November 4th, 2009
Credit Card Companies Offer Personal Finance Tools
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Personal finance management tools aren’t new; sites like Moneystrands and Quicken Online have been around for years. These sites specialize in helping stressed-out consumers and overwhelmed spenders keep track of their money. Now, credit card issuers are countering bad publicity by becoming more and more consumer friendly in their approach, offering personal finance management tools to help customers manage their finances by emphasizing budgeting and saving rather than just credit card-charging.
This happens to be good timing in light of the entire credit card industry under tough scrutiny by both the government and the public in the last few months due to the increased interest rates, credit limit reductions, fee hikes, and more changes issuers have been scrambling to put in place before the reforms of the CARD Act go into effect in February 2010.
These controversial actions taken by the credit card issuers hasn’t made for a very good image of big names like Chase and Wells Fargo in consumers’ eyes. Getting back on the consumers’ side means showing customers that big credit card companies aren’t just out to squeeze money out of them. These personal finance management services, plus ending some of the more controversial changes in their terms and practices, are the credit card companies’ olive branch to consumers.
Check out what kind of financial management tools your issuer offers. Even if you are not a cardholder, some of the following sites are open to all consumers:
- American Express Money Manager Tool – As a free benefit for American Express cardholders, the newly-launched Money Manager Tool helps you stay on top of your finances by giving you a complete view of all your accounts, credit cards, and loans in detail and have a big picture view of your money management. You can link all of your personal financial accounts in one place, and customize graphs and budgets so you can monitor your spending and budgeting the way you want to. While very similar to other personal finance management websites, the Money Manager tool is different in that it is exclusive to AmEx customers and also allows users to consolidate rewards statements for frequent flyer and hotel points. If you want all the perks of a typical money management site plus extra credit-card specific features like tracking your travel rewards points, this is a benefit AmEx customers should take advantage of.
- Wells Fargo Smarter Credit– This website is open to all consumers, and has learning tools, articles, tips, and information aimed at helping consumers establish/rebuild credit, reduce debt, get more credit, and manage and protect credit. This site is useful because you can pick out the tools and tips most relevant to you according to where you are on the credit learning curve. Aside from some helpful articles and budgeting sheets, there is an interactive money management tool called My Spending Report with Budget Watch to help you track every purchase and set monthly budget goals, exclusive to Wells Fargo customers.
- Discover’s Spend Analyzer – Another newly-debuted personal finance tool that offers online tracking and spending of purchases for Discover customers. Using the standard model of money management websites, you get the run-of-the-mill features of categorizing spending, comparing spending patterns over time, and sorting transactions by detail so you can manage how you use your Discover Card. However, this online tool only tracks spending of your Discover card, and not all of your financial accounts. But, a unique feature is the “Paydown Planner”, which helps create a plan for reducing your Discover card’s balance and get you out of debt, which is one of the most effective tools a credit card-specific financial management service can offer.
- Chase Blueprint – This is a personal finance tool tied straight to select Chase cards that allows customers to determine how they want to apply payments across their statement balance. Check out my review of Chase Blueprint to see how it works and see if it’s the right kind of money management helper for you.
- Capital One MoneyWi$e – A partnership between Consumer Action, an advocacy group, and Capital One created this personal finance resource website that offers helpful tools and articles specific to your money goals, whether that is educating your teen on credit or learning how to build wealth. It has an interesting click-through format that features people’s stories as well as interactive activities. Worth checking out since its open to all consumers.
- Citibank – Citibank’s website features a “Planning” section that encompasses many categories that the other issuers’ personal finance resources don’t cover, such as Retirement Planning and Investment Planning. Click on the type of “Planning” you want, and you’ll receive a comprehensive list of articles, strategies, as well as tools and calculators to help you plan towards your goals. While there is no interactive money management tool, the information and calculators provided are very useful because they give you specific strategies and tools unique to your goals. The site is better suited for addressing specific financial goals rather than overall money management.
At Credit Karma Blog, what goes around comes around… Are these services helpful to you as a customer, and do you want to see your credit card issuer reach out with more tools, advice, and help like this? Comment back– we’d love to hear your reactions!