There are those who steadfastly insist that credit cards are evil, and that credit card companies are greedy heartless scallywags that care only about one thing: making a profit.
I’ve got news for them: Credit card companies aren’t evil.
Neither are profits. Besides, when it comes to profits, credit card companies are no more heartless or greedy than, say, the Hollywood movie industry.
As someone who has been a credit card user for over 20 years, I’ve never once been screwed over by a credit card company. In fact, they’ve always gone out of their way to ensure they keep me a satisfied customer — despite the fact that I’ve never paid a single penny of interest to them. That’s just one reason why I’ll never cut up my credit cards — and why maybe you shouldn’t either.
I know what you’re thinking: But, Len, how can that possibly be? Credit card companies don’t care about their customers!
Yes, they do. Here’s why: The competition out there between the credit card companies is fierce — especially for their best customers.
And who are their best customers? Are they the sorry saps who exceed their credit limit and make the minimum payment each month on a balance of $15,576 — at an interest rate of 29.9 percent? Nope. Despite conventional wisdom, high-risk individuals who are always one missed-payment away from defaulting on their debt aren’t a credit card company’s best customers.
The reality is a credit card company’s best customers are folks like you and me: financially responsible people with superb credit who charge nearly everything they buy to their card and then pay the balance off in full at the end of each month. True, credit card companies never collect a penny of interest from us — but we typically provide them with a steady stream of risk-free monthly income via merchant transaction fees.
Which brings me to the subject of today’s post.
Awhile back I almost fell out of my chair after opening up my credit card bill and discovering that it included an interest charge for $107.47. Obviously, my credit card company screwed up. So I immediately called customer service to inform them of their mistake — except that it wasn’t.
It turns out the credit card company received my payment one day beyond the end of their specified grace period. As a result, the interest charge rightfully applied, as per the terms of the contract I agreed to when I first got the card. Fair enough.
This was the third or fourth time in twenty years that I had interest charges applied because a payment got to the credit card company a day or two late.
Hold on, Len. But you said you’ve never paid a dime of credit card interest in 20 years. How did you get the interest charges waived each time?
Well … I simply asked. And the customer service representative’s reply was as swift as it was decisive: “No problem, Mr. Penzo. The interest charge has been waived.”
Hey, why wouldn’t my credit card company waive the interest charges? I’m one of their best customers!
Well-run corporations aren’t in business because they’re stupid. They know I’d leave them in a New York minute if they let those charges stick — and I’m worth much more to them than $107.47.
Just keep in mind that if you make late payments more than once per year, it’ll probably take more than simply asking to get your credit card company to waive those interest fees. And who can blame them? Credit card companies aren’t dirty rotten scoundrels — not by a long shot. But they’re still in business to make money.
Photo Credit: Miranda Granche