Make It Simple: Credit Card Marketing Confuses Consumers
It’s not uncommon for communications from financial institutions to lack clarity, credit card terms and conditions are almost impenetrable, according to a comprehensive study. Poor writing, long sentences, passive tone, complex terms and more undermine trust in a key financial product. Good news: Fixing these issues can be easier than you’d guess.
From The Financial Brand with Steve Cocheo
Published: April 01, 2019
In an industry that often fails to communicate in a manner that’s clear and understandable to the majority of the public, credit card terms and conditions represent a special challenge. Many more cards are out there than there are consumers who completely understand what they agreed to.
Research by VisibleThread indicates that 90% of the terms and conditions statements used by card issuers tested by the firm require a college education in order to be understood. In fact, only one set of terms tested — from Valley National — is easier to read than the firm’s harder-read standard, Moby Dick. On average Americans read at an eighth-grade reading level.
Credit card terminology is notorious for its opaque nature. Even in the days when cards were primarily marketed via “take-ones” and direct mail, lengthy disclosures of terms and conditions appeared in tiny, tiny type on long foldout sheets. Various legislative efforts, including passage of the 2009 Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act — CARD Act for short — have attempted to improve transparency and disclosures.