|by Mr Credit Card|
I normally get joint marketing mails from American Express with their other merchant partners. Today, I got a mail from Chase!
On the face of it, they ‘wrote’ me a check of $8.50. Yes, a pathetic eight dollars and fifty cents. Being who I am (Mr Credit Card), I decided to investigate further. I opened the letter and this was what I saw :
First, I saw the following headline :
2% Back on Your Credit Card Purchases
Wow! I thought Chase was offering a card upgrade or something. However, upon further reading, I found out that Chase has partnered with “Greatfun”. I turns out that if I cashed in that check, then I can earn 2% cash rebates for up to the first $5000 of purchases on my Chase credit card. That means that I could earn up to $100.
But that is not all, it went on to say that I will be entitled to discounts with certain merchants like Sharper Image (thought they went bust?), Eddie Bauer etc. ut here is the catch :
“When you cash the attached check, we will automatically bill the first semi-annual fee of $59.99 to your Chase credit card account for a membership in Great Fun, unless you call 1-877-228-2667 to cancel during the thirty-day trial period.”
So let me get this straight, I am given $8.50, but have to pay back $59.99 immediately? The I have to pay that amount every six months. But as a consolation, I’ll get a $100 rebate but only if I spend an additional $5,000 on my card!
Needless to say, I passed on this “offer”. You can get discounts on merchants from the merchants themselves, from coupons and also from reward credit cards. To actually have to pay for a membership (about $120 a year) just to get discounts seems a little silly. How did this proposal even get past the marketing department of credit card companies beats me!
But since I got this letter, I decided to investigate more into what this Great Fun thing was all about. So I decided to check out their website. It turns out that this was actually a shopping portal where you can get discounts from their merchant partners like GAP, Old Navy and other familiar brands. It also turns out that Great Fun is owned by Treligent (and there are lots of complaints from folks on how Trilegiant tries to get you to sign up for their membership site like this one). To be able to get these discounts and “savings”, you need to join their monthly membership.
When I clicked on their sign up page, it tells you that you can have a $1 trial for 30 days. And if you do not cancel within 30 days, you will be billed $19.95 a month. So altogether, you will be paying over two hundred dollars a year for the privilege of getting discounts from common well known retailers.
I have a real problem with this. Firstly, retailers are always having sales and discounts and if you have been a customer and they got your email address, then you will surely get emails flooding your inbox whenever there is a sale going on. Secondly, there are tons of coupons and deal sites that will search the best deals for you and present them on their website. You can sign up for their newsletters for free and get updates on these deals. There are also a ton of deal of the day sites that function more or less the same way.
These days, every major issue has online shopping portals which function very similarly to how great fun works. But it goes one step better. Aside from offering deals, credit card shopping portals allow you to either earn extra points or cash rebates when you shop with their merchant partners. This is a much better deal than what Trilegiant is offering. Best of all, you do not have to pay any monthly membership fee.
Our staff writer Jason Steele has also uncovered that Trilegiant has partnered with Budget Rent A Car and unscrupulously tried to get him to enroll. You can read about the whole episode in this series of post.