August 26, 2006 10:40 PM
Credit Card Protection Plan? Better Not!
Chuck Jaffe ran a case study of Direct Merchants Bank’s Account Protection Plus, an example of the growingly popular credit card protection plans that offer some benefits when you get layoff, disability, or some other life-changing events. Actually, today almost every major card issuer offers such add-on products, but almost every plan is short of providing real benefits. Buyers beware!
From CBS MarketWatch:
Credit-protection plans vary greatly from one program to the next, so there may be the rare case where a certain program is a good fit for some consumers.
That’s not the case Account Protection Plus, which is marketed only to Direct Merchants Bank customers – the bank is a brand of HSBC Card Services – preying upon their fears.
Specifically, the plan offers up to a year of “involuntary unemployment protection,” up to 25 months of disability protection, and 90 days of “approved, unpaid leave-of-absence protection.”
Should any of those events happen, the protection plan effectively hits the “pause” button on your Direct Merchants card account, stopping the interest clock, relieving you of the responsibility to make monthly payments and avoiding late-payment or over-the-limit fees.
That comes at an “affordable” price of 89 cents per month for every $100 in your account balance (conveniently billed to your Direct Merchants card).
It sounds great — until you do the math and analyze the benefits.
That monthly fee adds up quickly. If you carry a $2,000 balance, the monthly fee is $17.80. Over a year, assuming the balance remains fairly static, that’s more than $210.
In terms of charges, that has the same effect as increasing the annual percentage rate on the card by more than 10%. If you have a card with a rate of 11.5%, currently about the national average for a gold card, according to Bankrate.com, this would be like carrying a rate of about 23%
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