The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

16 June 2003

What's out of your wallet?

A brief word of praise for Capital One, so far the only credit-card issuer I've seen who actually sends a follow-up letter to confirm the cancellation of an account.

Of course, if they had offered a better interest rate, I probably wouldn't have canceled the card in the first place, but at least they answer their mail.

Posted at 5:12 PM to Common Cents

I just got my new Capital One card, and although I anticipated I would get a raise in my credit limit, I am still limited to the same amount as I have had for the last three years. I always pay off what I owe each month, as such was a promise I made when I finally decided to get a credit card. After my first wife and I split up, I was stuck with paying off all the credit cards debts. All the cards were in my name, and my ex-wife charged them all up to the credit limit just before she decided to tell me the marriage was over. I decided to never again get a credit card and did not do so for at least 20 years. But, alas, it is almost impossible to do any business over the Internet without one. So, I got one. Yes, Capital One does have a very high interest rate, but that does not bother me at all. As I said, I pay off the whole balance at the end of every month and have done so for more than 5 years now. My promise to myself was that I would not buy anything except for items I would pay cash for if I could. Therefore, I always put aside whatever money it would actually take to pay for what I just put on the card. Except for their yearly charge, Capital One makes no more money from me. I do not sign up for any other services they offer or even look at any of the offers they send out with their monthly bill. Thankfully, I suppose, that is enough for them to keep sending me a new card just as my old one expires. But, that circus you have to go through to activate the card is for the birds. Thankfully, it is a toll free call, because you have to reject two offers before you are finished. Coincidentally, I had just concluded activating my new card just a few minutes ago.

Posted by: Tiger at 6:17 PM on 16 June 2003

I have cancelled several Visas and Mastercards and have always gotten a written response acknowledging said cancellation. Have you torn up cards and actually returned the pieces inside your last bill? This seems to be the action necessary if an acknowledgement is expected. THEN I seem to get phone calls weeks after the letter is mailed, offering to extend my credit limit or lower my APR. (No, I don't bite).

Sidenote to Tiger: Seems to me that any half-decent divorce attorney would get some kind of settlement for his client whose spouse maxes out credit cards in the other's name and then decides he/she wants out of the marriage.

Posted by: Vickie at 8:44 PM on 16 June 2003

The last one, I even cut lengthwise. The pieces were included in the envelope, wrapped in a sheet of paper labeled "Card Shards".

But of the five cards I've killed in recent months, only Capital One has seen to respond with an actual letter. One doofus bank (Doofus Bank and Trust Company, NA, Member FDIC) still sends convenience checks, which I duly shred.

When the Mrs and I split, we paid off all the revolving debt with the profits from the house; I wrote the card issuers and told them to drop her off, and she got new cards for herself. Seemed like the most logical way to handle it at the time. (Besides, her credit was marginally better than mine.)

Posted by: CGHill at 8:55 PM on 16 June 2003

credit is a beast. right now I am paying off a decent amount of debt that I owe. BUT... using that credit allowed me to make a move that I wanted to make, without it, i might have had to sign another lease or start selling blood...

so its flexibility, and unfortunately, you are punished if you dont at least make the effort to show you are a happy little consumer willing to borrow money now and again.

First thing i did was put my monthly internet connection on a card, Amex. Paid it off every month religiously while I was in college. After a while they started sending me more cards. I would sign up, throw the card in a drawer and use it for the occasional online purchase. They kept raising my limit and I got a couple of more cards. Soon I had a credit limit over my yearly income. I still only use my credit in emerhencies, like unemployment, moves, girlfriend needed a root canal and her shitty employers didnt have health insurance. In those cases I was glad it was there. But they keep sending me those checks....

I dont like capital one, they are pretty harsh with their interests rates and their late fees. I like discover and amex. It helps to have a couple in case you need to punish one for raising your interest rate.

Posted by: bruce at 12:19 AM on 17 June 2003

AmEx is my favorite also. They will drop any charge you want them to investigate if you write them a letter, and it happens immediately, not seven years later. We never pay cash for hotel stays. That way, if anything goes wrong during the night, such as noise that the hotel refuses to address or something breaks in the room, we refuse to pay for that room. We just let Amex take care of it. It's not like we've had to resort to this every weekend; we've written them maybe a handful of times in 25 years. Plus, their convenience checks are sometimes as low as 0.9 percent for the life of the charges with no transaction fees. It may not be "Everywhere You Want To Be", but it does have its rewards.

Posted by: Vickie at 5:12 AM on 17 June 2003

Amex built its rep on service; they've been forced to compete on price in recent years, but there's no indication that they've had to compromise their service levels.

Posted by: CGHill at 7:34 AM on 17 June 2003

The new AmEx "Blue" card has no annual fee :) All the same perks as any AmEx card. You have to watch it though. It is revolving and they are quite generous with credit limits.

Posted by: ms7168 at 7:52 AM on 17 June 2003

I went around with Amex 15 years ago when they kept sending me calendars and charging me for them. I didn't want their stinking calendars, but you had to send the damn things back or you got charged. I don't play that game. Law book companies always do that, you buy the book then you get the horrendously overpriced updates mailed automatically to you. If you don't want it, you have to go through all the hassle to send them back. I got their number, however, and when I send in the check to pay for the book, I send it wrapped in a letter that says "Please do not send me any updates unless I specifically request them. You can send me notices that updates are available, but any unsolicited updates received will be deemed as gifts." It kind of suprised the last publisher who sent me an unsolicited update when they got a copy of my previously submitted letter in the payment envelope instead of the check they had expected. They actually called me. I told them that the update was sitting unopened in the box in the floor and that they were more than welcome to come and get it, but I was not lifting a finger to send it back and I was not planning on paying them for it. They told me to just keep it.

Posted by: Tiger at 9:27 PM on 17 June 2003

Providian is much, much worse than Capital One. C.O. at least gave me a lower rate when I finally asked for it. I just sent in a cancellation letter; we'll see if it's acknowledged. Actually, I got rid of all my cards & opened just a single new one. It's for emergencies & car rentals only. I'm done with cards. I lived for 24 years without them; I can do it again. Gotta save for that house, you know.

Posted by: Cyberangel at 10:55 PM on 17 June 2003

I had a PayPal-branded card through Providian; they have not acknowledged cancellation as of this writing. (The letter-plus-card-pieces was sent in mid-May, so I'm waiting for this billing cycle to finish before I become officially vexed with them.)

Posted by: CGHill at 7:41 AM on 18 June 2003