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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Five Minute Conversations - CHANGES TO OUR VISA CARDS

I have a Visa credit card connected to a department store account. My Visa expires on April 30, 2010 and the new card arrived this week with an expiration date of October 31, 2010. My first thought was, “What’s up with that?”

Of course, I had to call the number on the back of the card to activate the new card and I starting chatting with the young man who answered the phone about the expiration date. According to him, all Visa cards linked to his department store were just released with this short expiration date and almost every Visa card will expire on October 31, 2010. While we were talking, I checked the other Visa in my wallet which is connected to a very large bank, and sure enough, the card expires in October.

The young man went on to explain the reasons for the short expiration dates. Apparently Visa (and he thought Mastercard, too) will be making changes to everyone’s accounts at the end of 2010. They are required by law to allow 45 days’ notice for any changes. He explained some of the changes that we will see in our accounts.

Not surprising, the interest rate will probably change, and it won’t be going down. Additionally, just like the old days as people over the age of 50 will remember, Visa cards will once again have a yearly “user fee” similar to American Express cards. But wait, there’s more! Visa will be examining our use of the cards and may be cancelling cards held by people who pay off their balance in full every month.

I’m purposely not mentioning the name of the store my Visa is linked to because I really don’t think this young man was supposed to give me quite this much information. But, as my husband says, I can get the life story out of a rock, so we kept on chatting.

Visa has started to follow our purchasing trends....not a surprise. But if you currently have a Gap Visa card for example, Visa will report to Gap if you’re primarily using your card at their competitors’ stores. Since Gap is the one contracting with Visa for you to use this Visa card, most likely Gap is going to cancel your card if you are not using it in a “Gap” kind of way.

Just think, as you’re going about your daily life, sleeping and working and playing and eating, someone out there is not only watching what and how you do it, but is figuring out new ways to ensure that you pony up another little “user fee” for the privilege.

My advice? Check your Visa expiration dates and check your mail for your new Visa account CHANGES later this year. Change is not always a good thing.

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