A few days ago I was running my regular Quicken check-up of our finances and I noticed something strange. Our Citibank credit card was showing a $39 late fee as well as finance charges of $43, with both of those fees also showing an immediate reversal. This seemed strange, so I asked my wife about it. Her explanation blew me away:
Apparently, she paid our full balance off as we do every month. However, she paid the bill on the last day of the cycle at a few minutes after 9 PM PDT. Apparently, the billing cycle is calculated according to Eastern Time not to according to our local time zone. The good folks at Citibank, and by good I mean predatory, charged us a total of $82 in late fees and finance charges for supposedly paying our bill 7 minutes late. I think that if you were to calculate the APR on this supposed "7 minute loan" you would find that Citibank tried to charge us the equivalent of 4 million percent per year in interest. My wife, being the take-no-crap fighter that she is, called them up and gave them a good piece of her mind, at which point they relented and reversed this travesty.
Seriously, if you feel that the credit card companies are out to get you, it's probably because they are. Seems we are not alone in our battle against the evil credit card companies. Here is another post on the subject that I came across a few days ago. Jeff of Jethro's World simply escalated the fight until the credit card company (Chase in his case) cried "uncle".
It is good that some of us are fighting back against these predatory practices, but I have to wonder how many people are just paying these fees without a fight? Once again, where is Congress when you actually need them?