knew it would happen! I
read all the fine print. I reviewed every detail! I followed the
instructions from Chase Bank exactly as they described in their
low-rate-offer letter and they still penalized me!
How did Chase Bank attempt to trick
me and maybe you? I
strongly recommend that you read this entire article if you have
ever done a balance transfer or you're thinking about doing a
balance transfer! This article contains some details about my phone
call to Chase Bank, copies of their letters, copies of my bank
statement, and a response form so you can let
and the world, know if this has
ever happened to you!
It all started with one of the best
credit offers I have ever received. A surprising 0% APR until February
1, 2003 with a one-time fee for each transfer of 4% of the amount
transferred, up to a $50 maximum. According to the letter,
"These checks may be used for any amount, up to your available
This offer was received in January
which meant 13 months of 0% on my entire credit line of $12,500
(which is available) for a one-time fee of $50. That's a true APR of
I wanted to take advantage of this
offer for many reasons.
||I wanted to see if what they promise
in their letters is what they actually deliver when the bill arrives,
and report the results to you, my dedicated readers.
|| My money market is getting 2.5%
and the loan is costing 0.37%, so I'll be making about $250
over the course of the year for simply paying my bills on time.
||This offer was
slightly different than any transfer offer I've been
interested in taking advantage of. It promised that I could
use my entire credit line and implied that I can do this
I checked and rechecked the letter
for any loopholes. I read all the fine print, to be
sure that I was using their transfer offer within all the rules
described in the letter. Everything seemed to
check out, so I went ahead and wrote myself a check for $12,500
and deposited it into my money market account.
above pictures to see a readable image.)
When the bill arrived I noticed an
overlimit fee of $29 assessed on my account--I KNEW IT! I had a
feeling that they left out a few words in their letter that, of
course, loophole their way to earning more money.
followed the directions described in the letter which stated, in
three places, that the check amount(s) cannot exceed my credit line
and I was still charged an overlimit fee.
I've written about this type of
"trick" in a previous article titled, Reading the Fine
Print in Those Low Rate Credit Card Offers, however this case was
slightly different. The credit offers I was referring to at that
time stated in the body of the letter that you can use "any
amount up to your available credit line." But in the fine print
the letter warned, "You may transfer any amount, including transaction
fees that are assessed, as long as it does not exceed the available
credit line." Check out the Citibank offer I received that does
above picture to see a readable image.)
The offer from Chase however, did not
provide that warning. Every mention in the Chase letter about the amount
you can use, the total "check amount(s)" is that it can go
up to your available credit line.
Compared to the Chase offer, the
Citibank offer tries to trick you in the body of the letter, but is
at least honest in the
fine print. In fact, the fine print in the Chase
letter is even smaller than the fine print in the Citibank letter! As my editor
Rick said, "It's as though Chase is trying to deceive people
more than Citibank."
As soon as I saw that overlimit fee, and reviewed the original letter to make sure I didn't
miss anything, I promptly called Chase Bank to have them remove the
overlimit fee, which they did immediately.
When I asked why I was charged the
overlimit fee, the rep told me it's because I was over the account limit
since the $50 transfer charge plus the $12,500 check makes my
balance $12,550.00. I explained that the Chase letter stated that I could write
the check up to my limit and the rep (Ms. Beers) started arguing
with me. I asked to speak to her supervisor (Mrs. Lett) and she also
argued with me.
I originally thought they would just
waive the fee and apologize for the confusion. I thought they would
say something like, "Mr. Bilker, we're sorry that the wording
of the letter was confusing. I can certainly understand how you
feel. I will certainly bring this to the attention of my supervisors
and management so we can review these details. Thank you so much for
calling!" Then they could have hung up and forgot about my
call--but that didn't happen.
Below are links to portions of the
conversation I had with Chase customer service.
1: First rep removes the overlimit fee and argues about the fee.
2: Supervisor argues about the fee.
It may be true that they said I could use the
check(s) up to my credit limit. And it may be true that the
agreement says that if I go over my limit I have to pay a fee. One
could argue that if they told me to write the check(s) up to twice
my credit limit, and I did, that I should be charged an overlimit
fee because it goes over my limit. The letter could have said to
jump off a bridge and if I do itís my stupidity. However it is
certainly implied that if they're sending me a letter, and I follow the directions in
their letter, I will not be penalized.
It's clearly stated that if you write a
transfer check there's going to be a fee. However, their letter never said that if
you write the check to the account limit an overlimit fee will be
This encourages people to write the check up to the maximum
limit. Chase never mentioned
anywhere in the letter, not even in the fine print, that there would
be an overlimit fee if you do as they say and write the check up to the limit.
One good analogy is to imagine a policeman
telling me I can go through a stop sign. He says, "Scott, go
through the stop sign." So I go through the sign and the same
policeman immediately pulls me over and gives me a ticket. I say,
"But you told me I could go through the stop sign." And he
replies, "Itís common knowledge that itís illegal to go
through the stop sign. Didnít you read the driving handbook?"
Chase Bank, the policeman of their terms, said
to "write the check to the limit" then when I did they
penalized me, and probably countless others, who may not have even seen
the overlimit charge on their statement. Or maybe they did see the
charge, then called and were told they were stupid for going over
their limit. It brings to light the fact that you cannot trust what
their letters say.
The bottom line in this situation is that the letter is very
deceptive. It leads people to believe that they can write the checks up to
the credit limit without penalty.
When I called Chase I didnít have to ask to have that overlimit
fee waived. As soon as I mentioned that it was on my statement the
rep removed it instantly! If they really believed that I was
completely at fault they may not have done this so quickly. Also,
the rep and supervisor seemed well versed in arguing their points
and my guess is that itís because they have had practice or
training on the topic.
How many of you have had this, or a similar
problem? Especially if it was from this very same low-rate credit
offer by Chase bank. Let me know if this has happened to you,
and please, let me know if you agree or disagree with my position on
this issue by filling out the response
Lastly, aside from this situation, my past
experiences with Chase have been very good. They have always offered
me nice lending deals. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I would
hope that this particular situation occurred only because of these
specific reps. I would hope that Chase reviews EVERY person's
account that took advantage of this offer to be sure that they are
not penalized--without that person having to call them first!