Yesterday I wrote about a little old hardware store that had noticed an increase in card purchases over cash. That’s not a good sign if people are using plastic more for routine things and especially in this environment of credit card issuers reducing credit limits, raising interest rates and closing cards.
You see, the credit card issuers are getting freaked out that more people are going to start using the cards when they can’t afford it. Shocking! I guess that’s okay when you can limp along and make the monthly minimum payments but otherwise it is a bad thing.
The credit card message has been “use the card, use the card, use the card” but that pendulum is swinging to “don’t use the card, don’t use the card, we’ll take that card”.
Apparently this trend is not limited to just the United States or just hardware stores. A story in India noted:
Usage of plastic money is increasing with times but at the same times it is also increasing the worries of credit card companies. In September 2008, the transactions done through credit cards went up by nearly 20% against the previous month. Normally this would be a reason to cheer for the card companies but presently it has become a cause of concern.
The credit card companies are worrying because they think that rising usage of credit card may also result in higher number of defaults among these users.
If all of this is true, which it is, retailers are going to be hating life this holiday season as credit card issuers start closing cards to avoid even higher losses. Without available cash or loose credit, consumers won’t be able to go overboard on holiday spending.
I’m thinking we need a joust between banks and retailers. Wouldn’t that be fun to watch?