How Panhandlers Use Free Credit Cards

Jim Rankin, writing in the Toronto Star, describes how, over the past two weeks, he “wandered Toronto’s downtown core with five prepaid Visa and MasterCard gift cards, in $50 and $75 denominations, waiting for people to ask for money.”

What would happen if, instead of spare change, you handed a person in need the means to shop for whatever they needed? What would they buy? Can you spare your credit card, sir?

In New York City, an advertising executive recently handed over her American Express Platinum Card to a homeless Manhattan man after he had asked her for change. The man, who had been without home after losing a job, used the card to buy $25 worth of deodorant, water and cigarettes. And then he returned the card.

Concerns over the wisdom of sharing of credits cards and credit card fraud aside, the unlikely encounter became a talking point — a feel-good story about, as the New York Post put it in a headline: “A bum you can trust — honest!”

Rankin reports on a punk rocker who had a sign reading “Too ugly to prostitute. Spare some change.” When handed a $50 gift card, he came back a half hour later, right on time, and returned the card, having spent only $8.69, for food.

He tells Rankin that among his most effective panning signs are  “Like Obama, I like change” and “Smile if you masturbate. Spare change if you like it.”

Read this and other touching stories in this fascinating article, here.

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