As the economy continues to improve, credit card issuers have begun to loosen their vice grip on lending standards in order to raise borrowing limits for consumers. But the move to provide extend credit to those with blemished histories has raised concerns with consumer groups.
At Capital One, front-line customer service representatives wield enormous power. At least that’s how it seems based on Rachel’s story. She called in to request an increase to her credit limit, and received a small one. She accepted the increase over the phone, and all was well, until she received a letter telling her that she had been offered the limit increase and declined it. It appeared that the customer service representative had made a mistake. Easy enough to fix, right? Well… no. No one Rachel talks to has the power to override this all-powerful CSR’s typo.
Citicorp posted a $4.4 billion profit this past quarter. Pretty fantastic, right? How are they rewarding their loyal customers? By jacking their interest rates and closing their credit card accounts, of course.
A reader just had his credit limit lowered on a credit card due to some bad credit history that he says isn’t his. He’d like to see what’s going on with his credit report, but Equifax says he’ll have to pay for the privilege, because they have no record of any inquiries in the past 60 days. The reader asks, “Has this happened to anyone else, where a credit card company waited over 60 days to notify them of credit limit reductions? Also, does this violate the FCRA?”
Paul Smith, who lives in San Diego and has a credit score of 751, had his HSBC credit card limit lowered from $7,000 to $1,400 recently for mysterious reasons. He called HSBC to find out why.
Wait a minute…that headline sounds familiar. It doesn’t have the desolate ring that “stranded in Siberia” has, but Josiah recently found himself without available credit in Mumbai. He recently had made a large payment on his American Express balance, see, and AmEx cut his credit limit accordingly—down to his current balance. Stranded without money in Mumbai?
It’s not the responsibility of a credit card company to take care of you in an emergency, it’s true. But amid the many reports of canceled cards and slashed credit lines we’ve been receiving was the story of Elizabeth, her dog, a veterinary emergency, and a most inauspiciously timed credit line cut.
Travis is well aware that there’s a credit crunch on. That’s why he was surprised when, according to a mailing he received, Dell decided to increase his credit line. Not by a little, either. They increased it from $2,500 to $310,000. Wha? How does that happen? He’s just a regular consumer. Does anyone who isn’t an IT professional need a $310,000 Dell credit line?
Citibank Comes Up With Elaborate Cash Back Offer That Reduces Credit Limit And Temporarily Suspends Card
Compared to what some other banks and card companies are doing to reduce their exposure to debt, we guess Citibank’s cash back offer isn’t that bad—it’s sort of a “let us help you help yourself get rid of your debt” scheme. It’s funny, however, if only because it’s such an elaborate way to get customers to self-select for a reduction in credit.
Jon, like many American Express customers, had his credit limit slashed without warning recently. What he did next makes us feel all warm and fuzzy about our jobs here, because he found the necessary contact info buried in a post from 2007. Here’s his story, proof that sometimes persistence pays off.
Courey Gouker’s recent experience with American Express encapsulates every trick the company has pulled in the past few months to drive away their customers, including dropping the credit limit, hiking the rate, and even offering him a cash bonus to pay off his balance in full. In addition, the company’s CSRs made promises to him that they didn’t keep, and notes on his account have gone missing. About the only thing they haven’t done is email a photo of the CEO flipping him the bird.
A study from Fair Isaac confirms that even the best borrowers are seeing their credit lines slashed as banks move to boost profitability during the recession. 16% of Americans have seen their credit lines reduced by an average of $2,200, and of them, 11% had no late payments or negative marks on their credit report.
The more credulous you are, either because you’re new to the whole line-of-credit experience or because you’re uneducated, the more likely you are to mistake a high line of credit for an indication of your future earnings potential. You can see how this can lead to bad things, as noted by the researchers who studied this unfortunate problem earlier this decade. Luckily, the savvier you get about credit cards, the less influence your credit limit has on you, which is yet another great reason to make financial literacy education mandatory.
We’ve seen how available balances can disappear when lenders cut credit card limits, but SmartMoney points out that lenders can cut your limit below your current balance, causing all sorts of problems. They’ll send you a notice, of course, but you may not receive it for several weeks. Your best bet is to set up your own alert system. A web-based financial service (like Mint) will send you an email or SMS alert if your available balance drops below a specified threshold.
Like many credit cards, Citibank is cutting people’s credit limits left and right but apparently if you call up and ask to get your credit limit back to where it was, they’ll do it for you. Classic tactic: Conduct adverse action, easily fix it for the small amount of people who complain, profit from the difference. As ever, squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Despite sending customers letter saying otherwise, American Express now insists that it never blacklisted cardholders based on where they shopped. Those notes explaining that “other customers who have used their card at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express?” Whoops! Just a big misunderstanding! Not unlike the comment they gave to ABC explaining that “shopping patterns” were used as a “contributing factor” in slashing credit lines, a statement AmEx later retracted. So what’s really going on? Let’s explore…