The Great Credit Card Bubble

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A couple of days ago I got an offer in the mail for a Chase Sapphire card. Normally I don’t even open these things, but this one came in such an opulent bit of packaging that I wanted to see what was inside. Answer: nothing much. It was just a box designed to look thick and inviting with only a few pieces of paper inside.

But having opened it, I went ahead and read the offer. Here’s the deal: Chase is so anxious for me to try their card that if I sign up they’ll give me 100,000 bonus points if I spend $500 in the first three months — something that’s obviously not much of a problem. Once I’ve done that, I can cash in those points for $1,000.

In other words, Chase is basically willing to pay me $1,000 just to try their card. As near as I can tell, there are no gotchas, and a quick Google search seems to confirm this. Merely getting me to give Sapphire a try is worth a thousand bucks to them.

So what’s going on here? Either (a) we’re in the middle of some kind of fantastic credit card bubble and it’s going to burst soon, or (b) the high-end credit card business is so insanely lucrative that paying people $1,000 just to sign up is worth it to them. I’m not sure which one I fear the most.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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