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Thursday, April 2, 2009

How Come the Biggest Consumer Blogs fall short of condemning condemnable actions by JP Morgan Chase Credit Card?

I have a friend with a Chase credit card. Approximately 2 years ago Chase Bank offered this person a 5.99% balance transfer offer until their loan was paid off. They were required to make a 2% monthly minimum payment. They have good credit and had reduced the loan from 13,500 to 10,000 by dutifully making their monthly payments on time.

Their monthly minimum payment on the 10,000 dollar debt is presently 200 dollars. Chase Credit Card is now going to raise the monthly minimum payment on this account from 2% to 5%. Chase's latest gambit preys on customers who had a good deal with them will probably help ruing their credit rating while robbing them of food to feed their families with. My friend's monthly minimum payment with Chase Bank is set to go from 200 dollars, to 500 dollars!

A three hundred dollar monthly increase is probably going to lead to default for my friend. The problem is not that Chase wants their money nor that they want their money back sooner rather than later. The problem is that Chase set up the rules, the customer completely abided by the rules, and now Chase wants to change those rules WITHOUT GIVING THE CUSTOMER THE RIGHT TO OPT OUT before the changes are made.

Citibank and many if not all other credit card companies have opt out clauses in their credit card policy that protect the consumer. I fear that if Chase is allowed to destroy the concept of "OPT OUT, other credit card companies will follow suit.

My friend can keep their 2% minimum payment option if they agree to have the interest rate raised from 5.99% to 7.99%. This creates the equivalent of an escalating monthly penalty that starts at around 18 dollars a month. However, when we factor in that each and every month 18 extra dollars goes towards interest and 18 less dollars is applied to the PRINCIPLE, the penalty will continue to escalate and extend the life of the loan.

After one year, we are looking at a loss of 500 dollars, and each year forward it will increase at least 100 dollars per year. So this one move by chase will cost my friend 500 dollars this year, 575 dollars next year, 650 dollars the following year. By the time this card is paid off, I am estimating it will cost my friend over 4,000 dollars in extra payments.

Prior to this latest move, Chase began, then eliminated a 10 dollar a month usage fee to anyone using their credit cards. Now Chase has figured out a way to replace a one fee for all with another fee for those who had solid credit that Chase trusted enough to give them a solid loan offer. Is it Chase's goal to first lure, then destroy every tier of middle class customer that presently exists with their bait and switch credit card tactics?

Chase credit card company already had the option of raising my friends rates for a late payment. If JP Morgan Chase Bank wants to so violently change the rules, then please allow your customers the right to OPT OUT and keep the existing agreed upon rules in place. It is the respectful, rightful, and ethical thing to do.

If somebody from the government does not step in and stop what Chase Bank is doing, even as the US Government is giving these same banks billions upon trillions of dollars, then we can all be sure that nothing has "changed".

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