An Open Letter to America's Credit Card Companies

By Elizabeth Lang. Last updated 8 July 2014. 2 comments

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Dear Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover,

What do consumers want from their credit cards? We know that this is the billion dollar question for your company. And we, as consumers, want to tell you.

After speaking with friends and family, who had plenty of suggestions, I've come up with a list of things we want from our cards. Our wishes break down into just a few simple categories — five, in fact. I've laid all five out below so you'll know everything we'd like from our credit cards. (See also: Stupid Credit Card Tricks: How Your Credit Card Company Lies to You)

1. To Read Our Minds

That's right, we'd like our credit card to be able to read our minds and do or not do things without us even having to lift a finger.

For example, if we're trying to spend less, don't let us buy those shoes we don't need. Or when we're planning a vacation, send us an email with all of the ways your card can help us on that trip. We know you offer discounts on car rentals and hotels and even car rental insurance, but we always forget when we're actually in the middle of planning our vacations. Also, when we're thinking about spending our rewards, email us with the best rewards for our money.

2. To Be Everywhere

No one likes getting up-charged on exchange and transaction fees when traveling abroad. Nor do we like to be told that we can't use our card because we need a PIN when we're traveling. (See Number 1 above. When you know we're about to travel, send us that PIN that we need frequently in Europe to make purchases but never need in the United States.)

We never want to be turned down for a purchase — unless we don't need those shoes. And certainly we want our card of choice to be accepted at all of the places we shop — not just at the major retailers.

What type of credit card are you interested in?
How much do you spend per month?
Do you carry a balance?

3. To Be Our Friend

When we call friends and family, they pick up on the first ring. We don't have to wait through a long string of validation codes and choosing various extensions; they just answer. Better yet, we can text them — and if it's something that requires a call, they will call us back. When we're running late for a date, we can call our friends and let them know we're running a little late and it's not a big deal. How great would it be if when we needed an extra day to pay our statements, we could just call and ask if it would be fine?

4. To Be Our Advocates

We'd like our credit cards to advocate for us — get us the best deals on our purchases — and when the purchase price goes down even further, refund us without us having to ask. When an item we purchase breaks, please fix it or return our money so we don't have to deal with the manufacturer. We'd like you to fight our battles with companies we're upset with.

5. To Show Us the Money

We want our credit cards to give us the maximum rewards possible on the things we purchase the most.

If we don't have a car, don't make one of our main perks 5x points on gas. If we love dining out, give us the most cash back when we go to a restaurant. Even better would be if you occasionally sent us exclusive coupons and discounts to places we like to dine at. Send us our credit scores for free on a regular basis, so we don't have to request them ourselves. Oh, and please be able to get us reservations at restaurants that are already booked or tickets to shows that are already sold out.

Credit card company, when you can do all these things, please let us know, as we're always in the market for a new, mind-reading friend who goes everywhere with us and does everything we ask. We're not as demanding as we sound, and we promise to be loyal for life.

Your friend who spends,

The Consumer

Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

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Guest's picture

I would love to be able to choose the rewards I get on my card! 5% cash back on places I never and don't want to shop at isn't helpful at all, totally agree with #5!

Guest's picture

I think credit card companies still have a lot of room for growth when it comes to disclosing fees. Everything is STILL in such small print, most consumers won't read the terms and conditions. Simple, straightforward rates are what most people want. Variable chaos is never fun.

Thanks for the article!