Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The Business Credit Card: Spending in the Company’s Name

By Aaron Ballantyne

Credit cards offer individual consumers the advantage of spending more without carrying dangerous amounts of cash in their wallets. But did you know that there are packages available for big businesses and companies – and that business credit cards can offer businessmen and corporations the same benefits that consumers have?

How do business credit cards differ from individual credit cards, and how may these be advantageous to a business?

Most business credit cards will have much higher credit limits than individual credit cards. Because businesses have to spend on large amounts of money on bulk purchases such as computers, printers, and desks, they also need to be able to spend more. The higher the credit standing of a business, the higher the credit limit set on its credit card.

Most business credit cards will also have rewards programs, and these will be even more rewarding than individual consumer cards. Because business credit cards also ensure that more money will pour into a credit card company, there are more attractive incentives offered for business credit card users.

Most individual credit cards will have rewards programs, but credit companies will set a limit on the rewards you can receive, or on the cash that you can get back if you make gas or transport purchases. There will usually be no such limits for business credit cards, and you will get your cash back no matter how much you spend initially.

Points and frequent flyer miles acquired for purchases made by individual credit cards will usually expire if they are not used immediately. There are no such deadlines for most business credit cards, and the points and frequent flyer miles can be used whenever the business sees it fit.

What incentives do business credit cards commonly have?

Points accrued from purchases can be used as frequent flyer miles for certain airlines. If your company is in good credit standing, you can also be rewarded with bonus miles the moment you apply for a business credit card. This is especially advantageous to companies that require their employees to travel. There are also more travel rewards associated with business credit cards, and these include discounts on air fare, or upgrade privileges.

Business credit card companies can issue additional, individual credit cards for employees depending on the applying company’s credit line.

Some business card companies offer rewards programs for purchases of office supplies at establishments such as computer merchants and bookstores.

Some credit card companies also offer cash back, or money back bonuses on employee travel expenses, such as gas, transport, accommodations, and dining.

If your company is in good credit standing, some credit card companies will offer thousands of points in bonus on your initial application. This can get you jump-started on their rewards programs, if any.

Some credit card companies can double your points when you use their business credit card to make purchases at certain establishments. This means that you can get more rewards faster.

If you are interested in applying for a business credit card for your company, then search for available packages through your bank, or online. When you have the details of many business credit card packages on hand, compare their advantages and incentives, and search for the credit card company that will meet your business needs. As with all credit cards, read the fine print for any taxes or fees that you may need to pay.

And, as with all other credit cards, control your business’ spending. If you can handle all the risks associated with credit cards, and if you choose the credit card that best fits your needs and budget, then you can get the most out of that business credit card.

Aaron Ballantyne is the owner of a credit card website with links where you can apply for a credit card which best suits your needs.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Types of credit card insurance

If you have a credit card, chances are that you've been offered a type of credit card insurance.

Payment protection plans are pitched that they will make your credit card payments for you if you are hospitalized, lose your job or suffer a financial hardship. There are many different types of credit card insurance. Including:

  1. Credit disability -- pays your minimum monthly if you become disabled.
  2. Credit unemployment -- pays your minimum monthly if you are fired or laid off.
  3. Credit life -- pays if you pass away.
  4. Most people don't need a credit card insurance plan.

Most credit card companies will not let you use the credit card when the insurance is making the minimum payment for you. If the estate can't cover the bills, your bills will be charged off by the credit card company.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Police searching for suspect in credit card fraud

By the Press-Citizen

The Iowa City Police Department is asking for assistance from the public in identifying a subject suspected of being involved in a credit card fraud.

On Dec. 6, police took a fraud report from a local business. The suspect used a stolen credit card to purchase several items. Police describe the suspect as a six-foot-tall white male with dark hair and a slim build. He was last seen wearing a black baseball cap.

Police ask that anyone with information about the crime call the department at 319-356-5279.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Casino credit card hits jackpot with mail

By Chantal Todé

While the number of credit card solicitations continues to rise every year - there were more than 6 billion in 2005, according to Mail Monitor - response rates have been declining. But one company appears to have bucked the trend, delivering average response rates four times the industry norm.

The Arriva credit card was introduced in July by Global Cash Access Holdings Inc., which operates about 70 percent of the ATMs in casinos. The company aimed to launch a branded credit card that served frequent casino visitors with good credit while taking advantage of the list of those same consumers it had accumulated as the operator of all those ATMs.

"[GCA was] already working with casino patrons who were dipping their credit cards in its ATMs for cash advances, and it saw an opportunity to provide a better product than what was available in the marketplace," said Will Metzger, account director at ad agency RowenWarren, which developed Arriva’s marketing campaign.

Many card companies charge higher-than-average rates to casino patrons asking for cash advances and don’t offer them grace periods or rewards points, he said.

In contrast, the Arriva card offers an interest-free grace period on cash advances, charges lower fees and interest rates on advances than many cards and gives rewards points for advances. The card can be used in the 800-plus U.S. casino locations that are GCA customers, and rewards points can be used for cash back on the casino floor, show tickets, spa packages or travel.

"GCA looks at casino patrons who are there for entertainment purposes and doesn’t discriminate against them the way that other credit card companies do," Mr. Metzger said. Other card companies often don’t view cash advances by casino patrons as an entertainment expenditure, he said.

To introduce the Arriva card to casino patrons, RowenWarren, New York, developed an integrated marketing campaign that includes a Web site, direct mail, take-away brochures and print ads.

The initial direct mail drop in July to 100,000 names tested three formats. One was a branding piece that sought to capture the excitement of Las Vegas, casinos and the gambling lifestyle through imagery and copy. It also offered 5,000 bonus points for signing up.

The branding direct mailer employed images of a man playing poker, a woman getting a massage and several men in a limousine. The copy reads: "The Action. The Rewards. The Excitement. Are You In?" The campaign’s "Are You In?" tagline was developed to invite people to participate in the adventure of a casino trip and to tap the aspirations of gaming patrons.

A second mail piece promoted a specific hotel and casino in Las Vegas with an offer for two days and one night free and $50 free slot play. The third mailer resembled the credit card offers consumers get in the mailbox daily.

The average response rate was about four times the 2005 industry average of 0.3 percent, though the branding piece produced an even higher rate. In addition, 1,700 consumers have become Arriva cardholders, and in-casino transactions have surpassed $6.5 million.

Branding generally is missing from credit card companies’ direct marketing efforts, Mr. Metzger said. He cited Capital One: The "What’s in Your Wallet?" TV ads have a brand message, "and then I get the direct mail and I don’t see any connection between the two."

Several more casino-specific mail drops have occurred since July, with GCA, Las Vegas, combining the hotels’ mailing list with its own. But the campaign kicks into high gear in January. In 2007, GCA will drop 200,000 mail pieces monthly for the Arriva card. The direct mail itself will be a combination of branding and casino-specific pieces. RowenWarren also is testing segmenting the audience further.

"There’s a difference between people who go to casinos as destinations and people who go to local casinos," Mr. Metzger said. "We’ll be exploring messaging in this area."

The Web site, which launched in July, also takes off next year with search engine optimization, pay-per-click advertising, sponsored content and banner ads.

In 2007, Arriva and RowenWarren begin broader advertising for the card in selected casino and consumer outlets. So far, ads have appeared in casino-related consumer and trade publications.

The Arriva card’s value proposition and GCA’s targeted mailing list are spurring this campaign’s success, Mr. Metzger said, along with RowenWarren’s ability to put a branding message into the direct mail piece.

"What RowenWarren does is figure out how to do branding and direct marketing at the same time," he said. "When you do it right, it really works."