Emotions run high when the topic of money comes up. For
some people, the issue of credit cards is at the top of their complaint list. They get caught up griping about interest rates and fees or other perceived grievances, but fail to examine or resolve the issue. Others have a negative view of credit cards as a whole and get worked up over unforeseen issues that arise, regardless of who’s at fault. Rather than sweating the small stuff, common sense should prevail when addressing an issue or filing a dispute with your credit card issuer. Here are some common complaints – and simple solutions.
Most consumers have never felt compelled to complain about a system that they understand is in business to make money. But errors can occur, and if an issue has a negative effect on your life or your finances, by all means make the call when a complaint is justified. Many complaints reported to credit card issuers are easily rectified or a simple misunderstanding of the account agreement.
Read the Terms Ahead of Time
Before you make a call to address an error, be sure you have read the terms and conditions of your agreement thoroughly. Don’t call the lender to file a complaint about something that is clearly written in the terms and conditions of the credit card agreement. A common example is when a cardholder complains about an annual fee appearing on their monthly statement, only to be reminded that the account had an annual fee that was waived the first year. Another example is being unaware of foreign transaction fees that apply to charges made overseas or in other countries.
Handling Frustrating Account Changes
Some complaints are not a result of error but due to a change made by the credit card company. You may see your interest rate jump after missing a payment or your credit limit lowered for no apparent reason. In either case, you may be able to make some ground by appealing directly to the issuer.
First, you need to know why the change was made. Be prepared to give a reasonable excuse for the infraction (if you’re at fault) or provide an explanation about why the change will be a hardship if it stands. If the problem cannot be resolved with the credit card company, consider applying for a new lower rate card or one that will give you a more generous credit limit.
Dealing With a Rejection or Denial
When a new account or an increased credit limit are denied, it is generally due to poor account management by the cardholder. While it’s certainly aggravating to be rejected, it’s often in the best interest of both parties. There’s no sense complaining about a denial unless you’re certain that a mistake was made. Factors that play into denying a consumer more credit include a poor credit score and / or high debt-to-income ratio, meaning too much debt with too little income. Also keep in mind that a credit card company isn’t obligated to approve anyone. This is a case where time may be the only solution and you should work hard to reduce your debt and improve your credit score.
If you’re denied credit for any reason, the credit card issuer is required to provide an explanation in writing. Although there’s little recourse after being denied, the letter should give you some basic information to help you remedy the problem. In addition, you have 60 days to request a free copy of your credit report to further examine the issue that led to your denial.
Questionable / Unauthorized Transactions
This is the most important ‘complaint’ to make. Credit card fraud can happen to anyone, especially with the broad spectrum of technologies we use to access our financial accounts. If you suspect that someone has hacked into your account and used it for unauthorized purchases, it’s imperative that you act quickly. The sooner you stop a hacker from making fraudulent purchases the less likely you’ll see damage to your other financial accounts. Take a wait and see attitude and you may have to deal with the aggravation of identity theft – a difficult and insidious threat to resolve.
Whether you were charged for goods that were damaged on delivery, double-billed by a merchant or notice charges that you never made, the law protects your right to dispute any errors. You have 60 days to report an error to the merchant and / or to the credit card issuer. They are obligated to acknowledge the complaint and investigate the issue within 30 days and resolve it with the merchant within two billing cycles (no longer than 90 days). You can only be liable for the first $50 in unauthorized charges; although most card issuers waive that charge.
Issues With Redeeming Rewards
Some of the most lucrative credit card reward programs can be confusing, with lots of bells and whistles and hoops to jump through before redeeming your rewards. If after reading all of the fine print you continue to have trouble understanding your redemption options, it’s time to contact the credit card issuer. There’s no reason you should be struggling to decipher a program that was intended to benefit YOU; talk to an agent right away. If the problems persist or the program is just too complicated to deal with, perhaps it’s time to consider a more simple loyalty program.
The credit card industry is extremely competitive in nature, especially when it comes finding consumer’s who responsibly manage their finances. If you fall into this category and have a strong credit score, the aggressive tactics used by credit card issuers can be a bit annoying. If your mailbox and email account is being deluged with new offers for credit, low transfer rates and the like, you can opt out by visiting optoutprescreen.com or by calling 1.888.567.8688.
Don’t sit on the sidelines…
Objecting to the way a company does business is often the best way to make a positive difference. Credit card companies are no different in that aspect and should be made aware of any conduct that you disapprove of or corrective actions that need to be addressed. If you have a legitimate complaint, take the time and make a call! Not only could it make a positive impact on your finances, but in the long run it could lead to improvements that benefit us all.