The lending practices of U.S. credit card companies will be under the microscope Thursday as President Barack Obama meets with executives from 13 leading credit card issuers.
Lawmakers have labeled some practices by credit card companies as "abusive," and are pushing for reform in the industry. Among the issues being examined are arbitrary interest rate increases and penalties as well as certain billing practices.
Executives from Bank of America, American Express, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Capital One Financial, Visa and MasterCard will be among those due to visit the White House.
We wanted to know if you feel you've been unfairly treated by the credit card companies. Tell us what you think:
Tell us about your experience? Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wish I Was 'Pleased'
Last Friday, the CEO of Citi announced that he was "pleased" by Q1 stats. I wish I could say I was pleased during that same period. Citi raised the interest rate on my ZERO balance Mastercard from 16 percent to 20 percent. —Bill S.
They're Borrowing At Historic Lows
I don't agree with the media when they report, people who have credit card debt get what they deserve! They knew the interest rates could go up at any given time.
I have some debt on my credit cards, the cards were offered at very low interest rates. I'm one of the people who believe if you can use someone else's money at a very low cost it makes sense. Having said that, I have seen Wells Fargo, Discover, Bank Of America, and Citi all send notices to raise the rates on their cards. I have never been late, and always pay more than the minimum. Most of these guys have taxpayer money, why would anyone think it's fair for them to raise rates when the cost for them to borrow is at historic lows. —Bobby S.
With These Rates, How Can We Spend?
I am not sure how these companies operate in the U.S., but here in the UK some of them are charging anything between 13 to 25 percent APR. How can they justify charging 20 + times base rate. If the government's want us to start spending our way out of recession surely they should get these companies to reduce the amount of interest charged to enable people to clear their balances ASAP. It will be very interesting to see if governments act promptly or as usual they are only paying lip service! — Bill S.
Biting The Hand That Feeds You
I'm a small business owner and have an American Express business card. The interest rate has always been equal to the "prime rate". In recent months, with the prime rate low, I thought it was prudent to carry a balance and save cash. Now that I've got a balance, they changed the terms and more than doubled the interest rate. There was no "opt-out" option. The fine print says they can do that. My credit is great and I have never had any late payments to anyone. I am very unhappy to say the least. I can assure you that my business, from this point forward, will NEVER ACCEPT American Express Cards, and when my customers ask why, believe me, I will tell them. I'm amazed by the stupidity of Amex management. It's never a good idea to bite the hand that feeds you. —Randy J.
Undoing the Damage
...I’m glad the President is initiating some changes in the way credit card companies do business. I hope whatever happens with them will include “undoing” all the interest rate hikes they’ve just handed off to us. —Jeanne R.
The Let Markets Decide
I am tired of the government stepping in and saying they know what is best. They need to realize that if they start telling credit card companies to what rates they can lend at that they will eventually destroy our credit markets. I am tired of the government playing upon people’s emotions to encourage support against things that down the road will result in much high consequences. When did we become a planned economy? People take out credit cards, it is the lenders decision to give them a credit card and the person’s decision to use it. What we need to be investing in right now is teaching Americans how to many their money responsibly. We need to teach Americans how to spend properly. Nothing will change unless with change the mindset of the American consumer.
Do not punish the credit card companies. Blame the government for enabling and encouraging people to fail by making it easier for more Americans to spend more with less consequences. —Jason
May I Offer You Other Products...Really?
May I Interest You In Other Products, Really?
I recently received a notice of amendment to terms from Bank of America. My interest rate was going from less than 5 percent to almost 12 percent. I have been a platinum card holder with B of A for over 10 years. I have very good credit scores. I have never been late on a payment, and always pay more than the minimum. I do carry a balance, and consider myself among their better customers. When I spoke with a representative and asked for reconsideration, he said the change in terms was across the board for all customers. Since they received bailout money, I feel as though I'm paying them twice - once as a taxpayer and again as a customer. The interest rates the bank is being charged are very low. I know it is less costly for them to keep customers than it is to get new customers, so I was surprised they did not reconsider the rate change. Instead, the representative asked if I was interested in other B of A services, like a mortgage loan for example. Really? Why would I want to do business with them after being treated this way? I don't. I rejected the change in terms and my account will be closed. Sad, very sad. I am truly sick of the greed in this country. -Sue C., Bloomington, Ill.
You Don't Ask Power Companies For Lower Rates
I received a notice from Capital One that they were going to increase my credit card rate from 9 percent to 21 percent because of “worsening economic” conditions. I asked if they could lower my rate because I was never late on any of my payments. I spoke to a customer service rep who was really no help but only yelled at me and told me “you don’t go to the power company or the gas company and ask them to lower the rate, do you?” That was all I got was a rep being snappy! And on top of that I have two credit cards with them and they didn’t increase the rate on the second card! -Lee F.
As a small business owner, i rely on my citi mastercard to make online purchases. My credit line was $25,000.00. I was never late in the five years that i had the card and paid off all balances in full every month. About 4 months ago, I was denied credit by Citi when i presented the card. I called Citi and they told me that they had cut my credit from 25,000 to $5,800. - Walter R.
Learning A Lesson
...How is it permissible for the credit card companies to change the terms under which that debt was incurred? I can understand them changing the interest rate going forward, but how can they do so retroactively? Can you imagine if lenders were allowed to do this to mortgages and car loans? I do not know why the rules are so different when it comes to credit card companies and hope the White House is able to do something to help consumers. The changes to the regulations that have already been approved do not take effect until July 2010 - still plenty of time for the credit card companies to do whatever they want prior to the rules going into effect.If nothing else, this has taught us a valuable lesson. Once we payoff our current debt, we will do our best to not allow ourselves to get into this situation again. Right now we are truly controlled by the lenders, and that is not a good feeling. - Tina W., Springfield, VA
Paying For Others Stupidity
I just like the little non-personal letter I received from Discover stating that the price of business is forcing us to raise your rates, by a lot. I just don't get how punishing a good credit card holder for the stupidity of others and poor business decisions is a good decision. Way to go and encourage me to use your card, idiots. -Matthew
How About A 'Thank You'
Chase card rate has gone from 9.9 to 14.9!!! No reason, explanation or THANK YOU for my contribution to their billions in first quarter profits!! Guess when their stupidity is rewarded with "free" tax payer money, then are permitted to rape and pillage their cuatomers, a few billion in profit appears to be a pretty low bar!! -Jim P., Carmel, Ind.
Playing God With Credit Scores
Playing God With Credit Scores
I've had two companies listed lower my credit limit thus increasing my debt to available credit ratio. I've never had a late payment with these or anyother company for that matter and they are ruining my credit score not me! Help, they should not be able to do this. —Name Not Disclosed
Pay It Off And Stop Using The Card
I have been using credit card since I'm 18 (I'm 35 now) and have always paid my card off every month. I have about 10 credit cards from pretty much all the major banks and credit card company. I haven't gotten any notes from any company concerning account changes. I feel if the American consumer would be more financially responsible then there wouldn't be this issue. And if you use a credit card you are borrowing money from them so if you don't like their rules then pay it off and stop using credit card. — Tom What About My Grace Period?
What About My Grace Period?
If Congress is giving the credit card companies more than a year to enforce new, stronger consumer rules, why can't the same legislation state that when a credit card company wants to change the terms of their agreement with a consumer, that the credit card company should be forced to take the same 18 months to implement! —Bruce, Chicago
Stop Bailing Out the Irresponsible
Only deadbeats will claim they've been abused by credit card companies. I love to use my credit card because they give me rewards. I do not carry balances. I do not care if they jack up my rate to 10000 percent as I ain't paying a penny because I do not carry balances. People who live beyond their means will be impacted. Stop baiing out the irresponsible. —K.G.
Eleven years, never missed a payment, always send way more than the minimum and they jacked my interest to 17.5% plus prime. All with the excuse of saying "due to extraordinary changes in the economic environment." Credit card companies engender the very worst abuses of our capitalist system. They are bottom feeders. —P.S.
I have been a customer of Bank of America for almost 10 years. I have never missed a payment and my credit score was 894. They recently sent me a letter they were raising my APR from 9.99 to 14.99. I opted out and will keep my rate, however I cannot use my card anymore. I will be leaving them very soon and closing my account. —Mike A.
My credit card company, Visa, has routinely increased my credit limit over the years from $1,000 to $24,800 without ever having any input from me. Earlier this week, I received a notice from them that they were lowering my limit to $12,500, an amount that I have never and will never approach for expenditures.
Some folks might suggest that they've treated me unfairly by lowering the limit. I think that they deluded themselves into thinking that I would approach the maximum amount, fail to pay off balances, and incur late fees and finance charges. Since I pay off the balance each month, they never get any of those from me. If they lowered the credit limit to $4,000, they'd still be deluding themselves. —Michael F.
Kids, Pets and Thieves
Credit card companies have given credit cards to people who could not possibly pay. Criminals, minor children, animals, people without social security numbers, people that do not exist. I was the victim of identity theft. The criminal was caught, went to prison, admitted the theft. The credit card companies never went after the criminal. They wrote off all the debt.... Now the American taxpayer is supposed to pay for all these charge offs. This is criminal theft of the American taxpayer. —Debra M.
My Rates Were Doubled
My Rates Were Doubled
I have excellent credit scores and my credit card companies have doubled my rates. The companies are Chase and FIA. —J.H.
The Last to Know
Citi canceled 4 of my cards, why, because I had paid them off and wasn't using them. Oh, and by the way, they "forgot" to tell me so the first I knew was when I tried to use one of the cards last fall. Happily, I still have Chase, BoA and Amex cards and pay them off every month. —Trudy S.
Culprits Should Be Punished
We have a Bank of America card in which I have never been late on our payments and we usually pay off at the end of the month, or hold a small balance on the card. The card was at 9.99 percent. We got a notice in the mail that next month they are raising our rate to 15.85 percent. I later found out that Bank of America is no longer allowing credit cards below 10 percent, and if the cardholder's is under 10 percent, to move their rate up.
...I have paid off my card in full and...I’m tempted to cancel it, but another issue has developed, no other card companies are offering anything less than 10 percent!
What is really distressing is that we didn’t over-buy our house, car, etc…We are basically debt free except for the house mortgage, and we get treated like we are sub-human by these companies in which our tax dollars are bailing out!
I think that the culprits of this economic mess, (Greenspan and the rest of his cronies on Wall Street, as well as the purchasers of these exotic lending vehicles) should be punished for their greed and incompetence. —Bradley J.
Kicking Them While They're Down
The credit card companies are abusing people who are being impacted by the economy negatively already. Those of us who needed to use credit for daily use, and charged money based on a less than 10 percent interest rate, are now seeing interest rates as high as 29 percent. We spent the money at a certain interest rate, but are now being charged until those charges are paid off at a completely different interest rate. We never would have used the credit cards in the first place had these been the original rates. If Citibank/Chase/etc. told me that my interest rate was going to be 29 percent, I would have stored that card in my sock drawer and never used it. —Holly
Breach of Contract
Several years ago, I transferred a balance to Chase, who guaranteed fixed rate of 3.99 percent until balance is paid off. In December, Chase decided to breach contract and raised my rate to 7.99 percent, or alternatively, they asked me to pay a $10 monthly fee and raised the minimum payment to 5 percent of the balance. My other option was to close my account. Please note, never late with anybody, (and the card) does not have excessive credit utilization.
I think that they should not be allowed to breach contracts, when other business/people are not allowed to do that. What if the mortgage company would say - OK your 30-year mortgage is due tomorrow, or you pay double. —J.P.
Bringing It Themselves
People Bring It On Themselves
In my experience, insofar as credit cards are concerned, those that suffer “abuse” are those that default, are late with their payments, or who exceed their prescribed credit limits. Those with decent credit and who observe the rules have all kinds of alternatives and don’t have to tolerate anything less than perfectly acceptable treatment.
For the most part, all of this hubbub about the “credit card companies” is nothing less than incidents of cardholders not performing as agreed, getting zapped, then whining about how they’re mistreated. A bit of advice from an old vet: act and live responsibly and within your means, and when you don’t, grow up, quit whimpering, and stop expecting the federal government to castigate those who take advantage of your stupidity and irresponsibility. —Larry
That Will Cost You
I switched to online payment of my card through my bank account. I get my statement online. My computer at home broke and I wanted to switch back. Get this: a $5.00 per statement FEE for 'paper billing'! —Chris R.
The Penalty of Being Late
I had one account, which I paid through my Internet banking account, it posted a day late and my rate went from 9.90 percent to 26 percent. This was not 30 days late, it was less than 24 hours late. I have never had a late payment on any account on my credit report, but this gives these banks a license to steal. I will pay the account off in full shortly, but there are many who don’t have this ability, and they are being taken advantage of by these banks. Their excuse is their cost of funds is increasing. From what I read, they don’t have much of a cost of funds at all. —Alan C.
Tax Dollars At Work?
I thought the agreement with the credit card company was a contract. If so, it is a one-way contract that they can change at any time in their favor, without notice, and using very fine print. Last week I was told that my interest rate had gone up from 9.75 percent to 14.75 percent. This is a 55.6 percent increase!....All this from a company that my tax dollars (amongst others) are keeping alive. They are borrowing from the FED at close to zero percent, yet they have to increase all the fees at a time when my pay has been cut by over 50 percent. In France they used the guillotine to correct such outrageous behavior. —Tom N.
Moving My Business Elsewhere
I am an ex-commercial banker with a 774 Fico score and have not missed any loan or credit card payment (VISA, MC, Discover, AMEX) in the past 15 years. In the last two months, I have had two major card companies raise my rates between 600 & 1000 (basis points) on outstanding balances. The retroactive nature of the change is what galls me. Rules were changed after I made the decision to use their product, just because they were getting hit by market conditions. Boo hoo...why should i assume their business risk.
I easily could have made the decision to finance purchases in a different manner, but chose their product and now I am stuck unless I want to pay additional fees to re-fi elsewhere. I will close these accounts as soon as possible to credit unions where my business is appreciated. Have heard many similar stories.
Have also had two other major issues cancel my cards (no balances outstanding) and then ask me to re-apply within 30 days. I had held these cards for 10+ years. Again...my business now resides elsewhere. —Jim H.
How Do You Treat Loyal Customers?
My complaint is about Bank of America's MasterCard. I had their Platinum Plus card with a $50,000.00 credit limit. Have had the card since 1988. I have always paid the balance well in advance of the due date. I have never had a balance carried over from month to month....On April 7, 2009, I received a letter from BofA advising me that my credit limit would be cut in half to $25,000.00. I have never done anything to deserve that type of treatment.... I called to complain and asked them to reconsider. I was told the decision was final. I was so outraged that I canceled my card. I will never have anything more to do with a company that treats loyal customers like that. —Name withheld upon request
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