Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The Battle Of the Banks

I've got to stop doing this in the afternoons, sitting down with Quicken and really looking at the numbers.

Narrowed down the major credit cards to five and then checked their interest rates. The Citibank card I have held since 1985 is charging us nearly 29 percent interest! Capital One, a card, on which we owe nothing today offered to transfer a good chunk of the Citibank balance to them at 5.99% - with the guarantee that rate will remain the same always.

No brainer. Done.

Still there was some left, and since I have literally had a longer history with Citibank than I've had with my wife, I thought I might be able to schmooze them a bit, explain how Amy has been out of work due to illness for some time, and that I've worked to get us caught up, etc. I figured they'd budge a little.


They said they'd drop the rate in a couple of months...maybe, but today...nothing.

Thanks succeeded in making me more also screwed up my planned nap.

Seeing how this was going to work, I called another bank which has been running a similar scam on us. I got connected to India. They were very polite, but thought an interest rate of 26 percent was perfectly fair.

They did tell me if I made the minimum payments for 12 months they'd reconsider my request. Of course I would not have actually paid off any of the balance by doing that, but that didn't seem particularly the folks in India.

I then called our local credit union, where we bank. I asked to up the credit limit on our Visa card which charges 9 percent interest. They were extremely kind, a little scary actually; they kept asking if I didn't want to ask for a higher limit. I said I was wary of doing too much since I was fully intending to max out what they gave me, if anything, with balance transfers.

Then the operator told me the balance transfer rate would be different.

I feared the worst...instead their rate for balance transfers is 7.99 percent...fixed.

I don't know how it will go, but they're a local credit union. They've helped us before. All our money, what little we have is there. They probably won't go as high as I requested but who knows.

Reducing our rates from 29 and 25 percent to 6 and 8...that would be a pretty good day's work.

I think this must be similar to the feeling of escaping the mob...and I've still got time for a nap.