Little did she know that she would pay in spades for not reading their 'announcements' regarding credit card rate hikes.
"All of my credit cards have been affected by rate hikes," says Rivera. "Every company in the credit world is now basing your interest rates on credit scores; it has even affected my insurance premiums - from my home to auto - and things have got out of hand." Credit card companies are now sending her disclosures every time she gets a renewal notice. "I didn't even know that my credit card interest rates were going to be increased until it already happened."
"I finally got through to someone at one credit card company and had my interest rate rolled back. I had agreed to 7.9 percent but they hiked it up to 21.9 percent! It took a lot of time; I told them it wasn't fair because I always paid my bills on time and I was never considered a credit risk.
Two years ago my husband and I purchased our second home as an investment rental. Evidently that affected our credit score and we owed way more money than the credit companies wanted us to owe. Still, I never missed a payment; nothing had changed except that we had a lot more debt. I had an account with MBNA, only because they offered a lower interest rate and a lock-in, stating that this low interest rate was going to stay that way for the duration of the account. So I believed that they warranted my business because of this policy.
How could they change their agreement?
They sent out the notices (which I ignored) and said if I didn't want to pay higher rates I would have the option of closing my account.
I have another account with Chase. I am very upset with this company because I had this card when it was Capitol One. First - they sold a block of accounts to Chase and ended up with me as a preferred customer. My interest rate started at 5.9 percent and just like MBNA, it was locked in.
I opened this account in 1996 and again, never missed a payment. In fact, I usually paid more than the minimum amount due. Right after we purchased the house, they sent me a letter saying my interest rates would be raised. I opted out. I called Capitol One and said I was a long-time customer and asked why they were treating me so badly. They said that I was a risk because I had so much debt. 'If you don't like it, tough,' they basically said. So I closed that account as well. Chase banks are like little satellites, popping up all over the place - closing my account certainly didn't do them any harm.
Credit card companies have flags with the credit bureau. Some companies check their customers monthly. How can I ever get this turned around? I paid off my credit cards and decided that I would go with one company who treats me well. But if you miss one payment, it's a nightmare.
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It is wrong that they are able to increase rates without any regulation. I guess my credit score isn't as good as I thought it was. I thought that, by adding debt, it was a good thing for your credit rating. Obviously bad in the credit world. I have had many years of banking experience and I think this is wrong; it's bad business to be treated this way. There are other companies out there that are supposed to treat you well but I haven't found them yet. It is a slap in the face, like they are controlling you.
People need to know that they can fight back and if we band together we might be able to do something. I can't do it alone."