Thursday, January 22, 2009

Check your Interest Rate

I logged into my primary credit card account yesterday to make a payment after cashing an insurance reimbursement check.

While looking at the summary page, I was startled to see an interest rate percentage of 14.99%


Hold on here, crackerbarrel.

I have a variable interest rate of 6.55%. I've never seen it above 9.99%. I went back through my statements from the three months prior. It ranged from 7.1% to 8.5%.

My interest rate had nearly doubled overnight.

I gave my card company a call. They capitulated pretty quickly (why does it suprise me so much that I can get what I want so easily after that insurance fiasco?).

Apparently, Citibank has rewritten the lending terms. They're not offering my rate anymore (at least not for me), but what I could do was reject the terms and just let my card expire on the expiration date, which is in 2011. This lets me carry the rest of my balance at my old interest rate until that time (yes, I can still use the card, too. I'm just rejecting the new policy). She's going back and adjusting the finance charge for this month to reduce the month's inflated interest.

The idea behind this is that interest rates, hopefully, will have improved by 2011 and I'll be able to sign up for another term with my old interest rate (of course, I plan to have this card paid off by then, but because it has the highest credit limit, this is the one card I did want to keep on hand after both are paid off).

What I find hilarious is that Citibank raised thier interest rates RIGHT AFTER getting their share of the bank bailout money. Go Citibank! That's some awesome customer service, there.

Moral of the story: a very quick, easy phone call can save you 50% in interest payments.

How many people don't actually notice it when their interest rate goes up? How many people just go, "Well, shit, that's the way it is?"

Please check the interest rate on all of your credit cards.

That is all.