Recently, we found out that Visa and MasterCard are getting into a new business – selling your shopping habits. They are going to use what they know about consumers shopping habits to target ads in the web. This practice has been around for quite awhile. Have you ever seen an ad and said to yourself, “Man, I was just on that site” or “I was just thinking about that”. Companies have been monitoring consumer’s habits for years through cookies. Once you hit a company’s site, they know where you went, if you have seen their ad again, and if you clicked on it to come back to them.
Visa and MasterCard are going to be doing something very similar. If you purchase some golf clubs on your credit card, you might start seeing some golf resorts or golf ball ads showing up when you search. It’s an effort by the two companies to profit by selling access to the insights they gather about people with every credit card transaction. Is this legal? Can consumers opt-out of something like this? Should I switch to Discover Card or American Express? All good questions you should ask yourself.