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The notion of boycotting MBNA in response to the Senate's harsh and punitive bankruptcy reform bill has arisen in several threads in the last few days.

I've got a credit card balance because I'm planning to change jobs and move.  The whole thing was kind of unexpected and I didn't have my six months of cash squared away before I started searching.  I've had a lot of expenses associated with the job search and I'd been spending on my card to keep some cash around in case I have a "break" between jobs.  Now it's clear that things are going to be fine and I'll pay it off in a month or two.

That balance is on an MBNA card.  And what's ironic is that it's an affinity card issued by none other than the socially responsible long distance company, Working Assets.  They of the Action Alerts and Molly Ivins columns and free Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  Who's bluer than Working Assets?  Well, maybe anyone who doesn't use MBNA as their affinity card provider.

I want to Boycott MBNA.  So I sent this e-mail, asking Working Assets to join me.

I have a question for you good folks regarding the service provider that you use to offer your Working Assets affinity credit card -- and maybe something that should develop into an action item given the new bankruptcy bill that the Senate is considering (which perhaps more accurately should be called the "time to build some debtors' prisons" bill).

You use MBNA, one of the nation's most notorious predatory lenders, as your credit card provider, although you yourselves seem to be a very socially responsible company.

A few months ago I got an affinity credit card from you because I generally like Working Assets and support what you do.  I was dismayed to find that MBNA was the true issuer of the card.  Since then, MBNA has rapidly increased my credit limit by several thousand dollars.  MBNA is known for irresponsibly expanding people's credit even when they haven't requested limit increases, among other practices.  I'm carrying a balance at the moment, though I always pay online and on time so I don't have to worry about MBNA's crazy fees and sudden rate hikes...or so I've thought.  I'm planning to move that balance off the MBNA card as soon as I can and close it down, and I wonder if you'd consider taking your business away from MBNA as well.

MBNA is one of the biggest sources of campaign funds for the Republican Party.

Republican Senators are now pushing a "reform" bill that would punish small debtors while protecting predatory lenders.  They have outright rejected amendments, proposed by Democrats, which would protect people who are caregivers for the sick, protect those who are bankrupted by obscene medical bills, forbid usurious practices like those used by MBNA, etc.

MBNA supports Republicans.  Republicans support usury and predatory lending while punishing everyday people.  And you MBNA by using them as your credit card provider.

What do you think about that?

Here's a very well researched overview of the bankruptcy reform bill and the predatory and punitive practices it encourages.

All the effort that you put into your wonderful action alerts and help for various causes is great, but if there's anything that's obvious from the last election it's that we have to put our money where our mouths are.  On this issue we shouldn't be putting our money in the hands of MBNA.

Please consider this issue, and consider Acting for Change.

Some people have suggested in threads here moving credit card balances to other cards, like the Democratic National Committee affinity card (Providian).  I don't know about Providian's lending practices -- perhaps someone else can comment -- but don't go assuming that liberal organizations' affinity cards are "safe".


Go to your local or regional bank.  Even better, go to your Credit Union.  Try to get a credit line there.  What you can get there is more likely going to reflect what you can actually afford and the true value of your credit rating, because Credit Unions are non-profit, member-owned, and (usually) fairly cautious.

That's what I'll be doing as soon as I find out where I'm moving and which credit union I'm eligible to join when I move.

In addition to my Working Assets credit line, I'll be closing down a credit line that I have from Apple Computer, another ostensibly blue company that uses MBNA to provide their credit lines.

Drop your MBNA cards.  But, pay attention to who you get credit from.  And if you see a so-called blue company using red, red MBNA to provide affinity cards, raise a ruckus.  Don't just boycott MBNA.  Get your college or your organization to think about doing it too.

Originally posted to kismet on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:19 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  MBNA (none)
    I asked the Working Assets folks about their card and they said that MBNA was their only option.  Is this true?

    Jonestown, U.S.A.: The Rapture is a metaphor for collective suicide.

    by bink on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:13:14 AM PST

    •  It's the Card Companies Game (none)
      The affinity partners really have no control over the terms of the offering. And it isn't MBNA that is even the worst of the offenders. My personal view is that Discover is the worst.
  •  MBNA Cancellation (none)
    I cancelled my card back in December and wrote a diary the subject, complete with the letter I sent them.

    The road to hell is paved with Good Intentions.

    by JenAtlanta on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:15:25 AM PST

  •  Better Yet (none)
    Get a bank card on your checking account, save some money, and toss the credit cards entirely. At my bank I can get a credit line on my bank account guaranteed to be tied to market rates. I weaned myself off of credit cards a while back when I encountered first hand some of their predatory practices. I haven't used one in almost three years.
  •  All credit card companies are evil (none)
    but I agree that MBNA is the worst. I started boycotting MBNA more than seven years ago.
  •  An alternative action against MBNA (none)
    Rather than dumping your MBNA cards, you can keep them, but simply pay off the balance in full every month. Boy, do they hate that! All the effort on their part, and they don't make any money off of you.

    My main card right now is an Amazon card from BankOne. This kicks back a $25 Amazon gift certificate for every $1500 I charge on the card. So I run a lot of things through the card, but pay off my balance every month to avoid any charges. And get free books (or whatever) every so often.

    Credit cards are just another example of how the rich get richer while the poor get poorer. If you own property, you can borrow on the equity in you house at low interest rates that are tax deductible, but if you don't, you pay 18% plus for credit card "loans" that are not tax deductible and have extortionate late fees.

    I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just. -- Thomas Jefferson

    by lesliet on Sun Mar 06, 2005 at 10:44:33 AM PST

  •  Well (none)
    I have a balance on my card and that is simply because I work in the DC area and because my salary simply is not enough to make ends meet on in this area. I make good money at my job, but the cost of living here is so high. I've have to unfortunately accept carrying a revolving balance. I'm trying to keep it around 2,000 and then paying it down by several hundred a month or so.

    The real issue is that people are being thrown into bankruptcy because of the cost of living. I'm 26 and live on my own. I have debt from college and graduate school that I have pay back. Coupled with rent that is really high and rising every year it is hard to make ends meet even when you have a good entry-level salary and decent raises.

    Bankruptcy is a system of increased problems in this country in terms of wages and salaries. People cannot even meet their own basic needs and have to turn to credit cards to fill in the gap. They hope that as their salaries increase that "one day" they will be able to pay it back.

    It is only going to get worse. Today you have man young people leaving college and graduate school with SIGNIFICANT amounts of student loan debt. Many of these students increasingly owe six figure debt because the costs of college, graduate/law/medical/business school have risen so sharply. So at the outset, even when making decent money, they are on the margins.

    As for MBNA I have one credit card that I use with them. I have their Amtrak Guest Rewards card. I use it because I get rail miles. But as Amtrak is about to go under, if the White House has its way, I may have to cash them in soon so that I don't lose them.

    Regarding Providian I've heard horror stories about them. Maybe I'm thinking of another company, but I thought that they were once into primarily subprime, "lender of last resort" types of loans.

  •  Providian is bad news! (none)
    Somebody had better warn the DNC. You can find out a lot about it at this website:

    Yes, your own local bank is usually a great option. My own local bank has incredibly low interest rates, only 5.9% right now, and when the rates were low last year they dropped it down to 2.9% for a while. They're much lower rates than those huge corporations that are always sending out preapproved cards, and it doesn't have that dastardly "default rate" that so many of them have nowadays, where they bump your initial rate up as high as 30% if you go overlimit or your payment is even one day late (and I've read stories where people have paid on time but the company claims it didn't receive the payment on time and still bumps up the rate).

    They'll probably start you out with a lower limit than one of those preapproved cards, but that's because they're looking realistically at what you can afford. And they're much kinder to deal with. Mine makes courtesy calls whenever I make a single charge over $500 to make sure my card hasn't been stolen and misused. And if it's getting near the due date, I can pay in person at the bank to make sure they get the payment in time.

  •  GM Card not too bad (none)
    I've also had this one for several years, and you get credit toward a new GM car someday. This one is through Household Bank. They don't pull any of that sneaky stuff, like the "default rate" (or at least, they didn't as of the last time I got paperwork from them). It started out with a year at 0%, then a year at around 6%. Although they've been raising the rate as Greenspan has been bumping it up, it's now 11.24%, which is still lower than most of those others whose junk mail clutters my box.
  •  I Googled "boycott MBNA" and here I am (none)
    I've had MBNA cards on and off for several years. I currently have the AMTRAK Guest Rewards card through them. I did that in part to support AMTRAK, which I use rarely. Now Bush is going to make hash of that plan.

    I go through periods of cash only wherein I cut up most of my credit cards, followed by periods of accepting every offer I can get my hands on -- always keeping my AMEX green as a base. I always assumed that the fewer cards you have the better your credit rating will be. That used to be true but things change. Now, according to an advisor at Motley Fool, it actually hurts your credit to cancel cards.

    Naturally I have been in agony since I learned that MBNA is the single largest donor to $Bush$Co. I have decided to do as advised above. I won't cancel my card but won't use it either. Let them send me blank checks every three days. More fool them.

    (Where this idea doesn't hold is the situation in which bank card companies merge. E.g., BankOne has been absorbed by Chase. My BankOne card has a 0% rate; the Chase rate is higher (though I'm fortunate enough at this time to rarely carry a balance). Citibank, which has the world's greatest ad campaign, has absorbed Fleet, which is a long-standing card on my records. What to do?)

    I say this all in deepest sympathy to those individuals who are facing monumental debts that are not of their doing and now will not have legal protections against preditory companies like MBNA.

    I know what it is to be in deep debt: One year I paid more in credit card interest than I earned in salary!!! Three times I came this [] close to declaring Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I was lucky in that I found a way to juggle my way through. Thanks to an article in Cosmopolitan I learned about such tricks as "accidentally" sending a check for one company to another, or "forgetting" to sign the check (back in the day when clerks actually inspected checks and returned those without signature), or "forgetting" to put postage on the envelope -- one of the few times I ever bothered to include a return address, or using cash advances from one company to make minimum payments on another.

    I was even luckier in that a lot of that big debt got me through college and after five years I had paid off all of the credit card debt and most of the student loans. Though I had no family support with this debt, I also had no family to support. I had no children or elderly parents or chronic illnesses to support. The worst things that happened was blowing my brand new engine (that you T & B for your loan!) and a relatively minor bicycle accident when I had just started my first job in my new profession and had no health insurance. How lucky is that?

    I predict that Jesus Christ of the Beatitudes will see to it that any senator who votes for the MBNA Bankrupty Bill will burn in hell.

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