Watch Out For Payment Date Errors—And Related Finance Charges—From Chase

Mike used an Office Depot Visa card issued through Chase to take advantage of a pay-no-interest deal through 2008. He paid off the remaining balance a couple of days before the offer period ended, but Chase still slapped him with a nearly $40 interest charge. Why? Because they’ve been “having problems like that” with Office Depot cards.

During the 2007 Christmas season, Office Depot had a big sale promotion on certain laptops, including a large rebate, plus no payments and interest-free financing until January 2009, if the customer used the Office Depot Visa card, run by Chase.

I bought a laptop as a gift, using my Office Depot (Chase) Visa credit card. In the closing months of 2008, I began paying on the balance. By December 2008, I owed $187.65. My Chase Visa statement in early January ’09, stated that next payment was due by February 2, 2009. But, I noticed that the promotional period was ending on January 31, 2009. So, I made an electronic payment for the full balance on January 29, 2009, two days ahead of the no interest promotion’s end date, and five days before the bill’s due date. That should be that, right?

Guess what? My next Chase Visa statement had an extra $37.31 in “finance” charges posted on February 2!

I received my statement on February 18 and called Chase. The customer rep checked my records and confirmed that Chase received my payment on Jan. 29 — within the promotional period — and agreed that there should have been NO finance charge. She said she was reversing the improper $37.31 in interest for me. She also indicated that “we” (meaning Chase) had been having “problems” like that with the Office Depot card a lot.

So, I wonder just how many thousands of other customers, paying on time, are getting ripped off but don’t catch this overcharge?

We agree, it’s probably an easy charge to overlook if you don’t keep an eye on your credit card statement. But Mike points out another trick that probably catches a lot of consumers who assume they’re following the rules correctly: the promotion period ended two days before the standard payment due date:

It’s dubious fairness any way to have a “promotional rate” that ends on a date other than a payment due date, but at least those dates were disclosed on my statement. Even so, how many people missed that distinction, paid their balance “on time” by Feb. 2, only to discover that they got socked with a large interest charge because the “promotion” ended 2 days before they paid their bill on time?

But, what Chase did to me is totally inexcusable: I honored all the terms of our contract, and Chase still tried to charge me almost $40 for interest on a no-interest promotion.

Ya gotta watch your back when dealing with Chase, Mike. They’re sneaky like that.

(Photo: Logan Antill)