WHY BANKS ARE LIKE FARM ANIMALS: Friend and PFD reader Dave recently wrote us detailing some issues he’d had with B of A providing subpar service on his debit card. The details aren’t important, but suffice it to say that yes, B of A dropped the ball and screwed up, and the mistakes were preventable. Dave was understandably annoyed. Our advice to him: don’t get mad.
You probably expect to hear “Get even” after that, but that’s not precisely the way to go either. Why? Because banks are like farm animals. Three reasons why:
1. They’re not particularly bright
2. They may attack you if you’re ignorant and/or careless
3. They’re useful and productive if you know what you’re doing
Imagine you’re working on a farm and a chicken pecks you. Do you “get even” with the chicken? Certainly not. It’s a chicken, it’s not very smart, and getting even won’t really change anything. What you do instead is learn how to do a better job of managing this particular chicken, and perhaps the other farm animals as well. And if this chicken is laying eggs or otherwise producing value for you, the occasional peck is that much more forgivable.
(None of this is to say the employees of B of A, or anywhere else for that matter, are dumb animals–far from it! I know a lot of hard-working, motivated, brilliant people who work at Bank of America. The simple fact, though, is that all large organization tend to be inept, especially when the CEO is more concerned with dodging mortgage putbacks than with, you know, banking.)
So don’t get mad at B of A or any other bank—instead, farm them. Make them useful. They should always be working for you, not the other way around. Take control of your financial environment! Milk the cows, collect the eggs, and accept the inevitable peck as part of life. If they’re not useful to you, sever your relationship and move on to institutions that are.
For example: how could we farm B of A? Here’s one idea: apply for the B of A Hawaiian Airlines card, and also apply for the Bank of Hawaii Hawaiian Airlines card, which is the same thing except it’s a co-branded card underwritten by FIA Card Services (aka B of A via its MBNA acquisition way back when). Each of those gives you 35,000 miles after your first $1,000 spend, so the two cards will get you two roundtrip tickets to Hawaii.
Then have a spouse or a friend sign up for the exact same same cards—they’ll have 72,000 miles after meeting the minimum spend, and those can be exchanged for 144,000 Hilton HHonors points, which will let you stay in a pretty nice hotel for several days. There are annual fees on both of those cards, but for a little over $300 in fees across the four cards you get two plane tickets to and several hotel nights in Hawaii. And trust us, it is a lot more difficult to be angry at a bank when you’re sitting on the beach in Hawaii on a trip paid for by the bank.
BRITISH AIRWAYS 100,000 MILE OFFER IS BACK: Thanks to One Mile At A Time I learned that the Chase British Airways credit card 100,000-mile offer is back. 100K sounds good, but let’s look at the offer. You get 50K after the first $1K in purchases, which is great. But then you get the next 25K miles (Avios, as BA insists on calling them for some reason) after $10K in purchases, and 25K more for another $10K in purchases. So after the first $1K you’re getting 3.75 miles per dollar spent for the first $20K of spend. Is it worth it? The answers are “sort of” and “it depends”.
Almost four miles per dollar spent is very good. The problem is the opportunity cost–$20,000 of spending can meet the minimum spend for a lot of other rewards cards. Unless you’re already spending so much that $20K doesn’t matter too much, that’s a big hurdle. That said, we love the British Airways program. If you, like us, are on the east coast then Avios are the best value around for reasonably short trips to New York, Miami, Canada, or Central America on BA partner American Airlines. We may get into more specifics on that in the future, but plenty of other bloggers have written about it already, so check them out if you’re curious.
FREE FOOD AND CLOTHING! NO SHELTER, THOUGH: Courtesy of Fatwallet, here’s a way to get $50 for test-driving a Chevrolet. Just enter their contest, print out the form, and take it to the dealer. Theoretically whatever vendor is handling their fulfillment will send you a Macy’s gift card a few weeks later. What could possibly go wrong, right? Also, you can get $10 off a $20 online order at Macaroni Grill with the discount code PASTA, so may as well stop off there on your way back. Maybe the Chevy salesman will let you order from his computer before you leave?