I always find it amusing when I notice companies’ rolling out new programs that are little more than a plea for more usage of their product. Credit/Debit card reward programs are a prime example of this. Businesses want you to spend money on their products, so they team up with card issuers to create a reward program that offers cash back, discounts or some other type of benefit for using their products. Both parties win. The business gets more money from sales, the card issuer gets more from the customer and everybody is happy. With the exception of the customer. Between the headaches of managing your rewards and the hoops you will often have to jump through to collect your rewards, happiness is not one of the emotions that is going to emerge during your foray into rewards collection.
There are many other methods that companies use to lure you into using their products more often. Notably, Capital One card lab. I see commercials for the card lab all the time. You can upload pictures to put on your credit card, and Capital One will send you the new “customized” card in about a week. Card lab also offers customization for rewards, interest rate and payment due date.
For the card lab concept, I commend you Capital One. What better way to get customers than to offer a product that seemingly gives them control of what they pay, awards bonuses for usage and allows for a picture of nearly whatever you would like on the front of your card?
Benefits For Consumers:
Interest Rate Control
Consumers do not pay enough attention to the amount of interest they pay on their credit cards. With Capital One, you are offered the option of choosing your rate. Obviously, they are not going to extend to you a rate that you do not qualify for or no interest at all, but it is a good way to find a low rate that you are willing to pay.
Capital One offers base rewards including Miles, Points and Cash and Reward Enhancement. The enhancements reward more based on specific spending categories such as travel, entertainment or groceries.
In my opinion, the best feature of Capital One card lab is the plain language definitions of account terms. As a card is created in card lab, the sometimes confusing credit card lingo is spelled out in plain English, giving customers a better idea of the decisions they are making regarding their card as they go along.
Why Consumers Could Suffer:
More Card Usage
The most striking and ingenious feature of the card lab is the “create of your own image” feature. Whoever came up with the idea for customers to add their own image deserves a raise. After all, what will drive card usage more than the option to break out the picture of your lovely baby, your feisty cat or your new boyfriend? People take immense pride in the things that they love, and many will jump at the opportunity to show a stranger (the cashier) a picture of their most prized possessions. The more opportunities taken to show the crazy picture of Mr. Bobbles eating a marshmallow, the more money Capital One makes.
Capital One argues that the customizable options and flexibility that card lab offers will promote loyalty and confidence in the company. While this is probably true, it also gives the company the tools to track more consumer spending trends and entice consumers to spend as much as possible with their product. Not to mention that increased desire to use the card may lead to more debt.
From the information I have gathered, the card lab can be very useful and beneficial for perspective card applicants. As long as you can exercise discretion with your cards, give the card lab a shot. It may prove to be a valuable asset that can make money for you through a well designed rewards program.