When new Readers or Friends ask me if they should sign up for a new Credit Card to earn Frequent Flyer Miles, the first thing I always ask is if they pay they current Card balance in full every month.
The reason for this is that many times the interest and late fees on a Credit Card balance can easily wipe out the value of any miles you earn from the Sign Up Bonus. I talked about all of this in my post on credit card debt and how to get it under control.
Remember that Banks wouldn’t offer huge Sign Up Bonuses if Credit Cards weren’t profitable for them. For every one of us that only opens a Credit Card to get Miles and then closes it before the Annual Fee comes due, there has to be another Cardholder on the other end who is generating so much interest and fees for the Bank that the Bank doesn’t mind “subsidizing” our travel.
That being said, you obviously should never get a new Credit Card if you can’t make the monthly payments. However, what happens when you can afford to make the payments but accidentally forget to pay one month?
More Money Credit Cards, More Problems
In spite of having 15+ Credit Cards, I have never missed a single payment on any of my Credit Card or ever even paid 1 cent in interest……..until yesterday!
I got my first Credit Card when I was 18 (or 7 years ago), and since then have been religious about paying my Cards on time. I use Mint.com to track my spending and have email and cell phone alerts for all my Credit Card accounts notifying me of suspicious activity and if a payment hasn’t been made on time.
Well yesterday, thanks to a little technological mishap at Chase.com, my perfect record was ruined!
A few months ago, I got the Hyatt Credit Card. Since I was a Diamond Member from the SMD4, by signing up for the Card, I got 2 Free Nights in a Suite which is a $2,000+ value.
When I signed up for that Card, I already had 4 Chase Personal Cards and 2 Chase “Business” Cards, so I was surprised that I was instantly approved for the Hyatt Card.
I went ahead and did a $1,000 Amazon Payment as soon as I got the new Hyatt Card and then put the Card in my drawer to collect dust.
Every single one of my account statements for all my Credit Cards and Bank Accounts are paperless but when you sign up for a new Credit Card, the default option is U.S Mail.
Normally after I am approved for a new Chase Card, the new Card will show up in my Online Chase Account Portal even before the Card arrives at my Door.
Well for some reason or the other, Chase never added my new Hyatt Card into my Online Account…
Yesterday I was looking through some snail mail on my desk and noticed a Chase Credit Card Statement, so I decided to open it and got quite the surprise!
Not only had I not paid my previous month’s balance, but on top of that Chase had imposed a $25 late fee and $14.46 in interest.
In addition to that if I did not pay the Minimum Payment of $51 by 5/6/13, then I would get hit with another $35 Late Fee and my APR would jump to 29.99%!
Of course, the first thing I did after reading my Statement was to go online and see how I had forgotten to pay it.
When I logged onto Chase.com, I realized that Chase never added this new account to my Online Portal. That is why the Outstanding Balance was never picked up by Mint.com and I didn’t see on Chase.com that a payment was due.
What is even sillier is because the new account was never added to my Chase Online Portal, Chase never sent any email alerts informing me that a payment was due.
In case you are wondering, to add any Chase Account to your Online Portal, simply go to Customer Center and then click on Add Account.
When I tried to add my Hyatt Card to my Chase Online Portal, I got an error saying that I couldn’t add a Business Card to my Personal Accounts. Obviously the Hyatt Card is a Personal Card, so there must have been some miscoding in Chase’s systems hence why it was never added in the first place…
I logged into my Business Account and tried to add the Hyatt Card but got an error again.
However when I went back into my Personal Account, it somehow magically appeared and I was greeted with the following alert.
To make matters worse, because it was after 8PM and my payment was due on 5/6/13, if I tried to pay it online, the payment wouldn’t process until 5/7/13 (thus making it late again). Chase Online instructed me to call them to have the payment processed.
After getting a Chase Representative, I went ahead and paid everything that was outstanding and then explained the situation to the Representative.
He was fairly understanding and took a look at my account history. Since I have never missed a payment and have been with Chase for close to 10 years, he went ahead and waived the $25 late fee.
I asked if he could also waive the interest charges since I would have paid the Card balance if Chase.com had added the new card to my account in the first place. He said he wasn’t authorized to do so but would transfer me to someone else who could.
The Chase Representative who I was transferred to also looked at my account history and then went ahead and waived the interest charges!
Surprisingly, Chase handled the entire situation much better than I expected and put up no fight when I politely asked if they could refund the fees. So kudos to them for providing excellent customer service because I was definitely impressed!
Why Missing A Payment Can Be Bad
I was fairly luckily in that I actually opted to open my snail mail and saw that I was past due on an account. Obviously this wouldn’t have happened if Chase had just added the new account to my Chase Online Portal, but mistakes happen.
If some of you are reading this and wondering what is the big deal with missing a payment, the reason is simple. For Banks, missing a payment may be an indication of a change in your financial situation.
While you may have a perfect credit history, the Banks don’t know if the one payment you missed is due to you forgetting or if it is because you lost your job, etc.
Not surprisingly, missing a payment can have a negative effect on your Credit Score. According to research,
“Missing one credit card payment (a 30-day late), the person with 680 credit score would lose between 60 and 80 points, while the person with the 780 credit score would lose between 90 and 110 points.”
I am hoping that because I went ahead and paid the balance and Chase waived the fees, that there won’t be a derogatory mark on my Credit Score but we will see.
Additionally, if you miss a payment, the Bank (as you saw on my Statement) has the right to bump up your APR. In my case, the APR could go as high as 29.99%.
However, the most shocking thing about missing a payment is that according to Interest.com, the Banks can take away any Miles or Points that are associated with the Credit Card.
Chase and Discover seem to have the most stringent policy.
If a customer is 60 days late (Chase) or misses two payments (Discover), the customer loses all points, miles or cash rebates that they are due.
And once they’re gone, they’re gone. Paying the bill won’t reinstate the rewards, and neither company will allow customers to pay a reinstatement fee to get them back.
American Express also snatches back all points and rebates after just one missed payment. But it allows customers to recover forfeited points and rebates once their account is current by paying a $29 reinstatement fee.
Citi has a similar policy, except the reinstatement fee is only $15.
Capital One cardholders only lose miles or rebates earned during the billing cycle of the missed payment.
Bank of America seems to have the most lenient policy.
Cardholders forfeit points if they’re 60 days late with a payment. But once the account is made current again, they get the points back without paying a reinstatement fee.
Although Chase should have updated my Online Portal with the new Hyatt Card, it is my fault for not keeping a better record of what Cards needed to be paid and for not opening my snail mail more promptly.
While technology like Mint.com and email alerts certainly make life easier, it is easy to forget that they are not fail proof. Luckily, Chase was extremely understanding of the situation and it wasn’t a huge deal to get the situation rectified. However, it will take a few months to see what impact this missed payment will have on my Credit Score.
Going forward, as soon as I get a new Card, I am going to make sure it has been added to my Online Portal and enrolled in Auto Pay, just in case something slips through the cracks.
Has a similar situation happened to any of you?
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