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Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Slow Decay Of Reward Points

Way back in January of 2009 I explained how I used my PNC bank / VISA rewards points to get a WII. For every $1.00 in purchases I made using my check card in a credit transaction, I earned two reward points. For every check I wrote, I got 25 points. It was a wonderful thing.

Then, in July, it all changed. I reached a NEW EARNING LEVEL. I leveled up as it were. But instead of getting more, I got less. Where I used to earn two points for every one dollar of purchases, I now had a straight one to one relationship. Still, for gas, food, or drug purchase I made, I got double points. It was still a pretty decent thing.

I recently just checked my account and now I earn one point for every $2.00 I spend.

If I were to use my VISA credit card… which has no balance, I’d earn one point for every dollar. If were to use it as a debit purchase, I’d get a point for every $5.00.

I just don’t understand it. I was getting a lot of rewards for using my bank. I was being REWARDED for being a customer. So, what happened? Oh yeah, that’s right. Credit card companies became the bad guy and the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights was enacted. That meant the nefarious practices that were going on for years to bilk more money out of customers with ridiculous fees and interest rates had to stop. So, since companies couldn’t offset the giving away of money to its customers by stealing it somewhere else, they had to reduce their costs the only way they were allowed. They stopped showing the love in rewards points.

I shouldn’t bitch though, right? After all, I was never obligated to make any purchases in order to gain rewards. VISA was nice enough to give me free money. The fact that they can’t afford to keep giving me free money should be a reason to stop doing it. I mean they only pulled in close to $1 billion dollars of profit last year. There are mouths to feed. I get it. It’s OK, VISA. You go take care of your own shareholders. Us customers will be just fine.

If that seemed a little sarcastic, then I apologize. Oh, wait, I’m not actually obligating anyone to listen to me, so I don’t need to offer an apology. Readers are here of their own free will.

See how that works? When people bitch about something offending them, others say, “Hey, you shouldn’t bitch. They don’t have to offer that.” To which I say, “I never asked them to offer it. They just did it. Now they can’t continue to do it and I’m supposed to be completely OK about it?” I am a consumer. I was being given a service in return for my continued consumption and now that service is gone. Will I quit using the bank that offers that service? Maybe. My bank deals with VISA not MasterCard or any other company, so if I choose to vote with my wallet, that’s what I should do.

A blogger may sound like a whiny gnat that keeps getting in your screen door during the summer nights. We may be annoying while being an insignificant creature but we’re drawn to the lights. Turn out the lights and we’ll go away.

Until then, we bug, we blog, we buzz around your salad, looking for a place to call home. I’m just here to tell everyone else that someone out there changed the game.

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