Tuesday, October 28, 2008

10 Credit Questions and Answers at GlobCredit.com (October 28, 2008)

As I have said before, I can see how my readers find GlobCredit.com. I don't collect any personal information, but I can see search terms that people use to find the site. This information is like the center of Lifesavers candies. Or doughnut holes. Rather than letting them fall by the wayside, I figure that I should put these search queries to good use.

Here are the game rules: I will edit search queries for syntax purposes. Otherwise, I will leave them alone. I'll also phrase queries in the form of a question whenever possible. By request, these Q&As will now be published whenever I have received 10 questions (through Google, Yahoo, and AOL searches).

Q: Easiest way to get an American Express card?

A: Is this a trick question? You can apply online (link here), apply over the phone (800-223-2670), or apply using a paper application (that's so old school).

Beyond that, the easiest way to get an American Express card is to be as creditworthy as possible. The better your credit history, the easier time you'll have getting approved.

Good luck!

Q: I have multiple credit cards and I want to have one number to call in case of lost or stolen.

A: Many credit card companies offer a service whereby they will contact all of your creditors in the event that your wallet is lost or stolen. If you call your card company and ask about credit card registration services, a service where the card company will contact all of your other card companies, they'll know what you're talking about. There will be an annual fee for the service, however.

I'd rather save my money and just keep the phone numbers of your credit card companies in a handy place. Last month I wrote a story about losing your wallet or purse. In the story, I provided a list of phone numbers (link here) to some of the biggest credit card companies.

Still, if you simply feel more at ease with a card registration service, feel free to call your card company and see if they offer the service.

Q: How often does AMEX review your account?

A: At least once a month -- and sometimes more. American Express checks my Experian report once a month. The entry is always the same: AMEX ACCOUNT REVIEW.

American Express is checking in to see if I am ramping up debt or seeking new credit. Which reminds me: I am sure that American Express subscribes to a service with the credit bureaus that alerts them to new inquiries on credit reports. Any time you apply for a card, American Express is sure to do an account review (a soft pull) to see what it is. I'll tell you, American Express is the most proactive card company I can think of.

Q: Was National City bank sold?

A: Yes. National City was acquired by PNC Financial Services Group on October 24, 2008, for nearly $5.6 billion ($5.2 billion in stock and $384 million in cash to certain warrant holders). The deal is expected to close by the end of the year. The press release announcing the deal can be found here (link).

Q: What to do when you can't pay the full balance on Amex?

A: You have very few options here. If you signed up for the extended payment option, you can set aside some of your purchases so that you can pay them over time. According to American Express: "Once you enroll, all eligible travel-related charges and purchases of $200 or more are automatically itemized in a separate section of your monthly statement. You decide whether you want to pay the charges in full, pay the minimum due or anything in between. Each month, you must pay the other charges on your bill in full."

If you can't pay your bill in full, you might want to check into that feature. Beyond that, if you can't pay your bill and full, and you're not eligible for sign and travel and the extended payment option, you're in a bind. Your best bet is to call American Express and see if it will work out a payment plan with you (I've heard they do have a program for customers who can't pay their bills under normal repayment terms). Of course, once you tell American Express that you need a payment plan, it will likely take some kind of adverse action on you (lower credit limit or exposure limit). You'll want to jump on that, though. You'll be delinquent as soon as you've been late by 30 days or more. Soon thereafter, American Express will consider you in default and likely begin collection efforts.

Q: Is Juniper a subprime card?

A: Subprime is all in the eye of the beholder. While I know a lot of people who don't like Juniper, because of their business tactics, I know many people who think highly of them as well. I know several people who have credit limits in excess of $50,000 on a single Juniper card. That does not smell like subprime to me. That said, Juniper can often have a subprime feel to it. I don't like the fact that Juniper doesn't allow for customer-requested credit limit increases. That's subprime to me. Washington Mutual does that as well. And it's one thing I don't like about the card company. By and large, though, I don't consider Juniper subprime. But ask someone with a $300 limit and a host of complaints what they think of Juniper. I'm sure they'll likely say that Juniper is subprime.

Again, it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Q: What should I do if my credit card account get closed due to inactivity?

A: You'll get a letter in the mail (link here) notifying you of the closure. If you want to do something about the closure, you should immediately call the company and ask them to reopen it. Assure them, though, that you will use the card in the future. Lots of card companies are closing cards because of inactivity. The best way to avoid closure is to use the card periodically. Anyhow, that's neither here nor there. I'd call the card company and see if they can't reopen the card.

While you're at it, you might also tell them that the limit was too low or the APR was too high. That's why you weren't using the card. Maybe they'll increase your limit or reduce the APR while they're at it.

Q: Does American Express waive balance?

A: Man. I sure have received a lot of American Express questions lately. Not quite sure what this Google query was getting after, but let me be blunt. If you're looking for American Express to forgive your debt, forget about it. I'd be more likely to ignore a $20 bill sitting in the middle of the sidewalk than American Express is to forgive even a dime of the debt you owe them.

That said, if you are in default, and American Express is coming after you, Amex has been known to settle the account. It's not unusual to get an offer from American Express where the account will be satisfied if you'll pay 50%-60% of the balance you owed. But do know this: you will not be able to get a card with American Express in the future until you've paid off the entire debt. You might get American Express off your back by paying 50%-60% of the balance but you won't be helping your chances of eventually getting back in with American Express.

Q: American Express card flexible payment terminated suspended.

A: This is very common. If you take advantage of American Express's flexible payment option -- and leave a balance for several months -- don't be surprised if American Express suspends your flexible payment privileges. American Express wants you to pay your bill in full. But if you do use the flexible payment option, it wants you to pay the outstanding balance as quickly as possible. If you don't pay the balance quickly, American Express will suspend your privilege. It's as simple as that.

Q: Chase is canceling my card for inactive use?

A: Welcome to the club. I've written extensively about this (link here). Card companies are closing inactive accounts. Do your best to use the card periodically (every other month at least). If you're leaving your card dormant, don't be surprised if your card company closes the account. You're not profitable. The card company is looking to cut costs. Inactive accounts are ripe targets for closure.

As I said previously, though, you might give Chase a call and see if they'll reopen the account. There is no guarantee that Chase will reopen it, but you won't know unless you ask.

READER ALERT: For more credit questions and answers, the entire 10 Credit Questions & Answers index can be found here (link).


TheVibeRAIDER said...

Re: Amex

A few months ago, I seriously considered trying to reopen my closed Amex card because it was one of my oldest card.

Considering Amex's current hack jobs, it's too bad that this Goose That Lays the Golden Egg went somewhere else (PenFed.)

GlobCredit.com said...

Virgil, you can always regain that age by simply applying for a new card. Because the age would be reported on the new card, you'd only take a hit for the new inquiry -- and not the new account (since it would reflect the age of a much older account).

TheVibeRAIDER said...

Credit Matters:

Are you saying that Amex may still have my files on record? We're talking around 1992. I know at least one reporting agency still has the history.

Sean said...

Yep, Amex doesn't forget. If the card was closed on good terms, you can ask Amex to set the "Member since" date to 1992 (or whenever you actually opened the account) if they don't do it automatically. Usually they do.

GlobCredit.com said...

Virgil, Sean has it right. My next Q&A addresses this question. But you call Amex and ask them to backdate it for you. It's that simple. They do not throw away records.

Anonymous said...

VibeRaider, they have records going back far beyond 92. I know people who got the backdating to the early 80s.

TheVibeRAIDER said...

Oh, that's the term, "backdating"!

It's good to know I have a back-up waiting in the wings.

I left on good terms, by sending a letter.

Now, can I backdate on a different Amex card now being offered these days? I don't feel like paying an annual fee like the good ol' days. I do know I will treat the card as a charge card.

GlobCredit.com said...

Virgil, if you get a new card today -- American Express will use your oldest account for dating purposes.

So, if you had a gold card in 1992 and applied for a Blue card today, the Blue card would show an open date of 10/1992.

TheVibeRAIDER said...


I have an Experian report. My (Green) Amex is listed as opened in 1990! :-D

Now, this is interesting (no pun intended) but ACCOUNT TYPE is "Credit Card, Terms REV." and CREDIT TYPE is "Revolving."

I expected "Charge Card" since I had to PIF under the terms at the time.

GlobCredit.com said...

Remember that Experian has a bad habit of listing charge cards as REVOLVING. TU and EQ list the account as OPEN.

You'll notice that the Experian report does show terms of 1 month, though, which mitigates the REVOLVING notation. A term of 30 days indicates that it's a charge card.

I addressed this in one of my 10 Credit Questions and Answers stories.

GlobCredit.com said...

Scratch that comment at the end of my last post. I have not addressed the OPEN and REVOLVING nature of American Express reporting. I must have posted that information somewhere else on the Internet. Who knows.

Anyhow, the rest of the post -- above -- is accurate.

TheVibeRAIDER said...

Credit Matters:

You're right on "1 month" because that's exactly what the report says!

Forgive me if I missed the "address." LOL! Time for me to go back and review the past Q&A's. I fear you will give a pop quiz or something.

TheVibeRAIDER said...

Oh, posted after your scratch. LOL!

GlobCredit.com said...

Just something for us to talk about Thursday during the Webcast.

TheVibeRAIDER said...

Yes, Mr. Sherpa!

(wink, wink)


GlobCredit.com said...

Haha. Thanks for the laugh, V.

GlobCredit.com said...

Virgil, I addressed your Amex question in today's 10 questions and answers: http://GlobCredit.com/2008/10/10-credit-questions-and-answers-at_29.html

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