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Holiday Greetings from Big Banking & Finance: Thank you for using plastic

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Headlined to H3 12/18/09
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Dear Mr. & Ms. America,

I'm writing this holiday season to thank you for paying with credit and debit cards for most of your purchases.

From all of us here at Big Banking and Finance, the $48 billion we make year after year in merchant interchange and discount fees is most appreciated.

You might be asking why is Big Banking and Finance thanking you? Shouldn't we be thanking the stores and business that accept credit and debit cards?

Well, no. It's really you the consumer we have to thank. Please don't take offense at the term "consumer." It's just our little inside joke that all suckers like you do is buy crap and stuff your face. But, I digress...

Big Banking can't thank you enough!


See, here's how we do it. We spend about $7 billion a year to convince you that plastic is the easiest, smartest, best way to pay for everything.



First, we talked a lot about having your money lost or stolen and scared you. Thanks for buying that one.

Identity theft, now that's what should really give you nightmares. Thanks, for putting that out of your mind.

Then, like any good pusher, we gave you a free taste of purchasing with our alternative payment system, 0% introductory rates and no interest charges on balances paid in full. Thanks for giving us a try. You were pretty much hooked at that point.

Did you know that when you don't pay in full, we charge interest even on the amount you did pay? Thanks for not paying attention to the terms.

After that, we seduced you with revolving credit. Suddenly you could have anything you wanted even before you could afford it.

Thanks for taking a loan from us at between 8 to 18% APR with payment terms of 10 to 20 years for us to charge you interest. We really appreciate it.

Next, we created rewards and cash back programs and cash advances and frequent flyer miles, etcetera.

Thanks for believing you're getting all these perks for FREE!

Of course, someone has to pay for them. That's why the merchants have a love-hate deal with us. Thanks for staying in the dark about how all these FREE "rewards" actually get paid for.

We told the retails and businesses you wouldn't buy from them if they didn't accept our cards. And that you would spend more if they did accept credit and debit cards. A little carrot, a little stick, if you will, all to help make it easy for you to use plastic.

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Chaz Valenza is writer and small business owner in New Jersey. He earned his MBA from New York University's Stern School of Business. His current feature film project is "Single Point Failure" an insider's account of how the Reagan Administration (more...)
 
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