Monday, March 19, 2007

Deal firmly with credit card companies

Some of you may have had similar experiences. It's a sign of the times, especially by HSBC Bank and Providian lenders, a tip-off to when you are dealing with a predatory lender instead of a company that actually cares about your finances.

I received an email informing me that my account had exceeded its credit limit. Since I almost never use that card these days, it could mean only one thing: they had assessed the annual fee and then charged my account an additional amount for going over the credit limit.

I called customer service and explained how absurd it was that the annual fee should result in an additional over limit fee. I calmly stated that if I had tried to charge the $59, my card would have been declined. But, since they are in control, they pass it through and tack on another $30 on top of it.

The customer service rep understood and told me she would remove the overlimit fee. I got her name and company ID number. Make sure to get that information from anybody you speak to at any credit card's customer service.

This kind of practice happens all the time by these predatory lenders. To avoid it, make sure to protest the assessment of an overlimit fee and don't take no for an answer. The companies engaging in this kind of practice know it is marginal and probably illegal, so they'll back off if you're demanding.

The best advice is to kick the credit card habit by making scheduled payments in an amount that will work your balance down to ZERO within 12 months. Pay the card up and tear it up. Learn to live within your means.

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