Consumer Complaints: Credit Card Industry

  • Everyone has an ANGRY voice

    What did people do before the advent of sites like Pissed Consumer, Ripoff Report, and Consumerist? Huddle in fear? Silently cope with interest rate hikes and bad customer service? Today, it seems that consumers will take no amount of mistreatment whatsoever without letting the whole world know about it. Online complaint forums make it easier than ever to scream (interest rate) murder -- you don't even need good grammar, proper spelling... or sanity to get your story out there. MainStreet sifted through hundreds of such complaints about the credit card industry and found a few gems.Photo Credit: kainr
    Chase "slashing" credit lines?
  • Chase "slashing" credit lines?

    This one comes from Nancy in Pembroke Pines, Fla, via, and concerns Chase (Stock Quote: JPM): "Chase Credit cards makes up lies as reason to cut credit limits in half. Chase sent me a letter stating my credit limit was being cut in half due to reasons found in my experian credit file.  They stated 1- Too few accounts paid as agreed. Bull! I have perfect credit with over 30 accounts paid as agreed and never late.  2-Balances are too high. Bull, of a total of 21,000 available credit on multiple accounts I only had a few thousand combined balances. 3- Credit line grew to quickly do to time. Bull ! I earned high credit lines over a ten year period with excellent payment history.  They made it all up.  I called to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission…They said many people were filing the same complaints." An update posted a couple months later says the kvetching finally paid off: "I had filed a report with the 'Federal Reserve', the Federal Reserve opened a complaint with Chase Bank, and I got my full credit line back.  They never did appologize for lying about it, but did restore my credit line back to the full amount. I suggest everyone file a complaint with the Federal Reserve website if you want your line restored."(The Federal Reserve's consumer contact info for complaints and tips can be found here.) Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Stuck with 33% interest rate
  • Stuck with 33% interest rate

    Jim from Illinois said he got stuck with a painful 33% interest rate on a small business credit card account. Here's his unedited comment: "I tried on several occassions to get a lower rate (currently at 33%) and after so much transferring and the run around they either hang up on me or never call back yet they call you the the minute you miss a payment. Is there any king of lawsuit against unfair raises in interest rates? I've been paying these guys there 33% for a while now and it makes me sick knowing how I'm getting ripped off and no way to get them to reduced my interest rate." Unfortunately this one doesn't appear to have a positive update. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Punished for trying to open a new account?
  • Punished for trying to open a new account?

    This alleged experience, posted on, sounds rough: "I recently applied for a Bank of Hawaii business credit card based on an advertisement on the monthly statement of my Bank of Hawaii business account. Not only was the card denied, FIA Card services also reviewed my two lines of credit with the Bank of America. The clerk anounced not only was she denying me a credit card through the Bank of Hawaii, she also was going to close my $30,000 personal credit card from the Bank of America. This is a 9 year old line, I have never missed a payment, always pay early and always pay more than a minimum. She was absolutely firm about this decision and would not let me speak to her supervisor, who she said was 'out of the office'. She did release his name. I am a small business owner who has managed to stay in business during these difficult times and this is the customer service they provide... Small Businesses provide 95% of the jobs in this country and we are the ones that need the credit to turn the economy around. Credit is the life blood of small businesses. Where is the reform/bailout working?" It is admittedly hard to judge whether this one is true without knowing the card issuer's reason for closing that nine year old credit line in good standing, or how the Bank of Hawaii was able to effect a line of credit with another creditor (anyone experience anything like this?). Sounds a bit like “universal default” in reverse. Universal default is when creditors slash your credit line or raise your interest rates based on poor credit with another creditor.Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Using economic climate as excuse for usury?
  • Using economic climate as excuse for usury?

    This alleged experience paints Capital One (Stock Quote: COF) as anything but hassle-free: "I have been customer of Capital One for years. I always paid my bills on time and always in excess of the minimum payments. Originally I got sucked in by one of those 0% teaser rates. I knew my rate would go up a few points at some time in the future however; I had no clue that this company would later, suddenly significantly increase my rate by 7 percent in a month. Over the years and months Capital One kept raising my rates a little bit at a time. Last month it had reached a peak rate of around 10 plus percent. On my last bill, this company raised my rate 7 percent to 17.9%. I must've talked to 6 or 7 customer service agents in 3 different countries (India, Canada and US). None of these customer service agents could tell me specifically 'why' my rate was significantly increased. All of their standard, programmed answers were 'because of the economic crisis'. Not only could they not tell my why my specific rate was increased so dramatically, they added that some customers had their rates increased to over 30% (like that was going to make me feel better!). I was 'floored'. I immediately got online and paid off my $4.3k balance and cut up my card. I'll NEVER do business with Capital One again and will never recommend this company to anybody." At least this particular cardholder was fortunate to have enough money on-hand to pay off the entire balance. Sometimes this is the best solution if the company is unwilling to budge. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Freshman lured in
  • Freshman lured in

    "It was my first year of college and I had it all -- my own room, freedom, and the experience to travel. It didn't take long before the big credit card companies set up a booth in the lobby of our cafeteria and convinced everyone that all you had to do was sign up to get the free T-shirts displayed on the tables. I didn't think anything of it at first. I mean what harm could it do, right? Wrong. Before I knew it, the T-shirt was buried beneath the many clothes that I had bought with what my friends and I had convinced ourselves to be 'free' money. It wasn't long before the collectors were calling, and without the luxury of Caller ID, we learned that it was best to screen each other's calls," reads one MSN Money reader's pedestrian horror story. Moral of the story: never trust a free t-shirt. And never use a credit card before you have a reliable source of income. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Finance charges
  • Finance charges

    One cardholder alleges that finance charges were assessed even after the account had been paid off in full: "I decided to close my Chase credit card after they more than doubled my interest rate, even though my account was current, normally had low balances and I paid on time. In August, I called Chase and asked how much to pay off account. I used my bank's online service to get the payoff amount to Chase quickly. Less than a month later I received a bill for a finance charge on the closed account! When I called I was told that the payment was received during the next cycle, yet I paid off the account before the payment was due!" If something like this ever happens to you, save as much documentation as possible and present the company with the hard facts. If they are still unwilling to remove the finance charge, contact an executive at the company with a formal letter or seek assistance from regulatory agencies. Photo Credit: lara604
    Not so fine
  • Not so fine

    Michael Mayo, a news columnist at the Sun-Sentinel, blogged about his less than optimal experience with Bank of America (Stock Quote: BAC): "I got a letter from Bank of America the other day. The fine folks at Bank of America wanted to let me know that they were raising my credit card interest rates. Currently, the card has an 8.9 percent fixed annual rate on purchases. I have a credit line of $13,700 and a balance of $1,004. I’ve never been late with a payment. The fine folks at Bank of America, who’ve spent the last few years buying up failed institutions like Countrywide and Merrill Lynch and taking some $163 billion in taxpayer bailout pledges, let me know that as of May, my interest would change to a variable rate of 14.65 percent annually. From a fixed 8.9 percent to a variable 14.65 percent -- such a deal! The variable rate will be pegged somewhat to the prime rate plus an extra margin of 10.65 percent. I say somewhat because the current prime rate is 3.25 percent, but the bank's fine print says, as a starting point, it gets to choose the highest prime rate in the previous three months from Feb. 27, 2009. The prime rate was 4 percent in December. The fine print also says it could substitute another index rate at any point. So basically customers are at the bank's mercy. My rate hike -- 5.66 points -- represents a 65 percent increase in interest charges." He goes on to explain that while he is allowed to refuse the offer, pay off the entire balance under the current terms, and close the account, this action could negatively impact his credit score by swiftly reducing his available credit line.Photo Credit: Getty Images
    $4,000 unauthorized withdrawal
  • $4,000 unauthorized withdrawal

    An American Express (Stock Quote: AXP) cardmember shared his horror story with Consumerist. To make a long tale short: AmEx allegedly "withdrew thousands of dollars from his bank account for a payment he had supposedly scheduled and then OK'd over the phone. The problem? He hadn't scheduled it, that wasn't him on the phone, and that wasn't his phone number." Moral of the story: well, first of all, that sucks. But to prevent this from happening to you, make sure your credit card issuer has your most recent contact information and phone number on file. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Insensitive, indifferent customer support
  • Insensitive, indifferent customer support

    One Bank of America credit cardholder allegedly called up the bank after realizing his APR had been bumped up to a blood-boiling 29.99% for paying two payments slightly late. He tried to reason with the woman he spoke with, mentioning his good credit score and the fact that he has never been late on his mortgage with the bank. She didn't care, according to his post: "She then said, 'Well sir you’re blaming the credit card company for your mistakes.' Well of course that comment really ticked me off so I said, 'OK I know I am not your biggest customer but I can tell you this: I will actively seek to move every penny, including my mortgage elsewhere.' She said 'OK' and I hung up." This bank representative was perfectly content to see him take his mortgage, credit card, savings and checking account business elsewhere. She, and the bank, were missing the forest for the trees. On the other hand, good luck getting new creditors in this market.Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Credit line slashed at worst possible time
  • Credit line slashed at worst possible time

    Another Bank of America credit cardholder allegedly had problems of a different sort... He called the bank hoping to get his interest rate lowered, which sounds like a wise move to us. Here's what happened next, though: "Not only did the senior credit analyst not lower my interest rate, she cut my line of credit because I was just laid off. Instead of having a cushion of $10K, I now have a cushion of $500. Twenty minutes ago, if I never made the call, my limit would have remained the exact same as it was last night. I also just heard that BOA is experiencing gains. Great." That really sucks. If you have been recently laid off, it is suggested that you not "volunteer" such information to your credit card company -- you don't want to give them any reason to doubt your ability to pay down a balance. Photo Credit: Getty Images
    Share your story
  • Share your story

    Have your own credit card horror story? MainStreet wants to hear it. Either tell us about it in the comments section, or better yet post your experience on our Facebook page which we check throughout the day. Posting on Facebook will make it easier for our reporters to get in touch with you if necessary. This is your chance to get your story out. Photo Credit: Getty Images
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