Credit card rate increases - read the fine print - then make a stink!

I never read the notices from my credit card company. If it's not a bill -- I dump it in the garbage. Fortunately, one of my friends alerted me to a interest rate increase from Chase, CitiBank and a few other companies that is slipping under the radar. They have sent notices to all their customers that the APR is increasing dramatically -- in some cases as high as 24%. Sure enough, I checked my bill this month and I was up to 24%. Now, I have never missed a payment, have never been late, and have had the card for years.

I called customer service to inquire as to the rate increase. The conversation went something like this:

"Hi, I've noticed that the APR on my credit card is at 24% APR."

"Yes, that's right.."

"Well, it's not right with me. What gives? It was below 10% last time I checked."

"Your payment in November was late, so the APR was increased to 18% in December."

"But I called and explained that we were snowed in; not even the mail was delivered. Customer service took the late charge off."

"Yes, we took it off but we still raised your APR."

"Well, it's not at 18%, it is 24%. Why was there another increase?"

"That's because the economy is so bad."

"You have got to be kidding. Credit is at the lowest rate in 100 years."

After hanging up, I set up a credit card with National City and rolled over my balance. Interestingly, the next statement from Chase had my rate down to 81/2 %. I think it pays to make a little stink.

Barbara Bartlein is The People Pro. For her FREE e-mail newsletter, visit: The People Pro

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