What If There Was a Credit Card That Would Help You Eliminate Credit Card Debt Altogether?
In a world where people are constantly worried about cyber security and protecting their financial information from hacker schoolkids in China, everyone seems to have overlooked a certain important source of risk to their cards - the cardholders themselves. We all have credit cards that give us a line of credit that far exceeds anything we could ever afford to pay back. If we aren't careful each time we fish a card out to pay an expensive restaurant bill or an impulse shoe purchase, we could get stuck with a runaway credit card bill in no time. MasterCard has a new plan now though, to help eliminate credit card debt-saddled families to find a little self-control.
They call this service inControl; as a matter of fact, Britain, that shares the kind of consumer culture we struggle with, has had this in place for quite a while now. It's like your mother watching over your spending habits and telling you, "This far, and no farther". If you get a card that has MasterCard's nanny on board, any time you try to charge something to your card after you'v spent a certain amount, you'll be declined. You will be declined by design (and not by accident as it usually happens). They have another incidental option to add on to this too - you can ask your bank to refuse all charges from certain countries. If your fear is that you will be targeted by cyber thieves from China or India or any of the former Soviet republics, you can ask your bank to make sure that no charges are ever allowed if they seem to be coming from any specified countries.
One wonders why MasterCard is bending over backwards to help you eliminate credit card debt or any possibility of it. The competition, Visa, Amex or Discovery just doesn't seem to want any part of it. All they do is, to allow you to ask to be alerted when you cross a spending limit. If you choose to ignore the alert, you can go your merry way and spend as much as you want. Which just raises the question - in a country where people use their credit cards to routinely spend themselves into ruin, why hasn't anyone come up with this yet? It just makes home budgeting that much easier. You just can't spend at all over what you've determined to be safe when you're all nice and sane sitting before you computer and managing your budget on Mint. Perhaps the credit card issuers never wanted to be your conscience when you went overboard because they actually profited from it.
You may think you already have this facility on Mint. Whenever you go over the limit, Mint sends you an alert. There's just one little problem with Mint's take on it - it doesn't do live alerts. It takes up to a day to retrieve your spending information from the bank, to see where you've got carried away. In that one day with no alerts, you could probably do yourself a lot of damage. This would be a great idea for a credit card for a teenager in college. Not only could you put a cap on how much they spend, they can also make sure that they don't ever get to use their cards at certain unsavory locations - perhaps at a watering hole.
Helping eliminate credit card debt is a great thing for the health of the nation. Usually, credit card companies don't really see it that way. Whatever you spend over what you can actually afford to pay back, you pay interest on. And that is their main source of income. If they could only see that a healthy nation makes for healthy company, they wouldn't be this shortsighted.