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How To Punish Your Credit Card Bank

Scott Bilker Scott Bilker is the founder of DebtSmart.com and author of the best-selling books, Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card DebtCredit Card and Debt Management, and How to be more Credit Card and Debt Smart. Receive the 5-Year Loan Spreadsheet when you subscribe to his email newsletter.

Has your credit-card bank ever made you angry? I mean really infuriated to the point where you just want a little revenge for how you were treated? The only problem is that you may feel at their mercy…like they’re somehow superior. Well, you know what? They’re not! No single bank has a monopoly on that “green paper” called money. It’s time to show them that if they don’t treat you like the good customer you are, you’re going to take your business elsewhere—in a big way. This point is well illustrated in a recent incident from my own personal consumer-credit experience.

I received an excellent credit offer from one of my credit cards that included a low rate for purchases. To maximize this offer, I needed to use the entire credit line by the offer’s deadline. With at least 300 remaining in available credit, and being in need of a new 27-inch TV, I decided to take advantage of a sale at a local discount store.

The TV, with tax, came to 318. When the clerk swiped my credit card through the register, the transaction was rejected. I knew I was close to the limit, but since I’m into this credit stuff (I like to play these games for fun), I told the clerk to wait while I gave the bank a call. I wanted the bank to approve a credit-line increase on the spot so I could complete the transaction.

I called the customer-service phone number on the back of my card and spoke to an account rep, who transferred me to the credit department. I explained the situation and was told that I must give them some information before they could give me the increase. This translated into a formal phone application in which I had to disclose every single detail of my financial life to get “quick” approval.

After about one minute, they came back with a “NO” response! I asked the woman, “Are you kidding? Why?” The reason: “Too many open accounts and too much debt.” I told her to look at my payment record. She said, “You’ve never been late.” Okay, now how about my record at your bank? Again, “Never late.” In other words, I’ve charged and repaid more than 20,000, on time, over the last two years. “That’s a lot of profit for your bank, and now you tell me that the first time I call and ask for help, I can’t even get a 50 credit-line increase?”

Her response was, “It’s not bad [what the credit report says]. I even asked the supervisor, and he said it’s out of our hands. Sorry we couldn’t help.” To which I responded, “That’s okay; I’m sure another bank CAN help.” I also told her to note in my account record that “I’ll be paying off my balance tomorrow, so I’m not such a credit risk for the bank!”

Boy, was I fuming. I had to run to a MAC machine  to get cash for the TV purchase. My twenty-something clerk said, “Dude, that happened to me last week.” Yeah, thanks for the sympathy, bro.

The next day, I called another bank on my good-credit-offers list and had them issue a check to the offending bank—in full. That should get their attention. Their profit ends TODAY. But this story doesn’t end here.

Like a movie with a good ending, I got to rub it in the bank’s face. Eleven days later, I get a call from that offending bank. Would you believe, they were offering a deal of 5.9% for six months plus no annual fee (like I’d really pay one anyway) if I stopped the balance transfer. Seems they received my transfer check and wanted me to void the check to keep my business in return for this so-called offer. I was gleaming! They had felt the pain of losing a good customer, and it hurt.

I asked the woman making this offer if she could see what had been going on in my account—particularly, that I requested a credit-line increase and was refused. I explained that when I called and asked for help, they weren’t there for me. I said, “I can’t believe that after all the money I’ve charged and repaid on time, I am still considered a bad credit risk by this bank.”

According to my notes, from charges and interest, they were making about 900 a year from my account—and that number just went to zero. With all that profit and my perfect on-time record, the bank rejected my credit-line increase, forcing me to drive to an ATM and return so I could buy the TV. Then I had to turn to another bank to serve my credit needs because this bank doesn’t know how to treat its customers.

I thanked the woman for listening and asked her to note in my account what I said. I also told her that I will accept another offer from this bank sometime in the future—giving them another chance. I have plenty of good offers to choose from, and I don’t need theirs, even though I would normally take it. I explained that I needed to punish them financially like they punished me while I was making a purchase.

The moral of this story, from the credit consumer’s point of view, is that you need to have a good credit history to be able to punish a bank. You need to have other available credit lines to turn to in these situations. Let your banks know that you have many credit cards to choose from and that if you’re not treated with the respect you deserve, you’ll drop them in a heartbeat and go to another bank that wants to make a profit.

This entry was posted in Credit Cards, Personal Stories. Bookmark the permalink. Read more articles by Scott Bilker. (Also see articles by all authors and articles in all categories.)

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