Anyone experiencing this with credit card companies?

pdg777January 23, 2009

Am I possibly being considered somewhat of a credit risk, or is something going on with credit card companies? In the past month the following have happened:

1. In December a card on which I had a $4,000 limit, suddenly was reduced to $1,500.00. When I called to ask why, they said it was because I was not using the limit therefore, it was reduced. This was a credit card with a travel company that gave me direct credits for airlines tickets, car rentals based on how much I charged on the card. I have been using the card constantly for things like gas, groceries, household goods, and paying the balance off monthly. So it is true that these monthly expenses hardly ever topped $2,000 and they have not made one dime of interest off me in the 15 months I have had the card. I have also accumulated a good deal of credits for airline tickets which I had planned to use this summer to visit relatives.

2. I have another credit card with rewards, which has a membership fee of $60.00, but it has been waived every year for the past 5 years I have had the card. This year, they would not waive the fee, no matter who I talked to. When I first had this card, I did carry over small balances month to month (never more than $1,500), but I have not carried over a balance probably in the last 3 years.

My credit score has been fluctuating from month to month, which I attributed to the fluctuating (and sometimes quite high) balance on a 3rd credit card, however I allowed the balance to get high while it was in a 2-year no interest period. I paid it off this January at the end of the no-interest period.

Is this enough to make credit card companies be less accomomdating to me because of a perceived risk? Or are the credit card companies just tightening things because of the current economic situation?

I was thinking of just closing the credit card because they won't waive the fee, however I'm wondering if that would be a bad move given the economic climate. It would leave me with just 2 bank card credit cards, which I could live with, but I wonder if it would put those 2 cards in jeopardy as well?

Any light anyone can shed on this would be greatly appreciated.

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So far I haven't noticed anything different with my credit cards, but many who do are just caught in the overall tightening of credit. Things that were bandied about were a lowering of credit limits, raising interest rates, shortening of the billing cycle - and to both good and bad customers alike. Doesn't appear to be predicated on whether or not one pays in full each month or carries a balance. It seems their current risk model calculations really don't discriminate between low and high risk clients. Could be your account history just comes up with whatever factors they plug into their computer program.

I get mixed signals on cancelling credit cards; how or if that really does affect your credit score. I'd be tempted not to do any card cancelling though.

At this stage in my life, I'm not anticipating having to take out any kind of loan for anything. Consequently, what my credit score might be is something I pay little attention to - so I really don't have a good idea of what my credit limits, carrying zero balances, never incurring finance charges, and infrequent use really mean to a credit card company. They're in the business to make money, and they don't make money off of me.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 12:39PM
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I doubt if it has anything at all to do with you - all the co's and banks are tightening up because of the rotten economy.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 1:05PM
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Based upon what you said, I'm not sure you would be considered a 'risk' but more of a 'no-profit' customer.

If the banks are only willing to give out so much credit (spilt between all customers, for instance) then the banks could be closing no-profit accounts to allow for credit being freed up for those customers that pay interest each month.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 1:29PM
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IDK how all this really works!
All I know is that no one is tightening anything on us; it is quite the contrary.

Our joint VISA - in use since ~1977, paid off monthly, no fee.
Used 3 or 4 times year (it is the backup for DH's AmEx and my Discover). They keep raising the limit and I keep calling to keep it where it is. $22,500 is enough when we charge less than $1000 annually and pay in full!

DH's Amex - only two years old, paid off monthly, no fee.
They recently tripled his limit... yes, tripled!

My Discover - over a decade old, paid off monthly, no fee.
I wanted to charge a lot in December (DS's college bill, furniture, trip for two to Seattle, Christmas expenses), so I called to request a credit increase of 20%. They offered to double my limit, which I declined. The 20% was enough.

So I don't know what the rules are or how to play by them!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 2:26PM
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My experience has been similar to Luann's. They keep raising the limit and I keep not using it.

As a matter of fact, last year, I called the bank that has our HELOC to cancel it. We only used it when we first bought our house 3 years ago. It turns out that there was a cancellation charge (!) if we cancelled before 3 years. $495 to cancel the HELOC!! Meanwhile, I read about people who had their HELOC reduced or even taken away. I had never been so envious of someone before. From the new story I read, it was the credit crunch that was to blame.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 3:54PM
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Thanks for weighing in on this. It appears that it may be me and my profile that's caused this. I sure wish I knew why!

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 9:35PM
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DH's AmEx statement came today...
they lowered his interest to 13.99% from 16.24%

Usually I don't even look, but I did because of this post.
It doesn't matter WHAT it is as we pay in full every month.
Weird, eh?

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 9:42PM
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I haven't had this happen to me yet, but several of my friends have and I've heard several stories about it. There was a Reuters article in early Dec that said that cc companies planned to reduce the outstanding credit lines by $1.5 trillion over the next 18 mos. So far, the people that I know who have had this happen have been customers that have been good clients, always paying their bills on time, and maintaining a good credit score. In many cases, it was tied to a card that was never used or only used very infrequently.

So, no, it's not just you.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 12:42AM
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No-fee bank-issued Visa, held about 5 years, earlier used infrequently, more recently somewhat more frequently, paid off in full almost every period and haven't checked for changes in interest rates recently - running around 18%, I think.

Haven't checked credit limits recently, am thinking of asking for an increase, as I am considering to buy some stocks using the current card, then transferring the balance to one that I applied for recently and received, offering 1.9% for 9 mos., with credit limit higher than on my current card, I think - both under $10,000.

I just came about 4,000 miles from home and will check for more accurate figures when I return in about 10 days.

I agree that they are tightening up - I've had a fully secured (stocks, mutual funds) LoC for upwards of 10 years, interest rate was 6.25% for some time, then 5.75%, later 4.75%, then 4.0%, which had been at what they considered their Prime Rate (not the same as Bank of Canada's Prime Rate) and after B. of C. lowered rate a month or so ago, I asked the rate, was told that their Prime had been lowered to 3.5% ... but that they were charging a surcharge: 1.5%, meaning that I'd have to pay 5.0% on a new loan.

Even though Canadian banks are in much less trouble (none at risk of going broke) than some U.S. banks, they're tightening credit, too.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 3:38AM
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No, but Citi more than doubled my interest rate right after they got that huge bailout by the government (us). Ticked me off, they didn't have a good reason, not anything I did, just that I "fell into the parameters". When I called back later to close that account (after I transferred my balance to a 0% card), they begged me to stay and told me they could give me a 2.99% or whatever it was, it progressively went down to that lower rate as I refused to keep my account open. This is after the first phone call I made, they swore they could only lower it 2 points. They are crooks, and greedy ones at that.

When I pay off this last one I am never getting another credit card as long as I live.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2009 at 12:44PM
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Ours have sent us letters saying that they were going up on the late charges & other charges. They haven't cut any of our available credit. In fact, we got an increase not long ago. I have no idea why, we're only using a tiny fraction of the available credit now.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 7:23PM
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Another Citi joke - Home Depot interest went from 22% to 26%, I've been a great customer for the past 20+ years, then I checked my Sears bill. 12% to 21%!!!!! (And at the bottom of the bill they have the gall to say - we've increased your limit) When I called Sears I was told it was just across the board. I've had Sears for over 30 years. I'm sure when my other "Sears-Citi" bill comes in there will be another surprise.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2009 at 8:39AM
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It's about time the greedy buzzards get back what they have dished out. I'm almost paid off and then they can just whistle.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2009 at 9:21PM
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We have had this happen too. We pay all our credit cards off at the month. (we have an Amex for business expenses and a Citibank Visa for personal expenses and a Home Depot Card). We have a credit score of 800+. Citibank raised the rate to 29% - yes, 29%!! When I questioned this they said that we could request the old rate, but when the card expired they would not replace it. We have only 9 months left till expiration of that card, so not sure what to do. We have a ridiculous $60,000 credit limit on this card and they won't drop that either. Amex hasn't raised their rates yet, but they won't lower the credit limit they have given us either. Home Depot has topped Citibank for its new interest rate - a whopping 35%. Seems like they are just waiting for us to make a late payment or not pay off at the end of the month. This sucks!

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 8:09AM
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We have a Citibank card and, although our rates have not been raised yet, I noticed the last time I went online to pay it, they had a notice saying we would no longer be allowed to pay online after this month. We pay the balance each month so it doesn't really matter to me if they raise the rate but I don't really want to mail the check just so they can say they didn't receive it in time. Not sure what to do since I don't really want to close the account and take a hit on our credit score.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 2:26PM
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I don't think that there's been much change in the parameters relating to my cards (one recently signed up for) in recent months.

It's the old corporate game - while they love competition among their suppliers ... and among their customers ... they hate it on their own level and work to get rid of their competition at whatever cost: buy the competitors, squeeze them out, start frightening rumours about them or whatever.

There aren't a lot of card companies ... so they can pretty well set their own rules ... and we can take it or leave it.

They offer unsecured loans ... and have been suffering losses, as people die owing, go bankrupt, etc. And, the economy being what it is, with so many becoming unemployed, they likely anticipate more such losses in the near future.

Plus many of the banks have been left holding the bag on many of those stinky loans, mortgages, etc. - I own Canadian bank shares, which got stuck with a number of them, and the value of my shares are now less than 40% of what they were in early summer 2007.

Good wishes for increasing skill at managing your money effectively.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 2:54PM
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bmmalone, I've never heard of a credit card refusing to lower the credit limit. If they refused by phone, perhaps the phone rep misunderstood what you wanted done. Send the request to them in writing. If you always pay the balance in-full, then the interest rate is of no concern. Sure, they'd love it if you had a late payment or came up with a situation in which you couldn't pay the full balance ... it's your responsibility to not let that happen.

qs777, I also can't imagine a ccard refusing to accept online payments. Online payments makes less paperwork and cost for them, an employee doesn't have to handle an envelope and check. My grandmother and I both have cards on Citibank. I pay them online, but from our bank's billpay, not through the Citibank card accounts. I made the payment on hers just a couple days ago, it's posted, the balance is zero. However, I logged in to the Citicard just now. The online payment registration there is still active, no advisory to the contrary.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2009 at 4:34PM
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Dadoes, I think they may be doing this for just some customers because, when I questioned them, they said it was for our particular card product. This one happens to be a Upromise card. Citibank also said they would be sending something in the mail re: this but didn't elaborate. We'll have to keep the card in order to keep the high limits for our FICO. I rarely pay anything with a check anymore so I hope there will be another alternative because I do like getting the extra money for my kids' college educations.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 11:30AM
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Again, if your bank has an online billpay service, sign-up for it if you haven't already and pay that way. Surely Citibank couldn't/wouldn't refuse the payment.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2009 at 4:50PM
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Bank-issued Visa - currently paying 19.75% annual rate (when I don't pay in full by due date).

Credit limit constant at under $10,000.00 for the last four years.

As I'm a senior, I don't pay a monthly maintenance fee on my bank account, they don't charge me to pay utility, credit card, etc. bills by electronic transfer ... and don't charge me to make a bank draft for me, either.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   March 5, 2009 at 4:37AM
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I got a notice from Bof A/Visa with some checks saying I had a credit limit
with them of $29,500. and an annual percetage rate of 1.9%.
So I looked on the very small print on the back, sure enough (I had to
get my jewelers loupe to read it) they could raise it the rate up to
27.99% when they felt like it, variable default rate WITH NO NOTICE.
So this is how they get the suckers. I called up and cancelled my card
which had a zero balance. I don't want to be part of any group where
people are paying 27.99%.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2009 at 7:34PM
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Most of the card companies are doing it on certain cards. It isn't anything that you really did or didn't do. I have a few friends that had the Amex reduced to $300 from $20,000+. What can you do with that and the sad part is they don't even tell you. You find out when your card is declined. I always go online to check my limit now before I go out the door. I haven't had that done to me.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2009 at 11:13PM
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