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An Interesting Email From a Reader

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I am going to be quite busy the next few days, so I am not sure how much time I will be able to devote to writing on here. Thankfully, I received an interesting email from a reader sharing her story about her credit card raising her rates. She was nice and is letting me share it with all of you.

“We have always paid our debts on time. Due to my husband’s (last) illness, they got higher than we wanted BUT when viewing assets (mutual funds, house owned etc.) against the amount of debt we were still over $100,000 in plus territory. Supposedly upon a review of our credit report (I was told they do it once a month which is b.s.) we were over-extended so Chase raised our interest rate to 29.9% on $15,000 balance. I was floored. Got a very snotty customer service rep on the phone, was refused lower interest rate. Paid 1/2 off this account. Next month, called again. Again got another snotty rep and was refused. Paid I/2 of the 1/2. Called again. Refused. Paid it all off except $200, called and was refused. Over the past year we’ve dropped our total debt by 35%. Seems none of this counted the other day when I called again to ask for a lower interest rate, I was refused.

I am (get this!) a debt collector. I have collected on First USA/Chase credit cards. I have been told by more than several debtors that the reason why they quit paying was that the interest rate was raised to the point where they couldn’t pay. One thing I noticed (because we’re trained to look for this) was that these people owned their own houses. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I think it’s a “planned predatory” act.”

Have any of you had experiences like this with a credit card? Did your rates magically raise for no apparent reason?


17 Comments

  • Reply Meagan |

    Yes, yes, yes. Chase are the evil A**holes of universal default. They did the same thing to us and we have two credit cards with them. None of our other cards did this. Fortunately the total owed is only $5k and I’m just about to tell them to kiss off because I have a 100% funded Prosper loan currently at 14.3% with three days left to go. No way am I going to keep paying 29.99% interest to those jerks. Thanks for posting this.

  • Reply Robert |

    This story sounds, unfortuantely, very familiar, down to the snobby customer service clerk…they must train them to be that way. Anyhow, once I pay that card off, I will never use it again, nor will I ever open another account with Chase.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply Shauna |

    I had the exact opposite thing happen. They did a credit check and drastically dropped my limit from $5,000 to $500. Of course this completely ruined my credit score and I’ve had trouble negotiating good rates since then. Their reasoning for doing this was that my debt to earning ratio was out of control. The truth is, my debt to earning ratio was only getting better with each month since I’ve been actively paying off my cards. I’ve called twice to raise my limit back up to get my credit score to go up and no luck.

    Can’t wait till I get all my debt paid off so I don’t have to deal with things such as this again.

  • Reply Sarah |

    Chase did the same thing to us. The more I hear about that company the more horrified I am. If you want to see how evil they are check out “Murder by Injection” on Google Video. It is infuriating.

  • Reply Jennifer Lynn |

    Ugh, the more I hear these type of stories, the more nauseous I feel. I just wrote an article directed toward young people on some of the dangers of unscrupulous credit card traps.

    It makes me sad that even well-informed and responsible adults aren’t immune to some of these slimy tactics ;/

    =^..^=

  • Reply Kellie |

    I had this happen with a Citibank card – they jacked it up to 32.24% and refuse every time I call to lower it. I recently paid it off, and they still won’t lower it.

    I have 2 chase cards and have never had a problem with them – knocks on wood!

  • Reply Rich |

    Same problem, except I did not accept their rate changes, so they closed the account and I have been paying off the debt at the old rates. It hurt the credit score, but better to hurt the score than be forced to pay loan shark interest rates! I also talked to the Chase rep and they were rude and would do absolutely nothing to help! I closed my checking, savings and credit card accounts with them as soon as I could and moved to another bank! BEWARE OF CHASE! Their new ad campaign “I’m free to do what I want, any old time” does not refer to the the consumer, it’s for Chase itself!

  • Reply Berta |

    It seems all the credit card are playing the same games..Chase,Citi,American Express….they are doing a soft pull on credit reports…claiming you owe too much money and upping your rates to the high 20s or 30+ %…then the other tactic they use is to reduce your credit limit as you pay off the debt…so this lowers your credit score and you again show up on reports that show you are using 80-90% of your limit….
    I recently had American Express drop my credit limit from $15,000 to 7900(I have alway paid on time and my balance is 7400 down from about 13,000)no matter of talking to them got them to budge….but it was the longest conversation that customer rep and supervisor has ever had
    Congress recently pulled in the heads of Citi,Chase,and another company to question what they are doing to consumers…so start reporting to your Congress reps,…
    The companies are getting away with this because they are flying under the radar..not being noticed…every consumer is being mis-treated and over-charged..start writing to get changes (Citi bank after the hearing did agree to discontinue the universal default.. a small step)
    Consumers need credit-card reform..

  • Reply Jen |

    Yes, the same thing happened to me, as well! They sent me a notice saying that they were raising my rates (the only “change” in my credit was that I put a fraud alert on my account with the credit bureaus, due to an identity-theft threat). So after dealing with the horrible customer-service person, I said close the account, and I’ve been paying it off at the old rate. I’m almost finished paying it off, and I won’t open up another account of any kind with Chase!

  • Reply Tyler |

    I am 24 and I have never owned a credit card (and I own a house!) The only CC debt I have is the debt my wife brought in, but it’s going to be paid off next week! Chase has been ok to us so far. They keep raising our credit (now at 20k). Too bad I won’t use it EVER! They also hold our mortgage and we’ve been happy with no complaints yet.

  • Reply Jen |

    Ugh. What a horrible thing to do to people!!! I agree with Berta – write your Congressman/woman and Senator! If they get enough letters, they’ll do something about it. I’ll have to keep a closer eye on my credit cards. I’m not carrying any debt, but it would be interesting to see if they play around with my interest rate and credit limit, too. I pay off my cards every month. I will be really, really steamed if they start doing this sort of thing just to get “deadbeats” like me to pay interest.

    Tyler – Your mortgage service may befine because it could be a completely different part of Chase that’s run differently than the credit division. But keep an eye on things since you never know when a corporate re-org could put the mortgage department under the credit card department… Or the mortgage could get sold to a different company altogether.

    (Deadbeat is the term the credit card companies use to describe people who pay off their cards every month because they don’t make any interest income off us. As if the transaction fees from our purchases weren’t enough…)

  • Reply M.L. |

    Yes, I have called citibank a number of time to lower the 29.9%, but they will not budge and blame on their American Airlines deal.

    I am thinking more about prosper.com

  • Reply Chris |

    Yes yes yes! My rates increased to 30% (well, 23 and 25 – close enough!) on 2 of my cards for no reason, and 18% on the third. I was never late on anything, never over-limit…the only thing I can determine is that I had been carrying a balance and paying a hundred or so more above the balance, and suddenly decided to just pay them off and be done with it. It seems like as soon as I started rapidly paying them off, they jacked up the rate.

    Now I don’t use them at all. I’m not sure exactly what they thought they were doing, but it seems like they were hoping to push me out of the ability to pay it off. Just goes to show that your credit cards are tools you need to use smartly, they aren’t your friends!

    I’ve not tried to lower my rate (I don’t see the point, as they haven’t gotten a dime from me in 2 years anyway) but – and I should practice what I preach here – instead of calling and getting some snotty kid working in their CS department, write them a formal certified letter requesting the rate reduction. Or if you do want to call, just ask to cancel the card. They’ll almost always transfer you to a special department who will reduce rates to get you to stay (assuming you don’t have a balance) – even though canceling over the phone is pointless and you need to send a certified letter anyway.

    Yes, I had a Target card once in a blue moon and I had to call and cancel it 3 times before I finally just sent them a certified letter and got it done.

  • Reply Sam |

    I used to think that Chase was evil. Up until around the middle of 2004 I had paid my card off at the end of every month. Then due to unforeseen circumstances my husband and I had to use our cards and not pay off the balance. We would always at least make the minimum. Back in August things got really crazy (husband lost his job) and to make a long story short we missed a payment. I figured it would be no big deal; I would just pay it next month double. WRONG! THEY RAISED MY INTEREST RATE TO OVER 30%! For the next few months, we had a lot of trouble paying our bill because the minimum was so high. Finally in December things hit rock bottom, we were almost 1000 behind and I was freaked out that the bill would go into collections. Finally I broke down and called customer service one last time. (I had been calling for the past 3 months and no one would help me. And I agree, the reps are nasty!) Since my bill was so behind I got transferred to their “work out department.” I told them my take a woe and explained to the rep that I really wanted to pay but could not afford it. She put me in the ASSIST program that lowered my APR to 15.99% however the catch is that instead of paying 2% of the bill, I had to pay 2.5%. It cut my payment in half and while it still has been hard to catch up on everything, having this payment go down is a lot easier.

    Since I said this, I was wondering if anyone else has done this with chase? She told me that they would lower my interest rate for a year. Does anyone know if it will stay lower if I keep on making solid payments? I would love to hear if anyone else has been through this with chase. My e-mail is M o o f 2 1 9 @ a o l . c o m (NO SPAM!)

  • Reply John M |

    This adds to the fuel to pay off my remaining cards. You would think that more focus would be paid to developing consumer freindlier credit cards.

  • Reply Liz |

    Recently received a notice from Chase that they were raising my APR from 7.9 to 17.9%. I was told I could opt out, so I called and found out that they ran a credit report and didn’t like my debt ratio. I had NEVER been late with them or any other creditor. When I asked how raising the interest rate was going to help reduce my debt ratio, the response was that they hoped it would inspire me to pay it down faster. I can understand raising the APR on FUTURE purchases, but there were purchases I made at 7.9 that seemed like a good idea. It doesn’t seem legal to raise the interest on purchases already made. How is that possible? The fact that one creditor can change the terms of their contract with you, because of something that happened with a different creditor is another thing that aggravates me.

    The only way to opt out, was to close the account, which I did.

So, what do you think ?