Our post on freezing your credit cards in a block of ice got me thinking. Anything that slows, stops, or impedes making transactions can be used as a technique for limiting your spending. Whatever it may be, cutting up your credit cards, locking up most of your money in an account it takes 3 days to transfer from, giving yourself an allowance, it will be a variation on a single principle: It’s easier to put a hard limit on the future then to make the right decision in the impulsive moment. Installing some kind of an automatic hiccup can help break you out of your desire-driven action and give you the breathing room to step back and make the right choice. So if you have trouble with overspending (or overeating or any kind of bad habit) and your sheer willpower is sometimes lacking, aka, you’re human, try brainstorming ways you can trip yourself up. The world is full of obstacles, it shouldn’t be too hard to find one.
Credit card companies need to penalize bad behavior with outrageous fees to keep credit affordable for the rest of us, right? Yeah, not so much. Credit Slips blogger and Georgetown Law Professor Adam Levitin argues that risk-based pricing is a myth that credit card companies exploit to escape well-deserved government regulation.
Meet Judy, Sears’ ideal customer. When Judy’s husband died ten years ago, Sears, like her other creditors, assured her that she could continue using her account. Since then, Judy has used her Sears card to buy a washer, dryer, and refrigerator. Yet when Judy recently tried to buy a $142 saw, Sears insisted on immediately closing her account because it was in her late-husband’s name.
How A Forgotten Blockbuster Video Caused A 2 1/2 Year Battle With Discover Card And Collection Agencies
“Universal Default” is when your credit card company adjusts the terms of your loan because you “defaulted” with another company. In reader P.’s case the “default” was a Blockbuster video that his friend forgot to return. Discover Card took this opportunity to double P.’s interest rate. When he tried to fight it by closing his account, it launched him into a 2 1/2 year legal battle with Discover, a collection agency, and now the credit bureaus.
Reader Brandon sent us this picture of a McDonald’s violating its merchant agreement by charging a fee for using a credit or debit card. The text reads, “FEE ASSOCIATED WITH CREDIT/DEBIT CARD OF 25¢ WILL BE APPLIED TO CARD TOTAL.”
Reader Gary used his Bank of America credit card to pay $2 on a parking meter in Washington, DC. Bank of America treated it as a cash advance and slapped him with a $10 fee, as well as a higher APR. When Gary called to complain, he learned that it wasn’t an error: Bank of America has started treating payments to parking meters as cash advances and may even treat all payments to government entities as cash advances.
Last year Citigroup pledged to abandon the customer-screwing policy of universal default, where an unrelated late payment or credit score change can trigger an interest rate increase on your Citibank card. They even used a marketing phrase to promote their promise: “a deal is a deal.” According to the New York Times, Citigroup is “quietly reconsidering its pledge” and may decide to reinstate universal default as early as this week.
Got a Chase credit card? Check your bill to see if the due date shrunk. For the past ten months, the due date on reader NDphoxylady’s four Chase credit card due date was the fifteenth. Then, without warning or notice, it became the tenth. NDphoxylady only noticed when she was charged a $39 late fee and a $20 finance charge. When she complained to Chase, they told her that simply changing the due date on the bill was adequate notice. Nu-uh
The FTC claims that CompuCredit didn’t properly disclose that it monitored spending and cut credit lines if consumers used their cards at certain places. Among them: tire and retreading shops, massage parlors, bars, billiard halls, and marriage counseling offices. “What they didn’t say was that you could be punished for specific kinds of purchases.”
9 big credit card myths [MSN Money] “What you don’t know could hurt you.”
Billshrink.com is going to bring a never-before-seen level of transparency to consumers looking for the best credit card offer. Think of it as a turbocharged dashboard for navigating the credit card market. The site launched earlier this year as wireless plan comparison service, but with personal debt at record highs and personal savings rates at record lows, the credit card vector is potentially even more important and useful tool. I sat down with CEO Peter Pham yesterday as he showed me the actual website in action.
Didn’t you hate not having access to credit when you were 6? Today’s kids don’t have to suffer like you did. Meet Bennett Christiansen of Aurora, IL. He’s got a shiny new Bank of America credit card with a $600 limit.
If you have trouble controlling the amount and frequency of your credit card purchases, try putting your credit card in a glass of water and putting it in the freezer. This makes it so every time you want to use your credit card, you’ll have to wait for the credit card to melt. By the time the ice has thawed, your desire to impulsively purchase may have evaporated as well. I read about this in Predictably Irrational; Dan Ariely called it, “The Ice Glass Method.” Apparently, it doesn’t ruin the credit card, although it will if you try to microwave-defrost it. This method is probably only good for people who do their shopping sprees in-person. Online shopaholics would just look through the ice.
Yechial wants to know why his Chase BP Visa card, which offers 5% rebates on gas purchases, costs him more to use at BP stations than if he pays with cash. He asked a BP station owner in Pennsylvania about this and the station owner told him it was because credit transaction fees had gone up—”When I told him that I would report his station to BP and to Chase Bank, he said, ‘Screw you! I don’t care, report me. They are the ones charging us more money for the transactions.'”
A MasterCard spokesperson has confirmed, just like we’ve been telling you all along, that a store cannot refuse to sell you something solely because you refuse to provide additional identification along with your MasterCard. The only time it’s ok is if it’s required for shipping, or when you’re at a gas pump or making orders via internet, phone, or mail, in which case they can use the MasterCard Address Verification System (AVS). But if you’re in a store, right in front of them, in the flesh, it violates their MasterCard merchant agreement. Consumers experiencing this can fill out a Merchant Violation form found in the FAQ/Contact US part of Mastercard.com. Full statement, inside…
When I asked for more details, the representative (who sounded like he was from India), took vengeance on my account and told me he was closing the account and that there was nothing I could do. When I asked for his manager, he said “There is nothing he can do, the account is closed.” —CLICK— And that was the sound of him hanging up the telephone.
A zealous Discover rep tried to get Richard to sign up for a “protection program” by speeding through the details of the agreement as fast as possible—you know, the fine print part that makes it clear you’re agreeing to a paid service. When Richard made it clear that he wanted to hear the details again and that no, he hadn’t agreed to anything, the rep hung up on him. Discover, maybe you want to have a talk with your reps about their sales techniques.