Saturday Mail; A Rant About Credit Cards

Saturday Mail; A Rant About Credit Cards



It’s Saturday, and I’m sorting through the mail. A shiny blue envelope sits on top of the pile. A credit card mailer, stuffed with intro offers, pretty pictures, and buzz words. “No interest for 18 months!” “You prequalify for this exclusive offer!” I, as a well-informed financial industry executive, know enough to find the one thing in this fancy mailer that actually matters: the black-and-white disclosure document, tucked in the back. That’s where they hide the real information.

Even after twenty-some years in this business, I’m still astounded by what these credit card companies get away with. After 18 months of no interest, what do you think would happen? The base rate increases to an incredible 22.6% APR*. No rewards, no points. And, to top it off, I’d get the pleasure of paying them an annual fee.

I started venting to my wife about this unbelievable pocket-picking from one of the biggest credit card companies in the U.S. She just looked me in the eye and said, “Tell people.” So, I’m telling you.

I’ll admit, I’m a bit biased. The main reason I joined the credit union world was to fix the broken pieces of banking. Credit cards were one of the first projects we took on. The entire staff collected the mountains of card mailers and marketing they’d received, and we spread them out in the branch. Our goal was to build a card that didn’t rely on any of the tricks and traps these cards hid. And we did.

In the years since, we’ve never raised credit card rates, never disguised our product behind introductory offers, never tried to trick anyone into getting our card. We built it to be good from the start, and we’ve only made it better since. Technology that the big banks put on a pedestal has been available here for years. Card Control turns your cards on and off in seconds, right in Sierra’s app. Digital wallets let you make contactless payments from your phone. Automatic payments let you pay your balances down effortlessly. Every credit card company out there has this technology, and anyone can send a shiny mailer. Intent to do well by your customers is not so universal.

Thank you for reading my rant. My wife and I appreciate it!

-Jim Hunting President and CEO