Warning From My Dad: Beware The Minimum Payment Hike

My dad (not pictured) is one of those guys stuck on an endless credit card treadmill, pretty much maxed out to the hilt and able to cover monthly minimum payments but not much else.

So it hit him pretty hard when Chase told him it was doubling his monthly minimum payment rate on a card (on which he’s carrying a $7,500 balance) from 2.5 percent to 5 percent of his total balance. The leap from payments south of $200 to $375 could be a budget-breaker. He called Chase customer service on several occasions and went as high up the escalations ladder as he could manage, but they told him nothing could be done — even though he has other Chase cards that aren’t getting monthly minimum hikes — and the change would take effect in 45 days.

A balance transfer isn’t an option because his other cards are maxed out and no new card he applies for will give him a limit of more than $500. He’s too scrupulous of a guy to ever go into negotiations to lower the bill or even consider declaring bankruptcy. Obviously you can tell from his financial situation that he’s not exactly a financial wizard, but he’s no dope, either. Just a middle-class guy who has ground his way through decades of modest work for modest pay in retail and clerical jobs, busting his hump — and nest egg — along with my mom to put three kids through school. (Although it is frustrating how he ignores my money-saving advice I’m always dropping on him — Cut the land line, old man!)

Dad suspects Chase’s strategy is to make it so he can’t afford his minimums, forcing him to miss a payment so his balance starts to skyrocket, and I think he’s on to something there. Any brilliant advice for my dad out there?

(Photo: me and the sysop)