Hell Hath No Fury Like a Credit Cardholder Scorned

Consumers use power of closure to fight rate raises

BLOG_CreditCutYou’ll never guess who decided to take up arms and join the civil war between consumers and their credit cards currently brewing on American soil.

That’s right, my mother. Mama Burns is just one of the countless Americans fed up with the shady antics of credit card companies, and she’s fighting back.

As you probably know, I’ve been keeping track of the tyranny card issuers have been wielding since the White House passed the CARD Act which will drastically limit the power of credit card companies once it takes effect in February. Until then, we card holders will remain at the mercy of issuers that are trying to suck the life out of us–raising interest rates and lowering credit limits—even for outstanding, long-time customers (my mom being one of them).

Well, after speaking to Mama Burns over the weekend, she said she’s going to pay off the balance on her card (woo hoo!) and close that sucker out. While I commended her for finally paying off the debt, I had reservations about her canceling the card since credit history accounts for 15% of your credit score.

My mom’s sentiments have been echoed by many card holders. I read an article on MSN where many readers left comments saying they were going to close their credit cards, too, as a sort of middle finger to credit card companies:

Same old story for me, never late on a payment, good customer for decades, now card companies want to raise my rates or I must opt out. …However, I have almost completely paid off my card and my husband’s card and we intend to never carry a balance again.

I have a good credit rating, pay my card off each month, but Chase Visa has raised my interest rate TWICE this year for being a good customer. Time to get rid of CHASE!

Found out that my BOA Visa’s credit limit was cut in half only when I had a problem at checkout at my local grocery store…  I was told that I was “over limit” by $3.11…  BOA “as a courtesy” (hahaha) cleared my charge, only to tack on a $39 over-limit fee on the monthly bill. When I received my bill, I paid the BOA balance in full — minus the $39 over-limit charge (which I’m still fighting) — and told them what to do with their card.  Member since 1988?  As if it matters …

But the question is: What’s the right way to cancel a credit card?

“When you start closing accounts, you’re shortening your credit history in some instances,” says Patricia Stallworth, author of Minding Your Money (BookPartners; $14.95). The financial guru says closing out a credit card account can hurt you in the long run, especially if you need to make future purchases such as a house or a car, or some other item you wouldn’t normally pay cash for.

But if you are going to close out your account, there is a right way to do it. Aside from the fiery tirade you unleashed on the customer service representative, Stallworth recommends that you write a letter. “Some companies won’t close an account unless you do it in writing,” she says.

Then check your credit report at least 30 days after closing the account to make sure the request was completed. “Sometimes credit card companies put little notes on a credit report saying it was closed by them when you actually closed it. You want to double check behind credit card companies to make sure they did what they were supposed to do.”

Renita Burns is a staff writer at BlackEnterprise.com.

ACROSS THE WEB
  • Angelique

    We (consumers) must realize, WE have the power. If everyone close out their accounts, how would the lenders survive? “They won’t”. I’ve closed all my accounts and paid them off, and boy do I feel great!

  • Christine

    Everybody keeps saying that we shouldn’t close our credit cards because it could reflect negatively on our credit reports, but what about the numerous cards the credit card companies are closing themselves. Even cards that have long since been paid off and are in good standing, companies like Discover, Chase, and others are simply closing our cards with some lame excuse such as lack of use. Dosen’t that also reflect badly on our credit history especially since tthe crecit card companies are doing the closing? The credit card companies and mortgage companies are one in the same and they treat everyone like CRAP! It doesn’t matter that you are a long time customer or are in good standing.