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MasterCard's inControl: Would You Use it?

These are strange economic times we live in. I've heard others refer to it as the "new abnormal", alluding to the fact that their guess about where our economy's headed is basically as good as anyone's. And I have to agree—nothing seems to make sense anymore. People are walking away from their homes yet still vacationing and buying up the latest expensive Apple gadgets.

Unemployment continues to hover around ten percent, yet I can't ever find a parking spot at the local mall. And the stock market...well, it's all over the place. Absolutely nuts! Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, may have said it best when he declared in July that our economic outlook is "unusually uncertain." Way to go out on a limb there Mr. Bernanke.  I don't know about you, but I've felt unusually uncertain for almost two years now.

Well, if you're looking for a little more certainty somewhere in your financial life, why not start with what you can actually control? Spending is always a good place to begin. Here's something that's been on my mind this past week.

Citi and MasterCard recently announced that they're teaming up to offer a new service for consumers called inControl in late 2010. Touted by MasterCard as a platform designed to "give cardholders the ability to set spending controls and receive real-time information about their accounts", inControl will supposedly empower you to actually cut off your spending at predetermined limits. For example, let's say you don't want to spend more than $250 per month eating out. That's the max your budget can afford.

So, you login to your Citi account and set up a limit on your credit card for restaurant purchases. inControl will then make sure your card is denied if you ever try to make a purchase in excess of your monthly cap. It's that simple, although it sounds like there are plenty of other bells and whistles that Citi may eventually offer cardholders. So believe it or not, credit cards, long blamed for making it too easy to spend more money than we have, may soon become a powerful tool to actually curb overspending.

But will consumers use inControl the way it's intended to a be used? I have my doubts; however, these are the days of the "new abnormal". Who knows how consumers will react? What do you think? Would you utilize a service like InControl if it was added to your credit card account?

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Joshua Heckathorn's picture

Joshua Heckathorn was President of Creditnet, is a credit expert and has been featured on CNNMoney, FOX Business, Yahoo Finance, The Street, and many other national publications during the past ten years.  He received a Bachelor of Science in Management (Finance) from Brigham Young University's Marriott School of Business and earned his MBA from Seattle University.

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Ez Plan's picture

Isn't it better for consumers to plan their spending rather than stop it? Consumers need to spend wisely based on their personal plans which may change daily depending on their situations. Consumer computers can help consumers spend wisely. I think MasterCard should allow consumers to use their own software to approve transactions in addition to the MasterCard verification system. I would like to use my MasterCard with EZ Plan Smart Limits!