Throughout the past year or so, I have repeatedly become a target of banks trying to get to me to sign up for ” easy credit cards”. Capital One, Barclays and American Express have all sent me application forms – which have all gone in the bin.
I don’t want an easy credit card or any credit card for that matter. I currently have no income but I love to shop, which means a credit card would just be lethal for me. I’m living off savings that I managed to gather during my gap year between college and university, while I gain experience in the journalism field in order to get my career going. And because I have a rather high (though diminishing) bank balance for an unemployed person, credit card companies repeatedly try to tempt me with 0% on purchases or balance transfers for 12 months or so.
But it’s not going to work. I’m good with my money and granted, some of the cards offer good deals, but I am by no means in a steady living situation at the moment and I don’t want the responsibility of a credit card. I want my money in one place and I want one method of spending it – through my debit card.
I thought my own bank might understand this. After all, they see what goes in and out (and out, and out) of my account and should know I have no regular income. Yet when I made a trip to a branch of Lloyds TSB to simply check something on a recent statement, I walked out with a credit card.
I visited the customer services desk and asked the advisor to check what I needed on the statement. She was very helpful and extremely chatty – telling me how nice my name was, asking me where it comes from etc. – all the while, probably looking at a big flashing sign on her screen saying ‘Detain Customer Now – Credit Card Opportunity.’
So after my query was dealt with, I was asked if I was interested in reviewing my account as there were some offers I may qualify for. But the answer ‘No, I really don’t have the time’ doesn’t really wash with sales people so she swiftly said she could get one of her colleagues to explain my options to me and that it would only take a few minutes.
Off she went and after waiting for about 10 minutes, I was taken into a back office to meet the colleague. With a massive smile the colleague said she had been told I didn’t have much time and asked if I had to get to work. Thinking quickly, as I was unemployed, I said I just had some things to do. So instead of being guided through the details of whatever account or card they were planning to throw at me, a succession of application forms suddenly found their way in front of me.
Before I could even say ‘Credit card’ I was being signed up for one. And I didn’t even know which one until I walked outside and had a proper look at the form. The colleague couldn’t have been more uninformative if she’d tried.
I sat there as the colleague bustled about with papers and I did think about telling her I really wasn’t interested but quickly thought against it. I’ll sign the papers, I thought, but I won’t activate the cards or use them and your plan to get an unemployed soon-to-be-graduated student into owning a 15.9% Airmiles Duo account will have failed.
I think what shocked me more than being almost forced into signing up for a credit card I didn’t want was the fact that while the colleague confused herself with all the papers, she asked me about where I worked – to which I replied I had been made redundant but, 5 months on, was still waiting for redundancy pay.
So she knew I was unemployed, she knew I had been made redundant with no pay and yet she was very happy to sign me up to the Airmiles Duo account that comes with a Mastercard and an American Express card and earns airmiles on money spent on them. What she thought an unemployed student might purchase with one of these cards and where spending money for all the travel and holidays might come from, I have no idea. Slight negligence on behalf of Lloyds TSB, I feel.