Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yes, I am breaking up with you. Seriously. Go the hell away!

It's been harder to get rid of JPMorgan Chase than I thought. I wrote in my post on July 13 that I had closed out my Chase credit card account.
A modified version of the Chase logo from the website

I was wrong.

My first clue was that when I would log into my account information to pay my bill, check for new statements, etc., and there was no notification on the account that it was closed.

My second clue was found in my mailbox today. It was an offer to transfer balances from other cards to my Chase account. It was headlined: "A Straighforward way to reduce the amount of interest you pay", which is pretty ironic from a card that was charging me more than 27 percent interest. So, while they wouldn't lower my interest rate on my existing balance, they would offer me a promotional interest rate of 0 percent through next fall. After the promotional period I would be charged my "standard" 27.24%. Oh, and there would be a 1% transaction fee for each transaction. Inside the envelope were those handy little checks tied to my account, which mail thieves must love.

I was not happy to have checks floating around in the U.S. mail linked to an account I attempted to close a month ago.

Fortunately, today is the day my new statement posted to my account. I had paid off the balance on the card earlier this month, but of course, there was interest accrued, which hit the account today. So, I again selected the option to pay off the outstanding balance for the 12-plus dollars in interest. Hopefully, I paid it fast enough that there will not be additional interest to pay next month (how would I calculate a few hours of interest at an annual rate of 27 percent on 12 dollars?).

Soon after I hit the send button, I was on the phone to customer service. Again.

Why, yes, they did have a record of my call last month and that I had requested to close the account.

 Why, no, the transaction was not completed.

Did I really wish to close the account?

Why, yes, I do.

This time, the customer service rep said I should receive a confirmation in the mail that the account was closed.

So, we will see what I get next in the mail from Chase. Will it be a letter confirming that my account has been closed? Or will it be another promotional offer with enclosed checks? That is, of course, assuming someone else doesn't find those checks first.

  • A note from the editor: I find it amusing that I write about the evils of consumer credit here, and specifically mention my frustrations with JPMorgan Chase, yet Chase and other credit card ads often appear in the Google Ads on this site. Surely, the ads are related to the content, but may be viewed as unfortunate ad placement by the people/companies paying for the ads. Should anyone get the impression that I am making money from the same types of accounts I am "bashing," I will say that in all the time I have had ads on this blog, I have yet to get a check from Google. There just hasn't been the level of traffic needed to trip the earnings amount that prompts Google to cut a check. So much for my daydream of earning extra income as a blogger. So, enjoy the irony along with me. Or snicker at my unprofitable hypocrisy. Either way is fine with me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Which bills do you pay first?

What should we make of the lasted information released by TransUnion on consumer debt? Some of the highlights, detailed in a story by the Associated Press indicates that Americans are charging more on their credit cards than we were a year ago.

The story reports that the percentage of accounts 90 days overdue is low and that "Many borrowers have taken steps to save money and whittle down their debt."

That sounds good.

But it also says that of people who have a mortgage, "many have made credit card bills a priority over their home loans and other financial obligations."


So, people would rather risk losing their home than let an unsecured credit card go unpaid.

How did we as a culture let our priorities get so out of whack?

Banks issue mortgages. Banks issue credit cards. I wonder what advice banks would offer, if they offered financial advice. Would they tell their customers to pay their credit card first or their mortgage payment? Perhaps they would rather have the house back than little to no hope of collecting the unsecured debt. But do banks really want to own more foreclosed homes?

But what do I know. My debt situation wasn't and isn't normal, according to TransUnion, which says the average credit card debt per borrower, while up 6 percent from a year ago, is only $4,971. That's down 13 percent from the $5,719 average in the second quarter of 2009. That $5,700 figure is about what I owe on  three separate cards.

So, obviously I am not the brightest bulb in the box. But I have learned enough to pay for the roof over my head, utilities and food first and then allocate the money that's left to pay off my past stupid spending.

The End Debt Daily paper.li