The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

24 June 2007

Only sixteen

Telephone numbers are now more or less portable: you can change service providers and (most of the time) still keep your old number.

Credit cards haven't reached this stage yet, but MasterCard is heading in that direction:

MasterCard has announced the launch of MasterCard Product Graduation in the United States — a new program that enables cardholders to keep the same account number when switching between various card programs offered by an issuer, thereby avoiding the need for the cardholder to update recurring payment accounts, etc.

MasterCard calls Product Graduation a "patent-pending solution that offers more flexibility for cardholders, merchants, and the customer financial institutions that manage accounts. Retaining account numbers will allow cardholders to maintain their recurring bill payments, online shopping profiles, and other automatic payment relationships, providing uninterrupted service for both the consumer and merchant. With this solution, fewer payments will be disrupted when a cardholder switches to a new card program."

Which would be useful if Issuing Bank and Trust Company (Member FDIC) decided to upgrade you to a better card — or, perish the thought, downgrade you to a worse one.

For myself, I don't see this as a major advantage — only twice in my life has a MasterCard issuer chosen to assign me a new number, and once this was because the issuer sold out the entire portfolio to another bank — but it's a step in the right direction, even though true portability is still quite a ways off:

The program does not support a cardholder moving an account between card issuers and keeping the same account number.

Now that would be awesome, not to mention awesomely difficult to implement.

Posted at 8:59 AM to Common Cents