Last month we posted about Kevin Johnson, a 29-year-old self-employed businessman with excellent credit and an established history with American Express, who had his credit limit cut by 65% because AMEX said he was shopping at the wrong sorts of stores. Johnson has created a website called NewCreditRules.com to try to uncover what, exactly, he did wrong to fall under AMEX’s high risk category.
It looks like American Express is still in the throes of its “risk management” craziness and closing accounts without visible reason. Did Chris, who was just left stranded while on a business trip, shop at the wrong store? Did he fail an internal financial review that nobody told him about? Whatever the reason, it’s a good example of why you should have more than one credit account when traveling, so you don’t have to rely on the whims of any single faceless corporation.
AMEX is now cutting people’s credit limits for shopping at the wrong store.
Credit cards are so much worse than you thought, according to the 2008 Consumer Action credit card survey. Creditors have carte blanche to do pretty much whatever they want, including randomly changing terms, conditions, and rates, even to cardholders with perfect payment histories and pristine credit scores.
Next time you brush past your credit limit you may get hit with more than a hefty over-the-limit fee. The Red Tape Chronicles reports that credit card companies are starting to slap exuberant spenders with penalty interest rates. Compounding the danger to consumers, creditors are simultaneously rushing to slash credit limits.
The continuing subprime meltdown is leading jittery creditors to reduce cardholder credit limits at the first sign of trouble. According to a recent survey, up to 75% of banks are cutting credit limits to minimize their exposure to risk. The move can adversely affect credit scores, which are determined by considering the percentage of available credit used. From the Chicago Tribune:
A change can stem from late payments of any kind, a drop in your credit score or the addition of new lines of credit. Bryan found out limits on three cards were actually cut after he took out a home equity loan to pay off some debt.
Capital One will start reporting cardholder credit limits to the three credit bureaus, a common practice from which most cardholders had no idea their creditor abstained. Credit limits help TransUnion, Experian and Equifax determine credit utilization, which accounts for 30% of a credit score. Capital One’s decision, which will take effect by the end of the year, will likely boost its cardholders’ credit scores. From the Washington Post: