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Credit Card News Good for Once
After a couple of terrible years during which credit card rates were hiked, fees imposed or raised, and terms unilaterally changed, millions of Americans are used to loathing card issuers. But maybe things are changing.
Many credit card companies are launching charm offensives to win back the hearts and minds (or, at least, the pocketbooks) of their existing customers, and to woo new ones–providing they have great credit scores.
New Credit Card Application
The latest example of this charm offensive came earlier this week from Wells Fargo & Company, and Visa Inc., which together launched a new SMS/email credit card application, called Rapid Alerts, for those of their customers who have both Wells Fargo Visa credit cards and cell phones.
The new app sends the customer almost instantly an SMS text message or email every time a card is used, always providing that the transaction fulfills criteria that the cardholder has pre-selected on the Wells Fargo website. According to the press release that announced the new service, customers can choose to receive alerts based on:
- Transactions that exceed a dollar amount chosen by the cardholder
- Transactions initiated internationally
- Card-not-present transactions, such as purchases made online or by telephone
- Cash withdrawals from an ATM machine
- Declined transactions
- Gasoline transactions
Controlling Credit Card Use
This seems to be remarkably valuable in two ways. First, it provides those who are, ahem, less than highly organized about their finances with another tool to help them better monitor and control their credit card use. Can’t find the transaction print-out for that flat-screen TV you bought last week? Well, check your cell phone to see how much it was, and whether the dinner you can afford tonight will start with lark’s tongues in aspic, or begin and end with a Big Mac and fries.
The second way the Rapid Alerts service is valuable is its power as a security tool. How many victims of credit card theft or cloning have gone for weeks before noticing that someone’s stealing from their account? Now, those with Wells Fargo Visa credit cards can elect to know at once about transactions, which allows them to nip any illegalities in the bud.
Good credit card news has been so rare of late that it’s worth rewarding this rare example by giving a Wells Fargo spokesperson his say:
We believe Rapid Alerts will give customers added peace of mind that they will be notified almost immediately when transactions occur. We piloted Rapid Alerts in 2009 and received an overwhelming positive response from participants who said text alerts were an invaluable tool for monitoring their accounts. We want to help our customers succeed financially, and this is just one more tool to help them get there.
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