An Interesting Conversation About Store-Branded Credit Card Applications

Today, I went shopping for Mother’s Day gifts. As I was checking out at one particular store, the woman behind the cash register asked me if I wanted to apply for a credit card and receive a 10% discount. As I’ve written about before, I’m not interested in credit cards, especially high-rate store-branded credit cards. But, I’m also not interested in being a jerk, so I politely declined her offer. But, I couldn’t resist asking her if she ever tired of trying to get people to apply for the cards. She sighed and said yes. Then, she went on for about five minutes about how she and the other customer service people were required to produce a certain number of applications, every week, or they would be ‘written up’. Having worked in retail when I was in high school, I was familiar with that type of company policy. Apparently, her particular manager asks each CSR to get 2 credit applications, per week. I asked her what she thought about credit cards – in general. She cocked her head, slightly, and said – almost at a whisper –

“They tell us if we can get someone to sign up, and be approved, that we have guaranteed that that customer will shop at our store, on average, three times more often than they would have if they didn’t have a card with our store’s name on it.”

I hope those customer’s enjoyed their 10% discount.

(As a side note: I have no idea if what she said is true or not, but I am inclined to believe that part of the allure of the store-branded card is that it gives its owner a false-sense of belonging. Think about it. When you sign-up for the card, what type of process must you go through. Ah – an approval process. Interesting word, don’t you think?)

Cool thing about cash – no approval necessary. I don’t need a ‘cash’ score. And, I’m not paying for my shirt, three years after it went out of style, at 23% interest.