Most of us have played the balance transfer game at one time or another, with some of us being more skilled than others. I myself have only played the game once, and here is my story.
A couple of years ago I began researching making balance transfers and purchases card comparison with intent to replace two cards to one card with 0% interest. I had hoped to follow a plan to apply for the card, once the card arrives make a request to increase my limit to $10,000, then transfer the highest rate card at 9% and transfer the second card at 3%. I needed to pay off two cards which came to a total of $10,808.81. I was warned by one of my readers to read the fine print because I might be charged for back interest if I didn’t get the card paid off in full within one year. Thankfully that was not the case with this card but it sent shivers up my spine just thinking about the possibility of that happening.
I began the process of applying for the card on February 9th and it took until March 15th to complete the entire transaction. I was pleased as punch with myself.
Unfortunately with the very first payment to my new 0% interest card I forgot to make the payment! I had been gone all day long without Internet access and working with my husband. I finally remembered on the drive home and I logged in as soon as I got into the house. Actually, let me back up. I did get the payment made on the day it was due but since it had to be paid by 5pm Eastern time and I’m in Pacific time, I was too late. As you can imagine, I was very worried that this would cause the interest rate to be raised. In fact, I was sure that I would be punished so I decided to face the music and put in a call to the credit card company right away.
I was in a panic as I dialed the number. I took several deep breaths, willing myself to remain calm. After all you get more flies with honey than vinegar I told myself. The account representative that answered the phone explained that since I’d made the payment after 5pm Eastern time on Friday it would not hit the bank until Monday! I told her how worried I was about the rate being raised and she was so kind to me. She said, “I’d like to share a secret with you. We really want our customers to be happy and we work with our customers. If you find that they have raised your interest rate you just call back here and ask them to lower it. Furthermore, if they charge you a late fee, simply ask them to remove it.” I was so relieved. I got off the phone and explained what had happened to my husband. He’s so mellow he doesn’t let much affect him and he told me don’t stress, he said we’ll deal with it but let’s wait and see if it even happens.
As it turns out they did indeed charge a late fee, and I put in a call and they graciously removed it. At that time I was told they didn’t think my interest rate would increase but they advised me to call back in about a week.
I called a few days later and was assured that my interest rate would not be increased. Whew! Close call!!
I relaxed and didn’t give it another thought until I received my statement a month later when they informed me that my APR HAD been raised! Oh no! I remembered the advice of the very pleasant woman I’d spoken to initially and called the credit card company right away.
I explained my situation to the lady who answered the phone and she was not willing to budge an inch. She told me I was late on my payment and that is what happens. I began to feel sick to my stomach but I decided to go with a trick I’ve learned over the years. If at first you don’t succeed, try try again. This extends to customer service representatives as well! I hung and redialed the number immediately.
Again I explained my situation, crossing fingers and toes. The representative said to me, “Let me see what I can do to help you. The rate was zero, is that correct?” I nearly broke into tears but bit my lip to keep my composure. Within a minute she was back on the line and said she had taken care of it and she wished me a lovely day.
After all that excitement I wasn’t too keen on doing anymore balance transfers, so this is the only one that I’ve done.
Mrs. Accountability writes at Out of Debt Again. If you are interested in submitting a personal finance story to the Carnival of Money Stories, please use the contact form.