Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Citibank Bailout like Electing Mafia Don President?

I am not a fan of credit card companies. And frankly one of those I dislike the most is Citibank. And we are rescuing these robber barons?

I had been playing credit card roulette before my head injury. That is where you roll over your balance to the lowest interest rate whenever an offer shows up in your mail box. I had even developed a spread sheet to keep track of when the "introduction rate" would go up.

I had excellent credit and balance limits I figured I would never max out. I could have bought a Hummer and a vacation home with credit cards and not come close. Then the accident that altered my life. When I got conscious I realized my credit card companies were tripling my interest rate and charging me $25 to $35 late fees. I wrote all of them and explained my head injury and I would soon be back on top of things. They doubled my interest rate again.

Taking Oprah's advice I called them all and asked if they could lower my rate for six months to allow me to get a handle on things. Now mind you at that time I was not late on a single card. But two or three things had begun to transpired in the credit card business: make up for the low rates by changing high penalties for a single minute late, and shorten the day between mailing the statement and when it is due.

This last little trick since I live in a rural area and only get mail three days a week was deadly. I frequently got statements after the due date. So I switched to on line billing and payments. It was Citibank that developed this little ploy that you could not pay on line without a penalty within three days of the due date; they needed processing time. Or you could avoid the $30 penalty by paying them $10 for fast processing. Mind you I sat there one day with two windows open - one to their website and one to my bank and watched the money vanish from my account the minute I authorized payment.

Listening to my friend last night they evidently have not gotten better. Citibank just raised her interest from 10 to 24 percent because she called and asked about an auto loan. That is all it takes. Just have someone run a credit check on you. I give prospective renters the option to get a credit report for me to save them the predatory practices of credit card companies.

Some leaders of the congress have been trying to get a consumer bill of rights to restrict the activities of the credit card companies after Bush deregulated all banks. I say if we are going to give Citibank money they have to clean up their act. If they are going to stick to their same game plan I say let them fail.