It really is an odd time of year. We seem to be getting inundated with two things we can probably do without – politicians and credit card offers. It’s an election year in the US, so unless you climb under a rock, you won’t be able to avoid the former. And being that it’s the spring, credit card offers are sprouting like wild flowers. It’s not something that you would normally ponder (why would you), but when you think about it, politicians and credit cards have a lot in common:
We have all received mailers from politicians touting their virtues, whether it’s their claim to lower taxes, create jobs, or improve the community. Credit card offers you receive in the mail are no different. They’re both marketed with million dollar campaigns that make them look ultra-attractive – sleek, savvy, bright, polished and new, but they quickly become worn, dull and full of junk that we didn’t expect. They promise wonderful benefits for selecting them, but all they really want to do is to get into your wallet.
I Have Your Best Interest at Heart
One example is the Suze Orman Approved Card, which isn’t a credit card at all, but a prepaid MasterCard that comes with a longlist of usage fees. The self-proclaimed financial guru says that she created the card to help the unbanked and underbanked consumer. However, a closer examination of the card’s benefits such as FDIC coverage, free access to credit reports, and identity theft protection are services that are free and readily available to every consumer, including those without her card.
Her rhetoric sounds eerily familiar to that of the politicians that claim they are helping the less fortunate among us, but are really just pushing their own agenda.
No Money in the Budget? Just put it on Credit
Credit cards are at the root of our overspending problems and can drive us into debt. We often want something we know that we can’t afford, but we buy it anyway with our credit card. Politicians are at the root of our country’s overspending problem and they do drive us into debt. The difference is that we have a spending limit on our credit, but they do not. The government continues to spend money it doesn’t have, increasing our debt into the trillions of dollars, with no limits in sight. In addition, they are terrible at tracking expenditures and still can’t produce a balanced budget.
There are simple ways that we, as consumers, can take control of our finances to avoid falling into the same mess as the government:
- Spend less than we make. Yes, that’s stating the obvious, but people continue to do it.
- Monitor expenses and constantly look for ways to reduce them. There is always some place you can cut costs, no matter how small.
- Use credit cards responsibly, and don’t charge anything that you can’t pay off within the grace period.
- If you do have a high credit card balance, consider moving it to a card that offers a no balance transfer fee and a 0% or low APR.
They Both Like to Nickel and Dime Us to Death.
More on Credit Cards
It’s all too familiar; many politicians claim that they will add a onetime temporary tax, just to help fund projects like a new road or building a new park. In actuality, they continue to keep the tax around even after the project is complete, which results in higher revenue for the government, but also higher costs for the taxpayer. Some credit card issuers play the same kind of game by charging fees for paper statements, processing fees, or credit limit increase fees. Any card issuer that wants to charge you for basic services like these should be avoided. If only it were that simple to avoid politicians and their ever increasing tax hikes!
- With politicians and credit card offers, you need to carefully read the fine print in their ads to know what they’re up to, and even then it is difficult to really understand them. Know anyone who read the 3000 pages of the healthcare reform law?
- It seems that both are getting a bunch of bad press lately over issues of fraud.
- As much as we want to, we can’t get rid of them.
OK, so maybe you could have gone on with your life without this, but you have to admit, it’s not such an odd pairing after all. And, this is not to disparage all politicians or all credit cards – there are good ones and there are bad ones. But, generally, most people would rather do without either if they could.
Aubrey Clark is the CEO of Aunica Media LLC and an editor and author for DirectBanc.com, a website dedicated to helping people find low interest credit cards. Aubrey holds a degree in marketing, but is a “self-proclaimed” credit expert having managed credit and underwriting departments for National retail, wholesale and mortgage companies over a twenty-five year time period.