McDonald's Debuts 'Big Mac' of Credit Cards

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NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It’s not all about hairnets and Hamburglars over at McDonalds (Stock Quote: MCD).

Employees toiling under the Golden Arches now have access to an impressive credit card from McDonald's; one that provides discounts at local merchants of up to 50% off, as well as big price breaks at national retailers. Employees can save up to $1,500 using the card, the burger giant says.

So is it the “Big Mac” of credit cards?

We’ll get to that in a second, but first let’s push the stereotypes aside. Many middle-income Americans moonlight at McDonald's part-time to augment their incomes in a time of great economic strife. Such consumers are perfectly able to qualify for most credit cards. Even young workers just starting out might make McDonald's their first full-time job and are adopting some good personal finance habits.

But when you work at a fast-food restaurant chain, you’re not exactly breaking the bank. And absent any other income, you might not be the credit risk that credit card companies are looking for. Below is a list of what the average McDonalds worker earns per hour (from Payscale.com)

  1. Cashier -- $7.34
  2. Fast Food Worker -- $7.57
  3. Assistant Manager, Fast Food -- $9.54
  4. Restaurant Manager -- $9.64
  5. Cook, Fast Food -- $7.40
  6. Combined Food Preparation and Serving Worker -- $7.55
  7. Sales Clerk/Cashier -- $7.46

That’s why you have to give McDonald's some credit here. Yes, the company doesn’t pay a great hourly wage, but at least it’s offering employees a good shot at a credit card, with some honest benefits that can help workers with their monthly budgets.

That’s no small accomplishment. Only 51% of Americans aged 18 to 24  - a prime demographic for McDonald's employment - indicated they had used a credit card in the last month, according to a 2009 survey by Javelin Research. That means McDonald's is offering credit to a wide swath of Americans who may not otherwise be able to get one.

Past that, what’s the big deal about the card? McDonald's offers the card to employees under the banner “To Say Thank You For All You Do”. The card, formally known as the McDonald's Gold Card Plus, places a big premium on giving workers discounts to “fun” activities like shopping at the mall, dining, travel and other fun activities. Basically, the stuff young workers love to do.

With the card, the burger behemoth says it gives employees “three ways to save”:

  • Mcdgoldcard.com: A “Savers Guide” Web site customized for McDonald’s with thousands of coupons from local area merchants with discounts of up to 50%.
  • Gold Card Plus coupon book: 60 pages of discounts from well-known national merchants such as AT&T, Dell, Sears, The Limited, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Regal Theaters.
  • Gold Card Plus card: A wallet card for ongoing merchant discounts of up to 20%.

McDonalds employees can qualify for the card whether they work at a franchise- or company-owned store.

For young consumers, it might be right up their alley.

—For the best rates on loans, bank accounts and credit cards, enter your ZIP code at BankingMyWay.com.

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