Jun 23, 2009

A Warning to Would-be American Express Cardholders

American Express Building - NYC
In the States, American Express seems to be accepted at many locations with minimal fuss, this is what I discovered on a recent Stateside road trip when I picked my life up and moved to Vancouver from Toronto in order to be part of the 2010 Olympics games. It's when I got back to Canada that the fuss began. I was late paying a bill, despite having updated my address with Amex I received no statement. I was getting calls from them at 5AM in Vancouver telling me I was $15 off paying my minimum balance. I tried to change my address on their records again and again. Finally I got my statement and noticed my interest rate had increased from 15.99% to 19.99%, all for a platinum card with NO PERKS. I was livid; because I had miscalculated a payment by $15 they jacked up my interest 4 percent?

They'd done this once to me years ago, raising interest from a semi-acceptable 12.99% to 15.99%. I called to complain today and was told American Express had "raised all cardholders interest rates in order to remain competitive". So we're in the middle of a global recession and they chose to raise their rates to remain competitive? That's how they reward loyal, long-term cardholders? It's a joke. Many places in Canada do not even take the card, and now I see why. They charge storeowners double the rate other credit card companies do, in order to process payments, and they probably bully them too, raising rates whenever they deem it appropriate. My warning? Steer clear of companies like American Express. They don't care about customer service, they only care to take from the poor to give to the rich. If you want a healthy bottom line do your research and find a credit card company that cares. (I've had a BMO Mastercard for nearly 12 years and my interest is still 10.95%.) Better yet, wean yourself off your cards. If you need a little motivation, check out the film Zeitgeist. You'll be appalled at how much the big banks and players in the US economics industry get away with.

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