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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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