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Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Involuntary Credit Card Cancellation!

Barclays, A UK-based bank, cancels my BJ's Visa credit cardMy wallet just got a bit lighter. I found that I was carrying two BJ's credit cards around: an old one from Chase that I should have shredded a long time ago, and one from UK-based Barclays bank, which has just been canceled.

I am not pleased about this latest credit card cancellation. My BJ's Visa had a $8,500 credit line, and with this credit no longer available to me, I'm worried that my credit score will sustain a serious ding. I very recently suffered the involuntary cancellation of my WaMu (Chase) Premier Platinum Protect Visa® credit card, which had a credit line of about 11K. So what exactly is going to happen to my lovely 804 FICO® credit score now that my available credit has been reduced by about $20,000? Who knows. Stay tuned to find out. I'm still able to login to my now-cancelled WaMu credit card account, so maybe I'll have free access to my credit score for a while. That would be cool.


Dear John letter from Barclays
My favorite line in the above Dear John letter is, "To help you better manage your credit accounts, we have closed your account." Ha! Like that has anything to do with it. We all know how careful banks are being these days, so why don't they just write something honest like, "You credit score is fantastic and you appear to be a responsible user of credit, but we're worried that this recession may cause you to lose your job or close your business, which would make you a credit risk." Hey, Barclays, thanks much for your concern, but I don't need help managing my credit accounts! Not that kind of help anyway. It's like getting a Dear John letter from a college girlfriend, and she includes, "In order to give you more time to study and get good grades, I've decided to break up with you..."

Bottom line: the cancellation of this credit card account is just annoying and that's about it. I don't need the credit, and I don't take advantage of the rewards. The rewards program was decent, but not as good as the credit card I use for just about everything these days. Why settle for a $20 rewards check every once in a while -- that can only be used at BJ's Wholesale Club! -- when I can get a $20 or $50 (depending on my spending) statement credit every month with my favorite card?

The other day I cleared the cob webs from my oldest consumer credit card account, an account I haven't used in over 2 years, and used it to purchase five MP3's from Amazon @ $0.99 each. These were songs I was going to buy anyway, so I was cool with it. I was happy to find that the card was still working (whew!) This card has a very high credit limit, so losing it would be a very bad thing.

Why Amazon and not iTunes? I like the way Amazon allows me to quickly and easily preview each song before I buy, so I can get an idea of the sound quality, and I can also make sure I'm downloading the version I want. Preview functionality exists in iTunes, but I can't get it work for some reason. Must be a Mac-software-on-a-Windows-machine thing.

That's it for now. Thanks for reading and good luck to all in 2009 (I think this recession is going to be brutal. I sincerely hope I'm wrong.)

Happy New Year!

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Monday, December 08, 2008

Chase Cancels My WaMu Credit Card

Chase canceled my WaMu credit card!I hadn't used my WaMu credit card since the first quarter of 2006. Back then, it was a Providian credit card. But then Washington Mutual (WaMu) bought Providian, and, just recently, Chase bought WaMu.

Now, the reason I wasn't using this card is because a) it didn't have a competitive interest rate for purchases and b) the rewards program attached to it wasn't anything special. I had plenty of cards to choose from, so why would I choose one with a high APR and a very ordinary rewards program? I used this card to take advantage of an attractive 0% balance transfer deal, then, when the interest-free period expired, I paid the card down to zero. I kept the account open because the $11,000 worth of credit available to me with this account was helping to keep my credit score high.

Another reason I liked having this account was because I had free access to my Bankcard FICO credit score (provided by TransUnion.) No other card in my wallet (and I have plenty) offered this unique benefit.

Last month, I received a letter in the mail informing me that Chase was closing my WaMu credit card account because I hadn't used it in more than 12 months. The letter was short and to the point:


Chase closes my WaMu credit card account
I wasn't happy about this. First of all, my FICO® credit score would likely drop due to the decreased amount of credit available to me. Second, I liked having free access to my credit score. Who wouldn't?

So my first reaction was to try and use the card to see if Chase had deactivated it yet. I tried to buy a song from Amazon ($0.99) but the charge didn't go through.

Next, I called the customer service number on the back of my card. Despite the late hour, I was able to talk to a customer service representative (CSR) right away. I asked the CSR to reactivate my card. I told him that I wanted to do some Christmas shopping with it immediately (which wasn't a lie. I would have spent some money on the card to keep it open.) The CSR said he couldn't do it (listen to the MP3 audio here.) He explained that WaMu had closed 1.3 million inactive accounts. The CSR anticipated that I would complain about the negative effect this action would have on my credit score, so, before I could say anything, he went on to say that this action, "will not appear as a negative mark on your credit bureau report." I complained a bit, then he explained that because the account was closed due to inactivity, and because my account had a zero balance, I had nothing to worry about.

I did not see any point asking for a supervisor, but I did call back a few hours later (their CSR's are available 24/7) to see if I would get a consistent response to my reactivation request. The second CSR gave the same canned response to my appeal for reactivation, but also added that I could apply for a new WaMu credit card account if I wanted to (MP3 audio here.) This suggestion made sense to me even though I wasn't happy about it. The "don't worry about it" nonsense that CSR #1 gave me was insulting, because we both knew that my score will be affected. I'm just going to hope that the ding to my score is a mild one.

My credit score is 804 right now and I want it to either stay there or rise. So, should take my time and find a really great credit card and apply for it?

Having thought about it for a few seconds, I've decided to apply for another WaMu (Chase) card, because I want my credit score to stay high and I want free access to my score. According to the WaMu website, all WaMu cards still provide free access to the accountholder's FICO.

I found that I can still login to my WaMu account online, so I visited WaMu to see if they had any credit card offers ready and waiting for me. I found no offers in there.

I will try to find a good WaMu card and apply for it. I'll post again after my application is processed.

So I may end up with another WaMu credit card account after all this, which would be a silly waste of time and resources (paper, plastic, phone calls, etc.)

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