I received a letter from Bank of America informing me that my interest rate on my credit card was being raised from 9.9 percent to 13.9 percent. This is a card that I use sparingly and most often I'm able to pay the balance off every month on time to not accrue interest. So, in other words, I'm an excellent customer! The letter stated that I could dispute the increase and gave a number to call. I called and was told that I could keep my current rates IF I don't use the card for any new purchases. New purchases would automatically start the increased interest rate regardless of your good status with them. This is a good deal if I had a large balance due and not use their card for any new purchases. I asked for a break on the increase of rate as I was a valued customer, but they wouldn't agree. The customer service person saw that I had a zero balance at this time so any use of the card would guarantee me a rate increase, so I cancelled the card. Credit card companies need to see that they don't own all of us and we have the right to tell them no - they don't deserve the good customers that are still able to make payments. The increase was too big of a jump when I've done everything right! I've not received a pay raise this year to keep my job because of the economy so I don't have the extra cash to help my budget with any increases. Then I watch the news and saw a CEO from a credit card company actually say they are charging as much as possible to make as high a profit as possible to pay back the stimulus money. This is just wrong!
South Royalton, Vermont
I have been a Bank of America credit card holder for several years. I have never been late on my payments and I carry a minimal balance. Last week Bank of America sent me notification of an interest rate increase to 15 percent from my current rate of 9 percent. They would not work with me on this matter so I cancelled my account all together. I am hoping that a great deal of consumers will be able to do the same to send a message that tax payer's in America bailed them out once and now they want more money from us through our credit cards. It's absurd!
I don't think that any one gets it. I have 8 credit cards and out of them only one has a low interested rate. All the others are over 20 percent and a couple are up to 29 percent. Barclay bank even took my credit limit from $1500 to $500 and raised the interested. All this happened after the bailout money when to them. I cannot believe that there are no regulations on banks and credit card companies.
We are a retired, college graduate couple on "very" fixed income. We have * excellent * credit rating. In spite of that, our credit-card creditors, such as Discover, Capital One, Bank of America, etc., just "informed" us that they have simply decided to raise our APR very significantly. They all claim they have to do this because, in essence, "times are tough". Really? Times are tough? They are a lot tougher for the American people, specially for the vanishing middle class, for the unemployed, and for retirees on very fixed incomes, like us. This is obscene! This is usury! In spite of being excellent customers of these callous, shameless institutions, not only do they gouge us with usurious interest rates and late and other so-called "fees", but we, and our children will have to pay for years for bailing them out!!! This is beyond absurd!! This is protected, legalized gouging of the American people!!!
Redondo Beach, California
I had the same experience with Capital One - I pay my balance off in full every month and have NEVER been late - but they sent me a notice that the interest rate would rise to 24+% - I told them to cancel the card.
North Hero, Vermont
Discover raised my rate to 29 percent when they said I was late with one payment which had been on autopay for almost 7 years. I called them and they said all they could do was lower it to 21 percent. I will never use this card again and I'm doing my best to pay this off as quickly as I can. I have asked them to take me off any future deals as I will no longer use their services due to their corrupt approach to doing business. What can I do to help get this limit established and stop this credit card robbery?
I have had all my credit card rates raised to 25-29 percent. I have also had available credit reduced to the balance on the card, without any notice such that I went over the newly reduced limit incurring penalties. With another card, I was late on one payment, when I called, they said yes, you have been a perfect customer for 10 years but you were one day late and now your rate will be doubled. It is ridiculous that my credit card payments are now at least 50 percent higher than planned, it is criminal.
I took out a credit card years ago and never used it. After retiring from the Military I decided that to get a decent job I would have to get a college degree. I had to put the entire tuition balance on my credit card because I am one of those "Lucky" Veterans that don't qualify for the GI Bill. I put it on my Union Plus Credit Card and because I was a member of the National Postal Union My card was a decent 14 percent. After two years of faithfully paying them, they shot the interest rate up to 28 percent say that because I retired, I was no longer a member of the Postal Union. I was in shock! There was no way that I could pay all that interest on the loan. I called them and explained my story and they wouldn't budge. I had to re-mortgage my home with a credit union, a great institution.
I have no personal story on this subject, as I'm very conservative with my use of credit cards, but I feel that the interest rates being arbitrarily raised is nothing short of criminal. It would be bad enough if we weren't bailing out these scumbags, but the current situation is almost beyond my comprehension.
I called my credit card company and asked them to lower the interest rate. The customer service rep said, "Yes, of course, you have been a good customer. Your new rate is 5.5%." My rate is 12.65 percent!! While this is not high in comparison to what they are doing to everyone else, it is still not what they agreed to do. I have just noticed this and will be contacting them.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
I think credit cards rates are appalling and a disgrace. If banks have regulations why can't the credit card companies be regulated on the interest they can charge, outrageous late charges even one day late (and that means when they decide to post your payment), it would be considered late, they can change the rate whenever they get the urge to do it. Should be regulated, lower rates, and a lot of changes
Essex Junction, Vermont
Last year my credit card interest rate was lowered by Cit Bank from 21 percent down to 15 percent, this year even though I haven't missed a payment my interest rate with Citi Bank is now 24.99 percent. I called them to find out why they had raised my interest rate, and I was told that Citi Bank was in financial trouble and this is why they had to raise my rate to 24.99 to help keep them afloat. I totally agree that banks should not be able to raise your rate, and that there should be a cap of 12-15 percent and no higher no matter what.
I am appalled at the "outrage" that is being put into this effort. Controlling credit card rates will reward those who misuse the cards. Back to the government's "If you make bad decisions, we'll take care of it" philosophy.
A few years back, when Chase and JP Morgan merged, they decided that my credit card account no longer warranted a reasonable interest rate. Something crazy like I paid on time, usually paid more than the minimum, and unfortunately used the card. They said that my rate would jump from 9.99 percent to 27.9 percent unless I opted out. I did of course and continue to pay and have almost paid them off. My rate is now 15.24 percent. Oh did I mention that I had been a loyal card holder since 1984? So now this week I get the same sort of love letter from Bank of America on a card that I have had since 1986. Not quite so bad this time, only going from 9.9 percent to 19 percent. Exactly the same scenario: pay on time, pay more, but used the card. Good grief, when is this nonsense going to stop? I feel helpless
I was happy to have a credit card so I could build my credit, there seems to be no other option in this country. I made my payments on time. Then I moved down the road and called HSBC on two separate occasions to tell the credit card company my new address, of course. I did all the change of address paper work through the post office as well. Then months went by and I had to call to get an address and send my payment and without the company's invoice because I was not receiving it in the mail. Something got sent to the wrong office or some such thing and I become late. So now my interest rate is 29.6 percent.
In December, just as we, the taxpayers, were bailing out Citigroup, I received a letter informing me that the interest rate on the balance on my ATT Universal Card (owned by Citi) was going to more than double unless I "opted out" and closed my account when the card was set to expire. I also had a Citi card with a zero balance, which they had cancelled with no notice the month before. Now, I had the ATT card for over 15 years, and never made a late payment. My retired and paid in full mortgage had been held by Citi - again, never a late payment. In sum, I was a model customer, and Citi knew it. If anything, my financial situation is much better now than at any time over the past 15 years, as I was a single mother most of that time and am now remarried - to a man whose credit is even better than mine. I was completely outraged - my family's share of the Citi bailout is more than the balance on my card. I feel like I am borrowing back my own money anyway, and for them to raise interest to usurious levels simply adds insult to injury. Right from the beginning, it seemed to me that Paulson's bailout plan was much too Wall Street centric. After watching Wall Street and the banks over the past 6 months, I am convinced of it. We (the government by and for the people) ought to have let uber capitalism run its course, and concentrated on picking up the pieces after the corrupt system imploded under its' own greed.</
Terrace Park, Ohio
I feel that the fault in the credit card mess is of both sides. The fault of the consumer being ignorant to the conditions the credit card company operates on. The fault lies with the credit card company as well for the terminology they use in their contracts (i.e. small print). The ease of just sign and go. They should make sure people have the backing to afford the card. So a way to educate people to credit card use/debt would be good. Also restraints to the tactics that credit card companies use to lure new consumers. Credit cards recruit hard on college campuses where students are just out of high school or in need of fast cash to stay in school.
I have been making my payments on time. Over the last 120 days they somehow stopped sending me bills and said that they had been sorted through my email. I never received any billings either through the U.S. mail or through my email and as such I received two late charges of $35.00 each. I complained and they eventually placed me back on to the U.S. Mail. I am current and was told that they would be reversing those charges but to date I have not received the refund. I am going to close this account. I am charged 29.40 percent APR.
Mission Viejo, California
Capital, Chase, and Bank of America all doubled or tripled their rates despite a lifelong perfect payment record, with no excuse (we phoned them) except that they could. This is nothing but breach of promise and flat-out theft. A good reason for severe, retroactive rollbacks or simple seizure of banks whose response to loans from the public is to immediately steal from them. This is grand theft, at an unprecedented level, and should be punished as such.
Susan and John,
Sea Cliff, New York
My story begins with a Student Loan (for my son). He was in school, and I was going through some difficult times. I tried to call the loan company to ask them to defer payments (permitted when the student is in school). Their automated answering system had no options for this and no way to reach an operator. After I stopped paying, they called me! I explained the situation. They said they had no record that my son was in school. I had them call the academy directly. Rather than do that, they just put me in default, without contacting me again, and increased the interest rate from 4% to 11% (I think this was their real motivation). A month after that, my credit card companies increased their interest rates to 30%. I was never late with a credit card payment. Fortunately, I was able to pay my balances off quickly. I find it incredible that banks can change the terms of an agreement at will.
I have personally had 3 separate credit cards raise the APR to 29.99 percent - when I have paid my bills on time (Citicard, Chase and BofA). Then just last billing cycle, another card I am in perfect standing with doubled my APR - no apparent reason (Chase). I am shocked and livid by these absolutely criminal APRs. This should not be allowed and I believe the APRs should not only be capped, but that there should be a civil lawsuit where they are charged huge fines for pursuing such practices. I believe we should be refunded every cent we have paid in interest over 15 percent (or whatever our original APR was if we are in perfect standing), and that this should be retrograde, from the moment they raised the APR unfairly. This is outrageous and must be stopped.
Los Angeles, California
My wife, who lives on her own and on a tight budget, is swimming in a Sears credit card debt. Originally she owed about $3,000. But, even after paying $100 a month on the average for over three years, the balance remains almost the same. The high interest rates (about 25 percent) and penalties for occasional lapses ensures her perpetual slavery.
Rochester, New York
Over the years I have had to use credit cards - not that I wanted to but, like many folks it just sort of happened! I played the "get a new card" and transfer the balance to lower rate game, and that worked for a while. I have lost my job and I am now drowning in credit card debt. So what do they do they raise the rates and make matters worse!! I have called to ask for help and got - we don't do that - if you would like to sign up for our protection plan..... So if I would like to pay more money that I don't have now they could help me. My services charges take up 75% or more of the money I pay each month. What is going on now is "usury" and I thought loan sharking was illegal in this country apparently not so.
South Royalton, Vermont
I'm 28 and made a few missteps with non-payment of bills when younger. The only way I was able to build my credit was through use of high interest credit cards, and prompt payment. Credit unions would not approve me because I represented a risk higher than 15% could justify! Capping interest will severely limit the availability of credit to a significant number of people. If you force lenders to take high risk clients at low rates with more legislation, when they default hardworking, and honest, taxpayers will be left bailing out yet another sector.
East Wallingford, Vermont
I would go further. The credit card companies are reflecting increased risk out there, and are dealing with the consequences of draining their customers dry. I would advise all users or consumers of credit to open accounts with credit unions. I don't know why credit unions aren't more popular. Of course, we don't want the banks to completely collapse just yet. I do business with both credit unions and banks. For the average person it is best to deal with a credit union. Credit unions are not immune to downturn and some have gotten into bad situations. Credit unions rely on profitable loans to make the income to stay solvent. Yet, on the whole they act responsibly on behalf of their member-owners. I would advise all borrowers to truly read the fine print. Credit card companies frequently entice with fine-sound offers of checks with zero interest. The first few are like tasty bait to get a borrower on the hook. There is still a fee of 3 percent or more to transfer the money. There is no free lunch, and the next check offers will carry increasing higher interest.
We've personally paid off our credit cards monthly for as long as I can remember. So, unlike most people we are affected indirectly rather than directly by credit card interest rates and fees. I believe restricting interest rates is essential public policy that both eliminates the unfair financial squeeze on individuals AND keeps Americans from spending well beyond their means.
I'm going on vacation for two weeks in May. I won't be home to either get my credit card bill or send in payment. I called the company to ask if I could send in payment early at the end of April. He said no, that it would be credited the day received, and I would still be charged in May for nonpayment.
I am a retiree and always have paid my creditors on time and even paid them twice as much as was asked for on my accounts. Citicard, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo decided that they were going to raise my interest rates without notice. If I wanted my interest rates lowered to a fairer rate of 9.9 percent, I was told that when I paid it off they would close my account which would lower my credit rating. Bank of America was worse than any of them. They told me that they just randomly raised the interest rate on certain accounts. I asked what their criteria was for raising these interest rates and was told that they just raise them on some people. I never received a rational answer and told them that I was being punished for paying my bills on time. In these unstable economic times I will use my credit cards sparingly and only in emergencies once they are paid off. Yet every day I receive mail from these same companies telling me to use the enclosed checks at very low interest rates of 0.99 percent to 2.99 percent with no assurance that they will not raise the interest rates once I use the card. Although it's hard to live without credit I will not rely on these credit card companies to stab me in the back again
Crown Point, Illinois
I would like to pay off my credit cards, but the banks just keep raising the interest rates, making it almost impossible. I don't think they want me to pay them off! Isn't it bad enough that I have lost half of my retirement investments in this recession? I'd be happy getting 5 percent on my money. Any credit card interest rate over 15 precent (which is bad enough) is just rubbing salt in the wound! Who is going to bail me out when I lose everything I've worked 40 years for?
North Troy, Vermont
Until recently, I worked three jobs. I have raised three children, one grandchild and helped with three others. Needless to say that entailed helping financially many times with all. I now have only one job. I have gotten behind in my credit cards and seen interest and penalties raise holy hell with my balances. I have tried to make deals to pay so much per month to my creditors as I don't want to cheat them out of rightful money. I have two credit cards with HSBC and they continue to refuse to take what I can give them. I bring home $730 every two weeks. I have a mortgage, heat, lights, etc.(groceries are out of the question) My phone at home rings every two minutes all day and all night until around 9 to 9:15 with creditors. I finally unplug the phone to get any peace. As a taxpayer I am appalled that we are giving these banks all these handouts while a person struggling to get by on $20,000 per year is forgotten or given a $400 incentive. This is ridiculous. My balances are growing by leaps and bounds and I have nowhere to turn. There are days when I don't think I can stand it another minute. Why doesn't someone stand up to these banks and MAKE them stop preying on the less fortunate. I am the first to admit that I got myself into debt but I certainly don't need these criminals making it worse. The minute they think you're in trouble, the interest doubles or triples only to dig the hole deeper. Stimulus money should have been given to the people to help pay off bills and then the banks would have been solvent again with money coming in and people in better shape. It's not the businesses that are failing, it's the citizens of our country.
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To read still more letters on the third page, click here.