Fine print, Living with credit, New products, Rewards

Barclaycard Ring: Plastic with a social media twist

Julie Sherrier

Barclaycard is attempting to curry the credit card-carrying public’s favor by introducing the Barclaycard Ring MasterCard, which will be designed (at least in part) by social media feedback.

Cardholders — or “members” — will be allowed to see the card’s profit-and-loss statements as well as take a share of profits down the road, which can be donated to charity through its “Giveback” program. The colorful, feel-good website for the card touts: “You and your fellow
cardmembers will work together to shape Barclaycard Ring into something you can feel good about. As your credit card company, we promise to listen to what you have to say.”

Here are the initial basic terms of the card:Barclaycard Ring: Plastic with a social media twist

  • 8 percent variable APR for purchases, balance transfers AND cash advances
  • No annual fee
  • No balance transfer fee
  • 1 percent foreign transaction fee
  • Up to $25 for late payments

Comparatively speaking, these are pretty attractive terms, and my guess is that folks with below-average credit will not be approved to join the gang (the card is currently not open to the public and you have to request an “invite” to apply when it is). The single APR for purchases, balance transfers and cash advances is new. Typically, issuers charge much higher rates for cash advances and 3 percent to 5 percent for balance transfers.

And there’s even a blog devoted to the card, written by JaredY and JenH, who are the cards’ “community managers.”

Tara Siegel Bernard of the New York Times wrote about the card March 5, detailing all the ins and outs of how the new Barclaycard Ring will work. Bernard writes, “The group will actually vote on topics such as raising program fees, changing the annual percentage rate, whether to outsource customer service and how the Giveback is shared. The group will also weigh in on marketing ideas, merchant deals, website enhancements and other topics.”

But the clincher, which made me LOL, is that the card is being marketed as one that is best for those who carry a balance! Now that’s new. An issuer who actually admits that if it weren’t for balance-carriers, there would be no profits to share!

Community Manager JenH addresses this in her blog post: “Many borrowers have pared debt and avoided racking up new balances since the recession as they work to get their personal finances in order. But lenders say there is a market for customers who need to carry a balance from time to time and are more interested in paying a low rate than in earning rewards.”

Nice twist, JenH. The “reward” here for members is some type of profit-sharing, however. And without carry-over balances, the card will not be able to “reward” its members. So, while I guess I admire the attempt to woo those who want transparency, it’s contradictory to credit card best practices, which is to always pay off your balance every month to avoid paying interest.

One final caveat (in boldface, no less) on the Barclaycard Ring website’s Terms and Conditions page: “This offer may not be available to you if you already have or have had a Credit Card account with us.”

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  • Violetta Dennin

    Need money