Look at my experience below, with a credit card starting at 6.9%. It's normal rate was around 13% until I forgot to mail a payment, then they almost doubled it to 25.74%! I give more details at the end.
a. 10/08/98 6.9 % $1,576
b. 05/10/99 6.9 % $6,138
c. 12/10/01 13.65% $6,981
d. 06/09/03 12.9 % $7,108
e. 11/08/04 13.4 % $5,971 - Forgot to mail payment, $35 fee.
f. 12/08/04 25.74% $5,800 - Rate up for missing payment!
g. 03/08/05 26.24% $5,736.
h. My opinion of this experience.
i. Additional problems with banks
for the Mentally ill
a. 10/08/98 rate 6.9% balance $1576
I had a credit card so I used it.
b. 05/10/99 rate 6.9% balance $6138
In about one year I was near my limit! From this point on I was paying some of it off only to charge it back up near the limit again. Note that this time frame is when I was having trouble with the civic group and the prosecutor. It was too easy to eat out or buy things as an escape from the pain that I was feeling.
c. 12/10/01 rate 13.65% balance $6,981
I was still keeping my balance up. The rate went up to around 13% because the original 6.9% was an introductory offer. Also, the account number changed because a new bank took over the account.
d. 06/09/03 rate 12.9% balance $7,108
Like the previous statement, I was still keeping the balance high. I had been doing well at work, so I thought that it would be easy to pay the account off when I wanted.
e. 11/08/04 rate 13.4% balance $5,971
For the first time in over six years after getting the credit card, I forgot to send a payment. I was charged a $35 late fee.
I was depressed that I had to go on Social Security due to overall poorer health. This gave me enough income to keep paying my bills, however, I could only pay the minimum payments. Luckily I has paid down the credit card amount somewhat.
f. 12/08/04 rate 25.74% balance $5,800
"The new APR reflected on this statement is a result of a late payment on your account." They almost doubled the interest rate! I called about it, and they claimed that they "might" lower it again in a few months if I keep my payments up. (Yea, I believe you...)
g. 03/08/05 rate 26.24% balance $5,736
The rate keeps going up! 26.24%?! I had looked for a copy of my current terms and could not find one. The credit card company seemed to be ignoring my requests for information. I began to realize that the "one strike and your out" policy is bad for customers.
Why was I so stupid to trust that a bank would care about me as a customer? As soon as I can pay this card off, I will cancel the account and never do business with that bank again. The sad part of it is that the same bank wants to offer me a home loan and other offers. Don't they know that a bad image from one of their operations would effect all of them?
h. My opinion of this experience
Symptoms of a mental illness can make having a credit card a bad idea. I am amazed that I went six years without missing a payment in the past. It would have been better if I missed a payment at the start. Then I would have understood the risks before building up thousands in charges.
If I had known the extreme risk of high charges for using the credit
card, I might have not built up a balance. It seems that they expect
you to charge up your card and make a mistake so that they can charge high
|Look at a typical billing cycle from e and f above:
I believe that banks intentionally want you to miss a payment so that
they can charge a higher rate. Human nature is on their side.
I believe that they know you will eventually make a mistake and they make
more money. I believe they make a lot of money when honest people
charge up their credit cards and are unable to pay them off quickly, the
bank can make more money with a higher rate.
i. Additional Problems with Banks for the Mentally ill
Communication and respect are additional problems the mentally ill have with banks. I do not like calling customer service on the phone. They seem to suggest that everything is your problem and do little to help. They do not seem to have the time to deal with "some nutcase."
I am not always quick to understand what is going on. I have had to call back to make sure, and was told "It was just explained to you on your last call!" I never tell them that I have a mental illness because I expect they would not care or know how to help anyway.
Writing to a credit card company does not seem to be any better.
I sent a letter on
How can people with mental illness feel safe doing business with banks?
If we are changing to an "electronic currency", how will this impact
the mentally ill?
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