This is a guest post from Sonia Coleman. It originally appeared in slightly different form at her blog, Coleman Unlimited.

Last night I had to call my bank to follow up on a rebate check for my new Fujitsu ScanSnap that bounced (it’s that “crisis” thing again, I guess). It’s a great scanner, but I am a bit annoyed at having to do double to paperwork due to their third-party rebate service having insufficient funds.

After I got that piece of business settled, the bank customer service person asked me if she could tell me about a great new credit card they were offering. I sighed and waited for the spiel.

The customer service woman (whom I will refer to as Bank Lady going forward) said, “You’re already pre-approved for $15,000. And for the next 12 months, this card has 0% financing and only 7.5% after that, which is the lowest in the industry.”

“Does the card have any cashback bonuses?” I asked.

“We offer cash advances,” the Bank Lady replied.

“No,” I said. “Cashback bonuses. You know — like 1%, 2%, or 3% back on purchases.”

The Bank Lady paused, confused. “It’s 0% for 12 months.”

“I know,” I said. “What about you giving me 1% or 2% back?”

Another confused pause by Bank Lady.

“I don’t keep a balance on any of my credit cards,” I said, “so the APR percentages don’t matter to me. What I’m looking to find out is if your card will pay me to use it. I have one that gives me 3% back on my purchases.”

“What’s the finance rate on that card?” the Bank Lady asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t keep balances on my cards, so the finance rate doesn’t matter! I am asking if the card gives bonuses or cashback.”

“Oh, you mean points or something like that?” the Bank Lady said in a moment of breakthrough.

“YES!” I said

“No, we don’t offer any points,” the Bank Lady said. “But we do have 0% for 12 months…”

I interrupted: “I’m not interested. My credit cards pay me money; I don’t pay them!

After a few courteous thank-yous between me and the Bank Lady, the call ended. I was in shock. I don’t think this poor child of the modern era even knew that credit cards could pay you, much less that you didn’t have to keep a balance on them and search aimlessly for the lowest percentage rate.

All I can say is: “Wow!” Banks should be educating their customers on how to better manage their finances instead of taking advantage of their lack of financial sense. But maybe they should be educating their employees, too.

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