In our pay-by-plastic society, where it is almost impossible to survive without a major credit card, there are millions of people who cannot obtain a Visa or MasterCard, even if they are creditworthy.
Now David Meyers, president of Timesaver Inc. of Kensington, has come up with a new system called BankAction that he claims will break the "viscious circle of credit card discrimination."
Through an arrangement with United Savings and Loan of Vienna, credit card applications for the BankAction program are required to deposit a minimum of $300 in an interest bearing savings account at United. The money in the account matches the credit limit on the card or cards. There is an annual fee of $25 for the service.
After a year, providing bills have been paid on time, each account is reviewed and, if okayed, the deposit released and a higher credit limit may be assigned. Anyone but a known credit card fraud may receive a card through this system, Meyers said.
Since Memorial Day, Timesaver has received over 25,000 telephone inquiries and already approved 6,000 new accounts. By the end of August, Meyers hopes to be opening 10,000 accounts a week and eventually have two million accounts nationwide by 1983.
"This program gives a tremendous feeling of hope for people who have had problems with credit," he said. "When you are turned down (for credit) it makes you feel angry and inferior. It affects every aspect of your life."
Meyers says his system will benefit banking institutions by reversing the outward flow of savings and help businesses by giving them more customers.
Meyers says that BankAction is a better and less expensive way for people just establishing credit to get a foot in the door. The traditional method of taking out a small bank loan and repaying it is too costly these days, since most banks will not process a loan for under $2,000.
Meyers blames adverse market conditions for the tightening of credit by banks and savings and loans and squeezing many people out of the credit market.
"Eighty-five percent of the public are good payers," he said. "MasterCard and Visa only tolerate a 2 percent bad debt write-off. They found themselves in an unprofitable situation."
Dan Finney, a spokesman for Maryland National Bank, the area's largest issuer of MasterCard, called BankAction "a sensible idea" but wondered whether "these marginal credit prospects would be willing to pay $300 or more simply for the convenience of getting that card."
He said that more banks are looking for ways to tie consumer loans to consumer deposits and that BankAction seems to accomplish this marketing goal.
"The service is worth looking at from a conceptual point of view as it does provide a new, different or creative way to attract deposit money from potential borrowers," he said.