Author Topic: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?  (Read 6124 times)

catccc

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Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« on: October 04, 2016, 01:30:43 PM »
Someone told me they "couldn't believe" I had opened a bank account and was going through the hoops of meeting certain requirements to get a $250 bonus.  They told me it was unethical.  Well, I wouldn't do anything I really thought was unethical, so clearly I don't think this is, but her perspective caught me off guard.

Truthfully, I do intend to close the account, but it's possible that I won't.  I currently bank with Wells Fargo, and if you haven't been under a rock, you know they've been in the news for scandalous activity.  (And if you google "Wells Fargo Scandal," it prompts you with 2016, 2015, 2013... So this isn't their first offense.)  Anyway the point is, I'm not feeling loyal to my current bank.

(Coincidentally, my Wells Fargo account was opened over 10 years ago to score a bank bonus.  Ended up moving somewhat unexpectedly, and my previous bank didn't have any branches in my new town.  But what was right down the street?  A Wells Fargo!  So I kept the account.  Got married and added DH to that account.  I've had that account for a decade and counting.)

Anyway, whether or not I close the account that I opened specifically for the bonus, what do you guys think?  Is it unethical to open bank and CC accounts specifically for the bonuses?  I have a feeling most of you feel the way I do, but I'm curious to hear if there are some that don't agree, and what your reasoning might be.

NoStacheOhio

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #1 on: October 04, 2016, 01:41:04 PM »
How is it unethical to participate in an offer with the intent of closing the account at the end of the offer? You're playing by the rules.

The idea that taking advantage of a $250 bonus offer from a retail banking institution is somehow unethical? Talk to me when bankers start writing checks for causing the 2008 meltdown by committing actual fraud.

Gondolin

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2016, 01:41:56 PM »
I'm struggling to imagine the argument for how this is unethical.

The bank offers you something in exchange for you taking an action. That action harms no one and breaks no commonly held moral rules. You take the action, they give you want they promised. End transaction. Your later action of closing the account also hurts no one and breaks no commonly held moral rules. What's there to object to?

frugaliknowit

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #3 on: October 04, 2016, 01:55:30 PM »
A way of looking at this "gaming":  You're on the other end of banks doing things like charging $35 for an overdraft, 20% interest on credit cards and $6 for ATM withdrawls.

nobody123

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2016, 01:58:40 PM »
I took advantage of the Capital One $500 savings account bonus a few months ago.  They seemed to be taking a long time (more than 5 business days) to transfer the money in from my usual bank, so I called them and asked.  Typical customer service then tried to upsell me on other things.  I flat out told them I was going to have my money there for exactly 91 days that the offer mandated, wait for the bonus to be credited to my account, then close the account.  The guy told me I'm not the only one, chuckled, and stopped selling.

They have terms for their offer, and as long as you abide by the terms, I don't see how anyone could see it as unethical.

oldmannickels

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2016, 02:22:03 PM »
I think that I would push the person to describe why they think it is unethical to get a better understanding of where they are coming from. In my mind I reverse situations and if I was the bank I would understand that I am offering an incentive for people to open accounts and some people will stay and other people will go.

Also I think about without the incentive you wouldn't have even contemplated opening an account so there is reciprocation.

Catbert

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2016, 03:09:35 PM »
I don't think it's unethical at all. 

I do treat small businesses differently than large ones though.  For example, I get regular massages (and a small discount for being a regular customer).  One Christmas season they had discount certificates - almost 1/2 off the rack rate.  Obviously they were hoping you would give them as gifts to others and they might gain new clients.  One client bought multiples - and used them all on herself.  The next year they changed the terms so that no one could purchase more than 2 certificates and each person could only use on certificate.  I considered buying multiple certificates for myself and if it had been a large business I would have.  It some how didn't seem fair to do to that small spa.


bacchi

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #7 on: October 04, 2016, 04:16:34 PM »
Yeah, these aren't rubes. There are sophisticated, multinational, corporations that spend 10s of millions on marketing and data analysis. If they wanted customers to stick around, they'd change the terms to 6 months or a year. Or they wouldn't waive the annual fee or they'd create stepped incentives.

It's a gambit to get more long-term customers, as oldmanbutters wrote.

Rubic

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2016, 07:42:40 AM »
When Harris Teeter advertises eggs at $0.89/dozen as a loss leader, is it
ethical for me to stop by on my way home and purchase a couple dozen eggs
then buy everything else at Aldi?  Harris Teeter clearly intends to draw me
into their store to buy all my groceries there.

The banks set the rules -- and sometimes fail to follow them (Wells Fargo) -- so
churners are ethical by following the sign-up bonus rules.  Note that churning
is becoming more difficult as banks implement stricter rules for sign-on bonuses
(Chase 5/24, Citi 24 months, Amex one bonus/lifetime).

The salad days of actual CC churning are probably over.  When people talk
about applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the bonus, they aren't really
churning.  Churning is when I acquired 5 Citi World Elite cards in one year
to obtain 250K American Airline miles, i.e. repeatedly re-applying for the same
card.  Most banks are now enforcing stricter rules, so churning itself is becoming
marginalized because the banks are getting smarter.


boarder42

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2016, 08:23:50 AM »
When Harris Teeter advertises eggs at $0.89/dozen as a loss leader, is it
ethical for me to stop by on my way home and purchase a couple dozen eggs
then buy everything else at Aldi?  Harris Teeter clearly intends to draw me
into their store to buy all my groceries there.

The banks set the rules -- and sometimes fail to follow them (Wells Fargo) -- so
churners are ethical by following the sign-up bonus rules.  Note that churning
is becoming more difficult as banks implement stricter rules for sign-on bonuses
(Chase 5/24, Citi 24 months, Amex one bonus/lifetime).

The salad days of actual CC churning are probably over.  When people talk
about applying for the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the bonus, they aren't really
churning.  Churning is when I acquired 5 Citi World Elite cards in one year
to obtain 250K American Airline miles, i.e. repeatedly re-applying for the same
card.  Most banks are now enforcing stricter rules, so churning itself is becoming
marginalized because the banks are getting smarter.

yeah but typically targeted offers will bypass at  least citi's rules and sometimes Amex rules.

dividendman

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2016, 10:13:41 AM »
This is the normal double standard people have where individuals exploiting (meaning using a tactic to your advantage) a business deal/process is treated differently (people think it's bad) than when businesses exploit their advantages for profit (people generally think it's good).

I don't see any ethical implications to taking advantage of this offer.

norabird

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2016, 10:16:08 AM »
I just started a new checking account for a bonus. They seem happy enough to have me, so who am I to complain?

catccc

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2016, 01:27:47 PM »
Thanks for confirming all my thoughts... I did ask her if the burrito place down the street gave her a coupon for a free burrito, and she never planned on buying a single thing from them, would she take the free burrito?  She said yes.  To me, this is like a free burrito, except they get to have use of my checking account balance for the 90 days I have the account open.  And might possibly keep me as a customer.  She said because there was more involved (having the deposit, making x transactions, opening and closing an account...) it meant I was taking advantage of the bank.  IDK why she feels sorry for the poor banks...

dkaid

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2016, 11:28:08 AM »
Nope I don't think it's unethical.  I also don't think you should consider how the bank acts in determining if it's ethical or not as their behavior is not relevant to mine (IMHO).  You played by the rules that they made.

catccc

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2016, 11:56:25 AM »
This is the normal double standard people have where individuals exploiting (meaning using a tactic to your advantage) a business deal/process is treated differently (people think it's bad) than when businesses exploit their advantages for profit (people generally think it's good).

I don't see any ethical implications to taking advantage of this offer.

really good point about the double standard here.

Proud Foot

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #15 on: October 06, 2016, 02:42:57 PM »
As long as you are following the rules they laid out I don't see how this is unethical. 

Now if you used multiple aliases to open multiple accounts to receive the bonus then I would say it is.  Just as it was unethical for Wells Fargo to open accounts in the names of people who did not sign up.

Rubic

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Re: Bank and CC Bonuses - Unethical?
« Reply #16 on: October 06, 2016, 04:49:11 PM »
Now if you used multiple aliases to open multiple accounts to receive the bonus then I would say it is.

Each account requires a Social Security Number, so it would not be possible to create multiple
accounts (unless someone is actually creating an illegal identity).