06 November 2007


American Express blew it too

Plastic payment methods at Flickr.comI've been an American Express customer for close to 20 years. Yesterday, I called them up to see if they might reduce the 18.5% interest rate (!) on my current card—I explained that I'm currently on long-term disability coverage and that I'm trying to reduce my expenses.

Any financial planner will generally advise calling your creditors and asking them to reduce your interest rate. It's in their interest to do so if you're likely to switch to another provider. So that's what I was doing—my wife and I, like everyone, routinely get offers for lower-interest credit cards in the mail. Even if those low 3% or 3.9% rates generally bump up again after a few months, I've checked, and they usually end up at a similar rate to what Amex has been charging me anyway. So those few months could save us quite a bit of money.

But no dice. Amex wouldn't offer me any kind of lower rate, nor a balance transfer. Nothing. So I cancelled my American Express card. (Gotta follow through.)

I still have to pay off the balance, of course, but I won't be making any further purchases with it. As with Telus a couple of years ago, Amex appears more interested in making attractive offers to new customers than on keeping current ones, which doesn't seem smart to me.

Maybe my other credit card provider will be more interested in keeping my business?

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The way I deal with credit card debt is to get an overdraft on my account at my credit union. The interest rate is less than half the interest rate of my credit card. That way If I overspend I can stil pay off my credit card balance, the fees are a lot lower and I still get to keep my favourite credit card.
We've done that too at our credit union (it helped, because our cashflow has been a bit weird with my cancer treatment), but I also wanted to see if Amex would be willing to do something for me as a long-time customer.

But no. And so my business goes elsewhere. I didn't *need* to lower the rate, or cancel the card, but I felt that I should on principle.
Hi Derek,
I have never kept any balance on my credit cards. I wonder if something like www.circlelending.com is a good way to go?