The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

23 December 2005

More absorption

Metris Companies, a major credit-card issuer catering to the less-than-bucks-up market — I have one of their titanium cards sitting in a drawer somewhere — has been acquired by HSBC, which is a Pacific Rim operation (Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corp.) which also owns, among other things, the old Household Finance Company, its one-time rival Beneficial, and what used to be called Marine Midland Bank up in Buffalo.

Metris has a customer-service center in Tulsa, one reason I kept this account open; I expect that office to be closed shortly.

Posted at 7:00 AM to Common Cents , Soonerland

Banking is like musical chairs. Whoever is not squealing in pain after each economic downturn gobbles up all the others. Kind of a tribute to Citibank, I think, that they never got bought up like Manufacturers' Hangover and other NYC-centric banks.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 12:58 AM on 24 December 2005

Which leaves — whom, exactly? Citi has absorbed a few along the way, and the very name "JPMorgan Chase" implies a merger.

Perhaps oddly, down here on the prairie, while big banks have moved in, little ones continue to be built — or maybe they're just hoping to be acquired at some point.

Posted by: CGHill at 9:09 AM on 24 December 2005

Citibank and Bank of America, with Washington Mutual and a couple others making runs at the top.

In smaller markets, new players come up. (Forget trying to build a name in, say, New York City.) They grow, they often get bought up.

The savings and loans tend to be a different animal, built from the ground up so that Joe Average with decent credit can own a home. There's one in Hoboken that's been here forever. Of course, even they can be led astray - there was that S&L scandal back in the 80's (I think it was) where they (mostly) all got a bailout or a buyout. The ones that survived, though, are the real deal. They're the first place to look for a home loan.

(I used to do direct mail for bank credit cards. Hence I absorbed a bit of their culture.)

Posted by: Mr. Snitch! at 6:36 PM on 28 December 2005

I've had plastic accounts purchased by B of A, Washington Mutual and Chase; apparently Citi services some store cards I have (Sears, Shell). The Big Boys can be avoided, but probably not forever.

Citi, however, is the only issuer ever to send me a "pre-approved" application and then turn it down, so I am averse to using any Citi-provided services. (Call it a grudge.)

Posted by: CGHill at 6:49 PM on 28 December 2005