THE BLOG
06/19/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Free Visa -- and MasterCard, Too

Banks say they'll eliminate free credit cards in response to reform legislation limiting their ability to gouge those addicted to credit. I have two simple responses, each a retread of a rejection that succeeded the first time it was used.

The first is "make my day."

The second is, "hell, no we won't pay."

Credit cards are a convenience I rely on. So are cash-dispensing ATMs. I don't pay fees for the latter and they haven't revoked my privileges. I won't pay for my credit cards, either, and I'm confident that I'll be able to continue to use at least a few of the dozen or so I've been awarded over the years - and probably get cash back or miles as well.

Some say the banks rule and we'll have no other option. We'll see.

On the other hand, some predicted we'd be paying for all news we get from the web, but that hasn't happened yet despite the fact that the newspapers that helpfully provide it seem to be experiencing pain at least equal to what the banks anticipate - and haven't even been offered Federal bailout money yet.

I think that credit cards, like information (and "people everywhere" as the Young Rascals pointed out) just want to be free. And we can keep them free by just adopting the (Nancy) Reagan philosophy and simply saying no when the banks ask for an annual fee.

There's a word that describes people who spend money - whether they use cash or cards. That word is customer. And in times like this, when buyers talk, it is probably prudent for sellers to listen. There are a few words that describe banks well. Credible is not one of them.

The customer may not always be right, but he does have some clout if he chooses to exercise it. I know what I'm going to do and hope that enough others have enough sense to call the banks' bluff on this one. As MasterCard might say, credit cards buy experiences that are priceless. The cards should be, too.