Monday, August 09, 2010

Do credit cards steal from the poor and give to the rich?

Here is an interesting read for the day, the idea that credit cards steal from the rich and give to the poor. The idea is that everything nowadays has a built in uplift in the price to pay for the 2% credit card service fee. That amount is likely less than 2%. The idea is that the richest folks of those consumers paying that uplift have rewards cards; cash-back, airline mileage, points, etc.

Well, if the richest are getting back some of their uplifted price what are the poorest doing? According to these folks they are paying the uplifted prices with cash, debit cards, or maybe credit cards without rewards. If that is the case, they are paying the uplift without any reward.

Let's work an example. If the uplift at a given grocery store is 1%, for every $100 spent there $1 was set aside for the credit card processing. If the richest folks bought $50 of that and the poorest folks bought the other $50. $1 (2%) of the $50 the richest people spent goes to the credit processing company, $0.50 (1% uplift) was what the richest folks were charged and $0.75 (1.5%) of that will go back into the wallets of those richest folks. Meanwhile, the poorest people paid the $0.50 more than they should have since they didn't pay with credit cards. This means that $0.25 of the poorest people's money went into the richest people's pockets according the people that are bringing up this question.

So, if you agree this is what is happening what do you do? You realistically have two options, keep rewards cards or take a moral stand and drop the rewards card which causes you to pay to those that have rewards cards. The system is deeply established already which is part of the problem here.

I am thinking that maybe a good medium is to keep the rewards card and donate half of the rewards to charities which focus on lower income individuals.

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