Canceling credit cards

I have about five VISA cards. Yes, I know. It’s a sickness. I love getting free stuff from those points programs they run. I don’t carry a balance on any of my credit cards–I always pay everything off at the end of the month–so I’ve got control over my consumerism. Lately, though, a bunch of my credit cards have all become swallowed by Chase. Not to mention the fact that Chase just bought out my mortgage from my original company. I’m a little nervous about Chase knowing my spending habits along with how much I owe on my mortgage. One bank shouldn’t have so much power over me. So I decided that I’m going to get rid of some of my Chase-backed credit cards. What does one girl need with five VISA cards anyway? (I don’t even use them all at once.)

Evidently, closing a credit card is becoming even harder to do. It used to be they’d just ask you why you were closing it and comment depressingly that they are sorry to lose your business. Maybe they’d try to get you to reconsider, but a firm “No thanks” usually smacked them down. Not anymore.

I thought I’d share the dialog that ensued as I tried to close my Chase Priority Club (Holiday Inn) card. I do not exaggerate, this is literally how it went down.

CHASE REP: Hello, my name is [insert name]. To whom am I
speaking?
MG states name as it appears on the card.
CHASE REP: How can we help you today ma’am? [Please shoot me, he called me “ma’am.”]
MG: I’d like to close this credit card.
CHASE REP: We’re so sorry to hear that. [Who is this amorphous “we”? Are they all connected in one great group mind, like the Borg??] Can you tell me why you want to close this account today?
MG: I just have too many credit cards right now and I want to to pare it down a bit.
CHASE REP: Is there any way we can change your mind about closing your Priority Club credit card with us?
MG: No, I need to get rid of a few credit cards.
CHASE REP: We have a great balance transfer rate right now, for a limited time, where you can get 5% on all transferred balances from other cards.
MG: I don’t have any balances to transfer.
CHASE REP: Well, perhaps you would like another reward points program? Is this Priority Club rewards not useful to you?
MG: No, it is not useful to me at this time. It is the least useful credit card points program I have. That’s why I’m choosing to get rid of it. [Okay, my mistake.]
CHASE REP: Well, we have other rewards programs. Perhaps an airline rewards would be more useful to you?
MG: No, not at this time, thanks. I have about four other credit cards with Chase so you are not losing my business.
CHASE REP: We could upgrade you to a shopping points program or a gas points program…?
MG: No, that’s okay. I want to close this credit card now.
CHASE REP: Is there any rewards points program we could offer you today so that you don’t close this credit card? We can upgrade your card to any program you desire. Tell us what would be useful; we undoubtedly can find a rewards program for you that will fit your needs.
MG, smoke coming out of her ears, but too polite to start screaming at anyone. She really wants to say, “I would like a program where I can cancel my frakking credit card by using a touch tone phone instead of talking to a representative who is trying to earn himself a sweet commission to get me to continue using a credit card I don’t need. This is why you guys keep raising my credit limit; you think I am going to be enticed to go on a twenty-five thousand dollar spending spree [Yes, I had a credit card with that limit once.] one day after years of only buying what I could actually afford to spend. But I’ve got you guys beat. I’ll never do that. And you hate me for it. You want to trap me into your web of consumerism so that I’m paying your monthly fees instead of milking freebies from your stupid rewards points programs.”
Instead, MG replies: NO. There’s NOTHING you can offer me. I want to close this card now.
CHASE REP, very sad and clearly exasperated: Okay, I’ve put the request through to close the account. Please tear up the card immediately. Account closures will post at the next business day. Any amounts remaining on the card will be billed to you in a final statement. [Exaggerated pause.] Is there anything else I can do for you this evening?
MG: NO! Thanks.
CHASE REP: Then have a good evening. [Somehow, I feel he wasn’t that sincere with his goodbye.]

I swear, it’s easier taking candy from a child and listening to him/her scream at me for the next hour… They are really pushing hard these days for you to hang on to your credit card. I sure as heck hope my American Express card doesn’t give me this much grief when I call to cancel it. I’m kind of pissed at Amex because I’ve had an Optima card with them since 1999 and have racked in over twenty-three thousand points, which I thought I’d be able to transfer easily to my Frontier Airlines or Continental frequent flier card. Those card carriers with the yearly fee can easily do this and it only costs 15,000 points for a round trip ticket on Frontier. So, last Saturday, I was trying to book a trip to Denver for skiing at the end of February and, it turns out, because my card is an Optima (ie, I don’t pay a yearly fee), they won’t transfer points to a frequent flier card, the bastards.

Fortunately, I managed to get around this by booking my trip through Amex’s travel planner and using the “pay with points” option. However, it turns out when you’re an Optima user, it costs 30 thousand points for a round trip ticket on Frontier. I was able to apply all my points for a rebate against the trip; ultimately, I only ended up paying $56 for the ticket. Still, I had to pay when I actually would have had the ticket for free (with bogus processing fees, of course) and I would have had about 5,000 points left to buy a magazine subscription or something. Needless to say, I decided I’m no longer happy with my Amex Optima card and I’m going to cancel it after the next statement. Treat me crappy and you go! (Who really wins with these points programs anyway? Seems they always find a way to screw you anyhow.)

Now, I only have to get rid of one more of my Chase credit cards. I think one credit card with the Evil Empire of Chase is good enough. It’s going to hurt, though, because either my Borders card or my Amazon.com card has got to go. I’ll probably keep my Borders credit card since it gives me better returns in $5 gift certificates. I think I should opt for a gas card of some kind. I can’t believe how much I’ve been paying in gas lately. I filled up last Thursday and I’m already near empty again. I have an Acura RSX that gets 35 mpg with a 13.5 gallon tank. A fill-up is costing me between $30 and $39 these days.

A local grocery store, Giant Eagle, gives you rebates in gas at their special gas station (GetGo) which accumulate based on your purchases. They also sell gift certificates so people play the system by buying gift certificates to the stores at which they need to actually shop (ie, The Home Depot) before going there. I’m not too good at remembering to do this–it seems like too much of a hassle and planning in your shopping. Unfortunately, the money rebates also have an expiration, so you have to use them up even if you have only accumulated $0.10/gallon. The best I’ve managed to get, which was during Christmas time when I was buying gift certificates, was $0.50/gallon. Unfortunately, it was during a high gas price moment when I used it (since the rebeat was also close to expiring), so I still ended up paying $2.50/gallon.

Anyway, I obviously can’t buy enough Giant Eagle groceries or gift certificates to get enough points for GetGo to cover my gas expenditures. Driving 35 miles each way to work (from Stow to Mayfield Heights) is really not helping. I miss the days of my 15 mile/half-hour drive to Twinsburg… If it were summer, I could ride my hybrid to the stores and stuff locally. I hate spending money on gas.

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9 thoughts on “Canceling credit cards

  1. FWIW, it is helpful to keep those cards that you don’t use. Closing your cards will lower your available credit amount and negatively affect your credit score. (Of course, it depends on how much available credit you have to begin with.)But, I hear you about the pains of canceling anything. I always expect to spend at least 30 minutes by phone when canceling accounts.I can relate to the gas woes too. It is just over 47 miles (each way) for my commute. So, I fill up at least twice a week. Unfortunately, I only buy groceries ones or twice a month. So, the benefits from Giant Eagle/GetGo never amount to much.

  2. I usually just cut the rep off when they try to offer me things to stay with them and tell them I want to close the card end of story. Yes I get pretty mean with them despite talking to customers all day on the phone (maybe that is why?).Chase bought out my mortgage on the condo like a little over a year ago. I just switched to them for my banking. And due to the mortgage, I was able to get a better savings/checking for the time being cuz of it. But I don’t have any credit cards through them either.I spend too much on gas too as my commute is 43 miles one way…..no way in hell would I make it longer by choice. This current situation wasn’t by choice (in a way). You can access the Giant Eagle web site and see which gift certificates that they offer and get an idea so you know which ones to get from them.

  3. I disagree with James. My dad went to buy an RV and the dealership told him because he had too much available credit (too many open cards) that his potential to reach a too high debt to income ratio was preventing them from giving him a loan for the RV. They told him to close some of the cards, and then because he had less available credit they’d give him the RV loan. So he closed some of his cards and got the loan.

  4. No, I have not moved closer to Twinsburg yet. :(Like I said, it really depends on the amount of available credit you have (along with the number of cards and amount of debt). But, I just said that closing cards would affect your credit score. I never said that it would or wouldn’t affect your ability to get loans.If you have enough credit to cover a new loan, then creditors do get nervous. And, of course, having too much credit will negatively affect your ability to get loans (but not necessarily impact your credit score). As Bonnie said, (responsible) lenders try to prevent you from borrowing too much money.

  5. Well, really, my credit score is like 700+ so I dont think I need to worry either way. The only debt I have is my mortgage. For this reason, I have actually been DENIED credit cards… because my record’s too good and they feel they wont get to stack their fees on me.

  6. Yeah some credit card companies will deny people cards if they can see they won’t make money off of them. Hey not your fault if you can pay off your balance every time.I have heard that both having too many cards open can affect your score just like closing too many at once can too.I only carry 2…one is my primary and I get points towards my next car. The other I get “thank you” points and usually just get gift certificates with that. But I only have 2 so I can use one as a backup if something happens to my main one.

  7. I just stumbled across this Blog today while surfing the Internet. Why is it that the credit companies push credit cards to poor students that they know are high default risks. Then they complain in the news about peoples’ credit card debt. You go anywhere on a campus and you see credit card apps scattered all over the place. And those annoying greasy guy or sleazy gal representatives with little stands trying to get students to sign up for high interest cards by offering a free water bottle?

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