Do you think jacking up interest rates and charging fees to cardholders who carry balances is unfair? After all, it seems like card issuers themselves contributed to the credit crisis by fostering loose lending practices and allowing consumers to rack up massive debt.
You know the old saying, life isn't fair? Well that's definitely true when it comes to credit card companies, especially right now. With credit cards, nothing is permanent; nothing is written in stone, so terms can change and it's definitely a risk that you take. Consumers just don't have a lot of power in those situations and in the way that the contracts are written with credit card companies. There's not a lot that you can do or rights that you have in that sort of situation. So is it fair? It doesn't seem fair to consumers, that's for sure.
Why are credit card companies cutting back on their marketing programs?
The credit card companies right now are not really in a position to accept new customers, so they've turned off a lot of their marketing programs. This isn't for every credit card company, but we've seen some pretty big credit card companies out there doing this and it's surprising. Many companies have completely stopped their mail programs, so you're not getting those preapproved offers in the mail. Direct mail for credit card companies is usually standard, so it's kind of shocking to see them put a hold on that.
Has the credit crisis really affected all consumers on Main Street, or is credit still widely available to those with very good credit scores?
It definitely is spreading out to Main Street and impacting people who are Alt-A or subprime (credit tiers). But for people who have very good credit, there are still options out there. We've seen people who are self-employed unable to get mortgages now that there are restrictions on "no-doc" loans. But if you have great credit, if you have a good down payment, and you're in a healthy financial position, it's not a total desert. In terms of what we've seen over the last couple of years -- easy access to credit -- that's pretty much over.