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Citi credit cards to add inControl

By Leslie McFadden ·
Monday, August 16, 2010
Posted: 12 pm ET

Do you wish your credit cards came with spending controls?

As reported by the New York Times on Friday, Citigroup will become the first U.S. bank to issue debit and credit cards that feature inControl, an appropriately-named service from MasterCard that lets consumers set spending limits and transaction alerts on their MasterCards.

According to the article, inControl would allow customers to block transactions made in foreign countries and set alerts for unusual transactions, such as those made in other geographical areas. Users would even be able to create monthly spending caps for certain merchant categories, or have any transactions made in those merchant categories declined. So, if you wanted to keep yourself from putting dinners out on your credit card for a month, or from spending above $200 at clothing stores, you could. The service doesn't yet allow for transaction blocking at specific businesses.

The service hasn't been introduced yet, and credit card customers will have access only to the alerts at first, the New York Times reported. Other banks are expected to adopt the service as well.

The spending cutoffs for merchant categories are a nice option, though personally I would find them more of a nuisance in practice than a help. I know if I spend more than usual this month at clothing stores, then I need to spend less than usual at restaurants, for example. I wouldn't want to adjust my spending caps month to month as needed to avoid getting declined at checkout.

If you have trouble sticking to a budget or keeping track of purchases, though, the spending caps could come in handy. It just depends on how ... well, in control you are of your spending.

Please weigh in: Would you place hard spending caps on your cards?

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Debra James
August 17, 2010 at 12:11 pm

For debit cards, I'd like to see something like weekly limits for general spending. This would be especially good to help manage the spending of people who are more likely to not keep track of their balance, and don't have access to the Internet to monitor it daily. If that type of service became available, I'd let my elderly mother get a debit card again.

August 16, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Great for business owners that have issued employee cards.