Thursday in this space you will find the inside story of the GM Visa card (and some others serviced by the same credit card service company). Deep Plastic reveals all.

But wait. It seems people are not only angry with GM. They’re angry with Ford, too.

Writes Edward M.: I have read your comments on the $20.00 late fee on your GM card. But that is nothing compared with what Ford has done to me and other likewise situated credit cardholders. They have canceled their rebate program as of the end of this year. Now, they have a right to cancel their program, but not to the present owners to whom they have agreed to honor this program! If they want to cancel this program, I do not feel that they have a right to renege on their agreement to existing cardholders who are using it to accumulate credits for five years. I have complained to the State of Florida, Dept. of Consumer Services, who have written Ford Motor Co. four or five times. Ford has not even had the courtesy to respond once. I am now trying to find a lawyer who will file a class action suit to force this firm to live up to its agreements.

Writes Jim L’Heureux: With a Ford Visa card, I’ve been getting the 5% rebate good towards a new car for just about 5 years now and have almost maxed out at $3500. Just recently Ford announced it would end the program on Jan 1 1998. In addition, rebates will be rescinded after a five year period. For example, rebates I earned in 1992 will be deducted from my "account" after the five year anniversary of those charges. I think the rebate expiration feature has been in place the entire time, I just didn’t care because I would continually "renew" them with new charges.

This leaves me with a big dilemma. I had planned on replacing my ’87 Escort in a few years. I thought that I would be able to get a new car at a fairly reasonable cost with the rebates included. Now I have to weigh the declining value of my rebate vs the expected lifetime of my Escort. Any suggestions for making that decision?

I have actually considered buying a new, low-end car on Jan 1 with my rebates and then reselling it immediately. Obviously, I could not realize the full value of my rebate, due to taxes and the "used" nature of the car. However, at least my rebates would be utilized. I would pick a low-end car to limit the amount of taxes and the "used" car discount.

What do you think?

A: Buying and reselling immediately won’t work and is too much effort . . . unless you can find someone who’s basically in on the deal from the beginning. Your cousin or a co-worker wants a new car (you’re too smart; you’ll buy a used one — perhaps even his). So you let him pick out the one he wants, agreeing that you’ll take title to it to use your $3,500 (but it will be his cashier’s check that pays for it). Then you’ll transfer title to him. The cost of that in fees and taxes will depend on where you live, but should still leave you a good "profit."

But literally buying a car and then trying to sell it to a stranger? You’ll get killed.


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