Raise your hand if you use a charge card. OK. Put your hand down if you are over 30. I see. There are no hands up. Well, at least that’s what I’m guessing.
American Express is hoping I’m wrong, though. Its new Zync card, unveiled Dec. 8, is a charge card targeted at 20-somethings. The company hopes to lure a younger demographic to a type of payment card dominated by older cardholders by offering a lower annual fee and customizable point offerings.
A charge card, for those who don’t know, is a special piece of plastic that requires the user to pay the balance in full each month. That means no dodging your debt; you gotta pay up every month. This is generally viewed as a good thing because you avoid charges, but still have the convenience of deferring some money when you have to.
The Zync card has an annual fee of $25. That’s pretty reasonable, especially compared to the $450 annual fee for the AmEx Platinum card. The card offers an auto pay feature, too, which you can set up to pay off your balance each month automatically. But those aren’t the major selling points AmEx is using. It hopes to snag some newer, younger cardholders with customizable “lifestyle packs.”
The reward packs claim to offer different types of perks depending on where you plan to use your card the most. For example, the Social pack offers double points on restaurant and event purchases. The Connect pack gets you double points on mobile and cable purchases, and the Eco pack gets you double points at merchants rated by Greenopia, an online “directory of eco-friendly retailers.”
AmEx, ever hip, plans to offer more packs and maybe change existing ones depending on feedback they received from an online community dubbed the “Zync Tank.” How many 26-year-olds will be hanging at the Zync Tank? My guess is zero.
Thing is, American Express has been offering a charge card since 1958. And although the company has tried to target a younger audience before, its aim always seems to be too narrow. So why try again?
Another guess here: We kids spend money, and most of the time it’s money we don’t have.
According to a 2009 Sallie Mae study, 84 percent of college students have credit cards. That’s an increase of approximately 11 percent since the fall of 2004. The same study found that the average balance students carry grew to $3,173 in 2009.
It’s proven that 20-somethings like to charge, but will we take the bait? For me, I can def say no. I have one card in my wallet, and it will stay like that for as long as I can handle it. But maybe for those young ‘uns who swipe for things other than tuition or car payments, another card, no matter the form, is just that — another card.
See related: How young is too young for credit cards?, Quiz: Dude: Think you can handle a credit card?