I know what you’re thinking. What are snakes doing on a Christian Finance blog? Well, there’s a saying that says that if you play with snakes, you’ll get bit. Dave Ramsey even uses it to describe credit cards.
Well, I’ve got a great “bit by snakes” story for you. As many of you know, I’m on schedule to be completely debt free by next month. I’m still on schedule, but I hit a setback a couple days ago.
As many of you also know, I’ve been doing “credit card arbitrage” where I use 0% balance transfers and earn interest on the cash while using the cash to make payments. I don’t do this anymore, but I used a 0% balance transfer to pay off a student loan about a year ago and I made payments to a savings account to have the amount in a year so by the time the 0% was due, I would have the cash to pay it off. People can do the same thing with cheap home loans, especially when the rates are this low!
Before last week, I never had a late payment in my life. But I played with snakes and got bit! When I set my online bill payment for the credit card, I looked at the next statement date instead of the payment due date and so the payment was late. When I realized what I’d done, it was too late.
I checked my credit card account online today and almost passed out! My account “went into default” with one late payment and my interest rate shot up to 25.99% even though it was still under the one year 0% special. They also charged me a $39.00 late fee and a finance charge of $89.25!
This really wasn’t a surprise to me since credit card companies can do practically anything they want because their agreements (that you signed when you got the credit card) allow them to. So I decided to give them a call. Sometimes you can get a lot accomplished with one phone call.
To make a long story short, I got the CSR (customer service rep) to waive the finance charges and late fee and also reduce the interest rate from 25.99%! I actually was amazed at how easy it was. All I had to do was ask a few questions about the charges and then simply ask if they could be waived. It took maybe five minutes!
I’m glad I got those fees waived, but I’m still going to pay off the credit card tomorrow. This was too close for comfort and I don’t feel comfortable carrying a balance when I have the cash to pay it off. I will never use credit cards again. Lesson learned. I hope you will learn from my experience. God bless!
Post Updated November 12, 2012