MONEY

An unlucky game of cards

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Do you have a credit card? If so, you may need to borrow some of that luck of the Irish. It seems like everyday I read about another credit card horror story, and the victims are increasingly folks with good credit and payment histories. One of my favorite sites, CreditMattersBlog, detailed one of these stories last week.

CMB reader Ryan had been a Bank of America customer for a decade, during which he’d established a stellar history: no late or missed payments, ever. So he thought transferring a $12,000 credit card balance from another bank to a BoA card offering a lower rate would be a cakewalk. He thought wrong.

Though he was told the transaction had been approved, a week passed and the transfer seemed to be at a standstill. That’s when Ryan learned it had been rejected. But here’s what’s worse: BoA also canceled Ryan’s card altogether, without any notice. A phone call to BoA resulted in the news that a delinquency on Ryan’s credit report caused the cancellation, which Ryan knows is impossible. What ensued is an endless amount of calls and arguments with BoA to get the matter corrected. But things only got worse: Ryan was told that BoA would not re-open the card. In fact, the credit limits on his other BoA cards were slashed by $30,000.

Ryan spent hours on the phone trying to get a better solution from BoA without any luck. In the end, BoA punished one of its consistently good customers, citing the “current economic climate” as its final reason for Ryan’s treatment. But what’s most troubling is that this story doesn’t really surprise me. Card issuers are cracking down in every way, and undeserving people are in the line of their fire. So what are we to do? CMB puts it this way:

The bottom line is that a balance is a balance is a balance. Card issuers don’t care about your reasons. They only care about whether you’re going to pay them off. It’s nothing but business. In hindsight, Ryan would have been much better off just staying off the phone. And that goes for most people. If you don’t absolutely have to, don’t get on the phone with card issuers. More and more, the end result is not positive.

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