An Amazon Prime Visa card earns 3-5% toward Amazon every time you swipe. If you don’t carry a balance and pay off the credit card every month this is quite a deal. You get things for free every so often after those points accumulate.
For as long as many of us have had a checking account (and perhaps a savings account, too) it has been free of charge. As long as we haven’t bounced any checks, we never have had to pay much of anything for the bank to keep track of our money.
But nothing is really free, is it? If that is the case, what is the actual cost of these points or sky-miles on our credit cards and the checking and/or savings accounts we maintain?
Some of us grew up in a household with a budget, and were taught important lessons on managing money. Some of us had to take initiative and figure out how to budget and manage money on our own. In fact, we take it for granted sometimes that we had to go through a process of learning how to do this, and ignore the fact that this isn’t just common sense. We forget or ignore that many did not have the opportunity to learn how to manage their money.
We also tend to forget or ignore that it is those individuals who are paying for our rewards and our free checking. There are a lot of people out there struggling to make ends meet, and could benefit greatly from an opportunity to learn about money management and budgeting with what they have. Instead, they pay interest on a carried balance and fees for overdrawn checks that they cannot afford.
Yet I have to admit I somewhat have a feeling of entitlement to these rewards and free checking I’ve been so used to. This system seems to kick the less fortunate while they are down, and ensures that they stay down.
There are probably systems out there that are much more fair. The people in charge of these systems are the ones who enjoy those rewards, though, so change is not likely.