CITI CRACKS DOWN: Yesterday we briefly recapped the story of Chase getting burned by offering unlimited 5% rewards. Now it’s Citi’s turn: there are many reports on Flyertalk of Citi closing down people who have been churning a lot of gift cards on the Citi Preferred 5% gas/grocery/drugstore offer.
It’s a cliche, but…
Question for discussion: is the pigs/hogs metaphor more applicable to Citi or its customers?
What makes this very amusing to us is this isn’t the first time Citi has shot themselves in the foot with unlimited 5% rewards. Does anybody remember the Citi CashReturns card which offered unlimited 5% cash back for the first 3 months? Citi apparently does not, but we do, and frankly it’s surprising Citi or another major issuer has not hired us to evaluate offers, because we’d be awesome. “Yes, you did something like this in 2007 and it ended badly for you, though it was frickin’ awesome for your customers” we’d say.
“Not only that, but you let people get the same ‘intro’ offer a half-dozen times consecutively until you finally caught on a year and a half later. And you’re darn right there’s a Fatwallet Thread on this debacle, too.”
“And you know what?” we’d add. “You’re probably going to do something like this again in a few years.” Then, as long as we’re dreaming, we’d collect the six-figure check Citi is paying us to dispense such great advice and be on our merry way.
Given the way high-level bank executives move around so much, it wouldn’t surprise us if nobody from L’affaire CashReturns is still around at Citi to impart their wisdom. And given all that Citi’s been through since the credit bubble burst, it wouldn’t surprise us if employee morale were in terrible shape and nobody even cared if anybody was collecting thousands of dollars per month in credit card rewards unless the problem got so big it was costing Citi millions per month and somebody very high up the food chain started squawking. Who knows…
HILTON SURPASS INCREASES REWARDS VERY SLIGHTLY: The Amex Hilton Surpass is now offering 6 HHonors points for restaurant spending. Our response is a shrug–the Citi Forward offers 5 ThankYou Points (which can be exchanged for 7.5 HHonors points) and the newly revamped AARP card offers 3% cash back. After the recent Hilton devaluation 3% probably represents the ceiling of the value of 6 HHonors points per dollar.
Still, it’s good to see there’s some concern from the card marketers at Amex about the competitiveness of this particular product. Hopefully there are more changes to come?
SOCIALIZED MEDICINE–AWESOME OR HORRIBLE?: Okay, enough about credit cards! You’ve no doubt heard about Obamacare, and have probably formed your own opinion on it, and we have no interest in trying to change it, or even in making any intelligent commentary on the situation because frankly the entire topic is simultaneously perplexing and boring.
Love it or hate it, we do seem to be moving more toward the European model, so Pauline at Reach Financial Independence–a native Frenchwoman who lives in Guatemala and therefore has one of the more interesting personal finance blogs out there– gives her account, both the good and the bad, of life with France’s healthcare system. She describes it as “so awesome and so broken at the same time.” Conclusion:
Good or bad, we manage to have one of the highest life expectancy in the world, well over 80 years. But that may be due to wine.
We can only hope she’s made her peace with rum or guaro or Casillero Del Diablo or whatever they drink in Guatemala. Our five words of advice for anybody who’s in Central America or planning to go: Flor de Caña Siete Años.