I own and operated a summer business in excess of 43 years. My business credit card was with Avanta at 7.9% for years. Last year my payment jumped about $400 per month - I thought there was fraud involved. Upon checking I found my interest had been raised from 7.9 to 28.8 percent. I always paid more than the minimum and always on time. When Avanta was contacted and asked why, I was told it's a floating interest. I asked to speak to a manager and was advised that's the way it was and they could do nothing to lower it. I got a line of credit loan from Heritage credit union at 1 percent over prime, paid them off and shut down my business. After 43 years of business, it took usury to shut me down. I am seventy five years old and a vet. Go get them Bernie, it's time we had honesty in the banking system.
Explain to me, do the banks/credit card companies feel that the only way to make money is to cheat us or manipulate us into taking part in an endless ponzi scheme? How much profit is to be expected in an honest deal? Even 15 percent seems high to me. Do you remember the year that the regulations were taken off of interstate credit cards? How much interest were they limited to prior to that time? It is interesting to me how the credit card industry expansion coincides with paying workers less -- and giving 'credit' to students without incomes. I do pay my credit card off monthly but I worry about all of those families who are $9000.00 in debt. They owe their soul to the company store.
I was seriously injured as the result of a physical assault in 2007. Worker's Comp. was denied, so began an almost 2 year battle to get a very poor settlement because of no witnesses. I awaited that and disability approval from SSDI. In the meantime, I was covering food, fuel, gas expenses, etc. with the 2 credit cards I had. I had never defaulted on any credit before and I called to tell both companies about my job loss and inability to work. They responded by asking for minimum payments of $400-600 and closing my accounts to further charges. I explained that I could not pay what they were asking at that time. They then raised my interest rates to 28.99 percent, their maximum rate allowed. I stayed current for over a year after losing my employment income and they kept increasing my credit limits, but then it wasn't about working with me. They were about making the most money possible at my expense. My credit has been ruined and I am looking at bankruptcy because I cannot catch up. Oh, they did offer to settle for two installments of $7,000 if I paid in 2 months. How could I do that when I couldn't pay the minimum payments?
I have used credit cards for half a century and never paid a dime in interest no matter what the interest rates have been. The way to avoid interest rates at any level is to pay your credit card balance every month or choose not to use your credit card. Credit card companies do not force anyone to use their cards.
I only have one thing on my credit card every month. It is the internet access charge of $10.95. My credit card is a Visa from Capital One. I received a letter stating that the rates were almost double what I agreed to pay if a payment was late, but it also stated if I did not agree to their term, they would cancel my credit card. Let's not only do something about credit card fees, let's stop banks in their tracks with all fees they access on customer accounts they have. They have no problem using our money and charging high interest if you need a loan, but they don't pay diddly squat to us for the use of our money. We clearly need to govern banks and credit unions as well on their greedy rules and regulations.
I have excellent credit. Nearly 780 last time I checked. I had a "fixed" interest rate with Capital One at 4.9 percent since 2002. In 2007 the rate was raised to 7.9 percent. I received a letter in early April of this year that it will rise to 17.5 percent!! For no particular reason, except that it was a company decision. I am outraged! This is really unfair for everyone but I think especially unfair for those who really pay attention to maintaining good credit.
Castle Rock, Colorado
I have a small business and my accountant said I should make purchases on a credit card for the business vs. cash or check. So I opened a business credit card with Advanta Bank 5 years ago. I always paid my balance off when the bill came up until the last two years when money was getting tight for my customers. My business is basically manufacturing so I need stock on hand and if my customer doesn't pay me right away, it would overlap and the card wouldn't get paid off in their 28 days. One month I sent them a $1500 payment when their minimum payment was only $164.00. The next month I get the bill and the minimum payment was $328.00! When I first looked at it I thought there had to be fraudulent charges on it, so I went over it with a fine tooth comb. No, that wasn't it. I called them and spoke with someone who could hardly speak English. I tried back the next day and spoke with a supervisor who did speak English and was advised that the interest rate had increased to 38 percent! I asked why because I had always paid my bills and I was told that because I was a small business and so many were defaulting, I was considered a bad risk! I have a credit score of 785 and they consider me a bad risk???? What about all these people who took out mortgages that both they and the banks knew they couldn't afford??? I had to pay for their errors. NO WAY! I paid off the card and will no longer do business that way. I hope their bank does go bankrupt!! They deserve it.
I'd been on time every month and one day I got my statement and wow my interest rate had more than doubled. I called and they did put it back to the rate I had and said it would be good only for 9 months and then they would up it again and I would have to call again. This is hard for the families who aren't using their credit cards anymore and they are on a budget and factor in the credit card payment and then all of sudden one month it's gone up a lot and you didn't factor that in.
I am tired of being the one who has to pay! The executives of these credit companies mess up and the little people pay. The government messes up and the little people pay. Now my oldest child is going off to college and I can't even get financial help except for loans. Yes, more interest. So now I have to pay more interest on my credit cards. When will I get help? I pay my bills, I pay my taxes, if I pay late I get a finance charge and it hurts my credit rating. When these big companies fall behind, they get my tax money, and I get to pay it back for them.
One of my Chase cards has had an interest rate of 7 percent since the day I got it. I know that this is unusual, because no one has an interest rate this low on a credit card! I have bragged about this to all my friends, and when Discover Card called last year to urge me to sign up for one of their credit cards, I told them about my Chase card and said that I would want the same 7 percent interest rate from them. They insisted that my Chase interest rate was introductory, and that it would go up after so many months. I told them I had the card for 4 years and they didn't believe me! I have never made a late payment on this card, and I have used it quite a bit. A few months ago, I received a letter from Chase about this credit card. They told me that they were raising the interest rate from 7% to 22%. I emailed them and asked them why they were doing this, that I had been an excellent customer and there was no reason for them to raise it. They told me not to take it personally. I also have a Capital One card, and due to an error on my part, did not pay the full amount charged on the card. I DID pay what was owed that month and paid it on time...I just didn't pay the full amount of debt that had been charged. (I just did what many people do when they pay their credit cards...they just pay the amount due.) Because of that, they raised my interest rate from 12.99 percent to 33 percent.
On my Bank of America card I made purchases at 9.9 percent which was not a variable rate. I assumed that I had that interest rate because I have never had a late payment and have never made just the minimum payment. This month I receive notice that my interest rate is going to jump to 15.65% and be a variable rate. I do have steady income and I don't want to do damage to my credit rating by paying the balance off in a few month then cancel the card...I understand that if you cancel cards or accounts it affects your credit rating. Also I would like to note that my account with another bank has had the interest rate lower by almost one half because they think that i am a worthy borrower.
My husband sustained severe brain trauma in 2000. We managed to NOT file bankruptcy and to pay off ALL credit cards. I now find that we were idiots to do this. Our credit is ruined by going a year without income. Ruined, because we PAID any credit card debt we owed, but because the accounts were in "collection", the collection agencies NEVER report back and the banks continually sell these accounts over and over and over and over again. All accounts paid cycle back into collection and we will NEVER have credit again. We cannot get a loan without paying huge interest rates, yet we paid everything and did not file bankruptcy. Yet, the crooks on Wall Street (they knew EXACTLY what they were doing)get bailed out. Where's MY bailout money?
West Burke, Vermont
A credit card I have had for over 20 years raised its rates and would not lower it for me below 18 percent so I transferred the balance to another banks card that offered me 0 percent. One payment cycle later I was just notified that my credit limit with the first card, which has been 14,000 for as long as I can remember, is now being lowered to 5,000 "based on low utilization". Either I am being punished for using another company's card or for being responsible and never coming close to my credit limit. If my credit limit is too high then I never go over it and trigger their outrageous fees! I would love to respond to this with an immediate cancelation of the card but I would then be hurting myself and be penalized in my credit report! Why do they have this much power?
My story is not something that happened in 2009...my story began in 2001 when my business credit cards interest and monthly payments exceeded my ability to keep up. My then business partner transferred debt to my cards and maxed out my limit. I immediately tried to work with the credit companies to get them to understand that I had not authorized this debt. They would not reverse the debt level. This act alone destroyed my ability to continue paying my credit cards. By their changing my card amount and inflating interest rates double of what they had been. I could not keep up. I immediately fell into arrears and the credit cards company gave me the run around for a few years. I tried the VT credit counseling a few times to work out a way out of this mess. I was told that I didn't make enough to pay off my debt. I left Vermont to work in New York City to make enough to pay off these debts. I developed autoimmune disorders and have not been able to work since 2003. I am currently on SSI and VA benefits. I have lived without credit since that time and I will be filling for bankruptcy this June. So when folks are falling all over the place due to corporate greed I tell them the story of 0 percent interest offerings and how easily applications get signed. I was told by the credit companies that I could not get copies of my original application. Too bad cause it's not even my signature on most of them. Lesson learned.
I am 67 years old and had the card since the year of the flood. I was on vacation and out of the country and did not make my card payment on time. I had always kept my account up. When I went to charge a flight on line it was denied. I called them and they replied that since I was a "late payer" I had to pay off my account every 30 days as it used to before they allowed extended payments for large purchases. I paid off the card that day and cut up the card.
Little Rock, Arkansas
I have quite a bit of credit card debt, some of the cards have relatively high interest rates, others are quite low. The common thread is that I read the contracts before I signed anything. I do not blame anyone except myself for my high debt. When I get any sort of notice that a rate is going up, I am either given the option to refuse the increase or I call the CC company and have yet been refused when I request that I not get the increase -- considering I have made my payments on time. Stop the whining. Read your contract. If it is confusing or not to your liking then don't sign up for the card. Where the heck is the sense of self responsibility?
St. Johnsbury, Vermont
I send my payment by mail and sometimes the postal service is slow and the card company got payment one day late and has changed my interest rate from 16 percent to 29.9 percent and now if I pay the minimal payment the charges are more then what I paid on the bill.
West Newbury, Vermont
My account with GE Money Bank covers the much-needed new roof (after two hurricanes in central Florida). I got together a large payment to help bring down the balance and after sending $2,000, was astounded to find that I was charged a $50 "transaction fee"... I found in the fine print that this is probably legal but it is certainly not just, and for a widow on Social Security, it was punishing. I guess they make more money by keeping me on the regular payment schedule forever, hoping that one day I will goof and be late and then they can add more charges. I thought usury was a crime.
I was shopping only to be told I did not have enough credit left on the card. I knew I had at least 5000 credit available. When I got home, I called the provided number to be told my limit has been cut to 100 above the present debt. I received notice in writing of this change a week later.
Although I carry very little credit card debt, my son, who is a college student and strapped for cash, has several, all with very high interest rates and late fees - I think there should be a cap on these rates, and also some discouragement from colleges campuses as to their promotion on college grounds-these late payments will be on his record for years to come, simply because he can't get ahead of the finance charges.
Well, I have always paid on time and have a good credit history and good score. I am about to leave my job due to health reasons and apply for disability and now is not a good time to be hit with higher interest rates. I am a good girl, I don't deserve this. All those bailouts and we still have to pay more in interest? Something is not fair or right. Thanks, Bernie, for helping us anyway you can.
South Burlington, Vermont
My husband and I recently received a letter from Bank of America alerting us that our Visa and MasterCard credit lines are being cut in half and a rate increase. Now it really isn't a problem for us because we pay our cards off totally every month and do not carry a revolving balance. If we did, the higher rate and lower limit could have put us in a bind. However, we have 2 checking accounts, 1 savings account, a money market account and a 30 year fixed mortgage, which we obtained in August of 2008 at a rate of 6.5% and have refinanced in January for 5.5 percent, still a 30 year fixed. I think that we are pretty loyal Bank of America customers and an excellent credit risk. This adjustment can reflect badly on our credit report, which at last reporting had us at 795. Prior to all the mortgage activity, we were well above an 800. So why would B of A risk losing our business. I called to ask that question. I was assured that this adjustment would not be reflected on our credit report and that this change was across the board. It had nothing to do with us or our credit record, yet the letter stated that our credit record was part of the decision to lower our credit limit. I'm thinking it's because our record shows that we are not in debt, except for mortgage and we are not in arrears. Did they want to put us into debt?
Los Angeles, California
I was extremely angry to receive a letter from my credit card company, Bank of America, telling me that they are raising the interest rate on my future AND previous balance and charging increased fees on certain transactions. This was not the deal that I signed up for when they wanted my business, and I have always paid my monthly bill. During the past couple of years we have seen food, gas, utilities, and taxes go up tremendously and now to put salt in the wound, the credit cards companies are changing the rules in the middle in the game--and using the taxpayers' money to do so.
Please continue to push for regulation of the credit card industry. I too have had my rates jump from 6 percent to 13 percent and then to 28 percent without ever being late! Last month I got a letter from Bank of America saying that they had dropped my credit limit on my card to just over the current balance, Shortly after Chase did the same. So now it looks as though my cards are maxed out and I could not even get a 4,000 loan to buy a car that was 9,000 and I had saved 5,000 to put down on it. Where is the sense in that?
After 10 years of completely clear credit history, Bank of America sent me a letter telling me that they had reduced my available credit from $15,000 to $7500. That didn't bother me. I rarely use my card. I was upset because the reason they gave for the change was that I had done something to compromise my credit rating. When I called them, they could find nothing wrong with my credit and then sent me letter saying that my income was only good enough for the new limit. I find it dishonest and scary of them to suggest that their problem was mine. More transparency, please!
The bigger question is why and how have we become a nation that relies on credit cards and are unable to earn enough money to pay for our expenses, or unable to curb our impulses to buy the items we can't afford without using credit cards.
I was paying bills when I got to my American Express Blue Card bill - the one with no finance charges - and there were finance charges on it! I thought maybe I didn't understand the bill. We got the card BECAUSE they advertised 'no finance charges'. My husband called the company, and sure enough, they had been charging us for financing for several months. We are older and have learned not to charge anything we could not pay at the end of the month. We always pay the entire bill. American Express removed all the charges but what would have happened if I had not called?
My husband accepted a credit card offer some years ago from Providian Bank at a very low interest rate. Since then, the bank changed hands twice (to Washington Mutual and now to Chase) and the interest rate has skyrocketed to 26 percent. I believe it is designed to keep us firmly in their debt and it is certainly not much better than dealing with loan sharks. The payment is always made on time, and always above the minimum, but still, we may never get it paid off. We are not luxury shoppers, but have used the card out of necessity.
Pennsauken, New Jersey
Don't forget about the poor merchants who are also charged exorbitant fees for accepting a credit card!! Make sure you protect them from increased fees.
I actually have several stories like this, but it's Friday night, I've had a long week of teaching 7th grade, so I'm going to write in a short version. We have a Chase credit card/visa, and we got this card on some kind of promotion, initially. We made huge payments on it, and had actually made a large payment on it in a few months ago. Somehow, after no incidents of "late" payments whatsoever, and even after paying off the entire balance from time to time, we ended up making a payment that was just a few days past the due date. I pay through my banks "bill pay" system, so I think that what happened was I wanted to make a large payment to cover the fact that I had used the card to make a large purchase, so I "interfered" with my banks payment system and "upped" the payment. Because my bank needs 5+ days advance notice, the payment ended up coming in late. To make a long story short, 2 months later I noticed my rate had gone up to 28%!!!! Here I was trying to do the right thing and pay as I went, and in the end I was burned. I called to ask them to lower the rate considering that I'd been such a good customer but they refused. End of story.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
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