Monday, March 8, 2010

Cutting up Credit Cards from The Big Greedies Feels GOOOOOD!

Anyone who knows me or been round my blog knows I don't talk religion or politics and mostly I keep things about writing and books and people. But . . . well, . . . this just got my goat!

I always thought it was a good thing to pay your bills, keep your credit card balances reasonable, and to try to pay off your credit card balances quickly. But what do I know? Suddenly that’s a bad thing. Suddenly if you do all the things you think make you a good credit customer/risk, they are things the big credit card companies/banks throw a pouty hissy fit about and want to punish you for. Suddenly if you keep a reasonable balance or don’t use your credit card often enough, pay on time, and are what our parents would have called “responsible” the big credit card companies decided they wanted to either tack on a “you aren’t using the credit card enough” fee(s), or raise your interest rates, and it doesn’t matter how good a customer you have been, how long you have been their customer, or how faithful you have been—Eff You, they say, whatcha going to do about it? they say—as if we do not have choices!

Isn’t the whole idea of being credit responsible to pay on time, pay the balance down or off, to keep debt from rising up to where you can never pay it off and are forever swimming in a sea of debt? To keep a good credit rating good by being responsible with how you use your cards? I guess not. Huhn. Silly me.

Folks, this is where the word GREED comes in. Let’s just put it out there. The credit card companies/banks have enjoyed a good ride and they want to continue to enjoy that ride.

So, I have cut up my Bank of America Visa card that I had for many many years, and I cut up my near-2 year old Chase Visa credit card that I’d been using for my book business trips and other book business. *snip snip*

I then contacted the credit union where GMR and I already do our main banking. I applied online for a Visa credit card through them. Someone immediately contacted me by e-mail to let me know she received the online form, and we exchanged pleasantries. Then, after my online form went through, a real live person actually called me on the phone to say she was working on the form! Then she called me back to tell me it was approved and to tell me how excellent our credit rating was and to thank GMR and me for our patronage over the years as customers of the credit union! Cool.

My interest rate is very reasonable, and the chances of it being raised, particularly for some weird doesn’t make a damned bit of sense reason other than GREED, is slim, since GMR has had the same credit card interest rate through this credit union for many years—and through all this CC & Banking Mess, nothing has changed with our credit union, which is not a Big Bank, but which is organized and has many members and branches where we can do our banking nicely, just as if it is a big bank, but without the Mess and the Bailouts and the GREED and the Games that GREED brings about.

I should have done have done this long ago. In return, I know I can call our Credit Union or e-mail them and ask questions and a real live person will answer quickly and with heart and soul and RealNess. In return they won’t be f**king with me. Jerking me around. Playing with me as if I were a little mouse and they the cat—throwing me up in the air and killing me slowly just for its own weird fat-cat pleasure: Just Because They Can. Well, guess what? They can’t do what I won’t let them do. Choices!

I don't have to put up with it and I'm not. We do have choices. We, as consumers, can show our displeasure by not purchasing, by cutting up our credit cards and moving our money and credit cards to credit unions and/or small local banks (GMR and I also have a small account with a small local mountain bank). We can show our consumer strength in numbers, because that’s how you get their attention. But, no matter what anyone else is going to do, and that has to be a personal individual decision based on your own experience and life, I had my own personal satisfaction of cutting up those two credit cards and throwing them in the garbage. Ahhhh. It felt good.
You know, paying by cash is kind of cool, too. That's something I want to do more often.

There is a Move Your Money website, or movement, --and I'm not one for "movements" and things of that nature, but, apparently there is this push for people to support local banks and credit unions. Don't know about all that, but I'm going to visit the site and see what's the big hoorah dee do.

What about you? Any stories of Big Bank or Big Credit Card companies messing around with you while they scramble to get around all the new laws—laws meant to protect consumers but Big Credit Card Companies don’t see it that way?

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Shrinky said...

Sheesh, good on you for taking a stand! I agree, this recent practise is outrageous. I use a debit card for virtually everything, or plain old-fashioned cash.

My fear is my son leaves for University this year, and is of age to apply for any amount of plasic available to him. Much as I warn him credit cards are not a pass to free money, I kinda' doubt it has sunken in.

It's too easy for kids to find themselves drowning in high interest debts, they are deliberately targeted by GREEDY fat cat banks, the likes of which you have just described.

I think he has his head screwed on straight, lets hope so, huh?

Anonymous said...

I had a credit card with Chase. It was a very low intrest rate. We always paid on time but last summer they sent a letter that the rate was going to go double what it was. We opted out. We said to close the account, we cut up the card and we can pay it off at the old rate. Now they send letters, please come back. They are jerks. I will never do business with Chase again. I have a Kroger credit card and they send me Kroger dollars all the time to buy food. I probably have gotten over $200 in Kroger dollars and I get 15 cents off gasoline at their stores too.

Michelle H. said...

I can tell you stories about it, from an insider point-of-view. First off: I've never owned a credit card and never plan to. Debit/paypal for online purchases and cash for the rest. I hated credit cards since I was a kid old enough to know that all they lead you into is trouble (which the memoir I'm working on is based about).

Second, I work in collections for past credit debts. Believe me; the damage done by this is a rippling effect. People who fall behind into bad credit negatively effects those who maintain good credit. I'm not sticking up for the banks (no way-no how) but it's all business, and they maintain business in any way possible, usually at the good customer's expense. The stories I could tell...

@Shrinky: Your concerns for your son getting credit cards at the University are well-founded. Banks do target kids in this position, although from what I've been told is that the new credit law that went into effect is prohibiting this now. I'm not sure if it's the same where you live though...

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Good for you Kat!

You're spot on with the greed aspect. The credit companies are sending out a ridiculous message, undermining responsible money management, and setting up card holders for financial disaster.

I realized one day that the limits on some of my cards were higher than my annual income. It scared the heck out of me. I got out my scissors and cut up every credit card in my wallet. It's been 14 years and so far I haven't missed paying out those enormous interest rates :)

Susan R. Mills said...

I hate credit card companies. Now, I hate them even more. What else are they going to get away with?

Titus said...

With you all the way. Cash and instant debit cards for me only.
Some horrific encounters along life's path with people who have built up thousands of pounds-worth of debt with no hope of repayment because the credit card companies let them. As long as they're getting their interest - which is their only interest, not the customer.

Deb Shucka said...

We've been with our teacher credit union forever and have always felt like they were one of life's blessings.

Kelly Bryson said...

Credit is only helpful if you don't need it. We buy everything we can on our credit cards to earn points and pay it off *every single month* to earn points for plane tickets or whatever. There have been times when we were not in such a good position and I never want to owe anybody like that again. We've cut up cards for similar reasons, too. They do it because they can.

Nannette said...

Well, dear, you can thank our wonderful politicians who want to look like they are doing something but never, never go too far. You see, they passed all kinds of very minimal laws to keep the credit card companies from sticking it to customers quite as much as they used to, like requiring statements go out 21 days before the due date, and they can no longer give credit to college students who have no way of paying the bill. So, of course, they claim they have to make money somehow, and Congress caves.

Don't get me started.

Jessica said...

From what I've heard, there are a bunch of regulations going into effect that will cut into profits, so the cc companies are trying to get what they can while they can?
Honestly, banks and stuff don't bug me. I believe in business and I believe people have brains and should use them. :-) And I say that in a nice tone, since y'all can't hear me.
You obviously have a brain (which I never doubted, lol) You're going to be able to show the credit companies your displeasure because you have the freedom to be able to do it.
Good for you! That's how business works. The consumer has the power, except when they become slaves to their credit card. It's not the company's fault if someone buys more than what they can pay for. Plus, it's credit. Of course the company wants to earn money before the person either doesn't pay their bills or goes bankrupt. It's craziness, imo, to blame a business for being a business. And people can point fingers and call banks and CC companies greedy, but no one forced people to spend money they didn't have (again, leaving out those who through circumstance had no choice)

That said, I was completely outraged a few years ago when my mom's credit company upped the interest on their card, doubling their minimum payments. My parents were never late, very responsible, and there was no valid reason for the move. Grrr...Thank goodness for 0% offers. They were able to transfer their balance to a new card.
So with all my ranting above, :-), I hope you know that I totally get what you're saying.
I guess I just get tired of seeing big business get the blame.

Debra said...

Funny you should post about this. American express just jacked up our interest rates to about 27%. We have used this card very responsibly for many years. I'm fixing to pay it off and close it out!

Thanks for suggesting some options. I will be looking at those in the near future!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Reading all of your comments, with interest--no pun intended *laughing*

Hmm, Jessica--sometimes a pig is a hog but a hog isn't always a pig . . . and in this case, Big Business is a Hog....okay, I made that analogy up *laughing* - but, sometimes there is GREED in business and sometimes there is just Business--

I'm all about supporting businesses and the Great American Way; however, your last paragraph just made the point of my post . . . AND . . .

If credit card companies are giving or gave credit over and over to people who cannot pay their bills (and they did and probably still do)- including college student, who have not yet created enough credit to "deserve" full-throttle credit card limits, and can be naive, as well--and not all young people are naive or irresponsible with credit..anyway...- if Credit card companies send credit to people who are known to be credit risks (and they did and do), then Credit Card Companys are a part of their own problem, and they pass their risk-taking onto the consumers who can and do pay their bills on time!

Yes, individual responsibility matters. But, you can't tell me the credit card companies do not take known risks because they can recoup the money from the ones who CAN pay their bills.

So, if it's all about Business, let's send some of that Business over to the small companies - banks and credit unions, who need our support!

(and Jessica--I got you *smiling* - but wanted to use your comment to spur off some other thoughts I had ...)

Debbie said...

I heard about them trying to stick it to those of us who pay our balance off every month. I am livid. Yes, I have one card I'm going to cancel because of this. I have never had a balance. Ever. I thought I was a "good girl"!

Analisa said...

The banking system needs a good kick in the pants. I recently dropped Bank of America after many years because of how they handled a check I deposited using an ATM. 5days after it was deposited they put a hold on the check. It was a local government check, not personal not an out of state company. I got so frustrated because I had taken cash out went to the grocery store and sent bills out by mail. By the time those checks hit, they had the hold on my account. It was a nightmare. I had been forewarned thank God by a minister that I would need favour with a banking institution. I keep my cool and got all the fees back, but then I closed my account. I had been with bank of america for decades. Oh and they even charge a fee for my account being in the red for more than 5 days...because of what they did. OMGOSH I really had to pray to keep from screaming because it took several calls and I had to explain it to every customer service who tried to give me a lesson in how to balance my checkbook. LOL. I went with PNC a smaller bank that is in my grocery store. I also recently made arrangements with my one and only credit card to pay it off and close it. They reduced the finance charge to .99%. That was God's blessing. We have to fight the system by refusing to participate.
I applaud you for cutting up those cards!

Rick said...

Ouch! I'm glad I don't work for a credit card company. You're on a crusading roll. I think I'll forward this blog posting to my banker...