My second credit card ever was a Citibank Platinum Mastercard, with a credit limit of $1,800. I was young and seduced by the fact that I was receiving a Platinum card. The card came just in time for Christmas, but more importantly, it came right after I maxed out my first credit card!
This card has been the bane of my existence for the past few years. Within a few weeks after I got the card, I maxed it out, and the monthly interest rate pushed the balance to over my credit limit, and then I got hit with the over the credit limit fee. I think that the card was over the limit most of the time I was an undergrad. In the time between undergrad and grad school, I was really tight on cash, and I neglected to pay even the monthly minimum payment on this card. Twice. I was over 30 days late the first time, 60 days the second. Subsequently, the APR went up to 20.99%.
The worst part of all of this is that the 20.99% interest rate was “grandfathered” in. A few months ago I called the company and tried to get the rate lowered. The rep was very nonchalant in telling me that nothing could be done, and that the rate was stuck. I don’t ever remember getting receiving word that the rate was going to be fixed – I probably just trashed whatever mailing that they tried to communicate that to me with.
Since my FICO score was low, I was getting really crappy offers in the mail (see example) that didn’t help at all, and I didn’t want to risk having too many inquiries on my credit report, further lower my score. I was seriously between a rock and a hard place.
Earlier this week I received a credit card offer that proved to me that changing our financial behavior pays off – a card with 0% APR on balance transfers until April 2007, and a rate of 12.9% thereafter. I was a bit skeptical, because receiving a credit card offer doesn’t mean that I’ll actually be approved. She and I deliberated for a bit about the potential cons of applying for the card, but the potential pros eventually won out. So earlier tonight I called (right in the middle of a drapery installation session — sorry hon, for leaving you hangin’) and got approved! Not only did I get approved, but I now have a $2,500 credit limit, meaning I can (and will) put more than one credit card balance on there. It is kind of sad that $2,500 is my largest credit limit EVER. The only drawback to this whole thing is a 3% balance transfer transaction fee. Compared to the hundreds of dollars that I’ll save, it’s not so much of a bad deal.
Bye bye, Citibank. It’s been fun.