Credit card companies that once looked for reasons to keep account balances high are reshaping their images as proponents of responsible money management. In a recent USA Today feature, author Kathy Chu documented some of the ways that credit card companies have shifted gears to help cardholders handle their finances more effectively:
- American Express promotes its charge cards as an effective cash flow management tool for small business. A few years ago, analysts saw this core American Express product line as a liability. Today, industry watchers celebrate it as a low-risk, high-reward opportunity to generate profits from interchange charges and annual fees.
- The Chase Blueprint program allows select cardholders to choose their own terms for major purchases without opening up additional credit card accounts. The automated system facilitates multiple sets of terms and conditions that can help keep minimum payments and finance charges low without running afoul of new credit card regulations.
- Discover Card has integrated debt management tools and information into its website in advance of new credit card laws that could curtail some cardholders' credit limits and spending habits.
Banking industry analysts predict that more credit card issuers will follow suit in the coming months, as core profit generation shifts to processing fees and away from finance charges.