If you’ve fallen into a debt pit and can’t make your credit card payments, and now you’re watching them steadily mount with penalties, fees, and steep interest rates, consider negotiating a lower payment. The New York Times reports that while most card companies won’t admit it officially, they know when they’ve got a customer who can’t pay, and they’re much more willing to settle for a lower amount than they were a year ago.
Why does HSBC charge $15 to make a payment over the phone? Other, often smaller, companies charge $3 or less, as MG notes in his email below. In this case, since the alternative is so unwelcome—a possible late payment, and a corresponding hit on MG’s credit score—it seems pretty outrageous to hold him hostage to a $15 fee.
Jason writes, “My wife just sent me an email saying that she paid ‘too early’ (before the new statement was generated) and got charged a ‘Late Fee’ of $29!” He says she called Capital One and got the fee waived, but it’s a good reminder that if you make a payment before the new statement period begins, your card provider will likely apply the payment to the previous statement period, and will still expect a fresh payment from you by the new due date. Just make sure your payments aren’t scheduled so early that they’re applied to the past and you’ll be fine.
Disneyland mistakenly extended a special annual pass program to ineligible customers last December, but only realized it recently. At the time of the sale, residents of certain Southern California zip codes could buy an annual ticket on a 12-month installment plan, free from any interest rates or other fees. When they discovered that some customers weren’t in valid zip codes, they ended the payment agreement with them—but they’re letting them keep the annual passes.
The Washington Post has just published a story accusing executives at Chrysler Financial of turning down a $750 million government loan because they “didn’t want to abide by new federal limits on pay,” and instead opted for more expensive private sector financing, “adding to the burdens of the already fragile automaker and its financing company.” Chrysler Financial denies the charge.
Starting tomorrow, Virgin Mobile will offer all customers who sign up for $30 or more post-paid plans coverage under their free Pink Slip program, which means if you get laid off and can provide proof, they’ll pay your cellphone bill for three months, and you won’t have to put a Skype number on your resume.
Although it has yet to pass into law, the Tennessee Senate Commerce Committee has approved a bill that requires creditors to count the postmark date of a payment as the payment date, not the day they say they receive it.
Fewer than half of loan modifications made at the end of last year actually reduced borrowers’ payments by more than 10 percent… [while] nearly one in four loan modifications in the fourth quarter actually resulted in increased monthly payments.
Web brokers Google and PayPal don’t believe in human-to-human communication, and one place where you really need that is when you’re troubleshooting financial transactions. An interface designer/developer who used Google Checkout to sell an ebook has just been given a huge serving of suck by the “don’t be evil” company—they closed her account on her without warning and refuse to tell her why the closed it. The $200 in earnings that hadn’t been paid out yet are unretrievable, and she can’t open a new one.
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.
Adam bought a
gift certificate coupon from restaurant.com, but the restaurant where he tried to use it turned him down: “They informed me that restaurant.com had started selling certificates to their restaurant without the restaurant’s knowledge or approval.” Now he wants to know what to do.
Last week I was watching Lou Dobbs while scrubbing my dentures and complaining about joint pain (two of those things are true, sadly), and I saw a segment on Ohio congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, who is encouraging homeowners to stay put in their foreclosed houses. She argues that many of the loans made during the subprime fiasco may not be legit, and that you should seek legal counseling and demand a mortgage audit from the bank before leaving. Kaptur admits her advice doesn’t trump the sheriff knocking at your door with an eviction notice, but a real estate lawyer told the Toledo Blade that otherwise she has a point.
Credit Card minimum payments are supposed to help keep the accumulation of interest on credit card debt from getting out of control — but a new study reported in the Economist suggests that minimum payments do more harm than good.
Payment Reporting Builds Credit (PRBC) is an alternative credit reporting agency that will record your payment histories for things like rent and utilities bills. PRBC says you can then use this verified credit history to supplement your FICO score and credit history from the big three reporting companies. It’s meant in part as a way to help people who don’t have extensive standard credit histories, or who have always paid monthly expenses on time but have other blots (like medical bills) on their official credit histories.
Citibank’s website isn’t reliable, at least according to them. Matt assumed that a website from a bank could be trustworthy, and that if there was no scheduled payment showing up, then he must have forgotten to arrange it. He scheduled a second payment, but then both payments went through one day apart. Now Citibank refuses to give him a refund: he should have called or emailed before rescheduling, they’ve told him, and not trusted what the website was telling him.
There are lots of good ways to escalate your complaints. Going to the store, dousing yourself with lighter fluid and setting yourself on fire is not one of them. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what one Newark, NJ man did after becoming frustrated with the amount of late payment notices and collection calls he was receiving from Rent-A-Center.
Sprint disconnected Bill’s service for “exceeding his account spending limit,” even though his account had a -$50 balance and he was signed up for Sprint’s Simply Everything unlimited plan. Sprint quickly reactivated Bill’s phone after he pointed this out, but warned that his service “will probably shut back off in a couple of days.”