Today I got an offer for a new Visa credit card. Now, most credit cards offer you incentives for signing up, a low introductory APR, low interest rate balance transfers, gift cards, and the like. But this offer was different, by signing up for this card. I could get a free Dell laptop. Needless to say, my interest was piqued.

The card, the “Upfront Rewards Visa”, is offered by Universal Savings Bank F.A. is an interesting creature. As we all know it’s never as simple as just getting the gift, there are terms and conditions, as well as the fine print of the card itself.

Well, in order to qualify for this card, you have to incur $5000 of debt with the issuer. That’s right folks, just to get the card you need to make a balance transfer of at least $2500, at which point they’ll graciously allow you to take a cash advance for the remaining $2500.

But wait, it gets better. After incuring this debt, you have to maintain a balance of at least $3500 for 18 months! If at any time your account balance during those first 18 months drops below that $3500 limit, you will be considered in default and will have the opportunity to experience all of the joys that come with being in default. Including a $600 one time charge, termed an “early pay down” fee. Fun times. But, hey, at least there’s no annual fee.

All this for a $950 laptop? Heh, no thanks! If you think for an instant that they won’t recoup their money in interest over that period of time, I have a cold fusion reactor sitting in my closet that I’d be willing to part with for a nominal fee.

Just think about what their terms will be for people they aren’t trying to woo into signing up for a card, once you’re an actual customer. I imagine it will be as pleasant as dealing with a loan shark. On second thought, it might actually be better to deal with a loan shark. At least Vinny and Bruno won’t break your knees for paying on time or early.