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Barclaycard Ring, take two

By Janna Herron · Bankrate.com
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Posted: 5 pm ET

On Wednesday, we went over how Barclaycard puts all its financials out there for holders of its newly launched "crowd-sourced" credit card called Barclaycard Ring.

The company offers stats on cardholders and how they're managing their cards along with the card's monthly profit and loss figures. That's important because one of the unique features of the Ring is that cardholders get to share in some of the card's profits.

Ok, so we covered how the company interacts with cardholders. Now, let's go over how cardholders can interact with the company.

Barclaycard Ring's online community has a place where cardholders can pitch new ideas for the card. And it appears many of these ideas are taken seriously.

"Each of the ideas are given a status to show we are responding to them," says Jared Young, senior director of consumer markets at Barclaycard US.

For example, one idea under consideration is to reward low-maintenance cardholders, meaning those who don't call the company frequently for customer service help.

"There are enough of us in the community that work in the industry and could easily assist others and save them having to call in, thus, reducing costs for the community, increasing the reward for us all," writes the poster.

The company responded by posting a graph in the online community showing how fewer calls to customer service affects the operating expenses. Jen, the Community Manager, also responded to the post, saying the company wants to encourage more independent cardholders. The company is considering making this a "badge" -- which brings us to another level of cardholder participation.

The creators of Barclaycard Ring and the online community realized that part of social media is creating status. Think of Foursquare's mayorship, Pinterest's repins, Twitter's retweets or getting dozens of "likes" on a Facebook post. So Barclaycard introduced "badges."

Cardholders earn badges by behaving in a way that helps the card's community. For instance, opting for paperless statements earns a badge. Referring other people to the card gets a badge. Once you earn a badge, your online avatar receives a ring of color. The more colors, the more badges.

"The ring is a public representation of your community behavior. Externally, it shows how engaged you are and how much you have," says Paul Wilmore, managing director of consumer markets at Barclarycard US.

Don't be fooled: The badges don't get a cardholder anything. You don't get a bigger credit line or any other tangible reward. It's simply an online community status.

It will be interesting to see if participating in an online credit card community sticks or if the novelty will wear off. Other issuers have yet to create their own social media platform, but many have been using other existing platforms to reach and interact personally with their cardholders.

Perhaps the Barclaycard Ring is the logical next step. But -- without labeling me an old fogy -- it may be important to draw a line between where your personal finances start and your social life ends. Otherwise, you may end up carrying a balance to help the Barclaycard Ring community, at your own expense (see Wednesday's post for a recap).

What do you think? Would you try a card like this?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron.

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