The Root Cause of the Mortgage Crisis and Why the Banks Needed a Bailout

Last month I wrote about Bank of America letting their credit card holders choose a gift card of their choice. Just ’cause.

Different people got different offers, I only got to choose a $5 card from Macy’s, Target, or Starbucks. I picked Starbucks.

But then about a week and a half ago I got a $10 Target gift card in the mail from them. I looked at it a bit funny, gee, I don’t think I would have picked this? But if I hadn’t actually blogged the offer I probably wouldn’t have realized for certain that I hadn’t picked it.

Who am I to complain? They sent me a $10 gift card when all I was supposed to get was $5. Even if it was for a different store.

Then yesterday I received this letter:

Bank of America had “a discrepancy within the fulfillment process” and so to ensure I get the card I ordered they were sending me… another gift card (this time the right one).

They had promised me $5, really for nothing at all which I thought was cool. And I wound up with $15. Because they felt the need to apologize to me. For giving me more than they promised, or something.

But then the banks also let me refinance an underwater rental property at about 4 percent interest. So every time I think I understand the banks, I’m reminded that I don’t.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. I’d also forgot about submitting for these, but was also pleasantly surprised when they showed up. Thanks again for the tip!

  2. I picked the $10 Target card (there is a Target a mile from my home), but got the $10 Starbucks card in the mail. Hopefully I will get the gift card I ordered in the mail 🙂

  3. I picked the $10 Target card but got a $10 Macy’s card. Then today I got the same letter with the correct $10 Target card. Score $20 bucks for free!

  4. All these banks do not have good internal controls
    The best of a bad lot is Chase which keeps an eye on the small fish and closes accounts for churning and for Ultimate Rewards misdemeanors (but does not worry about the actions of the big whales in London)

  5. I think you got mine… I “ordered” the $10 Target card, but received a $5 Starbucks card (and no letter from BofA).

  6. They’re making money hand over fist on other customers. I am more than happy to share in the benefits.

  7. Nope. He got mine. Ordered $10 Target and got $10 Macy’s! Hoping for $10 Target to show ups to correct the error!

  8. I have a friend in banking. Quote “If you had ANY idea how they work you’d keep your money buried in jars in the yard.”

  9. I remember this.. and I never got anything. I’ll take one of each, BofA! 🙂

    Seriously tho, this is a good post.. goes to show that banks are still having a hard time keeping track of simple things, and sometimes it works in your favor.

  10. I’m supposed to get 4 $10 Starbucks but haven’t seen any of them. Thanks for the
    update. Maybe I will get 60 instead of 40.

  11. I don’t cry for the banks. They are makin’ money. (Good post btw…I like reading anything credit card related even if I don’t have the particular credit card.)

  12. The banks were not the cause of the mortgage meltdown. Congress forced them to make progressively more and more unsound loans under the Community Reinvestment Act. Banks that refused to play along were theatened with fines, and even loss of licences. When Barney Frank’s Committee was warned of the coming implosion, he said he thought that was nonsense. And added that the benefits of affordable housing were so great “I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation toward subsidized housing.” When the dice inevitably came up 7-out, they decided to blame the whole thing on “greedy bankers”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *