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Author: Patzer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 308579  
Subject: Contingency Plans Date: 11/24/2008 5:03 PM
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The big news of the day is the possible government bailout of Citigroup, how much it will cost, and what it means for the banking industry. A sample story:

http://money.cnn.com/2008/11/24/news/banks_medicine.fortune/...

Most of the media attention is focused on the impact to the economy, people being laid off, credit seizing up, and how to avoid all that unpleasantness. As important as that stuff is, I'm more focused on the same issues at a personal level.

Specifically, what does this mean for my credit cards?

It things just stay as they are, I'm happy with my current mix of credit cards. I hold cards from Chase, Citi, and Discover. The problem, of course, is that things may well not stay as they are.

What happens if Citi fails? Most likely, the "good" credit card accounts will be taken over by some other bank and I'll still have my card. Or perhaps I will be issued a new card with a different bank's name on the front. But I can't count on keeping the same terms and conditions. If I lose the cash back, that will be a nuisance that I can live through. I'm more concerned about losing the virtual credit card numbers, which I use to pay for online and mail order purchases.

While I have other cards that can be used locally, neither Chase nor Discover offers a feature like Citi's virtual card numbers. Past messages here suggest that Bank of America's shopsafe feature works like Citi's virtual card numbers. Perhaps I should start looking into getting BoA card. But that would make 4 rewards cards to manage, and the best deal I see on the BoA site really isn't as good as what I already have. Absent the Citi card going away, I wouldn't have a compelling reason to use the BoA card. And I would need to use it to keep it from being closed by the issuer.

Citi is in the news now for being shaky, but there's no guarantee Chase and/or BoA aren't walking down the same path. Certainly Chase's actions as reported here suggest that Chase feels a strong need to shed customers they believe to be high risk. That doesn't give me a warm fuzzy about Chase being in a whole lot better shape than Citi. I know nothing about how BoA may stack up in that regard.

So, what to do? I already have two backup cards. I already have cash to pay all the cards in full whenever I'm notified of a change in terms I dislike. I could get a BoA card to have backup for the online payment function. Or I could shift to paying bills directly from checking, and just *not shopping* at places like Amazon.com.

Open questions to BoA cardholders: Do you like the shopsafe feature? Can you use it for mail order as well as online, i.e. write the temporary number on the form you send back in the mail to pay a bill that isn't available online? Do you have any issues with how the BoA online access works? And is 1% back with no bonuses for any types of purchase the best cash back I can expect to get from a BoA MasterCard? (It has to be a MasterCard, because Sam's Club won't take Visa or Amex.)

Patzer
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Author: ivorcherie Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281790 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/24/2008 5:06 PM
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PATZER..

CHASE DUMPED HUBBY AND HE IS NOT A HIGH RISK WITH A FICO SCORE ALMOST AT THE TOP

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Author: Patzer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281791 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/24/2008 5:11 PM
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But his account was inactive, yes? So they're probably dumping low profit as well as high risk.

I guess I should expect Discover to dump me one of these days. There's no way they make money on me when I only use the Open Road card for gas at 5% cash back. But Chase should be making a nice profit on the amount of charges I run through their card at 1% cash back.

Patzer

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Author: determinedmom Big red star, 1000 posts Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281818 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/24/2008 11:15 PM
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We have both Chase and BOA cards. I have not used the shopsafe feature. There are two things I don't like about the BOA cards.

1. Especially since the MBNA merger it is a PITA to pay my BOA card online. My checking account is not a BOA card and BOA makes it extremely difficult to use a non-BOA account to pay online. I went round and round with them on this. I found that I could pay using a non-BOA account using myeasypayment.com. However, they told me that could take up to 3 days to post a payment. They also charge a lot for making phone payments (automated ones even). I really really really don't like BOA for making it so hard to pay with a non-BOA account.

2. We had 3 cards with BOA which were all Visa cards. Recently without warning they switched one of the cards (maybe two) to BOA American Express cards. This is useless for me as I use my Amex Blue Cash card wherever Amex is taken so only use BOA where I need to use non-Amex.

(Have had no problems with Chase).

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Author: JafaS Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281820 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/24/2008 11:54 PM
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I'm more concerned about losing the virtual credit card numbers, which I use to pay for online and mail order purchases.

While I have other cards that can be used locally, neither Chase nor Discover offers a feature like Citi's virtual card numbers.

-------------------

I haven't tried it out yet, but I've noticed on my Discover card's website what seems to be that same feature (not sure if this link will work if you're logged in, but in case it does - https://www.discovercard.com/cardmembersvcs/personalprofile/...)

"Secure Online Account Numbers
Shop Online Without Revealing Your Account Number
Protect your account when you shop online. Create and save a free secure online number for every online purchase."

Again I haven't really investigated this, so I'm not sure how similar it is to the Citi feature...

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Author: AlisonWonderland Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281821 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/24/2008 11:55 PM
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Especially since the MBNA merger it is a PITA to pay my BOA card online. My checking account is not a BOA card and BOA makes it extremely difficult to use a non-BOA account to pay online.

I haven't found it that way. I had an MBNA card which was switched to a BoA card. I don't remember if I had to re-enter the checking account information when the merger happened, but I've never had a BoA checking account, and I have no problems setting up the payment.

I also haven't found that it takes 3 days to post a payment. That may be due to my setting up a payment at least a week to ten days before the due date. Maybe that's the three days?

And I hope I haven't jinxed anything by posting <g>.

~~ Alison

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Author: Lurker1999 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281826 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/25/2008 1:56 AM
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Why not cancel the BOA cards?

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Author: Patzer Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281833 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/25/2008 8:59 AM
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I haven't tried it out yet, but I've noticed on my Discover card's website what seems to be that same feature

I've tried it. It was massively inferior to Citi's version. The lowlights:

Citi lets me set a credit limit, and an expiration date. The default expiration date is end of next month.

Discover didn't let me set a credit limit or expiration date. The Discover DeskShop number had access to my full credit limit, and expired on the same date as my permanent card. The only protection it offered was that it was usable only by one merchant.

Citi lets me look at old numbers and existing numbers online. I can close open numbers early to clean things up and minimize risk.

Discover had no online facility to bring up a number I generated earlier. If I generated a number and for whatever reason didn't use it, I had to write it down or generate a new number when I need to use one. I could only close numbers by calling customer service and having them do it.

Discover had a limit of how many numbers I could have open (I forget what it was), but I had no online way of seeing where I was with respect to that limit. I could open numbers by mistake, fumble-fingering the application, and have them sit there for two years eating up that limit and being an ongoing potential security threat.

It's been a couple years, so it's possible Discover has fixed some of this since I looked. However, their customer-hostile changes of T&C don't lead me to expect better if I were to go and look now. Basically, Discover DeskShop is Dead to Me unless I have no other option but using a permanent CC number online.

Patzer

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Author: VikingErik Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281851 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/25/2008 11:57 AM
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The only protection it offered was that it was usable only by one merchant.

Right. Discover's program is meant to be merchant-friendly and Discover-friendly, not consumer-friendly. Discover wants to keep the charge lines open for merchants, and merchants want to bill future charges without chasing the customer for input (and a chance to say no) every time. And Discover wants to avoid fraudulent charges, which the program does accomplish.

But there's little in it for the consumer; really the only carrot is the promise of fraud avoidance, which only even involves the hassle factor since the consumer is already not financially liable for fraud. I do hold a Discover and use it as my primary card, although don't bother with the temporary numbers program: the effort of managing that is greater than the expected value of effort lost in responding to fraud.

For me, the Discover cash back is good enough; my time is worth too much to care to chase fractional percentage differences among cards or manage a point rewards system. And in my experience, Discover seems to be the least sleazy about practices like due date creep, payment lag, and cross marketing. So they get my business.

- Erik

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Author: llambe Two stars, 250 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281854 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/25/2008 12:19 PM
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I also haven't had any trouble setting up a non-BOA checking account to pay my BOA CC online (through the BOA site). I set up the payment as soon as I get the bill but I set it for the day it's due and have had no problems so far.

Can't speak for trying to send payments via my checking accounts Bill Pay though, although when I used to use it to pay CC's it always seemed that across the board they were slow at "receiving" it (as compared to most non-CC places who "received" it much faster).

When the CC "pulls" the payment I've never had an issue regardless of company but I understand that not everyone is comfortable with doing that.

Lael

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Author: yaszmin Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281931 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/26/2008 1:37 PM
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. I went round and round with them on this. I found that I could pay using a non-BOA account using myeasypayment.com.

Hi DM,

When my AAA card was taken over by BOA (it was formerly MBNA) I had to use myeasypayment.com. However, eventually (it has been quite a while now) I was able to register my card and make payments via the BOA site. What happens is that when I click on make a payment, it navigates to the original payment site that was used when the card was owned by MBNA. On that site, I am set up to use a non-BOA account to make my payments. It's essentially the same number of clicks as if I paid the card from a BOA account.

Are you still not able to do this?

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Author: TchrP Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 281932 of 308579
Subject: Re: Contingency Plans Date: 11/26/2008 1:44 PM
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When my AAA card was taken over by BOA (it was formerly MBNA) I had to use myeasypayment.com. However, eventually (it has been quite a while now) I was able to register my card and make payments via the BOA site. What happens is that when I click on make a payment, it navigates to the original payment site that was used when the card was owned by MBNA.

That was my experience with my MBNA cards, too. I don't know whether it's possible to add the old MBNA bill pay feature if you hadn't set it up before the acquisition.

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