WELLS FARGO 5% WATCH: Remember that Wells Fargo 5% card? According to the application hotline, yours truly was approved with a respectable credit limit! Has anybody else had any luck? To check your application status, the phone number is 1-800-967-9521.
There was speculation that approvals might be tied to having a current relationship with Wells Fargo, but I do not currently have any accounts with them. The closest I come in that department is having had a Wachovia checking account until 2003.
50,000 MILE AA OFFER IS BACK: Happy days are here again! And by “happy days” I mean “the 50,000 mile sign-up bonus for the American Airlines credit card.” Though according to the Flyertalk thread, the cards may no longer be repeatedly churned for the sign-up bonus. Citi giveth, and Citi taketh away. But mostly giveth. (H/T: Million Miles Secrets via View From The Wing)
NEW ROYAL CARIBBEAN CREDIT CARDS: After years of giving people nothing to write blog posts about, Bank of America’s Royal Caribbean credit card offerings made some changes and deserve at least a look. Marshall Jackson on Travel has a nice summary of what’s new:
The most interesting twist is that Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. has “tri-branded” it’s credit card product, each offered by Bank of America’s FIA Card Services. In other words, you can apply for a MyCruise® Rewards Program card product with the Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, or Azamara Club Cruises brand and they share many of the same characteristics. The Royal Caribbean product is a no annual fee card, while the Celebrity product offers a no-fee and a premium version with a $69 annual fee. The Azamara card is only the $69 annual fee product.
The difference is that the annual fee cards offer some additional perks. For example, the Celebrity card with the $69 annual fee offers a two-for-one annual airfare, a $300 discount off a future cruise in a Concierge Class or greater stateroom after $5,000 in purchases in the first 60 days. Interestingly, it also offers a 10 percent discount on the purchase of premium beverage packages. That might sway me…. While the Azamara card lacks the beverage package discount (alcohol is generally included with Azamara), it offers 15,000 bonus points upon first purchase as opposed to 10,000 for the other cards. I understand a few kinks are still being worked out, but you can review the reward chart for the new combined program here.
MJ has promised more later this week on maximizing benefits from these cards, and I’m looking forward to it. If you’re curious, he’s got a series on elite status with cruise lines here.
SOCIAL CREDIT SCORE, THE NEW HOTNESS?: CNN Money has an article up about some new ventures hoping to improve upon the FICO score standard:
But some financial lending companies have found that social connections can be a good indicator of a person’s creditworthiness.
One such company, Lenddo, determines if you’re friends on Facebook (FB) with someone who was late paying back a loan to Lenddo. If so, that’s bad news for you. It’s even worse news if the delinquent friend is someone you frequently interact with.
Here’s another one:
A German company called Kreditech says that it uses up to 8,000 data points when assessing an application for a loan.
In addition to data from Facebook, eBay or Amazon (AMZN, Fortune 500) accounts. Kreditech also gathers information from the manner in which a customer fills out the online application. For example, your chances of getting a loan improve if you spend time reading information about the loan on Kreditech’s website. If you fill out the application typing in all-caps (or with no caps), you’re knocked down a couple pegs in Kreditech’s eyes.
The good news here is that somebody has finally found a way to penalize PEOPLE WHO TYPE IN ALL CAPS!!!! Though there is no mention of whether excessive exclamation points will also be penalized.
Note that these companies are active in emerging markets, not in the U.S. So is this stuff coming soon to a bank near you? Quoth the article:
Some in the financial industry are skeptical about social data and online behavior being used as a kind of credit score. John Ulzheimer, a credit expert at CreditSesame.com, says social data aren’t necessarily indicative of whether the borrower will pay back a loan on time.
I’m skeptical myself, but for different reasons. I think social data would probably add some predictive value, but the logistical considerations would be considerable. Off the top of my head: social network data may be more expensive to obtain, privacy issues could be a PR issue for the banks, the data could be gamed more easily than FICO data currently can, and there could potentially be compliance issues with fair lending laws.
It’s an interesting concept, but it will be tough to make it work here.