If you’re on the Human Rights Campaign’s email list, you just received a giant piece of SPAM. Unless an invitation to sign up for HRC’s Visa credit card counts as a legitimate marketing offer you agreed to when you joined the listserv? Yup, the nation’s “largest” gay rights organization would love to offer you a chance to sink into debt, all while collecting a small fee for everything you charge to the card!
If there’s one come-on that’s in serious bad taste right now, it’s a credit card offer. But that’s the latest ploy from HRC to collect your dollars. And it’s likely they sent the offer out to all 700,000 “members,” just like an obnoxious bank does.
This isn’t a new gimmick; previously, HRC offered a credit card through Washington Mutual, which was acquired by Chase in the Great Economic Bailout, but HRC says “that program has been discontinued. You’ll need to re-apply for this new card if you’d like your everyday purchases to continue supporting HRC.” What that translates to: You need to apply for a new card and subject yourself to a possible “ding” to your credit report, which happens any time you apply for new credit.
But don’t think this offer is total bunk! HRC’s Visa card, through Bank of America, offers a 0 percent introductory APR for the first six months — just enough to tease you into carrying a balance, which, you’re probably aware, is the goal of these teaser rates. Afterward, the rate jumps to a variable rate, currently listed between 12.24% and 20.24%. Not that you’ll find any of this information on the HRC credit card’s application page; Bank of America hid that crucial information in a tiny “terms and conditions” link below the fold.
To be sure, that APR rate is not even the best one you can find online. This Citi MasterCard offers up to 12 months with a 0 percent APR, and then a rate of 10.99% to 18.99% after that, and that was after only 15 seconds of Googling.
Sure, choosing another card won’t leave you with the feel good fuzzies of knowing you’ve got a higher APR because HRC has to take a cut off the top, but so many of you keep telling us that you’ve canceled your regular giving to Solmonese & Co., we figure you’d rather enjoy lower rates instead.
And in customary non-transparent policies, HRC doesn’t reveal how much it receives from your use of this credit card. It it a percentage of what Visa and Bank of America collect? Is it a per-transaction fee? Your guess is as good as ours. (HRC may be contractually obligated not to reveal this information, as it could be considered “proprietary” by Visa/BoA.)
All that said, if you do support HRC, and want your gas, grocery, and Gabbana purchases to support the organization, perhaps this is the right card for you. But now more than ever, be responsible with your finances, and truly consider whether adding another credit to your wallet (no matter what non-profit it supports) is worth affecting your FICO score.
Our only remaining question: Does HRC president Joe Solmonese carry one of these Visa cards? ‘Cause he strikes us as more an American Express Gold Corporate Card kind of guy.