Credit Cards and Personal Accountability

The Agonist, via Crooks and Liars on the credit card companies' heads being questioned by Congress.

In light of the attention paid to this matter, two companies are now changing some of their excessive fees. (via Baltimore Sun)

I don't doubt for a second that abusive practices will continue. I got caught in a trap myself last year. I switched over to a new card and transferred a balance with terms that included no interest for one year. Then while on vacation, I was one day late in paying the bill. Not only did my interest bounce up to 12% interest, I also incurred the ridiculous late fee of $39, which took me over my limit, thus incurring another $39 fee. To make matters worse, I was paying the bill online and was one day out from the due date, but the way this company has their online service set up, they automatically put your posting date out plus two days, so you always have to be at least three days out from your due date not to incur the late fee.

Today, the issue was covered on - you guessed it - my favorite reality television show, Washington Journal. Many of the callers were unforgiving, you get what you deserve, how could you not know that you were sinking deeper into debt, personal responsibility banner wavers.

Here's a little list of questions for ya before you get too far in your support for hanging the individual and allowing corporations to run unregulated...
  • Did you pay oodles of money to become a public servant that does good works in a job that pays at the low end of the wage scale for the amount of ongoing education required?
  • Have you ever been instructed by a doctor to take your sick kid to a hospital for tests, only to be asked to whip out a credit card and pay your portion of the fees because having the doctor's referral just rendered it "not an emergency" for your HMO? Oh, and the hospital tells you that you must pay your co-pay immediately and then they send you follow up bills that the HMO won't pay because they considered it not an emergency?

  • Have you tried to rent a car or book a flight or a hotel room without a credit card?
  • Have you paid all your bills off just to have something big go wrong with your car or your fridge so that you had to start charging again?
It's pretty easy to be judgemental about credit card usage - chez Tits, we've run the gamut of having to use them to live on when one or both of us were out of work, to over relying on them when The Spawn were young and daycare was sucking us dry, to being careful paying them all off, to paying them off then having to use them for emergencies.

But the point of yesterday's hearings goes back to fairness. Yes, I'll pay my charges, but that doesn't make it right for the credit card companies to prey on people who are struggling by whacking them with ever-growing fees and abusive policies. It's been the lack of regulation that has led to a financial mess for so many Americans and less regulation isn't going to help them. Of course they should pay what they charged, plus a reasonable interest rate. That's what credit is, but the current unregulated and abusive practices that are being perpetrated on those card holders by the card companies is a much bigger crime than any sum of individuals who might skip out on their bills.



Anonymous CreditUser said...

Your story is typical cuz many people can't pay off credit card debt in time and their debts increase more and more. When I used my first credit card, I spent much money and was late to make payments every month. So, I had to pay twice as much...

August 2, 2007 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Maggie Spicher said...

That really drives me mad when I see the bank is tryin to dupe me. THey invent hundreds of methods to play tricks on people. that really sucks..

February 4, 2008 at 7:54 AM  

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