Where Are My Credit Card Rights?

I’ve had my home rebate credit card for 7 years. It’s my one and only personal credit card I use for everything. Once a year, a rebate of 1% of total spending gets credited toward my mortgage. I was totally happy with the card and then one day, I get a letter from the bank saying they are changing it out of the blue. They didn’t ask me whether it is OK or not, they unilaterally made the decision for me.

I’m not particularly fond of credit cards which give me rewards points so I can go buy things I don’t need. Unfortunately, as a replacement card, that’s exactly what I’m getting!

It really gets my goat that a credit card issuer can just changes things at a whim. You’d think that after all that’s happened in the financial world, there would be more protection for consumers. But, as always, I’m disappointed with how my tax dollars are spent, and nothing really changes, just the people in power.

THEIR LETTER TO ME

“Dear Sam,

We are pleased to inform you that we have changed your Home Rebate Platinum Select Card account to a Frequent Flier Card account that continues to offer a variety of exciting benefits. con’t”.

My first reaction is, WTF!  I am perfectly happy with my existing credit card as it helps me pay down my mortgage and I have no desire to try and amass 500,000 points so I can buy a can of golf balls!

I am very disappointed that I was never asked first whether I’d like to change cards.  If they just explained to me the reason for the change and asked first, I’d feel better.  But, to simply cancel my card and replace it is just not right.

Here’s what I have to do:

* Call all vendors and update them with my new credit card details. I put everything on auto deduct, which means I’ve got to probably spend an hour calling/editing the club, insurance company, and various online accounts like Amazon. Time is money, and this is pissing me off with undue wasted time.

* Go online and figure out how to link the new card and cancel the old card. That’s probably going to take another 30 minutes.

* Go through the documents and understand what my new interest rate, credit limit, and any hidden fees are. Another 15-30 minutes of wasted time.

* Figure out how to get rewards and make sure the new card is linked to the Network so I get points automatically.

* Worry that I’ve missed some account and linked something inappropriately, and won’t know until I get some late charge which I have to fight, resulting in more time wasted.

* The only benefit from all this change is that if there were any hackers close to figuring out my credit card info, my information is on the run again.

TIME IS MONEY GUYS, AND YOU’RE WASTING MY TIME!

The unilateral decision by my bank is very unsettling. The CARD Act passed on Feb 22, 2010 is supposed to protect us from unfair interest rate hikes and double billing cycles. But, what about protecting the consumer from getting “gazumped” as they say in England?  Apparently, there is no protection.

CREDIT CARD RECOMMENDATION

If you are an avid traveler and looking for a travel rewards credit card, you can sign up for the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard with a $89 annual fee for double the points on all purchases and 40,000 signup miles ($400 value) or the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard with no annual fee with double the points on travel and dining and 20,000 signup miles ($200 value). I’m going with the version with the annual fee because the first year’s fee is waived. You can read a more detailed review I wrote of the Barclaycard Arrival here.

Regards,

Sam

Sam started Financial Samurai in 2009 during the depths of the financial crisis as a way to make sense of chaos. After 13 years working on Wall Street, Sam decided to retire in 2012 to utilize everything he learned in business school to focus on online entrepreneurship.

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Comments

  1. 101 Centavos says

    I would be very unhappy if the same thing happened to me. Don’t have and don’t want to spend the extra time messing around registering the new CC at the few sites where we shop online. I think I’d fire the credit card issue just on principle.

  2. cashflowmantra says

    I have never had a card cancelled and changed like that, but I have had terms changed quite frequently from added fees to changes in credit limit. The new consumer protection law just added to the amount of fees that I am seeing and does nothing to actually protect me.

  3. Sloan says

    My Citi Driver’s Edge was changed to a Citi ThankYou card as well. It was my primary and is now a backup as I’ve gotten an AmEx Blue which has better rewards and no annual fee. Same card number though on the Citi card, CVV code off by one and change in expiration date.

  4. krantcents says

    I think banking is the only industry that makes changes in terms or services and just discloses it. A few years ago, my mortgage was sold, the buyer (Wells Fargo) just informs me. My credit card changes their terms and I get something in the mail.
    If I were you I would see if there is another credit card that meets your needs better. Don’t accept their changes unless you like them.

    • Financial Samurai says

      The only thing I worry about is canceling the card and it hurting my credit history since I’ve had it for 7 years. Maybe I’ll just have it and put it in the drawer locked away somewhere with zero balance and then find another card.

  5. Kevin @ Thousandaire.com says

    You don’t have any “right” to a credit card product any more than you have a “right” to a Whopper at Burger King. If a company decides to discontinue a product, you have to find a different product, either at that company or somewhere else.

    Making laws that guarantee a company has to provide a certain product is getting the government way more involved in the free market than I want them to be.

    Does this suck for you? Yes. Would I want the government to step in and fix it? Not no, but HELL NO.

  6. My University Money says

    That is absolutely ridiculous. My card gives me 1.5% back on all spending and 3% on groceries and gasoline.

    Your completely right on the wasted time. My absolute biggest fear if I lost my wallet would not be the 50 odd bucks I might have in there, but rather the crazy amount of time it would take to sort everything out.

    Oh btw, get ready to get junk mail from Citi every week for the next 3 decades trying to woo you back.

  7. Everyday Tips says

    I have not had that happen to me (yet). However, Capital One will probably switch us soon when they realize how many mileage points we have.

    Sam, didn’t you realize they are offering you exciting benefits with the new card? I love those catalogs that Capital One sends me on how I can spend my rewards points if I choose not to use the miles. What a ripoff.

  8. Al says

    I have used the Driver’s Edge card for years and received wonderful 2% rebates on several car purchases. Recently found out they were going to charge and also now sold to CIBC. $59. I guess it was too good to be true.

    Re the College Investor above, there is a limit on the dollar amount that can be rebated. So no, you can’t do $100,000 a month. My card was limited to $2500 per year, so $50,000 could be charged. I hit that before the end of the year though.

  9. No Debt MBA says

    This hasn’t happened to me but I would be pretty upset if it did. My Fidelity AmEx gives me 2% back on everything, automatically swept into my IRA with no fees. If it dropped to 1% or less, added a fee and there were points or something I’d definitely stop using the card and find an alternative.

    I guess banks can get away with the big switch since customers are abit locked in for credit score reasons and there’s effort involved in switching. Like others I don’t think I’d want any government intervention.

  10. Tim says

    I haven’t had a new reward credit card substituted with the credit card I have had for over ten years, but I did receive notice of a rate increase after the last major credit crunch. I was kind of surprised, thinking I had done something, but it was really macroeconomic factors that caused my lender to increase my rate.

    I don’t think debtors (slaves) have the same rights as creditors (masters), once a debt has been created. Debtors are ignorant of how the credit card game is played – it is a game where your rights have to be written, with limited upside, but few implicit rights are given, and a potentially great downside exists. In your case, the credit card company is offering you a new reward program, and you have the right to accept the offer. If I understand Regulation Z correctly, the credit card company has to give you 45 days notice of the credit card substitution. Did you immediately lose the right to use your card?

    I like the 1% cash reward, when I use the card correctly. No other reward program seems worth the risk of me having to potentially pay a 15% APR, and I find only cash rewards useful for my spending patterns.

    • Financial Samurai says

      I think they gave me 45 days fair warning, but I was still annoyed that I couldn’t say ‘no.’ I guess I can really say no by just saying I don’t want to do business with them anymore. As soon as I find a good replaceable card, I will drop them.

  11. JB says

    Citibank tried to change my platinum dividend card (1% cashback) to a world mastercard awhile back. I called them, spoke to a supervisor and protested. I didn’t want to deal with changing all of my card info on file with bill pay etc. They let me keep my old card. I suggest calling and saying you don’t want to switch. Keep us posted!

  12. Tom says

    Hi Sam,

    I completely agree with you, they did the same thing to my Diamond Preferred card. Swapped it to a Thank You card with no option or discussion. Many moons ago, they also switched my cards from Visa to MasterCard.

    With the most recent swap, I get the sense that they were trying to consolidate a multitude of cards they had out there down to a few. There are no longer near as many cards available on their website as there used to be.

    Regardless of their reasoning though, it would be nice if they would inquire what the customer might want prior to making changes.

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