One day I got a call from my credit card company asking me
if I would like to increase my credit limit by borrowing up
to $9000 at their special rate of 15.9%.
The operator stated, “Your credit card rate will then be a
low 15.9%. How much would you like to transfer today to
take advantage of this offer? Do you have any high interest
loans you would like to pay off and reduce your payments?”
The previous day I had called them to get two bogus late
payment charges taken off my statement. I also had to get
my interest rate lowered back to my usual rate rather than
the “penalty rate” (22.9%) they charge to anyone who is
late, misses a payment or goes over their credit limit.
Wondering if my rate got changed back to my usual rate, I
asked the operator what my current rate was. She said that
it was at 12.9%, which was my usual rate for this card.
I do carry some debt on other cards (it helps with my credit
rating to be making regular payments) but all the other debt
I have is at lower rates than this card. I mentioned that I
had no other debt that was at a higher rate than what she
She then replied that I could just take the money as a cash
advance and do whatever I wanted with it.
So I asked her if I understood correctly what she was
offering. “So you are offering to raise my interest rate if
I get further into debt by getting a cash advance?”
“Yes, you can have up to $9000 and do whatever you like with
the extra cash,” she replied. I was amused that she said
that I could “have” not “borrow” the money and it would be
“extra cash” rather than “additional debt”. But after all,
she is in sales and the words “have” and “extra cash” are
much more enticing than the more realistic alternatives –
“borrow” and “additional debt”.
I politely told her that I was not interested in raising my
interest rate or borrowing more money, “but thanks anyway.”
I then wondered how many other people would jump at the
opportunity to pocket a quick $10,000 at the “low” rate of
I was also amused that she encouraged me to pay off my high
interest debt with this money. Well, to my standards 15.9%
is high interest debt. Granted it’s not the 24-25% charged
by department stores but still it was more than I was
currently being charged on any of my other cards.
Shouldn’t an offer that would appeal to me be one that
offered me money at a lower rate? Her offer seemed
backwards. She was trying to entice me with the vision of
“extra cash” in my hand to do whatever I would like.
I took a moment to do some financial math (the most
important kind) on this offer and found that if I had a
current balance on that credit card of $4000 at my current
interest rate of 12.9%, I would be paying about $43 a month
in interest charges.
If I had accepted her offer for an additional $9000 at 15.9%
(and I suspect that my regular rate of 12.9% would have
risen to the 15.9% rate also), I would be paying about $172
a month, exactly 4 times what I am currently paying. If I
made a payment of $200 a month to pay off this debt, I would
be paying for over 12 and a half years.
What I learned from this experience is that I should get
into the credit card business. Maybe I’ll check on some
bank and financial institution stocks today. With offers
like this they must be making money.
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