A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

13 Things Credit Card Companies Know About You

How you wield that little piece of plastic can reveal how well you care for your home, the state of your marriage, whether you're a customer worth keeping ... and a lot more.


You’re having marital problems

Most credit card companies comb through cardholder data for signs of financial trouble, and we may use that to lower your credit. A Federal Trade Commission suit against CompuCredit, which marketed the Visa Aspire card, accused the company of lowering available credit to customers who used cards for marriage counseling, bars, or pawnshops. Here are the things you should stop doing to prevent money-related fights in your relationship.


You don’t have the best manners

If you call even one time and get angry or use profanity, we may put a note on your account that you are a “verbally abusive” caller. Every time you call in after that, the customer-service rep will be on guard. Here are some other behaviors that automatically make you seem like a jerk.


What you did last summer (and the summer before that)

We track your favorite places to visit. We also know your top ATMs and when you normally log in to your mobile app. Paying attention to those things is one of the ways we catch fraud. Here are some things that happen right after your credit card gets stolen.


Whether you take good care of your home

One study found that people who buy carbon monoxide monitors and pads for chair bottoms rarely miss payments. If you protect your things, you may also want to protect your credit score. Check out these easy ways to improve your credit score.

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Where you are at this very moment

If you’ve enabled location-based services in your card’s app, we can follow your movements around town and send coupons for nearby merchandise. Thanks to new new tracking technology, we hope to soon follow you inside a store to record how long you spend in each aisle.

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You’re the boss

If a responsible customer asks for a lower interest rate, there’s a good chance we will say yes. A Synergistics survey found that 78 percent of cardholders who asked for a lower rate received one. Here are some secrets to being a good boss.

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You’re a small-business owner

We love small-business owners. They tend to make a lot of purchases and rack up charges on their cards. Sometimes we buy lists of new limited liability companies and corporations so we can send them business credit card offers.


You’re due for a shopping trip at Target

We work with marketers to create special offers for you based on your purchases. If you were a regular shopper at Target but haven’t been back in a while, a digital coupon from Target may pop up in your bank’s mobile app (or from a competitor trying to lure you away). Speaking of Target, here are some tricks to help you save money on your next trip.

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Whether you’re worth hanging on to

When you call customer service, the reps at some companies see a green or red indicator on their screen based on your risk score. That tells them whether to try to keep you as a customer.

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What your signature looks like

If you’re not sure a charge is legitimate, most credit card companies can send you a copy of the receipt.


You’re clueless about your card’s benefits

Many cards offer perks such as rental-car insurance, trip-cancellation insurance, and even a personal concierge, but you probably don’t know about them if you haven’t read the fine print. We can help with that: Learn how to use your credit card rewards to unlock awesome perks.

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You talk too much

To build rapport with customers, we often train customer-service reps to stay on the phone as long as the customers want. Some lonely ones stay on the line for more than an hour. Make sure you don’t fall for these phone scams that could steal your money.

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You’re about to cancel

We analyze data to flag you if you haven’t been using your card or there are other signs you might close your account. We may send you a promotion in an attempt to keep you. Next, learn some times and places you should never use your credit card for payment.

Sources: Bill McCracken, CEO of Synergistics Research Corporation, a financial research company; Bert Ely, a banking consultant based in Alexandria, Virginia; David Wallace, global financial services marketing manager at SAS, a data analytics firm; Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy for the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse; a former credit card customer-service manager; a credit card customer-service representative; a senior fraud consultant; nytimes.com

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest