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Just wanted to share a small victory (at least I think it is a victory -- maybe it's a pseudovictory) with my credit card company, Citibank.
I have had this card for probably 10 years. I used to pay the balance off every month.
Now, I can no longer do that. But I do pay attention to every line of the bill each month.
Every so often I catch them changing the "due date" on me. You get in a rhythm of paying on a certain date and even 1 day sooner can throw that off.
I also make sure to check the APR on the last page.
My statement came today and I was horrified to see the APR listed at 18.99 percent. Good Lord! What in the world did I do to trigger this?
I called and asked.
They informed me they had sent me a letter in November stating that I had two choices:
a) Accept this rate and keep my card open, or
b) Accept a reduced rate of 11.99 percent but they would not renew the card when it came due (Nov 2009). It would be CLOSED.
Naturally I had no recollection of receiving such a letter. But whether they did or did not send it is irrelevant. They hold the cards, even tho I hold their card.
I know it looks bad on your credit report to close accounts, so that threw me.
I said, "So basically, you've got me either way, then? Is there anything we can do?"
To my surprise, the customer service rep said she could put me on a prime + 11% rate.
So as of next statement I'm getting a reduction to 15.24%.
It may be what they call a Pyrrhic victory (one that is offset by terrible losses), but in today's economic climate, I'll take every 3.75 percent APR savings I can get!!!
Yep, those letters have been going out for months now. Some are way worse though. People have gotten letters lowering their limit so that they are already OVER limit on the first bill after the letter, at which point they get slapped with fees and a higher interest rate.
I can't believe Citi hasn't cut me off yet. They will soon because I can't pay them.
This is all about to get so ugly. Personally AND nationally.
I had a similar experience with a Citi Driver's Edge card a couple of years ago, and I cancelled the card with great pleasure after collecting my check for a car purchase. CitiGroup wrote the book on credit card tricks and traps. They are worse thant he Mafia.
Are you sure closing credit card accounts is bad for your record? In the UK, it works more the other way round, it shows you have less credit available, so improves the chances if you want to re-apply somewhere else.
Yes, Oz is the same as the UK. It looks bad if you have your credit card account closed for you - i.e. because of a bad debt. But not if you do it yourself.
Agreed. If you close the account, it's good. Unless you're in the habit of changing cards every few months and closing one to open another, then you build up a long list of short accounts and inquiries on your credit report that can lower your score.
Way to stay on top of the credit game, MM. I catch Chase doing the same thing on occasion. Two months ago I even got them to refund the interest charged at the higher rate.
Thanks for commenting, all. My real reason for not accepting the lower rate in exchange for closing the card is that with the uncertainty of the economy this year, I have no confidence that I can pay off the entire balance even at 11+ percent. Something told me (and trust me, I am NOT a financial whiz at all) that that was not the way to go. We'll see what happens and I will continue to whittle down my balance on this card, which I used to pay off every month.
Will also share that a couple of months ago I missed a payment. I had never, ever missed a payment with Citicards before. That missed payment also trigged a jump in APR to 18.99%. I called them and threw myself on their mercy. I had no good reason for not paying the bill that month -- it simply escaped my notice (during my dads' illness and death). To my shock, they looked at my payment history and the length of the account and "forgave" it and reinstated my previous APR.
I will suggest this, for those of us Davids carrying Bank of Goliath credit cards. There are institutions out there that offer much lower rates. Community banks might be a better bet. We also have a USAA card that was at 6.99 % APR and they recently did an across-the-board jump to 8.99%. I see a balance transfer in my future!
Glad you came out ahead, Ralph. I like the comparison to the Mafia. Imagine getting offers in the mail or phone from the Mafia. Would you consider for one minute borrowing money from them? Heck no!
Has anyone noticed how you can't find your APR on the online site? I've noticed that I can handle a fair interest rate on a credit card and actually pay them down, but when rates exceed 15 Per cent or so, it seems almost impossible to pay them off. If these damn companies would play fair, they wouldn't be driving people into collection or bankruptcy.
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