Capital One Will Ruin This Guy's Credit One Way Or Another

Joseph is having problems paying his Capital One card, mainly because Capital One keeps making it hard for him to pay it, and then reports his payments past due after they’ve cleared the bank. Now he wants to know what he can do to remedy the situation.

In 2006 I received a pre-approved card from Capital One, I had used it once or twice and always payed my bill on time, In early spring of 2007 I had cut up the card as I did not want to use it anymore, and just wanted to pay it off. In Jan of 2008 I was no longer able to log in to the online bill payment section of the site, which was fine for the first month as I just sent a check in the mail to pay the bill.

I moved in Feb and called them to change my address, I had the lady on the line repeat it back to me to make sure it was correct and it took her 3 time to get it correct.

I had also asked her to fix my online account so I could pay my bill online once more and she transferred me to the online support. I asked the guy who I was talking to to fix the account and he said that he would un-freeze it. (I never bothered to ask why it was frozen in the first place). He told me to wait up to 24 hours for it to become unfrozen before I log in, I tried to log in later that week to pay my bill, and was still unable to.

As I was unable to pay my bill online I just waited for my statement and once again payed with a check, I payed with a check until May when I called to ask them to fix my account once again, and they claimed I had a bad check. But upon checking my bank statement It showed that the check went through.

In total I had talked to over 10 people during a three month period, and payed over 200 dollars to them. I requested a new card, which was never received.

This last week I had payed my bill 2 weeks before it was due, and payed more than the minimum amount. I checked on the account today and noticed that the payment went through and somehow I now have a past due payment, which I did not have before, and that I was -0 available credit, I don’t see how this is possible seeing as I had been paying the minimum amount each month for a year, without using my card and had over 100 dollars available earlier that week and that it went down after paying my bill…

I have tried to fix this multiple times with no results… I am a young individual, and now I have horrible credit… Was just hoping you guys could help.

Perfect Credit, no more… Thanks Capital one

Okay, Joseph. We’re not sure what your current balance is, or your current financial situation, but here’s what we think you should do to fix this situation.

First, go over your story and document it in as much detail as possible—there’s a lot of gaps in the above account. The months where your check cleared but they marked it late are particularly important. Also document to the best of your recollection every customer service call you made, what it was you requested on that call, and whether or not it was followed-up on the Capital One side. If you started using the account again after cutting up the card, or if you took cash advances, note it. Put all of this in a single document and make sure it’s easy for you to reference while you’re on the phone.

Make sure you have a case before the next step—if it turns out you mailed payments later than you thought, or missed a month, or you charged up your balance again in the past 12 months and forgot to include that in your story, then accept responsibility. When you contact Capital One, it should be to request that they correct an error on their part that you have clearly documented—not to help bail you out of a mistake you made.

Call Capital One’s executive customer service line and request assistance. (Try these numbers: 703-720-2500 and 800-548-4593.) Explain that you’ve been repeatedly locked out of your account, that your checks are clearing before the due date yet payments are being marked late, etc. Make it clear what you want to accomplish, for example:

  • remove any incorrect late fees
  • regain online access to your account
  • receive a new card

If Capital One can’t help you and you have proof that you’re right and they’re wrong, file a dispute with each credit reporting agency. Check out this post for advice on how to file disputes.

Another thing you should do if Capital One won’t help you is close the account. You’ll have to pay it off like an open credit card but won’t have access to it anymore, and yes, it will impact your credit score. But if you can’t trust Capital One to report your payments correctly and they refuse to help you correct the matter, you’re better off avoiding them entirely and waiting for another credit offer to come along to build up credit. The ding from closing the account will be less damaging than repeated dings from billing errors, if they won’t fix them.

Stay on top of your credit history and Capital One—remember to check your credit report every four months. It’s free if you use and request your free report from only one of the three agencies each time. Do not use!

And lastly, always pay more than the minimum on any credit card bill, even if it’s just $5-10. You’ll ultimately save more money in the long run by paying less interest, and some creditors may even report you as paying more than the minimum.


Edit Your Comment

  1. morganlh85 says:

    The word is P-A-I-D.

  2. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Also it may help to contact your local Attorney General’s office and file a complaint.

  3. CharlesjP says:

    I have also had trouble with CapOne with being locked out of my online account, it took about a week and 2-3 CSR calls to fix it, and during that time they accepted my payment over the phone and waived the fee for doing so.

  4. STrRedWolf says:

    After you file the dispute, I would “lawyer up” and start paying the card’s bill into an escrow account. That would be the tipping point for me.

  5. Todbartod says:

    My first CC was a Capital One card with a $200 limit. After always
    paying my bill on time and getting a couple of other cards with much
    higher limits, I called them to see if they would raise my limit and/or
    lower my interest rate. They refused so I cancelled the card. Why would
    I keep a card with a $200 limit and a 20% interest rate when I had
    thousands of dollars in credit available at a much lower rate? I avoid
    Capital One now and only use my credit union card. They are only
    interested in taking advantage of people with bad credit so they can
    charge them outrageous interest rates.

    To the OP, you may want to look into credit card companies that will
    allow you to do a balance transfer at 0% interest. With the credit card
    companies hurting as much as they are, you might be able to get a much
    better deal. Oh and absolutely pay more than the minimum payment. Come
    up with a payment plan and stick to it to pay off your debt. Otherwise,
    you are just giving all that money in interest to Capital One. But
    first, I would make sure they reverse the late fees.

  6. GearheadGeek says:

    CapitalOne is in the business of screwing people with bad credit. It’s their specialty. It only makes sense that they’d want to ruin anyone’s credit they could, because that results in more people with bad credit stuck with their fee-riddled accounts, unable to escape credit hell because they can’t pay their way out of CapitalOne’s evil clutches.

  7. lalaland13 says:

    Jeezy creezy, this sounds crappy. Yeah, do pay more than the minimum. Even if just a little bit. I figure with a $15 minimum, I should be able to pay at least $30 a month even in a really bad month. And most months I’ve paid a lot more, plus kept my balances low. But yeah, it’s easy to get swindled at first. If my mom hadn’t filed for bankruptcy, I’d probably be a lot less paranoid.

    Also, I hate commercials. I do. I’ve been inside their call center, and while it’s not as bad as a telemarketing place, it’s not…great.

  8. mitchelwb says:

    Now I like reading consumerist and all… but wow. Nice job on this one. Fantastic advice given to a young fella. Everything from the executive customer service line to advice to man up if he is at fault and all points in between. I do so wish more consumerist articles were this thorough rather than typically leaving it to the comment wolves. Thanks for this.

  9. AgentTuttle says:

    Credit card companies are really good at charging late fees to pad their profits. Most people don’t notice. My g/f pays early at a drop box IN their office and sometimes still has to dispute a late fee! (Bad weather over Dallas)

  10. humphrmi says:

    Also, after you’ve documented everything that Chris suggested above, start working the credit reporting agencies. Do a soft pull from each one, review the report, and start filing challenges on each one for each incorrect negative mark. Don’t wait for Capital One to fix it for you, even if they fix up your account they are not really legally obliged to fix your credit report until you start filing challenges to each black mark.

    It takes a lot of work because you have to challenge and chase up each incorrect negative mark individually (at least, last time I dealt with this.) But eventually you can restore your credit.

    And as others said, keep filing complaints up the regulatory and legal food chain until it all gets resolved.

  11. sleze69 says:

    Find out the balance, get another card, transfer the balance.

    Shenanigans over.

  12. FYI, ONE screw up doesn’t automatically send you from “perfect” (850) to “horrible” (500) credit. You maybe lost 1 point, perhaps 2, if any. If you have horrible credit because this, you probably didn’t have perfect credit to begin with.

  13. ryan_h says:


    I wouldnt make drop box payments. employees are notorious for forgetting to check the lockbox every day.

  14. macinjosh says:

    @mitchelwb: Yeah, the editors have been slackin’ in their blame-the-victim duties. :)

  15. parad0x360 says:

    How is it possible that you have been paying the minimum for a year AND didnt use the card during that time and you only had $100 available?

    Even with obscene interest rates that makes no sense. Going by your post it sounds like you must have gone waaaaay over your limit somehow and the Creditor does not care to help you in anyway because you are a better payday if they dont.

  16. timmus says:

    Capital One is the turdpile of the credit card industry, no ifs and buts about it. That said I’d REALLY like to see the Consumerist try to intervene here and see if they have luck or if the monolithic corporate wall remains sealed.

  17. Scudder says:

    @parad0x360: Actually, if he was considered late, the interest and late fees probably piled up against any minimum payments made. Add on a fee for a bad check that Capital One claims he made and you’re really seeing no benefit of minimum payments against the outstanding balance.

  18. aerick says:

    First of all. want you want to do is this, making the min payment bad idea, You should be paying is the min payment and the finance charges. Or if you buy something and you still have a balance on the card. Just pay off the purchase amout and you wont get any fin charges

  19. newcastle says:

    Yeah, their online site stinks. When I first activated my online account it took me a while to figure it out. Not only does your username have to be unique (as you would expect), but your password has to be unique. I kept getting errors saying that the password was already in use. WTF?

  20. Pro-Pain says:

    NEVER EVER use Capital One. One of the WORST companies ever. Pay off that card and cancel the account. Best advice ever.

  21. PinkBox says:

    I have an old Capital One card that I never use because of their site. About 95% of the time it won’t even let me log on, and gives me an Access Denied message.

    If you email them about it asking when they expect their site problems to be repaired, they’ll simply reply with a catch-all “We cannot answer account specific questions via email”, when it isn’t an account specific question at all.

    I imagine a lot of people try to make their payments on time and end up not being able to access their account online.

  22. cashmerewhore says:


    THANK YOU. My God, PAYED makes me “stabby”.

  23. drakono says:

    I know this makes me sound heartless, but I have NO sympathy for a person who pays only the minimum on a credit card. That’s right — NONE whatsoever.

    Want to make a purchase, but don’t have the money to pay for it this month? Wait until you do. A credit card is not free money.

    Need to buy something that you can’t afford, and you really can’t wait? Have a plan to pay it off soon (6 months or less) or find another loan source. If it’s an inexpensive item, this should be possible. If it’s an expensive item, most stores will have some form of financing, often interest-free for up to a year. Credit card interest rates are way too high to use them as a loan.

  24. ltlbbynthn says:

    My mom had a problem with Capital One starting to hold her payments for like a week and making the payment due date earlier, and raising the interest rate but she never paid late.

    She complained the the BBB and they got Cap One to fix everything within a very reasonable time.

  25. darksunfox says:

    CapitalOne’s online system is really buggy. I know one time after getting a new card (lost old card), I tried logging in and couldn’t. The error message said, “Our online banking service is unavailable at this time. Please try again later.” So I did that for about 3 days, then my bill came close to payment and I called… had to pay my bill over the phone and they had to cancel my account and reopen my online account (over about 3 hours on the phone). I was like, “Does this happen every time someone loses a card?” “No, I’ve never seen one like this before…” Yeah, right.

  26. parrotuya says:

    Capital One sucks! That is why I closed my account. Join a credit union and get a credit card from there instead.