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5 Dating Lessons from Credit Card Companies

April 11, 2010

When it comes to dating, many of us get it all wrong. We look at the outside package, trust our feelings, and plunge in. I know the challenges of post-divorce dating. I’ve been single for more than a decade and have survived seven bankrupt relationships in seven years.

There has to be a better way.

Many of you know me as a writer and speaker. You may not know that I also have an MBA and work as vice president of marketing for a credit card company. I’ve decided to apply my expertise in the credit card industry to dating.

  1. Establish acceptance criteria. Credit card companies have stringent criteria to determine which customer to allow into their portfolio. They look at such things as credit score, ability to pay, and banking relationship. How you can use: Evaluate your dates in a similar manner—before you get involved. Find out about his/her track record, money-managing skills, and how he gets along with your friends.
  2. Monitor your risk. Credit card companies constantly monitor cardholders’ credit scores and payment history, looking for signs of credit degradation. They use this data to increase rates, charge late fees, lower credit lines, or close the account. How you can use: Look for signs that the relationship is faltering. Does he/she want to see you less often? Maybe your date shows up late or cancels plans altogether. Pay attention to the indications that the relationship needs to be downgraded.
  3. Develop a profitable relationship. Credit card companies balance customer satisfaction with earning a profit. They know that they can’t stay in business if they don’t make money. How you can use: Relationships need to offer mutual benefits to both people involved. If you feel like you’re giving more than you’re getting, it might be time to reevaluate the relationship and negotiate new terms. If it’s too one-sided, it might be time to close the relationship.
  4. Clear and conspicuous disclosures. With credit cards, all terms and conditions of the relationship must be disclosed up front. How you can use: Certainly, it’s not realistic to disclose everything on a first date. However, your goal should be to reveal all aspects of yourself that a prospective boyfriend/girlfriend would want to know, such as financial background, dating history, and other relevant personal items. You need to find this information out from your date, over time, as well. Make sure that you have a sense of the person whom you’re dating before you jump into a relationship.
  5. Bonus points are awarded. Credit card companies give bonus points for specific behavior. The rationale is that cardholders who have a points card use their card more, which improves profitability and cements customer loyalty. How you can use: Don’t reward behavior that you don’t want from a date. If you do give bonus points, make sure that your date has demonstrated loyalty.

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