Oh, Victoria’s Secret. You Crack Me Up.

Remember last week when I applied for (and got) a Victoria’s Secret credit card? Well, it came in the mail on Tuesday. (And I paid off the balance, in case you’re wondering. Oh, and the bra worked out, too.)

Victoria's Secret Angel Card

When I called to activate the card, I had to listen to this long spiel about some kind of protection program that will pay off my balance if I get attacked by wolverines or get fired for blogging on the job. And it only costs $1.99 for every $100 charged to the card! I’m like, “No, I’m not interested,” which means the poor girl had to read the whole script AGAIN since I obviously didn’t understand what I was turning down. The second time I’m like, “I’m not going to carry a balance anyway,” which was a mistake because then she got all excited and told me I wouldn’t have to pay the $1.99 if I didn’t have a balance. And started reading the script a third time.

Finally, I interrupted her and said, “Look, if I have to go through all this to activate the card, I changed my mind. I don’t want to activate it.” Apparently that’s the magic phrase because she shut up and told me my card is now active. I logged into my account, paid off my balance, and now the card is put away in the place where unused credit cards go to gather dust.

For kicks, I decided to look at all the crap that came with the card. And I’m both disgusted and impressed by the marketing techniques VS (I first typed BS, ha!) uses to make sure you use your Angel card.

1. Monthly coupons for cardholders only.

Victoria's Secret coupon

For the month of September, I can get a FREE hiphugger or thong panty. All I have to do is use my VS card to buy something else! However, if I use the coupon online, I’m limited to the gross boring colors - white, beige, or black. Because they want me in the store, where I’ll see the cute colors and want them instead, plus the matching accessories and OMG this perfume smells awesome! Yeah, I see what they’re doing there. And there’s a coupon for every month, all of which offer a similar “deal.”

2. Rewards.

Victoria's Secret card rewards

I get 12 reward points for every dollar I charge on my card! And if I save up 1250 of them (meaning I’ve charged about $105), I can get a FREE gift from the satin series in the reward store! What does THAT get me?

Random stuff that I don’t really need. Like a teeny little sample size perfume. And a “cosmetic bag” that probably holds the sample size perfume. Sure, I’ll take it if I ever earn it (I have 935 points right now per the website) but do people really buy stuff just to earn a dinky little something for free? You bet they do! Oh, P.S. You have to redeem your reward points within 60 days or you lose them. OMG I better buy a bunch of stuff before I lose my points!!! (kidding)

3. The “VIP Upgrade”

Victoria's Secret VIP upgrade

After I charge $250 on my VS card, I’ll be magically upgraded to the Angel VIP card. It’s sleek and black instead of girly pink, it’s “even more exclusive” (whatever that means) and I get DOUBLE POINTS FOR A WHOLE MONTH!

4. The Less Emphasized Details

Shoved in the envelope behind all the pretty glam market crap was a yucky white paper with all the details about the VS card. Which I’m sure most people throw away.

24.99% APR for purchases. Ho. Lee. Crap.

$35 late payment fee. Gee, would you like my firstborn child as well? A limb, maybe? I’ll just pay on time, thanks.

So what does all this teach us, kids?

In my former life, I would have been SO flattered to receive such an amazing offer. And I know how dumb that sounds, but I totally bought into messages like “Let the indulgence begin” (inside the pamphlet) and words like free and exclusive. As I said when I applied for the card, I’m not a huge underwear shopper, but I probably would have become one if this had happened a few years ago.

These days, I don’t need a bunch of underwear or card-related perks to make me feel special. I’m pretty darn cool on my own. Sometimes anyway.

When we attach our self-worth to the stuff we own, debt is second nature.

You can be a fun, amazing person without spending a dime. The sooner you figure that out, the sooner you can get over your debt and move on. If you need to belong to an “exclusive” club, I’ll make you a So Over Debt VIP card. Every time you DON’T buy anything, you get the satisfaction of knowing you didn’t buy into the hype.

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  • http://twitter.com/20sFinances 20′s Finances

    I love trying to find a way to shut credit card reps up. Often times it is similar to your method you described above. Nowadays, I just interrupt them on the first time, telling them that I don’t want to pay for any extra service. :)

  • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

    I always feel like they’re going to get fired for not signing up enough customers. Then I realize that most people probably think it’s a great idea to pay $1.99/month for a service with more red tape than the DMV. Being a credit card rep has to be one of the worst jobs imaginable.

  • http://www.moneybeagle.com Money Beagle

    It’s pretty much standard that you’re going to get that spiel. Used to be, you called to activate your card, punched in a few things and were on with the rest of your day. In fact it was one of the few times that having an automated system handle everything was actually beneficial. Now, as soon as I enter in the information and hear the dreaded “transferring you to the next available agent” I just sigh because I know exactly what’s coming. And, yes, you have to say no at least twice. I keep my patience because I realize the people on the other end are probably not making very much money and probably hate having to do what they do anyways.

  • http://beantownhappyhomeowner.blogspot.com/ Happy Homeowner

    Oh dear…Please, please, pleeeeease be careful with the company that handles these accounts (it’s not VS directly)! I had a horrendous experience that necessitated the closing of my account. I’ve never been more discouraged with a credit card company before.

    Long story short, they credited my payment to another account and didn’t send me a statement for almost 3 months, which of course showed all kinds of wild late fees, etc. The kicker was that I had opted in for e-statements but never received an email. Even better was that the statement came while I was out of the country so it sat around in a giant pile of mail for the weeks while I was gone. When I got home and called to sort things out, they claimed to have lost my email address in their system and berated me for not paying my bills?!

    It took 1.5 weeks to get everything straightened out and I promptly closed the account after dealing with the 590th rude customer service rep that explained “when people don’t pay their bills, they incur late fees-this isn’t a charity, it’s a business” even after I confirmed that they’d received the fax from my bank clearly showing the money pulled out of my account 17 days before it was due!!

    It’s sad because I did love that card for all of the little perks (they send you a free $10-20 gift card every year for your birthday).

    Sorry for the rant; my blood boils a bit every time I think about this experience!

  • http://twitter.com/prairieecothrif Miss T

    I think your last line is so important and hits the nail on the head: When we attach our self-worth to the stuff we own, debt is second nature. This really is the issue. I can relate to this too because I grew up with parents who very much associated what they owned with their worth. I have learned this lesson the hard way, but it was worth it. I now know that I am who I am regardless of what I own and that great people recognize that. I don’t need fancy stuff to have and keep friends.

  • http://twitter.com/BoomerandEcho Boomer and Echo

    Wow, that’s pretty crappy they make you go through a spiel like that just to activate a card that gives you a bunch of perks you don’t need anyway. And you have to redeem your rewards in 2 months? That’s really crappy! What a rip-off.

  • http://debtfreebythirty.net Niki

    You’re right, you are pretty darn cool. I was going to write you don’t need no stinkin’ underwear to be cool, but then realized that you probably need non-stinky underwear to be cool no matter what.

    And I love this, “When we attach our self-worth to the stuff we own, debt is second nature.”

  • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

    Yeah, I appreciate the thought, but I’d prefer my underwear in the non-stank variety, please. :)

  • Anonymous

    There is no such thing as a free lunch! Companies do not give all this away without expecting an eventual profit. So watch out!

  • Anonymous

    I will say she has a point when she says “if you’re going to pay it off monthly you might as well have the protection” because if I know you - being eaten by wolverines would be the only reason you carry a balance on a 25% credit card.
    FYI, the only reason I stumbled upon this post was because I was googling pictures of supersoft hiphugger thongs and up pops your site. (not the only thing that popped up - AYO! - kidding)

  • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

    But if I’m eaten by wolverines, I don’t need to pay off my card! So it’s fine. I’m more concerned about being partially eaten by a wolverine. Because if I’m not dead, that $1.99 will just accumulate forever and I’ll owe a million dollars on underwear when I come out of my coma.

  • http://graduatedlearning.wordpress.com Stephanie

    I have a few store credit cards. I’ll admit, having them makes me more likely to shop at those stores. But I don’t go to the stores unless there’s a sale. And I usually bring a coupon (that they sent me). I realize that when they send me good coupons (hello Kohl’s 30% off coupon) I tend to go a little nuts. I bought a million sweaters (then returned half) with a 30% off coupon. Also bought myself a KitchenAid stand mixer when there was a sale and a 30% off coupon. And Kohls cash thrown in. Yeah, they’re good at getting me to spend.

    I think your VS card is like my Ann Taylor Loft card. I don’t think I’ve actually ever spent enough to get any “free” items. I use it for the coupons/discounts I get with it.

  • http://carefulcents.com Carrie Smith

    I would love to have a So Over Debt VIP card!!! lol but seriously this is why I don’t even bother to get a store credit card. I like to think I’m a pretty disciplined person when it comes to my finances, but I am a girl after all and I still get the shopping bug/urge/obsession. So, I “just say no” to store cards.

    Every time I check out at Old Navy “would you like to save 10% and apply for an Old Navy Card?” yes I would love to save 10% but no I shop here way too much and I’m afraid I’ll get sucked in.

    Kuddos to you for being disciplined enough with the VS (lol BS) card. Both of my sisters (and stepmom) have Victoria’s Secret cards and they looove them. Quite an impressive marketing scheme for sure.

  • http://carefulcents.com Carrie Smith

    I have friends who have gotten fired just because they didn’t keep up their quota of store credit card applications. It’s like retail makes so much money from the cards they don’t even care about selling clothes anymore.

  • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

    Here you go! I spent like 4 whole minutes making this - it’s SUPER EXCLUSIVE.

  • http://carefulcents.com Carrie Smith

    That’s pretty epic! Do I get exclusive stalking rights?! lol

  • http://www.sooverdebt.com Andrea @ SoOverDebt

    You do! Once you earn 12 million points. But you have to become a stalker in 60 days or you lose your points.

  • http://twitter.com/angrymillionair Martilyo

    I think it is ridiculous how complicated credit cards are. Too bad there isn’t one that gives you a straight up 5% off everything you buy. I swear I would put everything on that card and pay it off every month. Credit cards are just not worth it. I used to love my Best Buy card because I could buy things and pay them off over 6-24 months and pay no interest. It was all good until one transaction I made did not get put on a “payment” plan and started charging interest. I figured, “No problem!” I would just simply pay off that charge and I wouldn’t have to worry about the interest. I called customer service and they stated any payments I make would be first applied to the payment plans and then to the non payment plan transaction. What?!!! ”You mean to tell me I have to pay off $2800.00 of non-interest charging transactions before I can pay off the $100.00 transaction that is charging me interest?” Their answer…. Yup. I said, no thank you and could you please close my account? “but sir, you are only being charged $4.00 in interest a month.” I said, “yes and that is costing me a venti Starbucks every month. I would rather drink that than treat the CEO of your credit card company to Starbucks every month…thanks but no thanks, please close my account” I really don’t think she understood what I was saying. Some people! Only $4.00? I should have told her to pay it for me out of her salary and maybe then she would have gotten it…I doubt it!