Just like millions of American's out there, I'm fighting with my Credit Card companies. I'm well aware of their tricks. I do the best I possibly can to keep up on the changing due dates & amounts, as well as the forever fluctuating interest rate. I call them on six month cycles pleading for a lower rate showing a good payment history as the reason for this reward.
I've held a Merrick Bank card for three years. It's my highest APR of 20% and I only use it in emergencies. Right now, due to my dwindling income and lose of opportunity. I've had to unfortunately dip into it. I'm watching my debt like a hawk. In three years, I have never been late.
Merrick has not once been willing to lower my rate; instead, they've graciously offered to raise my debt ceiling over the years, something I've always turned down.
Now, because I've been stressed, trying to work as hard as I can, to plug up holes in my sinking boat. I lost a blog client when Iceland tanked. I'm the only white guy in Harlem being gentrified and clients aren't really into hiring freelancers anymore. I'm bracing myself for a very bleak winter. Maybe I'll start on my novella. I mean, can't really go out anymore.
Because of stress, I put through $50 instead of the $74 needed to maintain my debt. I just called to follow up. I promised them more money. The helpful operator stated that if I'm late again, in a six month period, my interest rate would balloon to 35%. I instantly freaked out, because I'm quite scared of the next six months and am doing my best to sure up my financial dam. So because I'm late by $24 my financial house of cards can fall. This just isn't right.
I asked if there was anything I could do; the operator said that there was nothing but to pay on time. Again "Merrick Bank does not negotiate interest rate". Yet they're quite quick to set up a system to that will increase my rate. Quick to put me into a default condition and initiate the slippery slop that makes credit difficult to manage.
If banks would negotiate with their customers and allow them to meet their obligations, then we wouldn't be in this tough mess.
Needless to say, my already tight belt is going to get tighter, as the circle of people that have a tough time expands, so do we all have a tough time. What will jump start the economy is my ability to find opportunity and spend again (along with millions of others). Because I fear defaulting (for good reason) I'm doing everything in my power not to become delinquent. Including, not purchasing anything new. I'll be maintaining debt, instead of contributing to the next retail quarter.
I'm also disappointed; because the bail out has now created 0% interest rate credit cards offers at every store, including Circuit City. As AmEx magically turns into a bank. We won't get out of this, until the old debt becomes easier to maintain and consumers no longer feel like the banks have a sword to their neck and are bleeding them dry.
The banks must stop leaching us.