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Commercial card-style tools applied to consumer card products, such as controls American Express Co. announced today for secondary cards tied to primary consumer charge accounts, are a good first step toward giving consumers the additional controls they crave, James Van Dyke, founder and president of Pleasanton, Calif.-based Javelin Strategy & Research Inc., tells CardLine. But AmEx should go farther in the charge card controls it offers consumers, Van Dyke says. Enabling primary accountholders to limit secondary card spending not just by amount but also by merchant category code would enable accountholders to let their college-student children use the cards only at book stores or supermarkets, for example, and not at liquor stores, he says "AmEx has the ability to do that," Van Dyke says. All issuers should use the data and technology many of them already have to give consumers complete control over how their cards work, not just some features, he contends. "The first major card brand or issuer that gives complete financial control to their consumer cardholders—merchant category codes, where purchases are made, countries and cash advances enabled or disabled—the first issuer that does that and does it with a major marketing launch will find that consumers turn off other cards and go to the card with more control," Van Dyke says. "I'll stake my reputation on it."

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