Hold on to your seat… the Senate Banking Committee has passed the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act. Oh boy. We’re saved. No more “Any Time, Any Reason” never ending penalty interest rate hikes and line cuts. Of course, it will still have to pass the Senate. And the House. And get signed. The bank lobby being what it is, I suspect the only thing the bill will still have by the time it gets through is this post in an archive.
On to the poultry. This is my personal experience. In the fall of 2006, I received an offer from American Express for a $20,000 limit 0% credit card. I called them, and they said all the right things. Rate’s not going to change as long as you pay on time. Sure, they could pay off other cards. Sure, I’ll get a card for my wife, too. All was to be great. So I took it.
I paid off two credit cards (one at Wachovia, one at First Union – both banks gone now, but their cards came into the grubby hands of Bank of America) that were at 12% I’d used for business and was excited about saving money. Hearing about the Amex card, Bank of America raised the interest rate on a personal card I had from 7% to 32% and lowered the line to just above the balance due. The combination of a transaction in process and the higher interest charges on the Bank of America card sent the card over the limit for which I got a penalty. So I paid off Bank of America with the 12% Wachovia card. But Wachovia soon learned of Bank of America and raised my rate to 32% and cut the line. Then Amex joined in and my 0% card was now 18%. All of it legal.
The total cost to me was many thousands. The hardship unmentionable. The rage, unsatisfied. The hatred for all the banks involved won’t end until they and their heirs are lost from this world. Sure, I should never have had multiple credit cards with balances (and will never have again), but was it the chicken or the egg that caused my problem? I was perfectly fine at the time, paying bills on time, etc., so I know it wasn’t the egg. Must have been the chicken. I just wish I’d known that I was the one to be fried.