"Does this credit card make me look fat?" You might know someone who would ask themselves that after they read the first story in our latest round-up of unusual credit card stories making the news this week.
Your credit card might be making you fat
Some interesting dieting news out there. It's been out there last summer, when the Journal of Consumer Research came out with a study, but some media outlets, like The Chicago Tribune and KOMO News Channel 4, of Seattle, Wash., have reported it recently, and I hadn't heard this, so I thought I'd mention it as well. According to the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers at Cornell University studied register receipts -- six months' worth from a thousand supermarket shoppers -- and came to the conclusion that people who paid for their groceries with a credit card (or debit card) bought 40 percent more junk food compared to people who used cash.
Apparently shoppers who are going with cash are a little more budget-conscious and wind up being more careful with what they buy. Those who are using their plastic evidently feel the freedom to treat themselves a bit more and overspend -- and thus overeat.
Phew. I'm just glad I have another excuse for packing on excess poundage. It's not my fault. It's my credit card's.
A creative use for old credit cards
Have an old, expired credit card? If you're really bored, with a lot of time on your hands, you could send it to My Bank! First United Bank & Trust in Martinsburg, W.V. - yes, the exclamation point really is supposed to be there.
The bank is inviting the community to donate expired cards to the bank -- until March 9 -- and then they will shred them and give them to West Virginia artist Jamie Lester, who will create a sculpture out of the shredded cards.
Lester, who designed the West Virginia state quarter, told The Journal, the paper in Martinsburg, that he thinks "it will be a pretty big piece, depending on how many cards I get."
Of course, I've seen other artists do similar things out of expired credit cards, so I suppose if you have a lot of free time and are extremely creative, you could instead keep your old cards, ask your friends for some of theirs and then make your own credit card sculpture.
Another sign the economy is picking up
Plain vanilla credit card offers -- that is, credit cards with no annual fee but minimal rewards or perks -- are on the rise. In the fourth quarter of 2011, these vanilla offers accounted for 30 percent of acquisition mail volume -- that is, mail that induces a consumer to make a purchase. The year before at the same time, these vanilla credit card offers made up just 13 percent of the mail.
According to Mintel Comperemedia, some of the most frequently seen vanilla credit card offers include the Citi Simplicity Card and Chase Slate.
Always interesting to see what the latest credit card scam is. This one's fairly creative, although other forms of this have been out there for awhile.
The police department in Grand Forks, N.D., is advising its townspeople that police officers will never ask you for your credit card information.
According to the Grand Forks Herald, at least one resident recently received a telephone call from someone saying that they're with the Grand Folks police, and that they were calling to collect on an unpaid parking ticket. Now imagine you're the one getting a phone call from the police, and that they told you that you have an unpaid parking ticket, and, buddy, it needs to be paid. You might agree to give your credit card number to make it all go away, especially if you think you actually might have an unpaid parking ticket out there.
The Associated Press reported that this guy almost did give out his credit card number but decided the call didn't pass the smell test, and after hanging up, called the police himself.
The Grand Folks police told the local press that they do make calls to residents about unpaid parking tickets, but they never ask for credit card information.
And I suspect that it works much the same way across the country. So if someone claiming to be with your local police calls you about a parking ticket and demands your credit card information, politely decline, saying you'll call the police department yourself. Then call the police to report the call, and if it turns out you do have an unpaid parking ticket, perhaps they'll give you part credit for being alert to a possible scam in your town.